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What you need to know before hitting the beach in Cayuga County

What you need to know before hitting the beach in Cayuga County


Planning to spend Memorial Day weekend on a beach? The beach at Fair Haven Beach State Park is a go. The lakefront at Emerson Park, not so much.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that state parks could open beaches to the public for Memorial Day weekend with restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, including maintaining 50% capacity and prohibiting contact sports like volleyball.

The beach at Fair Haven was scheduled to be open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., said Fred Bonn, State Park Finger Lakes Regional Director. Long Point State Park near Aurora is also currently open and has access to a waterfront.

The stream-fed swimming pool in Fillmore Glen State Park, also in Cayuga County, isn't normally slated to open until mid-June, Bonn said.

Anyone visiting the Fair Haven beach should only go with members of their households, maintain 6 feet of distance from others and wear a mask if they're unable to follow that guideline, refrain from group activities and sit at least 10 feet apart while on the beach, according to the governor's order.

During the long weekend, capacity will be restricted to 50% of the normal summer season capacity by "limiting parking and other means of entry," the order reads. The rule will also apply to changing areas, locker rooms and bathrooms.

Beachfront concession stands and "areas of social gathering" will also be closed.

The portion of the Owasco Lake shoreline within Emerson Park will be closed to the public, but the park itself will be open for the holiday weekend with its usual hours from dawn until dusk, Cayuga County Building and Grounds Superintendent Gary Duckett said.

The department also hasn't been able to fill lifeguard positions for the lakefront area due to a hiring hold put in place by the county Legislature.

The bathrooms have also been closed because the department hasn't had the staffing to keep them sanitary at the level necessary in the midst of a pandemic. The beach can't be open if the bathrooms aren't, Duckett explained.

People can still use the park's boat launch, but the playgrounds are still off-limits. Parking fees have also been waived until June 27.

Staff writer Mary Catalfamo can be reached at (315) 282-2244 or Find her on Twitter @mrycatalfamo.

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Crime/courts reporter

I cover criminal court, public safety and the Cayuga County government for The Citizen and You can also find my health and entertainment features online and in the Lake Life section of the paper.

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