SYNOPSIS: Tonetta Lake is the is one of the best kept secrets in the town of Southeast. It is open to residents that purchase a day-pass or season pass. Season Pass holders are allowed a limited number of guests. Facilities include a sandy beach, floating dock with diving board, floating dock with waterslide, two kids’ water slides, playground, kayak and paddle boat rentals, swimming lanes, picnic tables and BBQs.
DIRECTIONS: Tonetta Lake Beach is at the end of Pumphouse Road off of Tonetta Lake Road (North Brewster Road becomes Tonetta Lake Road as you approach the village) in Southeast. It shares a parking lot with Castle Park, another town property, that has ballfields, tennis courts and a playground. There is a separate page for Castle Park.
HISTORY: According to William Pellatreu and William Blake, who both wrote books on the history of Putnam County, Tonetta Lake is named after a freed slave named Tone. Blake’s record indictes Tone fought in the Revolutionary War, and later settled upon the shore of the lake, running a business catering to lakegoers. The lake has been know in the past as “Tone’s Pond” as well as “Waring Pond”.
In the late 1800’s local resident George Hine(b.1834-d.1914) owned the lake. (The home of George & Josephine Hine still stands on Tonetta Lake Road/North Brewster Road, just east of the intersection with Pumphouse Road. As of 2012, the house is painted blue. It was built in 1862.) According to “The Town of Southeast 1788-1988”, Mr. Hine was during his life a farmer, a director of Putnam County Savings Bank, Presbyterian Church trustee, the town’s first elected commissioner of elections, the town assessor, the commissioner of highways, and town supervisor. He and his son had an ice house on the west side of the lake, and George Hine was the first president of the Tonetta Outing Club, which also had a building on the west shore of the lake.
According to a 1997 town publication, “Lake Tonetta: A Guide to the Past, Present and Future”, the park property was purchased by the town in 1963 from the Mengel estate. To the north of the lake is an Atlantic White Cedar Swamp, which was identified in the same document as being one of the northern most inland swamps of its kind in New York State. The town acquired the swamp property in 1991 to help protect the water quality of the lake. This area to the north of the lake is known as the Cedar Swamp Conservation Area.
In the same 1997 report, Lake Tonetta is reported to be 74.9 acres, with 8448 feet of shoreline and a maximum depth of 22.3 feet. The lake is 444 feet above sea level.
In the past, a Winter Carnival was held at the beach, complete with ice skating and other winter activities.
MAPS & ADDITIONAL INFO: For more info, visit the town’s Recreation Department online at http://www.townofsoutheast-ny.com/public_documents/fov1-0001764e/index