The Town of Ellery has asked the Chautauqua County Legislature to support and help implement a six-point plan for improvement of Chautauqua Lake.
Legislator Lisa Vanstrom requested that Legislative Clerk Olivia Lee read the letter outlining the proposal from Ellery Town Supervisor Larry Anderson out loud for all members present to hear.
The plan for future lake improvement includes lakeside municipalities, the county, and state leaders reaching an agreement on the goal for Chautauqua Lake management. It also calls for contracting with a university-led group of scientists, engineers, and project managers to develop a multi-year management plan. The third point requests that $7 million in the County’s American Rescue Plan funds be designated toward the development and implementation of the plan. The fourth point seeks to revisit a county-wide funding mechanism for Chautauqua Lake protection and rehabilitation including use of existing property, sales, and occupancy tax revenue with the potential for increases in those tax rates.
The proposal would use an organization of lakeside municipality mayors and supervisors with support from county government to oversee the development and implementation of the plan and manage lake and watershed activities consistent with the goal set. This organization would be unaffiliated with lake organizations.
The last point in the proposal asks State Senator George Borrello and Assemblyman Andy Goodell to work to obtain state funding for the lake and to work with the State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Larry Anderson, speaking at the second privilege of the floor, thanked the legislature for reading the letter and said it took 50 to 60 years for Chautauqua Lake to “get this bad,” “And it’s not going to get fixed overnight. It’s going to take some time. But I really feel that our six-point plan is the way to start and if we can get enough support and everybody comes together with the townships, the villages along the lake, that I think we can finally go in the right direction.”
The Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency, which was formed in 2018 to study the creation of a lake protection and rehabilitation district, voted in January to not move forward with a tax district.
Bemus Point Mayor Jeff Molnar also addressed the Legislature and said after attending various CLPRA and lake organization meetings, it was clear that “not everyone was rowing in the right direction,” “I’ve learned about the proposal that the town of Ellery has put forward. And unless I get any negative feedback from my Board of Trustees in the village, then I intend to support, at least, the portion about the mayors and supervisors organization.”
Mayville Mayor Rick Syper also made a short statement saying he supports Ellery’s plan.
County Executive PJ Wendel said the lakeside municipality leaders group proposed by Ellery to oversee the effort would be a new group.
He said while 3 of the 9 leaders are in agreement, it’s been tough to get consensus, “I don’t think they’re too far off but everybody has their different opinions and philosophies. And we’ve said this, we’re not going to get a unanimous consensus, but we do have to look at what’s happening. My push for this year is a collaborative effort. We have yet to do that in Chautauqua Lake. We harvest and we use herbicides. But I have a big push with our working group, if you will, between the Watershed (Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy) , CLA (Chautauqua Lake Association), and CLP (Chautauqua Lake Partnership) to have a collaborative plan this year to start.”
Legislature Chairman Pierre Chagnon gave credit to Ellery for developing the plan. He said there’s significant overlap between what the town and County Executive Wendel are working on, “I know that the County Executive has met with the town of Ellery representatives to discuss his directions and their plan. Personally, I think that it’s exciting, the concept of getting all of the towns and villages around the lake agreeing on what should be done and working together to help the lake.”
Chagnon said he’s looking forward to learning more about Wendel’s plan in the near future.