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Editorial: Mirror Lake restoration will improve one of Buffalo’s most underappreciated assets

For even the longest of Buffalo residents, there are, as pointed out in a recent News story, “hidden jewels” and Mirror Lake in Forest Lawn ranks among the top. It’s a beauty that too few people take the time to see.

That’s why it was so shameful that the lake has sat dank, dingy and downright smelly. The conditions were bad for the area’s blue economy and awful for the environment.

But one does not need to be steeped in the environmental movement to be pleased that this lake is being cleaned up. The benefits will spread like ripples on the water.

First on the scene are crews pumping the lake free of its “spring fed waters,” as the News’ T.J. Pignataro described. This work will continue until April and gives crews the opportunity to “scrape the detritus of decaying plant matter, animal feces and sediment.”

Once completed, workers will remove 7,500 cubic yards of sediment from the lake for disposal in a landfill.

The Mirror Lake restoration is the first step of the Buffalo Sewer Authority’s $2.8 million project to restore Scajaquada Creek along with the waters that feed the lake. Among other items on its to-do list, workers will scrub the bottom of nearby Scajaquada Creek.

This effort is about more than looks. Or smell. As Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, observed, it is also about quality of life, safe drinking water supply and the strength of the local economy.

The Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation is planning to spend more than $896,000 to clean the lake while crews work on restoring Scajaquada Creek. It is not just about surface.

Once work is completed on the lake, dredging operations will begin in the creek. Organic and chemical waste that make up the sediment will be taken to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Confined Disposal Facility on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.

The Sewer Authority is planning to use $1.8 million from the state Environmental Facilities Corporation’s Green Innovations Grant program to pay for the project.

This project will create a Mirror Lake worthy of its name, ensuring that it can sustain life for its inhabitants and quality of life for those who enjoy one of the city’s hidden gems.

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