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‘Worthy Endeavor’

Langworthy To Advocate For $5.29M For Chadakoin River Restoration

Chautauqua County Execuitve PJ Wendel speaks with kayakers utilizing the added launch location at McCrea Point Park, Wendsday prior to a briefing with U.S. Congressman Nick Langworthy. Langworthy will present a bill to appropriate $5.29 million in federal aid for the restoration, protection, and development of the Chadakoin River and wetlands. P-J Photo by Chirstopher Blakeslee

City and county officials have an ally when it comes to cleaning, restoring and protecting the designated wetlands near the Chadakoin River.

Mayor Kim Ecklund; Crystal Surdyk, city development director; Mark Roetzer, city public works director; County Executive PJ Wendel, Dan Stone, city parks and recreation manager; and Twan Leenders, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy conservation director, spoke Wednesday with U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy regarding a funding package to continue restoration, development and rehabilitation work with the Chadakoin River and wetlands.

At stake is a request for $5.25 million in federal funds for the region for the river, lake and economic development expansion projects.

“Several miles of the Chadakoin have been restored,” Leenders said. “As we continue to restore the river it can become an economic driving engine again, as it was in the past. It just may look a little different. The river was filled with mills, factories and businesses. Now, it is becoming a tourist and outdoors destination for many. This restoration project started a few years ago with a $3,000 grant. It has now grown to a $3 million dollar project and there’s more work to be done.”

The county executive added his thoughts on the matter.

From left, Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy and Jamestown Mayor Kim Ecklund announced Wednsday a request of $5.29 million to the federal government to restore, expand and the development of local infrastructure along the Chadakoin River, at McCrea Point Park. P-J Photo by Christopher Blakeslee

“Who would have thought, 10 years ago, there would be a kayak rental business here,” said Wendel. “We are a tourism-based county. The lake and river are a big part of the draw for the area, and we must take care of our natural resources. There’s only so many months we can draw from our natural resources to produce revenues for us.”

However, according to Leenders and Roetzer there are years and years of neglect, lack of services and programs that must be undone to make the river a viable, flowing and productive part of the tourist draw for the region.

“The lake has nine channels which haven’t been touched in 50 years,” said Roetzer.

Leenders said, “the years of neglect have resulted in roads flooding, property damage and public safety being put at-risk.”

Ecklund highlighted some of the additional work which has been done at McCrea Park and along the river basin.

“Right across the street is our Power Plant Skate Park. It’s always packed with kids and family members. This park is always busy with boaters – launching and docking boats; people fishing and families picnicking, and we have a combined, multi-school rowing team who practices here,” said Ecklund. “The continued restoration of the river and the wetlands is a worthy endeavor.”

Langworthy agreed. Langworthy is expected to request funding as part of the government’s 2025 fiscal budget.

“City, county and governmental officials all believe the revitalization of the river is a key, important factor for the area, and I couldn’t agree more,” he said. “This area is affordable, we have great restaurants, the National Comedy Center and great outdoor places for people to enjoy when they visit. We must tap into and bring the ecosystem back to its fullest potential. We also must be environmentally conscious when doing so.”

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