Facilitator Hired For New Lake Group

The Department of Planning and Economic Development is taking a step toward organizing all of the groups and ideas surrounding Chautauqua Lake.

During Wednesday’s Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting, Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, announced the hiring of Peter J. Smith as facilitator for the creation of a Lake Management Group. He said it was the hope of the Department of Planning and Economic Development that the group be together by this fall.

In November 2012, Croscut and Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk, requested that the county attorney develop a synopsis of available options for future management and improvement of Chautauqua Lake and its watershed. That same month, the county attorney developed a memorandum, which put together the structure and functions of various water management organizations throughout the region.

The Chautauqua Lake Management Commission then made a presentation to various foundations in January, to discuss the need to create a new entity to manage Chautauqua Lake.

“We have come so far since Keith Ahlstrom set this CLMC committee up,” Croscut said. “We are at a point where we have got to finish. And, it’s not going to be easy, but you know, anything that’s worth doing is not easy.”

According to Ahlstrom, $10,000 was requested from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation in order to fund a facilitator. However $5,000 was given to get a facilitator on board with the plan. He anticipates the other half of the money will be following.

“We’ve done management plans, we’ve done studies, we have more than enough studies on the shelf collecting dust,” Croscut said. “What we need is some kind of management group. And, the only way you do that is to request some funding for an outside facilitator, someone who will come in and meet with each group.”

As facilitator of the Lake Management Group, Smith will first meet with two other groups, the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission and the Inter-Municipal Committee, and report back to the Department of Planning and Economic Development. Croscut said the goal is to include the county’s summer residents in lake plans as well.

“We are very cognizant of the landowners,” he said. “There are landowners all around the lake, there is agriculture, there are property owners and they have a vested interest in this. Plus, we want to do this during the summer when we have all these second-home owners here. Even though those second-home owners don’t have a voice, they contribute to the tax base and they contribute to the wealth of Chautauqua Lake.”

According to Croscut, Smith will begin meeting with various groups soon, and will be getting back to the Department of Planning and Economic Development with recommendations. The goal of having the facilitator, Croscut said, is having someone who will be able to meet with each group and make recommendations as to how money should be spent on Chautauqua Lake.