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2019-04-10 / Front Page

Comment Period Open On Master Plan, Environmental Impacts At East Sidney Lake

By Lillian Browne


The impoundment at the East Sidney Lake dam, off Route 357 in Sidney. Lillian Browne/The Reporter The impoundment at the East Sidney Lake dam, off Route 357 in Sidney. Lillian Browne/The Reporter SIDNEY - A lightly attended public meeting was held at the Sidney Town Hall on April 3 to discuss the draft master plan updates and environmental assessment impacts at East Sidney Lake. The purpose of the meeting was to advise the public about planned updates to the master plan for the federally-owned property, which was first implemented in 1961.

The site includes a recreational area and lake with a flood control dam. The master plan which governs strategic use of the property which guides the development of recreational, natural and cultural resources, is managed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps also manages the flood areas at the site.

The goal of the update to the master plan is to improve infrastructure and utilities, enhance existing recreation sites and amenities, and expand recreational opportunities in key areas. The revised master plan will provide the framework for decision making at the site for the next 15 to 25 years.


Senior Planner John Minter reviews maps with East Sidney Lake on-site staff at a public meeting held on April 3 at the Sidney Town Hall. Lillian Browne/The Reporter Senior Planner John Minter reviews maps with East Sidney Lake on-site staff at a public meeting held on April 3 at the Sidney Town Hall. Lillian Browne/The Reporter East Sidney Lake is located on Ouleout Creek. The dam is approximately four miles downstream from the village of Franklin and six miles upstream from Unadilla.

Recreational facilities at the site were built in 1965, which are operated and maintained by the town of Sidney.

Those recreational facilities include a beach, picnic area, playground, campground, and boat launch.

In crafting the draft update, planners relied on soil, hydrology and groundwater analysis as well as feedback from operators and users.

The resulting product of the updated master plan is a land classification map which will serve as a foundation for what happens at the site.

Planners highlighted areas where they recommended recreation and open spaces continue to be maintained.

The proposed update does not expand recreational assets or areas, Senior Planner John Minter of JG&A Planning said, as the funds are budgeted only for flood management.

People can recommend different things be included at the site, Minter said, but what happens with development must be consistent with the master plan. “If it’s not part of the current park,” Minter continued, “it’s not consistent.”

If a developer were to take interest in the site, Minter continued, they would have to go through the permitting process, through the U.S. Corps of Engineers and an environmental impact study would have to be done.

The land located along the north side of the lake is prime hunting ground, Minter said, and the goal is to preserve and protect that activity and land.

A question was raised about permitting ice fishing on the lake, however safety concerns were raised by on-site operators because of the rapid rise and drop of water levels.

Because there are no proposed projects at the site, any environmental impacts were nonexistent or minimal.

The new guidance for highdensity recreational areas offers a more conservative definition. The 50 acres that fit into the new criteria fall within the East Sidney Lake Recreation Area and the Franklin School District Recreational Fields.

The Multiple Resource Management Land and Vegetative Management Plan was not included in a previous plan. The land may or may not be protected from development but is currently (and for the foreseeable future) undeveloped green space. There are 992 acres that fall within this new criterion.

There are no proposed changes in water use.

The Corps will continue to take comments from the public until April 19 with a final draft to be released June 5.

To submit comments email: CENAB-CC@usace.army.mil or visit nab.usace.army.mil/ESLMaster Plan-Revision/ for an online fillable form.

The draft master plan is available for public review at the Franklin Free Library, 334 Main Street, Franklin.

The draft plan, summary and environmental assessment can be viewed online at nab.usace. army.mil/Portals/63/docs/Recreation/ East Sidney/ESL_ Draft- MP_ March2019.pdf.

Sidney Council member Frank Selleck and Zoning Board of Appeals members Paul Muratore attended the public meeting as representatives for Sidney.

Selleck attended, he said, because East Sidney Lake is a big part of recreation in Sidney and it’s important that he is informed of any proposed changes that would impact Sidney taxpayers.

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