2019 Annual Meeting at Lourdes Camp Paul F. Torrisi
It was a picture-perfect evening at Lourdes Camp on the lakeshore on June 29th and over 300 SLA supporters were present, including those from all 5 towns in the Skaneateles Lake water shed and Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon, Onondaga County Legislator Julie Abbott-Kenan, and Town of Skaneateles Supervisor Janet Aaron.
Annual Meeting Co-chairs Fran Rotunno Fish and Elizabeth Legg Madden and a very large corps of volunteers organized and coordinated the event. Those attending enjoyed vesting with old friends and making some new ones. A great picnic supper cooked over the grill by Lourdes’ own griller supreme , Tom, along with salt potatoes and a variety of salads , watermelon, cookies and drink provided with the generosity of Anyela’s Vineyards, the Blue Water Grill, the Colonial Lodge, Doug’s Fish Fry, Gilda’s, Joelle’s French Bistro, Johnny Angel’s, The Krebs, the Lake House Pub, the Mandana Inn, Moro’s Kitchen, the Skaneateles Bakery, Skaneateles Country Club, TOPS Food Market, Valentine’s Pizza and Deli, the Village Bottle Shop and White Birch Vineyards and the Falcone Family and wonderful members who baked cookies and made the salt potatoes, lemonade, iced tea and cucumber water. With music provided by Perform 4 Purpose the setting was perfect.
SLA President, Paul Torrisi opened the formal component of the meeting extending thanks to Mike Preston, Director of Lourdes for facilitating the SLA’s use of a wonderful facility, once again and to Fran and Betsey and their corps of volunteers.
In introductory remarks , SLA President Paul Torrisi mentioned that since 1994 the City of Syracuse has done remarkable work with the septic system inspection program and the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program (SLWAP) through the Onondaga County Soil & Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) as a requisite from the NYS Health Dept. to keep Giardia and Cryptosporidium out of its drinking water supply. In return, the City maintains its filtration avoidance waiver. These are two organisms from animal and human waste that can cause serious illness in humans, if ingested. He noted that these programs have also been shown to be effective in lowering phosphorous levels in the lake compared to slightly higher levels recorded previously.
He also noted that what was not active on the radar screen in 1994 are arguably, now, the two most critical things leading to the “tipping point” with the HABs crisis of 2017: 1st the exponentially increasing impact from climate change, i.e., sediment & nutrient runoff/erosion and 2nd the impact from aquatic invasive species (namely zebra/quagga mussels) which were introduced by watercraft at about that same time.
He emphasized that now, the City of Syracuse with this mandate from NYS to regulate the watershed, needs to not only continue these vital programs, but also show leadership among all the other municipal stakeholders forming a collaborative effort (call it what you like-a watershed council, inter-municipal organization, or even a commission) as an attempt to slow down further degradation of the water quality in the lake. This organized collaborative effort is absolutely necessary to effectively regulate and enforce a lake wide program of mandatory boat inspections and decontamination when necessary, and to uniformly lead the charge on “controlling the controllables” of runoff and erosion throughout the watershed.
Frank Moses was introduced as the SLA’s new Executive Director and Paul noted that after six weeks on the job it’s evident that Frank has the experience and “know how” to advance the SLA’s mission even further with his strong background in water ecology and education from SUNY ESF in environmental policy/management. Frank expressed that he was very thankful to have been able to overlap with Rachael DeWitt and appreciated the groundwork she established.
Fran Rotunno Fish, Membership/Fundraising Chair emphasized the need to spread the word near and far to neighbors, friends, family, and businesses in the area so that annual membership continues to grow and support SLA’s “game plan to protect and preserve our treasured lake.” She emphasized that “SLA is all about its MEMBERSHIP.”
Jessica Millman, Co-Chair of the SLA Legacy Fund Capital Campaign with David Birchenough, was happy to report that it has grown over $1million in a year and a revised goal was set at $1.5million! She reminded everyone that this Fund was established to provide “seed money” for watershed study and remediation work that is planned to control HABs in advance of completion of the 9E Plan certification, which will open the floodgates for additional funding in the years to come. The public component for this campaign was “kicked off” at the Party on the Point hosted at the Skaneateles Country Club just a few weeks ago with over 450 in attendance!
Joe Grasso, Nominating Chair, announced the new slate of Board nominees for approval by those present. They included Jessica Millman, Dr. Neil Murphy, Dana Hall, Michael McMahon, Rick Garrett, Dr. David Duggan, MD and JD Delmonico. All were elected to serve for a three-year term. In addition, seven of the existing Board members with expiring terms were all confirmed for another three years. Joe mentioned that with the recent revision of the By-Laws, the Board of Directors was increased in size to 25 members consisting of 3 distinct classes whose terms would expire at different times, thus allowing the Board constituency to be refreshed regularly. Anyone interested in nominating themselves or others as Board openings occur each year should submit names to Frank Moses or directly to the Nominating Chair for committee approval.
Buzz Roberts reported on the status of SLA’s boat launch Stewardship Program (8th season) to slow or prevent the influx of aquatic invasive species (AIS) into Skaneateles Lake. It is in the process of being expanded even further this season through contributions from our generous membership. More stewards are on board at the DEC, Mandana, and Scott launches and additional part time staffing will be scheduled for Glen Haven and possibly Borodino. It’s the sincere hope of the SLA leadership that a watershed wide program with mandated inspections/decontamination can be instituted soon once a form of watershed council or commission can be established under the leadership of the City of Syracuse.
Bob Werner and Bill Dean as Co-Chairs of the Nutrient Management Team reported that almost 30 sites within the watershed have been identified as potential areas where one form or another (stream restructuring, riparian buffers, retention/settling ponds) of work might have a significant impact for controlling runoff /erosion. Others are continuing to be identified by homeowners and farmers alike, so please contact the SLA through its website (SkaneatelesLake.org via the ‘contact us” tab) to report any sites you think could be added to the list for consider ation. Bob and Bill also referred to posters and displays at the meeting showing details of specific plans for remediation, including the 5-6 sites that have been targeted for work this season, and are currently at varying stages of approval.
Finally, multiple questions were fielded from those in attendance with responses from the experts leading to stimulating discussion.
The Board of Directors of the SLA extends a thank you to the hundreds of attentive and concerned folks who were there and especially to the many volunteers and community businesses whose generosity enabled the 2019 SLA Annual Meeting to happen.
Source: Skaneateles Press Observer