Chautauqua Lake Protection Rehabilitation group hears options

OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon Pictured are members of the Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency.

The consultant group that was hired by Chautauqua County to figure out the best way to protect and fund Chautauqua Lake has begun developing a plan.

Representatives from Barton & Loguidice attended a recent meeting of the Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency to discuss their findings so far. The consultant firm was hired earlier this year to develop a plan.

The firm went over previous lake managements, analyzed costs spent, and looked at options for funding in-lake and watershed management activities. In the future, the firm plans to give recommendations for funding and present its final phase I study.

“The menu of options are what are the suite of tools that are available to us as a committee, as a watershed group of interested stakeholders, and what should we select moving forward,” said a representative from Barton & Loguidice. She said the presentation was designed more as a “conversation” than final decisions being made.

Another representative said any work done on the lake should focus on treatment and prevention. “When we treat issues within the lake, we’re really treating the symptoms. By looking at the bigger picture, at the watershed, we’re looking at the causes,” he said.

An analysis by the firm shows more than $3.4 million has been spent on the lake and the watershed over the last four years by multiple agencies. Those agencies include the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Alliance, the Chautauqua Lake Association, Chautauqua Lake Partnership, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Soil and Water Conservation District, and local municipalities.

Representatives with the firm noted that different organizations focus on different aspects. The CLA for example, focuses on aquatic plant management, debris removal, invasive species and harmful algal bloom monitoring, while Soil and Water focuses on non-point source pollution control, erosion and sediment control.

One funding option includes creating a Watershed Protection District. There are nine municipalities that border Chautauqua Lake, but 14 municipalities that are in the Chautauqua Lake Watershed. According to the firm, there are 2,522 parcels with lake frontage, 6,651 parcels with lake frontage, and then around 37,000 parcels in the watershed. There is some debate on how the Watershed Protection District can be created, whether through county or town law. Villages can also create Special Improvement Districts. Certain tax districts will apply to parcels that pay taxes while other taxing districts include non-profits, such as schools and churches.

Representatives asked members with the Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency if they had any preferences for what type of taxing districts were they leaning toward. None of the members felt they were ready to back one plan over the other, instead saying they wanted more time to digest the presentation and continue the discussion later.

Barton & Loguidice is expected to hold another community meeting in July. The firm is also creating a website, where it plans on posting the power point that was shared during the meeting.


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