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Woodlawn residents seeking easier access to Lake Erie

Woodlawn Beach State Park is the most monitored beach in the state parks system -- and some of that monitoring has even included testing the DNA of E. coli found upstream, Woodlawn residents learned Thursday.

But what they really wanted to know is when the state will change the paths of Rush and Blasdell creeks that now come together, which they contend worsens pollution and leaves them vulnerable to flooding.

About 20 residents met for more than an hour with representatives of the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, as well as several officials from the Town of Hamburg, at the park on Thursday.

"It seems like people are trying to do a lot for us down here," said Stan Blocho, a resident of Third Street. "It's always about the pollution, but our main goal is supposed to be our easement."

Property owners on the Lake Erie side of Route 5 have easements allowing them access to the northern end of the beach. They used to walk down to the water's edge -- but the creeks have moved, so they have to cross Blasdell Creek to get to the lake.

Residents blame the dumping of debris from the beach next to the creek for the change in the creek’s direction.

Hamburg Town Councilman Tom Best Jr. said the town put in a temporary pedestrian bridge this year over the creek, to give residents access to the lake.

"That's not going to help if the creek keeps changing," he said.

Best also suggested several residents meet with the town engineering consultant to show him records they said prove the state is responsible.

"We should worry about how we're going to get them changed so we can get down there," Blocho said, of the creeks.

State parks employees gave a rundown on the testing of water and the watershed that has been done, and a new set of testing ground water that will conclude in December.

"The watershed is a significant source of E. coli and nutrients," said Karen Terbush, who heads the water quality unit of the state parks office. "It's a whole watershed problem."

She said testing of the DNA of E. coli in four creeks upstream from the lake was telling.

"All the samples all the way upstream had human sources," she said.

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