Cayuga County is blessed with many recreational assets throughout its vast footprint, extending from the majestic shoreline of Lake Ontario in the north to the rolling hills of the southern towns' landscapes.
And right near the center is perhaps the most crucial recreational resource of all: Emerson Park on the northern end of Owasco Lake.
This park is blessed with a superb location, abundant land, easy water access, nice facilities and a rich history.
Yet far too often, especially during summer weekdays and much of the spring, winter and fall, it's underused by the public — despite its potential as a premier Finger Lakes region attraction.
The park has been built up and torn down multiple times over its long history, and there's been plenty of debate about what should and should not be included there in the future. But far too often, the debate has not produced concrete steps forward.
We're hoping a new effort to update the park's master plan can help bring about some improvements that will bring more people to the site, which can only help the local economy.
Last week marked the first public session organized by the Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development. A turnout of about 50 people brought some great ideas to the table. But much more input is needed, not only about what's on the public's wish list, but also how those items should be prioritized and financed.
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That's the real key to ensuring this plan update actually becomes a tool for moving forward. Steve Lynch, the county's planning and economic development department director, is pushing for a "realistic, objective and publicly driven" update that can be accomplished in five years. That goal should be paramount in the efforts that unfold in this process.
We encourage all of our readers to contribute their thoughts on what Emerson Park's future should look like. Contact the planning and economic development staff at (315) 253-1276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can spare an hour or two, stop by and give your thoughts at one or both of the future public meetings. One is Wednesday, June 11 and the other is Wednesday, Aug. 27. Both start at 7 p.m. and take place at the park pavilion.
The most important thing right now is for the county to get a strong response to its call for feedback. That will be key to a plan update that leads to meaningful progress.