Canandaigua, N.Y.- The beach at Kershaw Park on Canandaigua Lake is closed until further notice, due to suspected environmental contamination.
The remainder of the park remains open to the public.
City leaders say the park which is at the north end of the Lake, was built in the 1920’s and 1930’s by filling in an area extending about 500 feet into the lake bed from the former natural shoreline.
The fill used included ashes, cinders, and tin cans as well as rubble and debris from building demolitions.
When the park was reconstructed in 1996, the beach area was relocated to its current position within the park. The beach is divided by buoy lines into three sections.
Just after the beach opened for the 2012 season on Memorial Day weekend, the waterfront staff noticed construction and demolition debris in the westerly swimming area. Storms the previous week had shifted the currents so as to erode the soil and sand that was covering this debris, leaving it exposed on the bottom of the swimming area.
The City’s Department of Public Works removed the exposed debris and replenished the area with clean sand.
City leaders say after the water cleared much more debris could be seen in the area, indicating that the removal effort needed to address this issue would be much more extensive. Therefore, the western beach area has remained closed to swimming.
On July 5, the State Department of Environmental Conservation excavated a section of the western beach area. The center section of beach was also closed at that time to keep a buffer between the excavated area and the public swimming area. During the excavation, thirteen dump-truck loads of materials were removed and the area was backfilled with sand. The next day, small deposits of a black substance were found in the western beach area, so the beach remained closed. As a precaution, an absorbent “boom” was also placed on top of the water between the western and center sections of beach.
The City contacted the DEC, and on July 9, the DEC Spills Unit came to the beach and examined the debris which had been excavated. The State Department of Health, which regulates public beaches, was also contacted.
Both agencies deemed the area safe for public use, and the center section of the beach was re-opened.
However, the City kept the western beach section closed because park employees working in the water found that their clothing was stained with a sticky black substance.
Small amounts of this substance continued to appear on the beach in the closed area, so on Monday the City took samples of the black material and sent it for testing.
On Tuesday, July 17, a sticky black substance was found on the hands of a child playing in the sand in the center section of the beach.
As a precaution, the City closed all sections of the beach until it is determined what the substance is, and whether it is simply residual from the clean-up project, or is being released from something still buried on the site that needs to be removed.