Findley Lake Makes Dam Progress; Funding Still Needed

FINDLEY LAKE – Efforts to repair the Findley Lake dam are progressing, but further funding is necessary.

In the spring of 2012, former county legislator Fred Croscut brought his boat to the Findley Lake Marina to be serviced. At that time, Croscut was made aware of a sinkhole and initiated efforts to repair the dam, which have been ongoing since then.

Findley Lake has a source of water seeping through the breakwall that is undermining the structural integrity of the dam. The leak may be a threat to the economic stability of the area and public health if it is not properly repaired.

On Nov. 30, Hill Engineering reviewed their report with the Findley Lake Watershed Foundation board of directors which identified multiple issues affecting Findley Lake and proposed solutions.

The issues included multiple holes in the breakwall foundation wall which is allowing water to pass through, a gap between the box culvert crossing the highway and the precast unit gate/manhole box and washout of fill material between the corrugated tube installed in the late 1990s and the old box culvert.

As a solution to the breakwall, Hill Engineering proposed installing sheet pile roughly 10 feet into the lake bed. Then, a grout wall would be poured to fill all the voids and reroute water through the gate.

It is estimated that the repairs would cost roughly $320,000.

Ed Mulkearn, Findley Lake Watershed Foundation president, said that the group is currently discussing possibilities for funding.

“We are certainly going to reach out for the 2015 bed tax grant,” Mulkearn said, noting that it is currently too late to apply for the 2014 grant. However, the grant would only account for a maximum of $40,000.

Chautauqua County collects a 5 percent occupancy tax, known as a bed tax, on the rental of lodging units in the county. Three-fifths of the revenue is used to increase tourism, events and business in the county. Two-fifths of the revenue is directly used to make a positive impact on lakes and waterways in the county.

Last year, the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Foundation was granted $5,000 from the bed tax which funded further investigations regarding the dam.

“(State) Sen. Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell are both very interested and were very supportive,” Mulkearn said, referencing previous discussions with the politicians regarding the lake.

“(Young) is very well aware of what is going on … and is very supportive,” Goodell noted.

“Findley Lake relies on that dam,” Goodell said. He also added that two important objectives in fixing the dam were to make sure the dam is safe and secure, and structuring the project to qualify for state and/or federal funding – possibly from the Department of Transportation or an environmental facilities group.

Mulkearn added that the Mina town board members have also been very supportive of Findley Lake in the past and he thought that this project would be no different.

“Without the dam there is no Findley Lake,” said Mulkearn.

According to Goodell, part of the challenge of gathering funding is that the dam is owned by a private company, the Findley Lake Watershed Foundation.

“State funding has been tight in the last few years,” Goodell said, referencing the state’s commitment to keep spending growth below 2 percent per year.

“If we don’t get (the dam) fixed, it will erode, take the road out, and eventually drain the lake,” added Chautauqua County legislator Dave Himelein, R-Findley Lake. He also said that the lake holds economic power in the area and that he, alongside Young and Goodell, will continue looking into further avenues for acquiring the necessary funds.