Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors Meeting
Thursday, December 10, 2015
4:00 p.m. at Stow Senior Center
Directors Present: Don Emhardt, Pierre Chagnon, David Shepherd, Sally Carlson, David Wesp & David Spann
Absent: Linda Barber, Ken Shearer, and Vince Horrigan
Others in Attendance: Erin Brickley, Alliance Executive Director. Doug Champ, City Riverfront Management Council & interested citizen.
Founding Member Representatives in Attendance: Doug Conroe & Craig Butler – Chautauqua Lake Association, Marla Connelly – NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Allegany Region, Cassie Pinkoski – Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District, Tom Cherry – Chautauqua Utility District, and Rick McMahon – Chautauqua – Cattaraugus Board of Realtors
Scientific Review & Advisory Committee Members in Attendance: Dave McCoy, Courtney Wigdahl-Perry, Becky Nystrom, Jane Conroe, Twan Leenders, Tom Erlandson, & Kim Sherwood
Call to Order:
Vice-Chair Don Emhardt called the meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:04 pm. It was noted for the record that there was a quorum (6 of 9) present.
Approval of Minutes:
Mr. Shepherd made a motion to accept the minutes of the 11/12/15 Board Meeting as written, seconded by Mr. Wesp. The motion was approved unanimously.
Welcome to Scientific Review & Advisory Committee:
Mr. Emhardt welcomed the new participants of the Scientific Review & Advisory Committee participants in attendance. Committee Chair, Mr. Spann, requested each committee member introduce themselves. Ms. Brickley advised the group that the County Planning and Economic Development Department website houses an electronic copy of the 2010 Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan. This committee should review the plan and confirm the recommended strategies are appropriately laid out and prioritized. This will be the main topic when a first meeting of this committee is called
Review of Executive Summary:
The Executive Director sent out an Executive Summary for review on 12/8/15 via email to all Interim Board Members and Founding Member representatives. One topic from the Executive Summary was highlighted: the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) 2015 Symposium. Ms. Brickley advised that there were a number of attendees from our area in addition to her: John Jablonski from CWC & Doug Conroe, Jane Conroe, and Heather Nolan from CLA. It was noted that this was a very informative conference that was extremely science based and that most presentations were given mainly by PhD’s and their Master’s students on occasion. Ms. Brickley focused on attending talks related to invasive species and impaired waterbodies / excess nutrient loads. Jane Conroe also commented on her experience at the conference. The group was advised that NALMS provided contact info for all attendees as well as a program book which includes abstracts for all symposium presentations and is available for review if anyone had an interest.
Alliance Website & Social Media:
Ms. Brickley advised the group that the Alliance website (www.ChautauquaAlliance.org) went live as of 11/13/2015. Alliance staff will be posting monthly Board Meeting minutes as they are approved so that they are available to the general public and Alliance members alike. Ms. Brickley noted a number of topics that could be added over time including but not limited to: Membership Dues & Structure, Board of Directors (pictures and short bio’s), Scientific Review & Advisory Committee (pictures and short bio’s), link to the 2010 Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Plan, etc. This content will be added as current staff time allows.
Tint Press, the vendor who the Alliance contracted with in 2015 for multiple services such as logo design, initiation of social media presence, website design and implementation, etc. has inquired about our need for ongoing social media services. Tint Press provided an estimate and an invoice for $300 to cover social media posts 1/1/2016-6/30/2016. Ms. Brickley noted that Tint Press has been doing a great job with content so far and recommends that we continue with this service as the cost is minimal. Mr. Shepherd motioned to approve as invoiced, seconded by Mr. Chagnon. The motion was approved unanimously.
Discussion & comments: Mr. McMahon advised the group that as a local realtor, he receives many emails and is advised of many social media posts that are very negative regarding Chautauqua Lake. He requested that anything the Alliance can do via their website and social media to better educate the general public and offset misinformation would be very beneficial. Mr. Sherwood noted that there have been good brochures and homeowner guides for Chautauqua Lake in the past. Mrs. Wigdahl-Perry noted that she is working on a website for the buoy that she will be deploying next summer in Chautauqua Lake and that once up and running, the Alliance could add a link to it. It was also discussed that the Alliance could host a blog on their website and have participants (such as members of the Scientific Review & Advisory Committee) rotate in and discuss various water quality topics. Mr. Champ noted that reaching year-round residents is less challenging than reaching the area’s seasonal residents.
Mr. Chagnon advised that a draft Audit Committee Policy was handed out for review at last months’ (11/2015) Board meeting. The draft was previously vetted by the Governance Committee. Mr. Chagnon motioned to accept the Policy as written, seconded by Mr. Wesp. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Chagnon led the discussion on populating the committee. The Policy calls for three Directors and two non-Directors. Discussions were held prior to today’s meeting to confirm most committee participants. Mr. Chagnon suggested that as Board Treasurer he Chair this committee and Ms. Carlson and Mr. Wesp be the remaining required Directors. Debbie Moore (CLA) and Marla Connelly (NYS OPRHP) will be the two non-Director participants. Mr. Chagnon made a motion to approve these five appointees, seconded by Mr. Spann. The motion passed unanimously.
Sheldon request for Alliance Board Review:
Mr. Emhardt advised the group of a forwarded letter from the Sheldon Foundation to CWC related to a recent grant request the CWC submitted. The Sheldon Foundation is requesting that the Alliance Board review any lake related grant requests that they receive. This request was vetted by the Governance Committee prior to consideration by the full Board. The current CWC grant request is specific to covering a portion of the operational costs of CWC staff Conservationists who undertake activities related to public outreach and education, especially at the landowner level. One of the main duties of the Conservationists is to provide landowners with technical assistance on constructing, planting and maintaining landscaping features that help improve water quality such as lake & stream bank vegetative buffers & rain gardens, and addressing erosion problems on streams. The Governance Committee determined that this CWC grant request is consistent with the recommendations made in the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Plan. A response letter to Sheldon Foundation was drafted for today’s review. Mr. Shepherd motioned to accept the response letter as drafted, seconded by Mr. Wesp. The motion passed unanimously.
Additional discussion: Mr. Sherwood asked if there a defined process on how the Alliance will prioritize projects. Ms. Brickley advised there was no official policy as yet, other than following the priorities documented in the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Plan and keeping up to date on what grants are available. Mr. Shepherd suggested that perhaps the new Scientific Review & Advisory Committee may play a role in further defining such a process. It was noted that however the process is defined, flexibility will need to be built in to it as priorities may shift based on what grant opportunities are available at a given time.
Conflict of Interest Policy:
Mr. Chagnon drafted a Conflict of Interest Policy that was vetted by the Governance Committee and sent to the full Board for review. Mr. Shepherd motioned to accept the Policy as written, seconded by Mr. Spann. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Chagnon drafted a Whistleblower Policy that was vetted by the Governance Committee and sent to the full Board for review. Mr. Shepherd motioned to accept the Policy as written, seconded by Mr. Wesp. The motion passed unanimously.
Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention:
Update on $50k from Senator Young for Chautauqua Lake (last discussed at the 10/15/15 Board Meeting): The focus for the use of these funds will be to partner with the appropriate Alliance Members to collectively agree upon and implement a work plan to aid in early detection of aquatic invasive species and monitoring in Chautauqua Lake. Ms. Brickley advised the group that the contract between the NYS DEC and the County to secure these funds has been completed. The County will then subcontract with the Alliance. The contract between the County and the Alliance is work in progress but once fully drafted will be brought to the Board for review. Initial Alliance meetings held with CLA and RTPI but need full group meeting to vet a more detailed work plan. The main concern is that this is a “reimbursable” grant meaning we have to spend the money first, provide appropriate documentation and then await reimbursement by the state. Ms. Brickley advised that we will need to define the mechanism by which we will deal with the reimbursable component of this grant in the near future.
New DEC Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prevention Grants: Ms. Brickley advised that the DEC recently announced a new grant opportunity specific to initiating a boat launch steward program. Brickley noted that this would be a great opportunity and that she had done some initial research on the grant requirements as well as reached out to Andrea Locke at WNY PRISM to discuss. The CLA would be the prime Alliance member needed for partnership. Mr. Conroe, as the CLA Executive Director advised that the CLA was aware of the new grant and was currently discussing the feasibility internally. Ms. Brickley noted that the Alliance is offering any and all assistance to them including local coordination, grant writing, local match options, etc. if they wish to pursue the opportunity.
Mr. Emhardt opened the floor to any Member updates or upcoming events and/or comments from the general public in attendance:
- Mr. Chagnon announced that the recently formed Chautauqua County Sewer Agency received good news from NYS Environmental Facilities Corp (EFC) on how the Integrated Sewer Plans for Chautauqua Lake from South & Center and North Chautauqua Lake Sewer Districts scored on the Intended Use Plan. All five projects (upgrade to South & Center (S&C) WWTP, extension of S&C district sewer lines, upgrade to North Chautauqua Lake WWTP, extension of North district sewer lines, and decommission of the Chautauqua Heights WWTP and convey to North WWTP) scored well and were all above the funding line cutoff. This means that all five projects will be eligible for funding beginning in 2016 as well as 0% interest loans. Additionally, the Engineering Study costs were covered by CFA grant awards. Mr. Conroe noted that once these areas become sewered, there will likely be a correlated increase in development. Therefore, it will be important that municipalities review their local zoning for low impact development requirements before sewers are completed. The three townships involved in sewer line extensions are North Harmony, Chautauqua and Ellery.
- Mr. Cherry gave an update on Chautauqua Institution’s CUD WWTP upgrade. Although financing for the project is covered, they have been waiting on final approval from DEC Region 9 on the $8 million sewer plant renewal project for over a year. It was noted that attrition of staff at the DEC is one reason for the delays. In the meantime, the CUD’s program to reduce Phosphorus is working very well for the last few years. Mrs. Conroe noted that the CSLAP program is trying to show that CUD’s efforts is having a quantitative impact by increased sampling.
- A question was raised about whether there was a correlation between Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and Zebra Mussels. Mrs. Nystrom noted that there have been studies that show Zebra mussels preferentially avoid HABs versus normal algal species. Mrs. Wigdahl-Perry advised that algal communities are dynamic and different nutrient levels can impact algal species differently. The algal study done by her graduate student this summer will be a good baseline but Chautauqua Lake has a very diverse algal community.
- Mr. Leenders gave an update on RTPI and JCC efforts to engage students in studying the Outlet and the beginning of the Chadakoin River. The diversity in this urban area is impressive and educating students and the general public on this is a recent focus after receiving a local 2% occupancy tax grant.
- Mr. Erlandson noted that many studies and data collection summaries have been done over the years for Chautauqua Lake. Unfortunately, these reports are scattered and none were published in the scientific journals to his knowledge. RTPI has initiated a central database on reports and data related to Chautauqua Lake and that new submissions are welcome.
Mr. Wesp motioned to adjourn the meeting at 5:32 pm, seconded by Mr. Emhardt. The motion was approved unanimously.