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The Politics Of Chautauqua Lake

For every organization and wherever people gather — there are politics. It doesn’t matter if it is in government, at the country club or even in your local church. “Politics” is the story of people working together to accomplish a common goal. Sometimes they disagree but usually their common interest trumps their self-interest.

So it is with Chautauqua Lake. There are many interests ranging from fishing, to tourism, to weed and algae growth, to boating, to real property tax rates, to public access, to sedimentation and stream “run-off.” You name it and you will find an organization representing one of these interests on Chautauqua Lake.

Thus, by definition, the politics of getting them all to work together on this common interest — the lake — can be complex and sometimes difficult.

Let me use one illustration — the recent application by several municipalities seeking a permit from the DEC to use herbicide as a means of reducing weed growth in the lake. There are some people who are adamantly against using any chemical or herbicide in addressing the weed problems of the lake. There are others who can’t stand the smell of the weeds and who have difficulty getting their boats through the weeds, who want herbicide application to be a part of the management of the lake.

Organizations and individuals representing the various interests have taken positions on this issue and it will be up to the DEC to decide how to proceed. (Herbicide was applied in portions of Bemus Bay last year.) I must concede that I would be interested is seeing how herbicide treatment works on the weeds around my house, which can be bad in late summer. Yet, I have not become actively involved in the matter.

I have decided to focus my own “lake” efforts on getting sewers built to take effluent out of the lake. In my mind, that piece of unfinished infrastructure is needed if we are to address the problem of controlling excessive phosphorous discharges into the lake from human-generated sewage. Nevertheless, I accept the fact that my interest in getting sewers constructed is only one of many issues facing Chautauqua Lake.

This year, in addition to the DEC permitting process on weeds, I am looking forward to the results of a comprehensive report which is to be released in May which will recommend an “implementation strategy” to deal with the multiple issues facing our lake. There is hope that this might help establish priorities in regard to addressing these issues.

And, of course, this takes us back to the meaning of “politics” i.e. working together on common goals. As a citizen of this community, I need to realize that when it comes to the lake — there are many concerns, mine just being one. Everyone needs to be involved in finding solutions. It should be an interesting summer as we begin to see what actions will be taken to make our lake all that we want it to be.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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