FREDONIA: SUNY can tap into district

New State University of New York at Fredonia President Dr. Stephen Kolison Jr. knew their would be challenges during his first semester at the helm. Besides dealing with a COVID-19 dilemma, there also would be extraordinary financial challenges facing the local institution of higher learning.

Never could Kolison have foreseen his most recent crisis: poor water service from the village of Fredonia affecting some 4,000 students.

According to Thursday’s Chautauqua County Board of Health meeting, the water treatment plant is an albatross the village refuses to eliminate. Due to poor water quality issues that span decades, the village has put its businesses, residents, students and visitors at a hardship.

“They refused to deal with Dunkirk because they’re ‘Fredonia’ and that’s the problem,” Dr. Robert Berke said at the health meeting. “They’d rather have their own system that’s up the hill, that’s been a pain in the butt for 30 years.”

His comments are right on the money. This was not because there was never a choice. It was because of stubborn attitudes and a lack of vision from village leadership.

Think about the issues the boil-water order has caused for restaurants, which are already struggling from the pandemic. If Carriage House was still in operation, there’s no way it could be producing product.

By the way, ConAgra had a lot to do with that major plant leaving the village in 2016. But poor village leadership of the last decade that includes choosing not to be a part of the north county water district was just one more push the company needed to be out the door.

SUNY Fredonia, however, does have a choice moving forward. It can sever ties with poor and erratic village service — and go to the way of many other north county municipalities: to the water district.

That district provides something all village residents wish they could bank on every day: clean water to drink.


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