Officials, patrons gather for Lake House opening

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SYLVAN BEACH — The Lake House at Sylvan Beach is open for business and people from all over New York are stopping by to see the sights.

Located on Park Avenue in Sylvan Beach, the Lake House features 100 slot machines, indoor and outdoor lakefront dining options, three full-service bars, an expansive patio, and an outdoor area for live entertainment. Its doors opened Monday at 11 a.m. and a crowd was lining up by 9:30 a.m.

Dorris Councilman, of North Cohocton, and Carol Benedict, of Rochester, were among the around 70 people waiting for the Lake House’s doors to open and see it for the very first time.

Benedict said she had a cottage off of Route 49 and is here for the summer. Her friend Councilman was there visiting. The fishing is what brings Benedict out to Sylvan Beach but the Lake House was something she and Councilman said they needed to visit.

“The Lake House looks beautiful,” Benedict said. “They did a nice job on it. The beach hasn’t been very active the last couple of years and it needed something to freshen it up. I think the Lake House will bring more people in.”

“It’s nice to see these kinds of investments in the Beach,” she added. “I can’t wait to get inside.”

Dan Jones, Oneida Nation Enterprises director of guest experience, welcomed everyone to the grand opening of the Lake House, saying this grand opening is not only exciting but also special.

“At a time when development throughout the state has come to a stand-still, we’re reminded how fortunate we are for the Oneida Indian Nation’s commitment to our region,” Jones said. “We understand the unique and vital role the Oneida Indian Nation has in helping our recover from these unprecedented times, along with many of our guests.”

A mix of 60 full and part-time jobs comes with the opening of the Lake House. Construction alone created 150 jobs for the area.

Jones said the grand opening ceremony was being held in the park, rather than the Lake House, to honor the Sylvan Beach community and celebrate the moment together.

“Our hopes and vision for this community are aligned,” Jones added.

“Several months ago, we didn’t think we’d be able to open this summer given the challenging time,” said Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation Representative. “But given the incredible commitment of [the people joining us], we have — together — willed this day into reality.”

Halbritter thanked Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. for showing leadership in such a trying time in Oneida County’s history and being focused on the health and safety of the region. “As always, the Oneida Indian Nation stands with you,” he added.

Halbritter continued, saying the reason why the Oneida Indian Nation invested in Sylvan Beach is because of its potential and the commitment of people to the Beach like Picente, Sylvan Beach Mayor Greg Horan, and Sylvan Beach Village Administrator Michael Sayles. Halbritter thanked them for the “...Herculean effort” that went into getting the Lake House opened.

“Successful projects always start with successful partnerships,” Halbritter added. “And that’s what we have here. [The OIN] believe we’ve created what we hope to be a model for further investments into this community.”

Halbritter acknowledged and thanked the work of The Hayner Hoyt Corporation and Central-Northern New York Building & Construction Trade Council.

Jeremy Thurston, president of Hayner Hoyt, was thanked for Hayner Hoyt’s impact on the Oneida Indian Nation.

“You intuitively understand what we’re trying to accomplish, the standard we’re trying to meet, and the legacy we’re trying to build,” Halbritter said. “What we’ve done in the last seven years alone has been historic.”

To that end, Halbritter presented Thurston and Hayner Hoyt Corporation with a picture of all the buildings and projects Hayner Hoyt has had a hand in these last seven years with a Native proverb: In any great undertaking, it’s not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.

“And we’ve always depended on you,” Halbritter said. “And you’ve delivered. The Lake House at Sylvan Beach may be the best yet.”

Picente spoke at the grand opening, saying that to be at the grand opening is hard to believe.

“I’ve used the phrase in many discussions but we are really in no ordinary time in this world or country,” Picente said. “And we’ve lost that sense of normalcy some months ago. But we all know it’ll back with us sooner rather than later.”

Picente thanked all who put the work into seeing the Lake House to fruition.

“Sylvan Beach is a gem of Oneida County,” he said. “It’s a major tourist attraction for us and this investment here is probably the biggest in a generation, without a doubt. And it means a lot of Sylvan Beach and Oneida County. Today is another historic day in the annals of Oneida County because of what everyone has done, what everyone believes in, and what we can enjoy each and every day. To the Oneida Indian Nation: congratulations on another successful venture.”

Greg Lancette, president of the Central-Northern New York Trades Council, said the Lake House is the latest chapter of the Oneida Indian Nation’s vision as they strive towards excellence.

Lancette explained that from a logistical standpoint, the Lake House was a monumental challenge that would have needed a small miracle had it not been for the communication, coordination, and drive of the Oneida Indian Nation.

On behalf of Sylvan Beach, Horan said the Beach appreciates the investment the Oneida Indian Nation has made to the community. “The Lake House is going to be a part of our history for a long time to come,” he added. “Sylvan Beach has been a tourist and summer destination for years to come. And now we can stretch that season just a little bit.”

Horan brought up an old toast he knows, saying “You can’t adjust the wind. You adjust the sails. And what an adjustment the Lake House is going to be at Sylvan Beach.”

The Lake House will follow the same Safer Together protocols as all Oneida Indian Nation properties, including:

Restricting access for guests traveling from any of the 31 states and two countries identified as having increased cases.

Screening of all guests and employees entering the properties. Anyone traveling from one of the restricted states or countries will not be permitted to enter.

Mandatory face coverings for employees, guests, and vendors, wherever feasible. 

When face coverings for guests are not feasible, physical distancing and limited occupancy will be enforced.

All guests ordering alcoholic beverages must also purchase an accompanying food item with the initial drink(s).

Gloves required for all employees who are working in direct contact with guests.

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