Posted on October 2, 2023
A vital channel that connects Sandy Pond to Lake Ontario prone to sediment buildup will be undergoing significant dredging, the Oswego County Legislature announced Wednesday.
The Legislature said in a statement that it has awarded the Sandy Pond Channel Maintenance Association (SPCMA) $300,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to ensure continued navigation from the pond to the lake in an effort to help safeguard the local economy, which relies heavily upon fishing and summer tourism.
The funding will help the SPCMA continue its mission of dredging portions of Sandy Pond to secure a safe boating route from the pond to Lake Ontario. The continued navigability of the channel is critical to water-based activities in the area and important to the local tax base, according to legislators.
“This is the only pathway between Lake Ontario and Sandy Pond, and its continued navigability is essential to the local economy,” said Oswego County Legislator Michael Yerdon, District 1. “It’s important that this channel remains open to support tourism and other economic activity, and I’m pleased the Legislature was able to provide ARPA funding for this project.”
In addition to its impact on the economy, Yerdon said that without the dredging activities, drainage from North Pond into Lake Ontario would be reduced and the water quality of Sandy Pond would suffer.
SPCMA President Cathy Goodnough said the county’s ARPA funds would be used in conjunction with other funding streams to keep the channel between North Sandy Pond and Lake Ontario in “a safe and navigable condition.”
“We’re trying to maintain a channel that’s at least four feet deep,” Goodnough said. “But this is sand shifting, and it shifts all the time. The most the association can do is try to put a Band-Aid on it by trying to keep the channel dredged every year for our recreational season.”
Goodnough expressed gratitude for the county ARPA funding and said it’s a huge help to SPCMA’s mission. However, she said more funding will be needed to keep the channel open long-term for the thousands of boaters who choose Sandy Pond as a recreation spot each year.
“There’s about 3,000 boaters who come here and recreate all season long,” Goodnough said. “It supports all the area businesses — seven marinas, all the campgrounds — it’s a major project and a major draw for this area.”
Dredging activities, carried out by BDS Construction, also help rebuild the barrier dunes and beaches in the region that protect local homes and businesses, Goodnough said.
“Material removed from the channel is deposited on nearby shorelines, some of which have been badly eroded in recent years due to high water on Lake
Ontario,” she said.
Funding for the SPCMA disbursement was provided through ARPA, a nearly $2 trillion economic stimulus package approved by Congress in 2021. The spending package contained $350 billion for state and local governments, including $22 million for Oswego County.
In 2021, the Oswego County Legislature created the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) and tasked it with administering the county’s ARPA funds. ARPA funding decisions are made by the Oswego County Legislature with the assistance of the county’s ARPA Task Force, which reviews applications to ensure eligibility.
Oswego County distributes ARPA funding in strategic ways to maximize its impact on public health and safety while recognizing the economic harm the COVID-19 pandemic caused throughout local communities.
For more information on ongoing Oswego County ARPA projects, visit the OSI website at https://www.oswegocounty.com/government/county_legislature/american_rescue_plan.php.