Borrello delivers State of the County address

George Borrello.

County Executive George Borrello called 2018 the year of “communication” and he is calling 2019 the year of “collaboration,” especially for stakeholders involved in Chautauqua Lake water quality issues.

Borrello in the annual State of the County address focused on several points including the Chautauqua Lake consensus strategy. The county executive said he is asking for lake stakeholder groups to sign a memorandum of understanding, which will essentially be a “ceasefire agreement” that the lake groups and municipalities would sign so work can collaboratively be done to improve the water quality of Chautauqua Lake.

Borrello said a consensus strategy for the lake should be completed by the end of March.

“Despite the divisiveness we may see among the passionate lake organizations, I’ve found that there is more common ground than it may appear, especially after personally meeting with these groups individually and listening to their concerns,” he said.

“What I saw was a series of puzzle pieces that could make up a strategy to break the gridlock and move us forward,” Borrello continued. “So we enlisted the help of the firm Ecology and Environments to come in and conduct formal interviews with the major stakeholders and help us assemble those puzzle pieces into a picture of the consensus strategy of Chautauqua Lake.”

Borrello said any funding from the county and from many local foundations for efforts dealing with in-lake projects will flow through the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance. He said the executive board of the alliance has preliminary agreed to only fund those organizations who participate in the consensus strategy by signing the memorandum of understand.

“Each stakeholder is not going to get 100 percent of what they want, which is the nature of compromise, but this agreement and strategy will allow us to take meaningful steps forward without the threat of lawsuits or other actions that ultimately lead to further unproductive conflict and inaction,” he said. “This consensus strategy will be important to the future health of Chautauqua Lake and to the economic future of Chautauqua County. I strongly encourage everyone’s participation and support.”

Another initiative discussed by Borrello during his address is the need for the Ripley Gateway Center. Borrello said the gateway into the state from the west is not aesthetically pleasing. He said people entering New York state in Chautauqua County are welcomed to an Adult Super Store sign, a broken billboard and roadside debris.

“It’s shameful and we need to change that,” he said.

Borrello said Clark Patterson Lee has been hired to produce a feasibility study for the gateway study. He said the plan is to have a grander scale gateway for the county and the state, which would be similar to Tamarack, a tourist attraction in West Virginia that highlights products and produce made in the state.

“It will be a welcoming ambassador that we have lacked for so long,” he said. “If we all work together, and bring in partners including our state and federal government, along with the private sector, we can achieve this goal and create something truly wonderful for us all to be proud of.”

Other initiatives in Borrello’s speech included work force development; Economic Development Alliance; the countywide Alliance for enforcement and Rehabilitation, also known as CAER to battle the opioid epidemic; Citizens’ Advisory Committee; Chautauqua Area Regional Transit System, also known as CARTS, improvements; and Grow Chautauqua hops and grains cooperative.


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