Water line is ‘win-win’ for Westfield

As the debate goes on about the desire to have municipal water lines run to West Main Road, I felt I had to reply to some of the “alternative facts.”

First and foremost, the topic of a waterline was brought up by the Grape Discovery Center due to the fact that there is a plan to finish the building in its current footprint so that more exhibits can be incorporated into the open space on the west side of the building. In addition to the exhibits, it will also provide badly needed rentable space for community events-meetings, reunions, receptions, etcetera.

The added space would allow for increased visitor capacity and changes would have to be in compliance with the New York Fire and Safety Codes. The added square footage requires a sprinkler system because of the potential number of people in the large space attending events. That means we would need to have a steady water source, hence “municipal water.” An additional well or the addition of a cistern will not meet building codes and resolve this issue. For decades people in this lovely grape growing area have wondered why we don’t have a museum dedicated to the history of our grape region. Well — now we have it and we need to keep it growing!

The comments that have been submitted to the local papers are worthy, but there is a factor that was never discussed and that is “rezoning.” This was never implied but you must remember that if there was a motel, hotel or other business that wanted to locate in the West Main area — the proposal would have to go through the permit process which in turn triggers multiple reviews as well as hearings at which time the residents would be able to give their comments. The Town Board would then have to assess the entire situation. The possibility of a Cobblestone Hotel being built on West Main Road a couple years ago is a “dead” project. It isn’t going to happen.

Also of note is the mention of people selling off their “agricultural land.” Agricultural lands in our town and village are mostly in what is called an “Ag-District” which have their own laws and regulations about selling agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. It is a very punitive process and one that is meant to keep agricultural lands in agriculture.

I have mentioned the Grape Discovery Center needs water for a sprinkler system(fire protection). This is an issue we all are concerned about and the residents of West Main Road should consider. If you have a fire, will your well give you enough water to put it out?

You can call the volunteer fire department but they will have to take time to fill their tanker (for water) and call other departments in to help save your property. Municipal water would allow them to hook up to a hydrant a short distance from you property. Have you looked into the possibility that if you had a municipal water source on your property that your homeowner’s insurance may actually decrease in cost? There is also the possibility of increased resale value of your property/residence in years to come with the availability of municipal water.

Almost forgot that there is Mother Nature to factor into this. If we suffer another drough this summer like we had last summer — how will your well hold up? What would you do if your well became contaminated?

There has been a lot of talk about the cost to hook up to a water line and I believe that this issue has not been clearly defined and should be in an upcoming meeting. However, given the cost of maintaining a well, the possibility that your insurance premium may go down, and the safety aspect, wouldn’t it be to everyone’s advantage to say “yes” to this project?

I have been assured that there will be another meeting to clarify the answers that we all have. In the meantime, I would invite you to stop by and visit the Grape Discovery Center, have a glass of grape juice or wine and take a look at the drawings that will show you the proposed project. This is a win-win project for this community and this area of Chautauqua County but we can only move ahead with a municipal water system.

Helen Baran is a Westfield resident.