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News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

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 ( 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

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

What is the SLA? Who is the SLA?                             Fran Rotunno Fish

The Skaneateles Lake Association is a 501(c) (3) organization. That means we are a not for profit charitable organization.

If you have watched the fascinating program on television entitled “How We Got to Where We Are”, you will find the answer regarding the SLA in the following paragraph.

The SLA evolved from the Skaneateles Lake Pure Water Association, Inc. (SLPWA), founded 1n 1969. In the early 1990s the Tri-County Skaneateles Lake Pure Water Association (TCSLPWA) was formed to continue the work of the SLPWA. In January 2007 the Skaneateles Lake Milfoil Eradication Corporation (SLMEC) was formed with the focus of dealing with the milfoil infestation of Skaneateles Lake. In June 2008, the Skaneateles Lake Milfoil Eradication Corporation merged with the TCSLPWA. In January 2011, the Board of Directors of the TCSLPWA voted to change its name to the Skaneateles Lake Association, Inc. So, there you are, 50 years of an organization that while evolving always through those 50 years only had one purpose….protecting the waters of Skaneateles Lake and protecting the Lake’s watershed.

The vast majority of the funding for all the activities of the organizations that evolved into the SLA has come from volunteer donations. In the early years, significant charitable donations from a relatively small group of people and some governmental funding were the financial engine for all the efforts taken to protect the lake and tis watershed. In 2011, the newly named SLA initiated an annual membership program that over 9 years has grown from a few hundred households to 1000 households and businesses representing close to 2000 individuals committing with their annual memberships to fund the work of the Skaneateles Lake Association.

The SLA’s mission is to promote protection of the water quality of Skaneateles Lake and environmentally sound regional management of its watershed. For 8 years the work of the SLA in reflection of its mission was most notably continuing and expanding the efforts to control the growth of milfoil and initiating and continually expanding the efforts to protect he lake from the introduction of additional invasive species through its Invasive Species Monitoring Steward Program. Additionally, via its Newsletter, columns in this paper and distribution of community educational materials, the SLA worked to educate the entire watershed community as to each person’s responsibility for protecting the Skaneateles Lake Water and its watershed. In 2017, with the advent of the extensive harmful algal bloom, the SLA Board went into overdrive to develop a plan that focused on the prevention of future harmful algal blooms.

The SLA is comprised of members who join annually who share one common value…the importance of protecting the lake and its watershed. Its members may share that value because they drink the water; because they swim, paddle, kayak, fish, canoe, ski, sail, row or motor boat in the lake; because they live on the lakefront full time, seasonally or just a few weeks a year; because they own businesses that they know are supported by those who come to enjoy the lake; or because they just love the lake. SLA members reside in all 5 towns and 3 counties of the lake’s watershed. Some members are new to the areas and some are 3d and even 4th generation lake community families. They reside in the lake community full time, seasonal and even just a few weeks a year. They join for one reason….to protect the lake water and its watershed.

The SLA Board of Directors is a reflection of its membership. Some of our Board members are long-time residents and some are new to the community (by small “town” standards). They reside in the village, in the Towns of Skaneateles, Spafford and Niles. Some reside in the area full time and some are here seasonally. Some of our board members are still in the work force and some are retired. Our board members, like our members, are single, married, parents and grandparents. Our Board members are scientists, technology experts, doctors, lawyers, education professionals, nurses, librarians, businessmen and farmers.

The Skaneateles Lake Association is its membership. A membership of people who choose to join for a variety of reasons. No invitation or sponsorship is needed to join. No requirement for permanent residence or any specific property ownership is necessary for membership. All that is required is the desire to be a part of a group of people committed to supporting a variety of efforts to promote the health of the Skaneateles Lake water and its watershed.

The SLA invites everyone to JUMP IN and JOIN today! You can join the SLA for 2019 online at via the “membership/support” tab or call 315-685-9106 for an Annual Member Registration Form to be mailed.

We thank the following for sponsoring the Milfoil Boat for a day: Maggie & Ed Dienst, Christine Larsen & Vincent Dupolis, Candace & John Marsellus, Jennifer Sutherland, Carrie Lazarus & Dave Birchenough, Beecher Graham & Jonathan Brodock, Barbara 7 William Dean, Anne Marie & Carl Gerst, Deborah & Gary Hind, Lorraine Rapp & Jeffrey Kirshner, Kimball & James Kraus, Kris Tech Wire, Skaneateles Sailing Club, Mary Marshall, Elizabeth & John McKinnell, Julie & Jim Moore, Sara Collins & Robert Parsons, Linda & Dan Roche, Virginia & Gerald Shanley.


Source:  Skaneateles Press Observer

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Farewell from SLA’s first Executive Director                                 Rachael DeWitt

Through my entire life Skaneateles Lake has taught me many things. Growing up I learned how to swim, scuba dive, sail, waterski, and wakeboard on the lake. What started with water related hobbies cultivated a passion for water and a desire to protect and conserve water quality. In middle school I began volunteering with the SLA to spread awareness of the threats of milfoil. In high school I worked on the Milfoil Boat surveying the lake for patches of milfoil, and I began working as an Invasive Species Monitoring Steward. The foundational experiences I had growing up in Skaneateles inspired me to attend college at University of Vermont and major in Environmental Science with a concentration in Aquatic Ecology, Policy, and Management. I then went on to protect other lakes including Onondaga Lake and Lake Champlain only to return to Skaneateles Lake as the first Executive Director of the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA). I like to joke that the SLA has kept me employed over the past 10 years.


It’s been an incredible year working for the Skaneateles Lake Association. The SLA is a unique organization in that a majority of the organization is comprised of volunteers. This year our board is expanding from 20 to 25 members. Our board is made up of PhDs, scientists, environmental consultants, lawyers, engineers, not-for-profit executive directors, political affiliates, teachers, doctors, nurses, self-employed individuals, and many other backgrounds. Combined they poses an incredible variety of skills and are providing them to the SLA free of charge. Think of what someone would have to pay to hire a consulting group with that much knowledge! This knowledge base is what I had access to this year, and this community should recognize the gift that these individuals provide at no cost. They are truly remarkable people who are willing to put in 12-hour days if it means protecting this lake.


With this foundation of people to make up the SLA, we have accomplished a lot over the past year. Our membership has expanded to over 1,000 households (or ~2500 individual members). We are expanding the Aquatic Invasive Species Stewardship Program to cover all the boast launches entering Skaneateles Lake. We’ve acquired an office in St. James Church at 96 East Genesee St (however our mail still goes to PO Box 862). We are combating harmful algal blooms (HABs) through remediation projects, educational opportunities, and scientific studies. We have identified 30 remediation projects such as catch basins, riparian buffers, restabilization of streams, settling ponds, and wetland restoration. Our identified remediation project list seems to grow daily and we are breaking ground on several of these projects this year. Unlike our board members’ ability to work free of charge, our effectiveness in preventing HABs does require money. As a result, we developed the Legacy Fund, which is specifically devoted to fighting harmful algal blooms. We have been able to raise significant funds to implement remediation projects, monitor streams, and other activities that can help reduce the likelihood of a HAB occurrence. We’ve also engaged government officials, local/state/federal government agencies, environmental not-for-profits, universities, freshwater institutes, engineering firms, environmental consulting groups, businesses, and other groups into our efforts. Collaboration is the key to success. We have also hosted several educational and fun events to inform the public about HABs, landscaping for water quality, aquatic invasive species, and general SLA initiatives. These are some of my favorite moments working for the SLA because I am always in awe of how many people come to attend these events. It truly shows how many people care about this lake and will take action to protect it. I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved or supported the SLA. I am amazed at all that has been accomplished by so many impassioned people.


Though it is hard for me to walk away from all that has been started, I know the SLA will be in good hands with our new Executive Director, Frank Moses, who has an incredible resume and toolbox of skills to carry the torch on all the initiatives that have been started. The leadership of the SLA board will guide him, just as they guided me. I will be leaving the SLA on June 14th to continue my environmental education at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego. I will be starting a Master’s degree program on June 26th in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and intend my next career path to focus on coral reef conservation. I am thankful and forever indebted to the SLA for giving me a start in this field. This job has been fun, meaningful, and is one of the reasons I believe I was accepted into graduate school. Though I will be moving across the country, Skaneateles Lake will never be far from my thoughts and I am still happy to serve as a lake conservation resource to anyone seeking advice. I will truly miss the SLA and hope to be helpful to them from across the country.



Please thank the following for their sponsorship of the Milfoil Boar for a day: Nancy & Douglas McDowell, Elmer Richards & Sons, Donna & William Davis, Mary & Paul Torrisi, Katherine & Joseph Compagni, Jane & Peter Hueber, Marjorie & Kenneth Blanchard, Alexandra & Richard Nicklas, and Libby & Arnold Rubenstein.

Please thank the following for their co-sponsorship of the Milfoil Boat for a day or multiple days: Anne & John Sveen;, Maureen & Joseph Wilson, Richard Alciati, Joan Christy & Thomas Bersani, Susan & Dana Hall, Kathy & Kevin LaGrow, Pamela & Michael Odlum, John Priest, Rhonda & Craig Richards, Patricia & David Stone, Carolyn & John Tierney, Lisa & Michael Wetzel, Paul White, Sharon & Edward Barno, George Ann & Edwin Bock, Carol & Tom Fletcher, Mark Allyn, Ann Buehler, Jacqueline Bays & Joseph McCaffrey, Elizabeth Downes & Patrick Doyle, Barbara Egtvedt, Jean Shook & Chris Johnson, Molly & Bill Spalding.

Please thank the following for their sponsorship of a Steward for a day or multiple days: Martha & William Cole, Lori Ruhlman & Dan Fischer, JJo & Bob werner, Lisa Letizia & Paul Floreck, Dr. Robert Vitkus, Dessa & William Bergen, Kathryn Pasqua & James Helmer, Suzanne & Scott McClurg, Christine & Robert Pierce, Judd Seales, Brenda & Thomas Parkes, Racquel & James Vlassis, Kristopher Scholl, Mary & Paul Torrisi, Jane & Peter Hueber.

Please thank the following for their donations to the David Lee Hardy Fund which significantly supports our Steward Program: Linda Solana & Clifford McBroom, Patty & Jim Hertz, Mary Ellen Faughnan & Gregory Kenien, Robert Warfield, Graia Koziol, Nancy Murray, Kuni & Patrick Riccardi, Carol Lynne Krumhansl & Jeff Roberts, Katherine & Joseph Compagni, Joan & Alan Coates, Mary Giroux, Kathleen & Dan Mezzalingua, Jane & Peter Hueber, Edward & Deborah Brennan.

Join all these generous donors in SLA Membership, Milfoil Boat, Steward and Hardy Fund Sponsorship and go beyond SLA Annual Membership and support the Legacy Fund for Skaneateles Lake. You can do this online at or call 315-685-9106 for a Member Registration Form.

Source:  Skaneateles Press Observer





News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Letter to the Press-Observer

From the natural springs that feed into it, to the unfiltered water that pumps out – Skaneateles Lake truly is the beating heart of our community and our region. It’s our lifeblood. It’s our economic engine. It’s a shared love that unites us all. Now it’s time we step up to maintain the legacy of collective care, appreciation, and preservation of our most precious resource.

On behalf of the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) Board of Directors, we want to thank the hundreds of people who attended the “Party on the Point” on Sunday, May 24th. In addition to expanding the organization’s membership base, the event provided the SLA an opportunity to launch the Legacy Fund, a capital campaign designed to fund research and remediation efforts to address the scourge of Harmful Algal Blooms. Action must be taken now to better understand the causes of the bloom and to test preventative measures.

Investing in our lake now will eliminate the costs of doing nothing:

  • Treating tainted drinking water at a cost of over $150 million if the filtration avoidance waiver is lost.
  • Losing a $2 billion tax base as lakefront property values plummet.
  • Compromising the ecosystem of one of the cleanest lakes in
    the United States.
  • Reducing the appeal of living and recreating in Skaneateles to prospective employees of the various local businesses.

One of the most exciting announcements at the event came from County Executive, Ryan McMahon, who will provide the Town of Skaneateles with a loan of $106,000 to expedite the monitoring and analysis required as we develop our comprehensive watershed plan (also known as the 9 Element Plan). This investment will pay dividends in the future and frees up the SLA to invest more money into remediation projects.

By all measures, the event was an enormous success and due to the efforts of many, many people, including:

Entertainment: The Dean’s List and Passengers, The Band.

Hosts: The Skaneateles Country Club (also working with the SLA to remediate Dowling Creek).

Government Leadership: Bob Antonacci, Ryan McMahon, Julie Abbott-Kenan, Mike Plochocki, and Janet Aaron

Promoter: Chase Design.

Raffle donors: Debbie Bobbett, the Chamber of Commerce, Mid-Lakes Navigation, Skaneateles Country Club, Betsey and Bob Madden, Lakeview Auto/Bob DeWitt, and the Skaneateles Marina.

Volunteers: Bill Dean, Fran Fish, Paul Torrisi, Kelli Ide, and the many other SLA volunteers.

SLA staff: Frank Moses, Incoming Executive Director, and interns Mia Grasso and Mitch Madden.

If you have not made an investment in the Legacy Fund, please consider doing so now. For information on how to make a donation, visit We thank you and look forward to seeing you at future SLA events, including the Annual Meeting from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm on June 29th at Lourdes Camp.

Jessica Millman, Co-Chair

Legacy Fund Campaign


Rachael DeWitt, Executive Director

Skaneateles Lake Association

Source:  Skaneateles Press Observer




News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Membership Matters – verb and noun                                               Fran Rotunno Fish

Membership matters – verb. Yes, membership matters because each and every membership helps to substantiate the SLA as a significant organization. READ MORE

News from the Skaneateles Lake Associaton

SLA seeks community responses on watershed survey
Rachael DeWitt, SLA Executive Director

The Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) has partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct an online survey regarding perceptions of Skaneateles Lake.READ MORE