Group trying to rebuild what Mother Nature destroyed

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    SPARTA - Marla Saben, the owner of "Zoe's by the Lake" in Sparta is hoping to see her restaurant live up to its name. Her establishment sits exceptionally close to what was once called Seneca Lake, but is now commonly referred to as Seneca Meadow. The approximate 28 acres of land that extends into Byram was transformed from a large lake to an overgrown cluster of weeds and wildlife after the flood of 2000 broke the dam in August of that year. Saben, along with seven other members of the Seneca Lake Club Fundraising Committee, is attempting to raise tens of thousands of dollars to bring the lake back. On Monday, June 28, Saben is holding a fund-raiser at her restaurant in hopes of raising $6,000 for her cause. Starting at 7 p.m., guests of Zoe's can enjoy a full-course dinner of the new summer menu that includes wine service at a cost of $75 per person. All proceeds from the event will help pay for costs associated with the deforestation of the lake. Currently, the lake is under construction. A federal loan is paying over a half a million dollars in costs associated with building a new dam. The structure is being built larger than its predecessor to help avoid what happened four years ago, and should be completed by this fall. However, the loan will only cover the costs of the new dam. The lake committee fund-raising money will help with the cost of removing the years' worth of vegetation in the lake to allow for boating and swimming, in addition to the expenses of refurbishing the lake clubhouse and beach that have been eroding since the flood. "I purchased my house after the lake changed," said lake committee member Christa Collis last week. "I'm very excited about this because I've never seen it." In September 2003, a similar dinner was held at Zoe's, which already helped to raise some of the money needed for the committee's plan. If enough money is raised with the help of the committee's ongoing projects, an aerating fountain will also be installed in the lake to prevent the growth of algae. "We're thrilled to be a part of the Seneca Lake community," said Saben. "Having the lake back will be the icing on the cake." For more information on the lake committee or restaurant information, or for reservations for the charity dinner, residents may call Zoe's at 973-726-7226.