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Landis, Lynden keep up water criticism

Former Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis and Trustee James Lynden had more water-related criticism of the village government this week, slamming Mayor Michael Ferguson for comments to the media on a successful lawsuit against a Dec. 26 resolution.

Landis was one of five petitioners in the lawsuit that sought to toss the resolution putting the village on a path to drawing down its reservoir, shutting its treatment plant and buying water from Dunkirk. State Supreme Court Judge Grace Hanlon granted the request.

Landis said at Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting that Ferguson’s comments were inaccurate.

“Every time, in my opinion, you gave the impression that the only thing that stood in your way to apply for (grant) money was a delay imposed by New York state Supreme Court ordering you to complete a State Environmental Quality Review before you proceed — in effect, blaming the lawsuit filed by a few residents,” Landis said to the mayor.

“But that’s not accurate, is it? The plain truth is, you’re not ready,” she charged. “To apply for an infrastructure grant like that, you would need a physical plan — an actual plan of the infrastructure that’s needed to get water from Dunkirk to Fredonia, an engineering plan that would describe the entire scope of the project. Not only do you not have one, you haven’t even discussed it.”

Landis added, “You would also need an actual budget, a much more detailed one than the mostly guesswork outline of the LaBella report (on the village’s water infrastructure filed in 2023).”

Landis went on to criticize the village government for not discussing how it would answer funding questions on water grant applications. She said, “You will need a statement that describes the impact of the project that you are proposing on the area and the people — socially, economically, environmentally. We definitely don’t have that.”

Lynden followed Landis and complained, “The mayor’s comments, I find, are misleading and (misrepresent the) lawsuit. The lawsuit nowhere says that it was used to slow down the process, as he states. If someone said that, that’s not what the lawsuit said.”

Petitions supporting the reservoir were “supported by hundreds of village residents, not just a meager few as (Ferguson) tried to represent,” Lynden added.

The ex-trustee said of the lawsuit, “The board didn’t want to listen, the mayors didn’t want to listen, so there was no choice. The community had to find them accountable for their lack of following procedure, and the court found that to be so. Is it possible the mayor does not understand how the justice system works?”

As Lynden stepped down from the speaker’s podium, Ferguson shot back that Andrew Ludwig, who was also a petitioner on the lawsuit, stated on television that the reason for the court action was to “slow them down.”

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