December 8, 2021

County considers expanding Dwyer Park improvements

Park work backed

Photos by Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Amari Scott, 1, plays at Dwyer Park in Preble as his 5-year-old sister, Alliyah Scott, splashes behind him. Their parents, Melissa and Mike Scott of Syracuse, said they like the park because it’s quiet, and would seek to improve the environment around it.

Mike Scott of Syracuse watched his kids by a picnic table near the outlet to Little York Lake. The park is pretty nice the way it is, he said, but maybe the money could go to improving environmental issues.

“It’s pretty fine the way it is,” Scott said Wednesday. “Not a lot of people know that it’s here.”

Still, he caught some scent from farms earlier this season, and the milfoil is spreading on Little York Lake, even though lakeside homeowners are taking steps to keep it in check.

Nearby, 5-year-old Alliyah and 1-year-old Amari splashed in the creek and played with their dog.

“It’s nice,” said their mother, Melissa Scott, who learned about the park when she lived in Tully several years ago. “It’s small.”

Cortland County legislators on the Budget and Finance Committee voted, 6-1, Tuesday to use $50,000 in leftover funds from the county’s share of occupancy tax money next year to help get the park back into shape. Legislator Chris Newell (R-Cortlandville) was absent. The resolution will go before the full Legislature on Thursday.

“We do not have a state park, we only have a county park and it’s been neglected over the years,” said committee Chairman George Wagner (R-Marathon, Lapeer). “We’d like to get to the point where we put at least $50,000 a year into this park to make it worth coming to Cortland County.”

Legislator Linda Jones (R-Homer) said a lot has been done at the park, like updating the pavilion theater, painting the smaller bridges and replacing grills, but more needs to be done.

To help fund projects, Jones said the county will need to take $50,000 a year from the occupancy tax for several years until all that’s left is routine maintenance. The tax is meant to fund efforts to draw tourists to the county.

And tourists do see the park. The Cortland Repertory Theatre, which runs shows at the theater in the park, draws 20 to 25 bus groups a summer — coming from Syracuse, Binghamton, Rochester and even Buffalo. Producing Artistic Director Kerby Thompson has said about 40% of the audience typically comes from outside the county.

Other projects county officials are considering include painting the larger bridges at the park, repairing Mary’s Bridge on Mary’s Trails along the east side of the park, adding a volleyball court, replacing the playground equipment and adding horseshoe pits.

People have their own ideas. Colbie Lockwood of Cortland was canoeing with his 15-yearold brother, Boston, Wednesday at Green Lake at Dwyer Park’s north end.

Colbie Lockwood of Cortland launches his canoe to go fishing on Green Lake at the north end of Dwyer Park in Preble as his brother, Boston, casts his line from the shore. The Lockwoods said they’d like to see better launches at the park, and maybe spruce up the playgrounds.

“I usually come here on my days off,” Colbie Lockwood said. “It’s nice to get out here and fish.”

What do they want to see at the park?

“Better boating access,” the elder Lockwood said. “a place to launch on this side.”

Sprucing up the playground would be good, too, the brothers said, and maybe the pavilions.

Olivia Potter of Homer also wants to see upgrades to the playground.

“It looks exactly like it did when I was a kid,” said Potter, who was baby-sitting a pair of children who were splashing in the creek that connects Green Lake to Little York Lake.

Porter is 21, now, and if she doesn’t use the slides as much as she did when she was 10, she might like to camp at the 55-acre park. She’d love to see connections for recreational vehicles, but concedes installing them might be beyond a $50,000 budget. But maybe tent campsites, to start.

“I like this place,” Porter said. “It’s peaceful and calm. And close.”

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Managing Editor Todd R. McAdam contributed to this article.