City Council Approves Chadakoin River Project

After a presentation by Twan Leenders, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy director of conservation, City Council members voted unanimously to approve the Jamestown Local Development Corporation’s American Rescue Plan Act grant for the removal of debris and bank stabilization efforts on the Chadakoin River and Chadakoin River Basin. Pictured is Twan Leenders at a recent City Council voting session. P-J photo by Timothy Frudd

With funding secured, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy will quickly launch efforts to remove debris from the Chadakoin River and stabilize the riverbanks.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the Jamestown Local Development Corporation’s $327,925 grant for the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy to complete multiple debris removal and bank stabilization projects on the Chadakoin River as part of the city’s plan to “activate” the river and integrate the Chadakoin River as a vital part of Jamestown’s future economy. The $327,935 grant approved by the City Council is in addition to a $35,000 grant the JLDC approved earlier this month in order to quickly accomplish debris removal in the Chadakoin River.

Twan Leenders, director of conservation for the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, presented an overview of the various projects at the City Council’s voting session meeting Monday, highlighting the importance of removing debris from the Chadakoin River and stabilizing the river banks.

One of the projects included in the grant involves “cleaning” the Chadakoin River Basin.

“It has a number of vertical stumps and all kinds of debris accumulated over decades here and two of the different projects actually involve clearing those out as soon as possible,” Leenders said “I just had a meeting yesterday with the DEC and we have the green-light to actually go ahead with those as soon as possible to be able to take care of these hazards before it opens up again in May.”

By removing debris from the Chadakoin River Basin, Leenders said people will be able to once again engage in a host of recreational activities, including boating, in the river basin without fear of harmful debris.

Leenders said a similar project included in the grand funding is the removal of two beaver dams near Canal Street. According to Leenders, the beaver dams have caused a blockage that has resulted in “repeated flooding” after big storms or melting storms. He added that the flooding is “preventable” by taking steps to remove the beaver dams.

Leenders explained that the final three projects included as part of the grant the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy requested from the JLDC center around the restoration of the Chadakoin River banks in the downtown region. He highlighted a section of the bank below the train station, as well as two sections of the bank on both sides of the Chadakoin River between the Warner Dam and the North Main Street Bridge.

“Those three sections truly are at imminent risk of collapsing, just as the result of the way the Warner Dam is maintained and has been maintained for decades, with the water level purposely kept at a certain height every summer between May 1 and November 1, in part to also control the lake level of Chautauqua Lake for recreational uses,” he said.

Leenders said the “intentional maintenance of the water level at a specific height has resulted in some places of the bank to be undercut by “several feet.”

“All the banks are what keep the bank in place right now,” he said. “Almost all of the bank trees are either dead, dying or are an undesirable species and need to be removed unfortunately.”

Leenders warned that many of the trees on the Chadakoin River banks are currently “true health hazards,” that could fall “at any moment.” He added that the trees on the Chadakoin River banks will be the “last thing” to keep the banks securely in place.

“Restoration of those banks, and ideally in a sustainable manner so that they will actually last more than the banks that have right now, is really what I’m asking you to support,” he said.


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