Busti Joins Watershed Management Alliance

BUSTI – The Chautauqua Lake watershed is not getting its fair share of funding. That’s according to Lyle Hajdu, Busti Town Court judge and chair of the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission. Hajdu recently gave a presentation regarding an alliance for municipalities in the Chautauqua Lake watershed.

Hajdu presented not only to the Busti Town Board, but to Lakewood Mayor David Wordelmann, Lakewood Trustee Sue Drago and Celoron Mayor Scott Schrecengost, about problems and complications from flooding and soil erosion cause. According to Hajdu, soil erosion impairs the lake, increases municipal costs and decreases municipal revenues.

“So, the question we are asking today is are you getting your fair share (of federal and state funding)?” Hajdu asked.

The short answer is “no.”

After comparing the Chautauqua Lake watershed to different watersheds in New York, the steering committee for the alliance for Chautauqua Lake learned there was a watershed – Lake George – that was getting dedicated revenues and a state budget line item. In addition to Lake George having districts and authorities, the state holds land surrounding Lake George. As a result, Chautauqua Lake would not be able to get the dedicated revenues and state budget line items Lake George does. The steering committee then compared the sources of revenue for the lake, taking into account all sources of funding. Compared to the Finger Lakes, which draws in $10 million a year per watershed, Chautauqua Lake brings in $1 million to $2 million per year. That was when they looked at municipalities with watershed alliances. The Chagrin River in Ohio managed to receive $40-50 million in 15 years from writing grants while the Chautauqua Lake watershed only managed to receive $2 million to $3 million in 10 years.

The Chautauqua Lake Management Commission – currently an advisory group – plans to progress into an alliance to secure federal and state funds for alliance members via grant writing and leveraging local funds. It would be a nonprofit and wouldn’t be a taxing district nor a layer of government. The mission would be to work in collaboration with lake and watershed-related organizations, municipalities and other stakeholders to promote and facilitate implementation of recommendations from the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan and the Chautauqua Lake Macrophyte Management Strategy by prioritizing projects, securing funding and allocating resources.

The Busti Town Board – as well as Wordelmann – had some questions for Hajdu. The most notable questions were on the structure and how committees were chosen.

“How does the structure go so (everybody) all works together?” asked Todd Hanson, Busti councilman. “… You have four or five different entities which is part of one shoreline. How do they all work together so they are going in one direction?”

Hajdu said what the commission found was that a concerted, coordinated effort helped municipalities to be on the same page.

“I can’t endorse this enough,” said County Legislator PJ Wendel, R-Lakewood. “The town and the village really should be viable partners in this.”

The Busti Town Board voted to join the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Alliance.

In other news, the town board approved the summer playground program employees and the 2014-15 transfer station permit price of $75.

The board also passed a resolution to designate the town code enforcement officer to grant and issue permits for public displays of fireworks. The agreement to share the service of the code enforcement officer with Lakewood was tabled.