ATHENS — A beloved Greene County recreational space is being restored to its natural state, town officials said Thursday.
Green Lake in Athens is a Department of Environmental Conservation boat launch and popular fishing spot located off Valley Road. Until recently, the property sported picnic tables and benches, donated by the Athens Community Foundation, for visitors to enjoy.
But that is changing as the Department of Environmental Conservation moves to return Green Lake to its former condition.
“I’m really heartbroken,” Athens Town Historian Lynn Brunner said Thursday. “We raised that money for a reason. You try to do something for people to enjoy and it’s taken away by the state.”
Athens officials did not receive any notification from DEC, Town Supervisor Robert Butler Jr, said. Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden informed Butler of the change to come.
“We figured we would get ahead of it and take them out,” Butler said.
The three tables and three benches from Victor Stanley cost $11,000, Butler said.
“It’s a shame,” he said. “They didn’t fit in with what DEC wanted going at the park, unfortunately, so they have to come out three years after they were installed.”
Brunner agreed, saying environmental protection and recreational pleasure could have coexisted.
“It’s very sad,” she said. “It wasn’t harming anything.”
The DEC submitted the following comment by email: "The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation maintains a fishing access site and dock on Green Lake through an agreement with Greene County. For information on the removal of picnic tables, benches, and trash, please contact the town of Athens or Greene County."
For now, the furniture is in storage at the highway department, looking for a new home, Butler said.
“We are open to ideas and suggestions,” Butler said. “They are not doing any good in there.”
There is a need for seating at the lake, Brunner said.
“We planned on adding more,” she said. “The need is there. You can’t see a blade of grass because there are so many people there.”
Residents from Catskill and Athens visit the lake to fish and have picnics, Brunner said. “There was no place to sit so they would bring their own chairs,” she said. “I witnessed a little girl standing in the reeds fishing.”
The town also hoped to add a gazebo to the picnic area, Brunner said.
“It is the only recreational area that people in the town of Athens have,” she said.