sp_120Lansing Town Board members expressed concern about hunting on Salt Point when Councilwoman Katrina Binkewicz reported Wednesday on improvements to the property including future plans.  The Town of Lansing manages the park for the DEC (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation), which owns the property.  Part of that agreement provides for the Town to accomodate hunting and fishing.  Town officials say they want the DEC to rethink that requirement.

"I want to get to the point where it's not allowed," Binkewicz said.  "The property is not suitable for that.  Hunting is allowed on the point.  Especially if you are walking during hunting season you should know that.  I expressed concern about it to the DEC.  They have to decide that it's unreasonable and unsafe.  I will chase it down this week and get back to you with that information."

The Town of Lansing signed a 25 year lease to manage the park in 2006.  A management plan was approved by state officials, and compliance with the plan has slowly evolved, with a spurt of activity this year under Binkewicz's guidance.  In many ways improvements to the park make it a victim of its own success.  New hiking trails, an osprey nest, tree and flower plantings, and plans for a picnic area and bird boxes along the trails, and plans to solicit grants for educational kiosks, and a handicap accessible bathroom facility and fishing pier are attracting more people to enjoy the point.  As more people come hunting and safety become more worrying to town officials.

"I don't want this to become a battle between people who want to go out there and people who want to hunt," worried Councilman Ed LaVigne.  "I hope there's a balance here."

Councilman Robert Cree said hunting on the point puts hikers at risk of being hit by an errant shot in a relatively enclosed space.  He expressed concern both for visitors to Salt Point who might be exposed to gunfire and for liability issues the Town might be exposed to.

"I agree with you," Binkewicz said.  "I have brought it up.  I'm a hunter.  It's not that I'm against hunting.  But I don't think that property is suitable for shotgun hunting at all.  I think we need to argue from a town perspective that if ther's shooting there, sure there are no buildings too close to the shooting, but Myers Park has tons of people.  You could have overshooting over Salmon Creek.  this is not a safe place for gun hunting."

It works both ways -- non hunters pursue other activities there that make it difficult, if not impossible, to hunt effectively.  Binkewicz said there has already been an incident of duck hunters who were annoyed by noise from swimmers that kept ducks away.

"It was a hot day," she said.  "There were still people going to the beach area.  The hunters didn't stay because it wasn't very fruitful.  It's not sensible to have that sort of activity there."


Lansing Supervisor Kathy Miller said that stray bullets shouldn't be a problem from duck hunters because of regulations about only shooting them when they are in flight, but worried that deer hunting could put other park visitors at risk.  Councilman Ed LaVigne concurred.

"One of the things I do during hunting season is avoid certain areas," he said.  "Are we allowed to close this area for seven weeks during the hunting season?  There is a responsibility for other individuals in the area."

Binkewicz said the loop area that spans from the park entrance along the bluff to a bluff to the north where the proposed picnic area and a non-motorized boat launch area is located is too close to buildings to allow hunting.  She suggested that the rest of the park could be closed to the general public during hunting season, at least until town and DEC officials resolve the issue.  She has also arranged with Park Superintendent Steve Colt to make warning signs to post on Salt Point during hunting season.

"I'm concerned about people with canoes and kayaks," she said.  "You can be in the middle of that point and you can't see because there is brush and trees.  You don't have a clear sightline.  You can shoot in the middle of that area and somebody could be canoeing in your overshot area.  It's a very big concern for me."

Binkewicz said she has a meeting with DEC scheduled this week and has asked the Cortland office to consult with the person responsible for hunting regulations on state properties before that meeting.