Association, Conservancy Sign Lake Agreement

Chautauqua Lake Association President Paul Stage, left, signs the Memorandum of Agreement for the Chautauqua Lake Weed Management Consensus Strategy on Friday while meeting with County Executive George Borrello.

With the announcements that the town of Chautauqua, Chautauqua Lake Association and Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy have signed onto Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello’s Memorandum of Agreement for the Chautauqua Lake Weed Management Consensus Strategy, four municipalities and one lake nonprofit remain to voice their opinion.

It is unknown when the Chautauqua Lake Partnership, currently involved in receiving finalized herbicide permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, will make a decision regarding the memo.

The town of Ellicott and village of Bemus Point will tentatively vote on the document at their regular meetings Monday and Tuesday respectively. The village of Lakewood will decide on a course of action Tuesday morning during a special meeting.

Thursday, the town of Ellery decided to postpone a vote on the memo as well, instead scheduling a special vote for April 17, the final day to sign onto the agreement if town board members choose.

“We are excited that the county is finally stepping up to the plate to fund the lake the way it should be funded,” CLA President Paul Stage said. “The CLA feels the MOA is a net win for the lake, and that’s been our focus all along.”

CLA Executive Director Doug Conroe mentioned that while funding is tight for the association currently, he too shared optimism for the future state of affairs. Conroe said he hopes the CLA can continue to work with the county on lake-based maintenance and special projects.

“We remain realistic, however, about funding levels playing the key role in how much and what lake management efforts can be initiated and completed in five months of each year,” Conroe said.

Stage visited Borrello’s office Friday to officially sign the agreement.

“Our board at the end of the day was fully in support of it,” Stage added.

The conservancy hosted a special board meeting Friday to vote on the memo earlier than its upcoming regular meeting Tuesday. CWC officials expressed through a press release similar hopes of collaboration and increased funding for projects through the agreement.

“The CWC looks forward to continuing to work with other stakeholders to effectively improve the quality and usability of Chautauqua Lake,” the release reads. “As the consensus strategy moves ahead, the CWC hopes to see a more formal recognition of the important role the watershed plays in the health of the lake as well as the understanding that most aquatic plants are beneficial and should not necessarily be considered ‘weeds.'”

Chautauqua Town Supervisor Don Emhardt reported that his board voted unanimously Monday to sign onto the agreement as well.

“It’s a good thing,” Emhardt said.

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce also endorsed the memo this week. Citing transparency and science-based decision making as two important factors the memo encourages, Chamber President and CEO Todd Tranum thanked Borrello and his team for putting it together.

“This MOA is a step in the right direction to maintain the long-term health of Chautauqua Lake as the important asset it is for our county, our residents and our businesses,” Tranum said. “We are hopeful that all the key organizations involved in the maintenance of the health of the lake will sign onto the MOA.”

With no entity having yet voted not in favor of the agreement, five organizations will be watched closely next week for county officials to see if their lake agreement becomes a 100 percent participation endeavor.

Follow Eric Zavinski at twitter.com/EZavinski


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