Borrello Is Taking On Tough Tasks

It is impossible for there not to be conflicts where Chautauqua Lake is concerned.

Rolland Kidder — a former state Assemblyman, Robert H. Jackson Center executive director and a Stow resident — summarizes the situation surrounding the organizations working for the lake’s benefit in an op-ed on Page A5 of today’s Sunday Post-Journal, but suffice it to say that with so many organizations with so many members and constituencies, that a clear direction needs to be set. Setting that direction will not be easy. Organizations don’t trust each other’s science or methods while paying lip service to working together; unfortunately, their actions often don’t line up to that lofty ideal. It is clear that whoever sets a direction for Chautauqua Lake likely won’t be popular among all the lake organizations and their members. Whatever course is set will affect priorities and funding, some of which may be different than the status quo, which means whoever steps into the void to plan the steps for the lake is taking on a thankless, yet essential, task.

It is good to see County Executive George Borrello say he will step forward to handle a dirty job. During a recent conversation with The Post-Journal, Borrello discussed his plan to put forth a county-led strategy for Chautauqua Lake.

“The county is going to take the lead and developing a blue print strategy to address water quality issues that the major stakeholders can agree on to prevent gridlock and law suits,” he said. “In the first quarter of 2019, the county will put forth a strategy after having conversations with the stakeholders to give people confidence that we have a strategy moving forward. Whether it is herbicides or other tools in the tool box, all are being considered for a comprehensive strategy to have a clean Chautauqua Lake.”

Given the debate over science and methods, it is necessary for the county to step in and create, once and for all, a plan that will be followed by all organizations. Such a plan should help resolve funding disputes and organizations’ differences of opinion over science and methods of handling harmful algal blooms and invasive weed growth. The county has a vested interest in preserving the lake as a tourist destination, as a place where people can pursue aquatic recreation, as a fishery that draws anglers from throughout the region and as an ecologically diverse watershed.

Handling Chautauqua Lake is a big enough job, but Borrello also discussed another plan during his interview with our Dennis Phillips that he wants to enhance the Chautauqua Area Regional Transit System by modernizing and rebranding it.

“CARTS is looked at as just something used by people with disabilities and senior citizens. It is the county’s only mass transportation system and I want to rebrand it, make it easier to use,” he said. “A big issue when it comes to the county’s workforce is transportation. If people who don’t have their own transportation or access is a challenge to them, we can expand (CARTS) to get people to job opportunities. Also, we can expand it for tourism. Right now, it operates Monday through Friday during the day. It is time to expand it to weekends and evenings, and for special events. We can use it to get people to the attractions and events.”

One of the biggest complaints we hear from people is a shortage of reliable public transportation — it is only natural for Borrello to want to find a way for CARTS to help fill that gap in a cost-neutral way for county taxpayers.

Many people would shy away from the possible controversy from taking on such large projects. We’re glad to see Borrello isn’t shying away from the difficult, thankless tasks that need to be done to make Chautauqua County a better place to live.