Town Board Provides Whaley Lake Dam Update

The Town Board held a workshop meeting on Wednesday, February 6, at the Holmes Whaley Lake Civic Association. This year, there will be three additional sessions held at the Civic Association building in an effort to provide better accessibility to the residents of Holmes. The agenda for the evening included an update on the Whaley Lake project, which is rapidly nearing completion.

With reconstruction of the dam complete, officials began refilling the lake on Friday, January 18, at 10:30 a.m. Whaley Lake, which has a surface area of roughly 250 acres, is being refilled at a rate of approximately 3/4 inch per day. The spillway of the dam sits at an elevation of 704.80 feet above sea level. At the present time, the water level is still twenty inches below the elevation of the spillway. “Everything is looking good,” said Councilman Phil DeRosa. “We’ve been checking every day for any leakage around the structure.” Recently, the Whaley Lake dam was also visited by newly elected NY State Senator Peter Harckham during a tour of the area he took with Supervisor James Schmitt.

Councilman DeRosa, along with Owners Representative Vinny DiMarco spoke on safety concerns at the dam site, noting that, despite fencing around the area, they had recently observed footprints in the snow in restricted areas. The Town Board has ordered several signs to clearly signal that trespassing is prohibited on the dam. “It’s dangerous and slippery, and you could fall,” said DeRosa. Officials urge anyone who would like to tour the site to contact the Town Board to arrange a time and ensure their safety.

On the subject of safety, DeRosa and DiMarco also spoke on measures being taken in the water surrounding the dam. Once the lake is completely filled, the water will rest several inches above the spillway, and could potentially pose a threat to boaters and swimmers. A thirteen-foot drop exists on the opposite side of the spillway, and officials are working with the Town Buildings and Grounds Department to rig a system of ropes and buoys taken from Lakeside Park to clearly mark the area around the dam as off limits. During the public comment portion of the evening, a resident brought up the possibility of installing a net above the spillway to help prevent against injury.

In response to visitor concerns that the lake level will not be returned to its original levels, officials urged patience as the lake is being refilled. “We need to allow the lake to fill, and we can make adjustments if we need to,” said Owners Representative Vinny DiMarco. These statements were echoed by Councilman DeRosa, who explained that the lake level will fluctuate as conditions change. “We have to wait until the water level is up to the spillway, then we’ll see where it goes,” DeRosa said. “Then it’s going to change every season and every time it rains. The spillway height is the exact same height as the old spillway when the original studies were taken.”

The next Town Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 13, at 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall.