Development won’t ruin lake, but locals might

To the Editor:

I once thought that development would ruin the beauty of the (gloriously underdeveloped) north end of Seneca Lake. Tourists would not care about our Lakefront Park. Parking would be scarce. Visitors would be rude. The old solitude and peace of Seneca’s unspoiled shoreline would be displaced by the frenetic pace of unchecked tourism.

However, after a few months, my fears seem misplaced.

Trash left by us locals — sometimes adjacent to the too-few and overflowing trash cans — would deter visitors. Dog waste, cavalierly left on the new promenade and boardwalk, seemed to be working: Why would tourists want to dodge those steaming piles of local welcoming? Household waste — apparently brought down to the lakeside from nearby residents who must have run out of capacity at home — would keep tourists away.

And today ... some finishing touches.

First, I observed the driver of a vehicle, displaying an HWS staff parking permit, casually flicking cigarette butts from the window of her car onto newly mowed grass — for over an hour. A drive-by, open-air ashtray is not likely to attract vacationers.

But then the coup-de-grace. I observed a man empty the trash from his SUV’s floormats into the lake from the docks the city has so graciously provided to make the lake more accessible to the public. I felt guilty that I was in no mood to confront him. I turn away and he does it again, apparently with a second floormat. I overcame my timid mood. Says I, “Are you from around here?” Says he, “No, I’m from Keuka Lake. Can I do something for you?” Says I, “No, I was just wondering how you felt it was OK for you to use Seneca Lake for a public dump.”

After arguing that the amount of his waste was so small that it couldn’t possibly matter, he seemed surprised enough at my childish idealism that he merely continued to wipe down his car with a cloth he was wetting and rinsing in the lake. No more floormats. Of course, he might just have been finished cleaning. I wrote down his license plate number.

The Keuka car washer improved my appreciation for the concerns of Seneca Lake residents whose noses are predictably bent out of shape by the accident of living downstream of Keuka Lake. He also sustains my belief that, despite the best efforts of those who would invite visitors to an improved Lakefront Park, we’ve enough local abusers to keep the park all to ourselves.

GERALD MASTERS

Geneva

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