A Contingency Fund Is Needed For Unexpected Lake Maintenance

Ellicott and Celoron officials are looking for a way to pay for weed cleanup near the shore in Burtis Bay.

Chautauqua Lake Association crews removed the weeds where they could be reached with CLA equipment, but there is more to be done in shallower water closer to shore near the Ellicott Shores Apartments.

One would think decision makers would have learned in 2018 and 2019 when hundreds of dead fish and piles of weeds piled up in Burtis Bay that there needs to be money set aside for unscheduled lake maintenance. Remember the months-long ordeal cleaning up that mess was? That particular cleanup was estimated to cost some $73,000 covered by grants from the Chautauqua Region community Foundation and Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation as well as Chautauqua County. Raising the money took so long that problems that arrived in the fall couldn’t be taken care of until the following spring.

One of the lessons that should have been learned was that unexpected maintenance needs will pop up, and there should be a pot of money to pay for that work. That is, after all, one of the purported reasons visitors to Chautauqua County pay an occupancy tax.

The lesson wasn’t learned. Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance members suggested Ellicott and Celoron pay for the cleanup this year — but neither Ellicott nor Celoron has money in its budget for the work, according to Patrick McLaughlin, Ellicott town supervisor.

This should be the year we learn our lesson when it comes to unexpected lake maintenance. There must be money set aside at the start of the year for the inevitable issues that crop up, whether it be in Burtis Bay or elsewhere on Chautauqua Lake. Lakefront towns and villages should have a line item in their budgets for this type of work while a portion of Chautauqua County’s bed tax should also be set aside for items like the Burtis Bay cleanup. And as the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance finalizes its 2022 Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Coordinated Workplan, it makes sense for that group to have a fund available for unexpected items as well.


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