Ellery Opts Out – At What Cost?

Recently, 15 organizations signed a Memorandum of Agreement on how to proceed with managing the weeds in Chautauqua Lake. There was one exception: the Town of Ellery said “No.”

The newspaper account of the reason for doing this is that the town attorney had recommended against signing it. The town supervisor said something to the effect the town would “go down in history” for not signing the agreement.

In my view, the town of Ellery may have well “gone down the tubes of history” but not in a good way. I see nothing to be gained by them being a “lone ranger” on the lake.

The effort by county government to have a coordinated policy on lake weeds is the first time, in my memory, that that county has really stood up and taken “ownership” of the lake. It should. The lake is the driving force of the economy around here and the townships bordering it represent close to half the total property value of the county.

There have been legal arguments raised over the years that the bottom of the lake is owned by the state of New York and that the state should be pouring money and attention into it. That is a pipe dream. The state has hundreds of lakes and waterways to deal with. There is no way that they are going to take a “hands on” stance towards our lake and give it the attention that it needs. Good for the county for stepping up.

Fortunately, the obstinacy of the town of Ellery is not going to stop the process of cooperation and coordination from moving ahead. The rest of the towns around the Lake, Chautauqua Institution, several lake associations and the villages around the lake including the village of Bemus Point which is in the town of Ellery, have signed the agreement.

Ellery still has an application in to the DEC for weed treatment this year and, hopefully, the action of the Town Board won’t affect that process. The people of Bemus Bay, in particular, should be given credit for spearheading a lot of the attention now being focused on the lake. Maybe they can get their own town of Ellery back on board at some point. Time will tell.

The DEC will be making decisions on herbicide treatment in the near future. Apparently, they have already determined that any permits this year will not go beyond (up the lake from) Long Point. One of the initiatives now being considered on the lake is installing sensors to help determine “drift” on the lake. This has been tried successfully in Lake George and would be helpful in knowing how far the effects of herbicide can travel.

Despite this recent “bump in the road” in Ellery, I am still upbeat about the good things that are happening around the lake. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it is going to take a long time and lot of effort to bring our lake to the healthy state that we want for it. That over-riding interest and concern will ultimately carry the day.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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