Myers Park Dock

Returning to Myers Park for the first time since winter?  An attractive new dock at Myers Park provides a unique look at the lake, the lighthouse, and the park itself.  That's what it is for, a kind of boardwalk for people to walk along to get a different vantage point.  Park Superintendent Steve Colt says that boating to the dock is impractical, and swimming will not be allowed.

"Flares around the lake, sunsets, the watch fire... people are drawn to water.  And when there's a dock or a pier it's just natural that they go out on it.  It would be an unbelievable vantage point for birding migrations -- I could see people setting up tripods there, getting an angle on the point that you couldn't get before.  It's basically a boardwalk, point of interest, observation point," Colt says.  "There are several reasons for that, but one of the big reasons is the depth of the water where the dock's located is probably four feet at best.  When the guys were building the dock before the railings went up, if you walked to the farthest point out at the end of the dock when the water was really clear in the late winter, early spring, you could look farther out and see the water gets even more shallow because of the sand bar that hooks around from the point by Salmon Creek."

The dock is the latest project by Highway Department employees, using time not needed for road work to improve Lansing's waterfront.  Over the last two years they replaced retaining walls and all the slips in the town marina, saving the Town countless dollars in renovation costs.  This year they came up with a design for the dock and four employees in particular -- Scott Weaver, Mike Milliman, Doug Milliman, and Jamar Redmond did most of the work last winter and spring.

"It is very, very stable.  It is extremely well built," Colt says.  "The Highway Department built it, the same guys that remodeled the marina.  They've got this marine building down to a science now.  They've got it figured out."

Highway Superintendent Charlie 'Cricket' Purcell says they saved the Town $10,000 by doing the work instead of hiring the job out.  $6,000 was originally budgeted for materials, and the final cost was $6,400 after additional railing was added to the project.

"They did a fantastic job," he says. "If you had a contractor come in to do that it's not unrealistic to think that it would have cost $20,000 to $25,000.  I'm proud to say we did it for under $7,000 for the materials.  Obviously there's still a labor cost... our labor costs with benefits and everything probably came to around $9,000.  That's money that they're being paid no matter what I have them doing, so we just juggled the schedule and made it work on the days when we didn't have to do road maintenance."

Low water levels in the already shallow water saved close to another $10,000 because Highway Department equipment could be used to drive the 28 posts into the lake bed instead of having to hire a barge with equipment to drive the posts.

"At one point this winter you could walk from that point by Salmon Creek all the way around to the lighthouse and virtually not get your feet wet," Colt says.  "That's how much sediment and gravel has built up there over the years."

The L shaped dock actually mirrors an old dock in the park that has been gone for decades.  One difference is that the short leg of the L turned south on the old dock, while it turns north on the new one.  Another is that it will have nothing to do with the swimming area, which Colt says will continue to be defined by the traditional rope boundary.

"The idea of it was that the dock is a pretty integral part of the waterfront," Colt says.  "When I was growing up it was there for years.  Swimming used to be taught from that dock.  People in general like to go out on docks or piers for general observation.  That's, in fact, what this is.  It's a vantage point, a point of observation.  At no time will we allow swimming from, jumping from, diving from, or docking alongside of the dock.  It's just not what this is for."

The dock goes 80 feet onto the lake before it takes an L shaped turn for another 20 feet.  It is 6 feet wide and meets ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) regulations.  It sits on 28 posts.  Highway Department employees came up with a design, then TG Miller and the Tompkins County Health Department worked on the engineering.  Purcell says his employees used solid construction to be sure the dock is sturdy and safe.

Myers Park Dock

At first it was thought the eastern-facing portion of the L shape would not have a railing.  An idea was even floated that a lifeguard station could be installed at that point.  But as construction progressed the decision was made to spend a few hundred extra dollars to put railings along the whole span of the dock to prevent accidents from falling or diving into the shallow water.

"It just made more sense to rail the whole thing," Colt says.  "Because I think it also sent a mixed message that if there's one piece without a railing it was OK to jump in from there.  And again, that is absolutely not a message we want to send.  There is absolutely no swimming, no jumping, no diving from that dock.  And no tying up to it."

Increasing sand and sediment creates a sand bank from the Salmon Creek pours into the lake to the south across the swimming area, making a dock for visitors to the park to tie up to impractical.  But Colt says that some time in the future it would be nice to build a dock in the little bay on neighboring Salt Point, where barges came down from the Erie Canal system to load salt from the plant there.

"There was a large pier in the little bay on Salt Point where barges tied up," Colt muses.  "The pilings for that pier are still there, under water.  When you start to dream about different things you wish you could have there, to reproduce that pier would really be neat from a historical perspective.  And it would be another great place to fish from.  The fishing actually is pretty decent there.  That pier was sizable.  It went from that cove area on the north shore of Salt Point.  That would never be a project that you would ask taxpayers to pay for directly, but it would be a great add-on if you could attract grant funding."

Since the most of the work was completed in late April, and the additional railing was finished in mid-May.  Colt says the initial public response has been very positive.

"The railing is kind of unique," he says.  "I think it's very attractive, but it's also very functional.  You don't have to worry about somebody falling off between rails or between posts.  It's very solid, it's strong and it looks good, too.  And it's sort of a throwback to what would have had to been the late '60s when the old dock was there."