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Mayville, Chautauqua Town Reject Proposed Lake MOU

Chautauqua Lake is pictured from Mayville. The village board and Chautauqua Town Board both declined to back the proposed Memorandum of Understanding regarding the lake. P-J file photo

MAYVILLE — While at least one municipality is backing the proposed Memorandum of Understanding regarding Chautauqua Lake, at least two others are opposed to it.

Both the Chautauqua Town Board and the Mayville Village Board refused to back the proposed lake agreement this week during their respective board meetings.

“This isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on,” said town Supervisor Don Emhardt.

The biggest issue Emhardt had with the agreement was the point that the parties would “agree not to pursue litigation against county or any other participant who is a party to this MOU.”

“If the weed spray got into our water systems, we wouldn’t be able to retaliate against anybody. If you ask me, that’s just ludicrous,” he said.

He also felt the agreement didn’t provide any other benefits. “There’s not much substance to it,” he said.

Mayville Mayor Ken Shearer was in attendance at the Chautauqua Town Board meeting Monday. The next night he informed his board of trustees he would not be supporting it, giving similar reasons. “Say something happened to our water and we needed to go forward with a lawsuit … This MOU says we can’t,” he said.

Neither board had officials who spoke out in favor of the MOU. Both Emhardt and Shearer said they’ve talked to other municipal leaders who are opposed to it as well. Neither one gave specific names.

Of the 16 participants, only the village of Lakewood has signed on, although many municipal boards have not met yet.

Along with Mayville, Chautauqua and Lakewood, other municipalities asked to sign on include: Busti, Ellery, Ellicott, North Harmony, Bemus Point, and Celoron. Other participants include Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua Lake Association, Chautauqua Lake Fishing Association, Chautauqua Lake Partnership, Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and the Chautauqua Fish Alliance.

On May 5, County Executive PJ Wendel, joined by county staff, unveiled the Memorandum of Understanding at a press conference in the County Legislative Chambers in Mayville. He described it as the next generation version of the 2019 Chautauqua Lake Memorandum of Agreement, which had a two-year tenure and termed out at the end of April 2021.

Wendel referred to the 2021 MOU as “brilliant in its simplicity,” as the 20-plus tenets contained in the original MOA have been replaced with language that encourages cooperation among essential Chautauqua Lake stakeholders. He asked the various participants to sign it within two weeks of his presentation.

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