County Legislature Eyes Possible Lodge Repairs At Camp Zerbe

OSWEGO, NY – The lodge at Camp Zerbe could be getting a much needed facelift.

The camp’s lodge has fallen into disrepair over the years and has become a safety concern, county officials said.

A glimpse inside the lodge from a couple years ago.
A glimpse inside the lodge from a couple years ago.

At its recent meeting, the Oswego County Legislature voted to authorize the chairman of the legislature to file an application for funds from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in accordance with the provisions of Title 9 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1993, in an amount not to exceed $349,491.

This would provide an opportunity to repair the lodge and make it useable so that it may be open to the public, according to Kathy Fenlon, director of the Oswego City – County Youth Bureau, which oversees the county’s camps.

There are limited areas in the northern end of the county where the public can gather (in a park setting), she pointed out.

A business plan has been developed that outlines several purposes the restored lodge could be used for and also notes how the lodge would bring visitors and additional business to the surrounding area.

A lodge evaluation facility audit was conducted. It describes what type of repair work is needed to make the lodge useable once again.

The Adirondack style lodge, built in the 1940s, consists of a large room that features a fireplace at each end, a kitchen and a large open front porch that overlooks Lake Lorraine.

Due to the disrepair, the county has never used the lodge and it has been boarded up for some time now, Fenlon told the legislators.

In 2010, the county received a grant to conduct an assessment study of the lodge. It said the facility could be restored.

There are several different things the camp, on a fee basis, could be used for, Fenlon explained.

They include a meeting site for various groups and organizations, outdoor education classes such as hunter safety, group events such as weddings and family gatherings, and other uses.

Camp Zerbe is on one of the main routes of Oswego County (State Route 104) and is only eight miles from I-81 and easily accessible from neighboring counties.

More traffic to the camp would help local businesses by visitors patronizing restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, sporting gods stress and others, Fenlon noted.

Because the camp is located in a low-income area, the EPA will provide 75 percent reimbursement.

The balance of the repair project would be provided by Oswego County through a combination of cash and in-kind work, Fenlon said.

“I can’t imagine a big demand for this facility without any heat or water,” said Legislator Jim Karasek. “I think we have a phenomenal camp already in Camp Hollis. I think we’re going to see a lot of things come up with that, like erosion of the shoreline.”

He said he couldn’t support the resolution “because the (funds) doesn’t have any real return value for us.”

“I just don’t want anyone to think that once we’ve spent this money, we’re done,” Legislator Amy Tresidder said, alluding to the fact more funding would be needed to completely repair the site. “This would be an on-going project, would it not?”

The resolution is just seeking permission to file the application, Legislator Jack Proud pointed out.

And, Legislator Jim Oldenburg added that Camp Hollis is in Oswego Town.

“Yes, there is money that needs to be spent there as far as the erosion and stuff like that. But again, I would like to say Camp Hollis is in Oswego Town – what about the north country? We forget the north country. Those people are taxpayers as well and I think they deserve the same services that people in this part of the county have on a regular basis,” he said. “There is no need for (the lodge) in its current condition. If we made it a viable building, it would be used.”