Dunkirk May Receive Aid With Weed Removal

The Chautauqua County Legislature may assist the city of Dunkirk with the costs to remove nuisance aquatic vegetation.

On Wednesday, the county Planning and Economic Development Committee discussed the requested funding of $5,000 from the 2 percent occupancy tax reserves, which currently has $232,382, to assist Dunkirk with the cost to mitigate the weeds.

In the resolution, it states the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently dredging the federal navigation channel of Dunkirk Harbor, with the project resulting in the unanticipated increase in the amount of weeds in the harbor. The resolution also states this will have a negative impact on the nationally televised offshore powerboat race event the Great Lakes Offshore Grand Prix, which was held last month.

During the discussion, there seemed to be some confusion about whether the boat races also impacted the increase in the number of weeds. George Borrello, county executive, told the committee the boat races didn’t cause the increase in the number of weeds. He said the dredging is the reason for the rise in the number of nuisance aquatic vegetation.

Also during the discussion, Pierre Chagnon, R-Bemus Point, questioned if Dunkirk officials will be back next year to also ask for money again and if they will be using all of the $5,000 this year if the legislature passes the resolution. He said he wants to help city officials this year, but wouldn’t be in favor of future funding.

Borrello said the more money Dunkirk officials have to spend now the less they will request in the future. Despite the county executive opinion, Chagnon proposed an amendment to provide Dunkirk officials with $2,500 for the weed mitigation costs.

The full legislature will vote on the proposed resolution during their voting session meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday on the third floor of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.

In other business, Borrello discussed a proposal to fund $45,000 for a study to create a Riply Gateway/Commerce Center. He said the gateway would be a welcoming center that would be a tourist attraction, not just a place where people can find a map. He said the plan is to have a grander scale gateway for the county and the state, which would be similar to Tamarack, a tourist attraction in West Virginia that highlights products and produce made in the state. He added county officials need to have a plan in place so if state officials in the future want to fund such a project, they will be ready.

Borrello said the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency will also invest $5,000 into the creation of the study. If approved, $45,000 in 3 percent bed tax reserve funds will be used.

Dave McCoy, county watershed coordinator, discussed the 2 percent occupancy tax program for lakes and waterways. McCoy said he would like to change the application process. He said money from the program has mainly gone toward funding stream bank improvement projects. He added a new application might lead to different and possibly more effective projects.

McCoy said the program since 2009 has contributed more than $3.3 million for 95 projects. He said there has also been around $2 million in matching funds used for these projects as well. He added through the years, they are receiving more applications. He said five years ago they would receive only about 8 applications, but now they receive between 20 to 30.