Plans for two new replacement freshwater wells to improve water quality in Hoyt Lake and a new blacktopped walking path around the lake's perimeter to boost recreational enjoyment were announced Tuesday.
The two wells, at the Delaware Avenue end of the lake, will be funded through a $271,000 state grant and $132,000 in city bond funds. Also included are a diversion tunnel, a rehabilitated access road for cleanup and new landscaping.
It is anticipated that boosting oxygen levels in the water will reduce algae and odor problems, and help improve fish survivability.
"This is an important step in the overall cleanup of Hoyt Lake, which is ongoing," Mayor Byron W. Brown said.
The city has been working with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and others to address bacteria, low oxygen and sewage from sewer overflows in the artificially created lake and Scajaquada Creek.
Thomas Herrera-Mischler, the conservancy's president and CEO, said that there are plans to eventually construct a wetland at one end, which naturally cleanses water, and re-establish the original shoreline designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
"Long-term, what we're hoping is that we will have an experience of the lake that is much closer to Olmsted's original design, and that is ecologically sustainable in the long term by cleansing the water through natural processes in a balanced way," Herrera-Mischler said.
Eventually, he said, it is expected that contaminated sediments will be dredged from the lake through federal funding.
The refreshed walking path will be a noticeable and welcome improvement for visitors to Delaware Park who walk around the lake, Herrera-Mischler said.
Another change announced is intended to remedy the drainage problem at the foot of Shakespeare Hill, which has been an unwelcome fixture for all 37 years of Shakespeare in Delaware Park's existence.
"In a year of draught, it's not an issue, but in very, very wet years, it's horrific," said Saul Elkin, the festival's founder and artistic director. "Literally, sometimes [we've been] up to our waist in water, trying to conserve beautiful costumes and trying to make entrances out of the water.
"This is long overdue," he added, "but very welcome."