County Should Help Find Sinkhole Cause

Chautauqua County should find money in the next round of bed tax allocations to help Findley Lake officials find the cause of a 7-foot sinkhole near the lake.

The sinkhole is located on the lake side of Route 426 and Route 430, in the vicinity of a nearly 200-year-old dam. Village officials first noticed the problem when it appeared the lake wasn’t filling as fast as it usually does. They then found a sinkhole along the road shoulder that was large enough to fit three basketballs into. Officials filled the sinkhole with stone, a solution that worked for a year.

It was a short-term fix, however. Village officials found another sinkhole this year that was twice as big as the 2012 sinkhole. Hill Engineering of North East, Pa., has been brought in to assess the problem, but have been unable to produce an answer other than assuring village officials the village dam is not a safety hazard. Right now, Findley Lake officials aren’t sure how big a problem they have, let alone how to solve it.

The Findley Lake Watershed Association was turned down when it requested $40,000 in county bed tax money that would have been used to help answer some of these questions. We note now that 40 percent of the county’s bed tax money is to be used to protect, maintain and improve the county’s lakes and waterways, which the Findley Lake problem would seem to fall into. Findley Lake is the definition of a tourism destination, what with its reliance on Peek ‘n Peak and its wonderful lake. The village is home to several festivals each year, including unrivaled Fourth of July and Labor Day celebrations that can bring more than 10,000 people into Findley Lake businesses.

Think of how that would change if the sinkhole problem washes out part of a main state road in the village or what would happen if the sidewalk near the sinkhole collapses during a celebration with some 10,000 people crammed into Findley Lake.

State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, and state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Chautauqua County, are both looking into the issue and seeing if there is state money that can be secured. Young, however, has said it might be difficult to get state money without a firm explanation of the problem and potential remedies. That means the county will have to step to the plate first.

The county has found money in past years to help clean Chautauqua Lake. County officials should do the same for Findley Lake, and they should do it quickly.