Borrello Is Optimistic For Lake Consensus

George borrello

STOW — At the first Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance meeting of 2019 Thursday, County Executive George Borrello shared his optimism that the different organizations can reach general agreements and that a weed management consensus strategy will be forged by the end of March.

Borrello’s goal is to get all lake stakeholders to sign a memorandum of understanding that will effectively have “all (member organizations) agree to a ceasefire,” so that everyone can find a path forward in terms of Chautauqua Lake’s overall health.

“The idea is for the county to take a leadership role here,” Borrello said.

The county executive, who is beginning his second year in the position, reported that he met with all lake-related organizations, including the Chautauqua Lake Association, Chautauqua Lake Partnership, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and various fishing groups.

“There is a variety of stakeholders,” said Borrello, who met with representatives from each organization, sometimes for hours. “The bottom line is everyone has the same goal here.”

As the alliance serves a symbolic and financial purpose to emphasize it, that goal is the improvement of the health of Chautauqua Lake. Borrello noted that while not everyone is going to get 100 percent of what they want — as is the nature of compromise, he said — he thinks that an understanding can be reached that will utilize a comprehensive conglomeration of all approaches, from herbicide treatments and weed harvesting to stormwater management.

Borrello said what he thinks unites the lake groups is stronger than what divides them. He said that there shouldn’t be a future for the lake in which no herbicides at all are used to treat the lake but also expressed that the lake will never have the quality of a pool due to too many treatments.

He thinks there will be some outliers who disagree somewhat with the consensus strategy but said it’s the best “clear path” forward for the short term.

Based out of Buffalo, the Ecology and Environment corporation will meet individually and extensively with each of the lake stakeholders in the coming months to figure out a consensus strategy for weed management. The memorandum for understanding will be based on that strategy.

It was suggested that a cottage association of sorts be formed on the lake to represent those who do not reside in Chautauqua County but stay here along the lake during vacation time.

In other news, members were encouraged to continue bringing grant opportunities to the attention of the alliance. Executive Director Erin Brickley finds many herself but said everything helps. The alliance plans on pursuing some of the $3 million the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is making available for those combating invasive species, such as the Eurasian milfoil and curly-leaf pondweed in Chautauqua Lake. The deadline for grant applications is Feb. 15.

Brickley also announced that the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation awarded $250,000 to the alliance for its members’ projects. Awards from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation are expected to be announced as early as next week.