Newsmaker of the month: Neighborly disputes are just petty

Submitted photo Randy Woodbury, city Department of Public Works director, holds a map at a recent meeting.

It appears Fredonia is not alone when it comes to petty battles over drinking water with neighboring municipalities. This month, Dunkirk’s Randy Woodbury — for some unknown reason — went on an historical tangent regarding the interconnect at the Dunkirk Department of Public Works Committee.

Though the time line is an important part of the community’s past, Woodbury’s well-meaning background seemed as though someone had taken a shot at his pride. Some of it may have related to last August’s horrible Dunkirk water-main break on Lake Shore Drive that put city customers in a pickle for water delivery for two days. Another factor was definitely the discolored water some Fredonia residents noticed late last month when the village had a line rupture and needed assistance from the city.

Woodbury specifically mentioned that Feb. 28 incident as part of his report. He said that incident lasted seven hours and brought 153,000 gallons of water to Fredonia. Woodbury asserted complaints of brown water in Fredonia were reported at 6:30 a.m., two hours before the feed was turned on. “This is mentioned because prior water color in Fredonia was mentioned as possibly being from the Dunkirk feed, which Dunkirk feels is not the case,” he said.

Take Woodbury’s rant out of the equation and the reality is this: Dunkirk is king when it comes to north county water. It is the only supplier to the North County Water District. That brings the city needed revenue — for its general fund and the upkeep of its filtration plant.

Fredonia has been on the outside looking in for nearly 15 years. Its water quality and system always teeters on disaster — and village residents are lucky that it has Dunkirk to fall back during numerous emergencies.

City Mayor Wilfred Rosas understands the importance of working together. He is also open minded, which is one reason the city got into the water district as a supplier.

Fredonia had that same opportunity, but passed on it. Fortunately, with a new board that seems quite engaged, the village is again looking at options with the district.

For now, both players need to forget about the past and look to the future. This region has an opportunity with water. We’re better off working together rather than quibbling over this precious commodity.


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