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There Are Better, More Impactful Projects That Need To Be Done

Lakewood Village Board members are making a smart decision in foregoing a “green” infrastructure improvement project at Lowe Park in Lakewood.

The $255,951 project was supposed to have reduced nutrients entering Chautauqua Lake by building a new pavilion, bike shelter, pedestrian bridge, interpretive panels, plantings and rain gardens, paid for with a grant through the New York State Department of State’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. The project was applied for in consultation with the village by the Chautauqua Lake Watershed and Management Alliance under former alliance director Erin Brickley. Ellen Barnes, Lakewood Village Board member, argued last year that the project was more about beautification than it was about reducing sediment reaching the lake while advocating for projects in higher elevations that send exponentially more nutrients into the lake each year.

While the state had awarded the grant, the Lakewood Village Board was split 2-2 when the time came to accept the grant. Barnes and Randall Holcomb voted against while Ted McCague and Doug Schutte voted in favor. With no mayor to cast the tiebreaking vote, the Lowe Park proposal remained in a stalemate until last week, when Barnes and Rich Fischer, the board’s newest member, joined with Mayor Randall Holcomb to vote against accepting the state money.

New York state has a $6 billion hole in this year’s budget, and we wish state department heads and beaurocrats would be as careful with the state’s money as Lakewood officials. Holcomb, Barnes and Fischer aren’t against taking the state’s money to reduce the amount of sediment that seeps into Chautauqua Lake each year, they just want to make sure they use the state money to have the greatest impact possible.

Lowe Park was a nice project with a negligible impact on Chautauqua Lake. There are better, more impactful projects out there to be done. Good job, Lakewood, for being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

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