Tell Onondaga County: Don’t Build the Amphitheater on the Wastebeds!

Onondaga County (upstate New York, USA) plans to construct a 17,500-seat, open-air amphitheater and related amenities (picnic areas, festival grounds, and a smaller community theater) atop massive industrial wastebeds on the west shore of Onondaga Lake. The wastebeds are not an appropriate place to build this facility. Please sign our petition urging the County administration to find an alternative site that is safer for the public and environment.

This petition is supported by:

Central New York Chapter, Izaak Walton League of America

Central New York Chapter, National Organization for Women

Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Law Office of Joe Heath

Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation

Onondaga Shoreline

Partnership for Onondaga Creek

Sierra Club, Iroquois Group

The Nine Mile Creek Conservation Council

The following are just a handful of our many concerns about the wastebeds site:

                                                                                                                                   

Noise: Even the County’s limited noise analysis shows that concerts will routinely violate local noise ordinances. The only solutions proposed are limited changes to one of four sets of speakers and asking residents to go inside or leave the area for the evening.                             

 

Traffic: The County’s traffic analysis shows that large concerts will create unacceptable traffic problems in surrounding areas. The short-term solutions discussed in the analysis (with no cost information) won’t fix the problem and the County acknowledges that undefined long-term changes will have to be developed.

 

Cost: The County has not released a business plan for the amphitheater, so the public has no data to compare the costs of building on this challenging site versus alternative locations. We know that the bulk of the wastes are unstable and corrosive, so the County will have to build the amphitheater on top of specially coated steel pilings. There will also be a need for extensive traffic mitigation measures. Besides failing to analyze project costs, the County has not provided any evidence to support its claim that the amphitheater will bring economic benefits to surrounding communities.  

 

Health and Safety: The proposed location is part of the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site and is made up of industrial wastes piled 40 to 80 feet deep. The wastes contain hazardous chemicals at levels considered unsafe. Some of the chemicals are carcinogenic and others are capable of vaporizing into the air. The proposed “cleanup” plan simply covers the hazardous materials with soil and vegetation of varying depths, depending on known toxicity and projected use. In some places, this cover would be nothing more than enhanced vegetation. This is a problem because we have incomplete information about the location of hazardous chemicals, the projected uses of the area and the ways that site users will be kept away from dangerous areas or areas with minimal covers.

 

Wildlife: The amphitheater is proposed for one of the last undeveloped sections of habitat along Onondaga Lake. The County inappropriately discounts the impacts of noise, lights, chemical run-off, and intensified human presence on wildlife (on the site or in adjacent undeveloped areas) and ignores issues of habitat fragmentation.                        

                                   

Loss of Natural Space: The County suggests that there is community support for this project. However, recent public forums and surveys have all indicated that the public’s highest priority for the lakeshore is maintaining or restoring natural areas.

 

Injustice: Building a commercial venue at this site profoundly disrespects the historical and cultural importance of Onondaga Lake, the birthplace of western democracy. Onondaga Lake is sacred to the Onondaga Nation and the Haudenosaunee, because it was here on the lake’s shores that the Peacemaker helped them form the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, uniting nations under the Great Law of Peace. The Founding Fathers of the United States drew inspiration from Haudenosaunee political structure and philosophy.                                                     

For more information about the dangers and problems associated with the wastebed amphitheater project, please click here.

Dear County Executive Mahoney,


We the undersigned organizations and individuals are writing to express our concerns regarding Onondaga County’s plans to construct a 17,500-seat, open-air amphitheater and related amenities (picnic areas, festival grounds, and a smaller community theater) atop massive industrial wastebeds on the west shore of Onondaga Lake. The wastebeds are not an appropriate place to build this facility. We urge your administration to find an alternative site that is safer for the public and environment.


The following are just a handful of our many concerns about this site:                                                                                                                               


Noise: Even the County’s limited noise analysis shows that concerts will routinely violate local noise ordinances. The only solutions proposed are limited changes to one of four sets of speakers and asking residents to go inside or leave the area for the evening.                             


Traffic: The County’s traffic analysis shows that large concerts will create unacceptable traffic problems in surrounding areas. The short-term solutions discussed in the analysis (with no cost information) won’t fix the problem and the County acknowledges that undefined long-term changes will have to be developed.


Cost: The County has not released a business plan for the amphitheater, so the public has no data to compare the costs of building on this challenging site versus alternative locations. We know that the bulk of the wastes are unstable and corrosive, so the County will have to build the amphitheater on top of specially coated steel pilings. There will also be a need for extensive traffic mitigation measures. Besides failing to analyze project costs, the County has not provided any evidence to support its claim that the amphitheater will bring economic benefits to surrounding communities.  


Health and Safety: The proposed location is part of the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site and is made up of industrial wastes piled 40 to 80 feet deep. The wastes contain hazardous chemicals at levels considered unsafe. Some of the chemicals are carcinogenic and others are capable of vaporizing into the air. The proposed “cleanup” plan simply covers the hazardous materials with soil and vegetation of varying depths, depending on known toxicity and projected use. In some places, this cover would be nothing more than enhanced vegetation. This is a problem because we have incomplete information about the location of hazardous chemicals, the projected uses of the area and the ways that site users will be kept away from dangerous areas or areas with minimal covers.


Wildlife: The amphitheater is proposed for one of the last undeveloped sections of habitat along Onondaga Lake. The County inappropriately discounts the impacts of noise, lights, chemical run-off, and intensified human presence on wildlife (on the site or in adjacent undeveloped areas) and ignores issues of habitat fragmentation.                                                        


Loss of Natural Space: The County suggests that there is community support for this project. However, recent public forums and surveys have all indicated that the public’s highest priority for the lakeshore is maintaining or restoring natural areas.


Injustice: Building a commercial venue at this site profoundly disrespects the historical and cultural importance of Onondaga Lake, the birthplace of western democracy. Onondaga Lake is sacred to the Onondaga Nation and the Haudenosaunee, because it was here on the lake’s shores that the Peacemaker helped them form the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, uniting nations under the Great Law of Peace. The Founding Fathers of the United States drew inspiration from Haudenosaunee political structure and philosophy.                                            


Respectfully,


Central New York Chapter, Izaak Walton League of America


Central New York Chapter, National Organization for Women


Citizens Campaign for the Environment


Law Office of Joe Heath


Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation


Onondaga Shoreline


Partnership for Onondaga Creek


Sierra Club, Iroquois Group


The Nine Mile Creek Conservation Council

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