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Dredging lake will lead to better sledding hill at Como Park

Como Lake Park is about to be a lake again.

As an added bonus, the Lancaster park’s giant sledding hill should be less bumpy on your bumpkin.

Erie County is preparing to excavate about six Olympic swimming pools worth of silt and sediment from a reservoir near Como Park dam.

“The lake itself has filled up with silt,” said Daniel J. Rizzo, commissioner of county parks, recreation and forestry. “We will dredge that material and enhance the current sledding hill.”

As early as this fall, an estimated 18,635 cubic yards of fill could be removed from the lake bed by a backhoe. Plans call for county parks and highway crews to truck the excavated silt and sediment to the sledding hill on the other side of Como Park, Rizzo said.

It could take 30 days to remove the sediment from the 35-acre lake, located east of Lake Avenue.

The lake was created in 1892 by damming Cayuga Creek.

One of the newly repaired gates on the dam at Como Lake Park. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

The county drained the lake earlier this year to complete about $150,000 in repairs to a pair of dam gates.

Sediment flowing downstream collected just above the dam and west of a small island that divides a pair of branches of the creek.

The lake was last dredged over two decades ago.

A wooden lake dock is marooned in a sea of weeds, wildflowers – and even a cluster of sunflowers.

“Everything between the dam and that dock is all silt,” Rizzo said.

That’s a lot of sediment to be placed in an upland area on the other side of the park, outside of Cayuga Creek’s designated flood plain.

That’s part of the reason it will be used to augment the sledding hill, which was created from previous dredgings of Como Lake Park.

The sledding hill at Como Park. (T.J. Pignataro/Buffalo News)

The sledding hill enhancements won't mean steeper slopes.

“We would fill in the low areas to make it a better ride,” Rizzo said. “But, it will not be longer or faster to prevent any injuries.”

Rizzo added: “We would not make it any steeper. That’s not safe for the public.”

Rizzo said the county intends to fill in a few “indentations” on the sledding hill. Most of the excavated fill will be used on the base and backside of the hill.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation tentatively approved Erie County’s plans, but will accept public comments through Sept. 27.

After that, Rizzo said Erie County will get its permits in place – and if the weather cooperates – start the dredging work.

Inclement weather, or unforeseen disruptions to the schedule of county highway crews, may delay the dredging until next year.

Como Park Lake may look 'grotesque,' but it's for good reason

It’s work that some local residents consider overdue.

Resident Mary Culp favors the dredging. The Canisius College biology instructor frequently visits Como Park to walk her dog and gather specimens for class.

“I love the wild part of this park,” Culp said. “You can basically look at the natural world.”

Comments to the DEC on the plan to dredge the lake and use the sediment on the sledding hill can be made by writing to Mark F. Passuite, NYSDEC Region 9 Headquarters, 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo, NY 14203.

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