Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors – Public Meeting
Thursday, July 13, 2023
4:30 p.m. at The Lawson Center, 73 Lakeside Drive, Bemus Point, NY 14712 & via Zoom
Directors Present: Bruce Erickson, Don Emhardt, Ellen Barnes, Martin Proctor, Mike LaTone, JoDee Johnson, Paul Wendel Jr. (Zoom), Janis Bowman (Zoom)
Directors Absent: Jim Andrews
Staff in Attendance: Randall Perry – Alliance Executive Director, Taylor West – Alliance Project Manager, and Jay Young – Alliance Communications Coordinator
Others in Attendance: Linda Swanson – Sheldon Foundation; Mary Henderson – Chautauqua Property Owners Association; Craig Butler; Jim Wehrfritz; Mike and Peggy Newell
Member Representatives in Attendance: John Jablonski – Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy; John Ford, Doug Conroe – Chautauqua Lake Association; Dick Gunnell – Chautauqua Institution; Dave McCoy – County of Chautauqua; Mary Hutchings, Jim Cirbus – Chautauqua Lake Partnership; Karen Rine – South and Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer District
I. Call to Order
B. Erickson called the Board Meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:31 PM. A quorum of 7 out of 9 Alliance Board Members were present at the start of the meeting.
II. Approval of 6/8/2023 Board Work Session Minutes
D. Emhardt made a motion to accept the minutes from the 6/8/2023 Work Session Meeting. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was approved unanimously.
III. Financial Report
R. Perry indicated that a financial summary report is included in the meeting packet. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance has received a grant of $40,000 from the Holmberg Foundation, and thanked the Foundation for its contribution to lake and watershed projects.
IV. Projects Update
T. West offered a reminder to those boating on Chautauqua Lake to be on the lookout for invasive water chestnut. T. West indicated that while he and J. Young were performing a sonar survey on 6/29/23 that a plant was found and pulled from the east side of the first bend of the outlet. T. West indicated that this is the first time that the plant has been found on the east side, while it has previously been found on the western side. T. West indicated that the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy will be hosting an aquatic invasive species volunteer paddle on 7/14/2023 from 8:30 AM until noon to look for this and other aquatic invasive species launching out of McCrea Point Boat Launch. The public is welcome to attend and participants will need to bring their own kayak. For more information, please contact the Sandra Emke at email@example.com. T. West indicated that the Alliance has been moving forward on Round 17 Water Quality Improvement Projects, including Lakewood’s Grandview Stormwater Management Project, the Town of North Harmony’s Ball Creek Stabilization Project, and the Town of Chautauqua Swales Stabilization Project. T. West indicated that Lakewood recently awarded its construction contract to Rock of Western New York, and that construction is scheduled to start soon. T. West indicated that the Chautauqua Swales Stabilization project team held a kickoff meeting on 6/16/2023, and project engineer Barton and Loguidice is in the process of designing each of the eight project sites. T. West indicated that construction bids have been received for the Ball Creek Stabilization Project, and the Town is in the process of reviewing those. T. West indicated that 2022 Non-Point Source Planning Grants for the Town of Chautauqua, Village of Lakewood, and Town of North Harmony are in the process of executing state contracts.
The following project information was provided in a meeting handout.
- 2018-2023 Invasive Species Early Detection – Volunteer Task Force
- Water Chestnut (~330 plants) found/removed in Chautauqua Lake Outlet in June-October 2022
- Collaborative efforts among CWC, ACNC, Alliance, WNY PRISM, and Volunteers
- Alliance staff pulled and removed 1 water chestnut plant from the outlet on 6/29/29 during a sonar survey. The plant was reported and uploaded to iMap Invasives.
- Starry Stonewort found in Chautauqua Lake in Ashville Bay and near Prendergast Point in August 2022. Management planning work underway by CWC
- This species of macro-algae has been found in Chautauqua Lake since around 2009.
- CWC’s 2022 surveys have documented at least 7.25 acres of Starry Stonewort across two areas of the lake (Ashville Bay and Prendergast Point)
- Contact the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC) to get involved
- Click here for more information about this program: https://www.chautauquawatershed.org/aquatic
- To help observe/report on your own, please sign up for iMapInvasives: www.imapinvasives.org/
- Water Chestnut (~330 plants) found/removed in Chautauqua Lake Outlet in June-October 2022
- 2021 Village of Lakewood Grandview Stormwater Management Project (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Project aims to create a series of pocket wetland structures to capture and treat ~100,000 cubic feet stormwater from the Grandview subdivision with the goal of reducing flooding along Rte. 394 and sediment and nutrient loading in Chautauqua Lake. A trail is planned for around the project providing an educational and recreational opportunity for the public
- Village awarded construction contract to Rock of Western New York
- Construction to commence soon
- Link to Press Release: https://chqgov.com/parks-and-trails/news/stormwater-project-reduce-flooding-lakewood-ny
- 2021 Town of North Harmony Ball Creek Stabilization Project (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Project aims to stabilize ~440 linear feet of streambank along Ball Creek in the Town of North Harmony to reduce sediment and nutrient loading in Chautauqua Lake
- Design Completed by EcoStrategies Engineering and Surveying PLLC
- Held construction bid opening on 7/12/23
- 2021 Town of Chautauqua Roadside Swales Stabilization Project (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Project aims to stabilize ~16,000 linear feet of swales within the Town of Chautauqua to reduce sediment and nutrient loading in Chautauqua Lake.
- Held Kickoff Meeting on 6/16/23
- Engineering by Barton and Loguidice underway
- 2022 Town of Chautauqua Stream Culvert Assessments (NYSDEC NPG)
- NYSDEC announced on 3/6/23 that the Town has been awarded a non-point source planning grant to assess road/stream culvert crossings at two locations within the Chautauqua Lake watershed and will produce an engineering design report for projects that address erosion caused by failing or inadequately sized culverts.
- Contract execution with NYS underway
- 2022 Village of Lakewood Commercial Corridor Stormwater Engineering Study – Mall Boulevard
- NYSDEC announced on 3/6/23 that the Village has been awarded a non-point source planning grant to complete a stormwater engineering study for the Chautauqua Mall Boulevard commercial corridor to reduce excessive stormwater runoff in the study area and improve water quality entering Chautauqua Lake.
- Contract execution with NYS underway
- 2022 Town of North Harmony Ball Creek Stabilization Engineering Study Phase II
- NYSDEC announced on 3/6/23 that the Town has been awarded a non-point source planning grant to develop a streambank stabilization engineering study of ~2,640 linear feet of stream corridor along Ball Creek (from the Ball Creek mouth upstream to NYS Route 394). The engineering design report will identify areas of erosion and stream instability and identify potential management actions to reduce sediment and nutrient loading to Chautauqua Lake.
- Contract execution with NYS underway
- List of Alliance-partnered NYS grants that have been closed out:
- 2015 NYS Invasive Species Management Grant (C. Young Senate Initiative), closed ca. Apr 2019
- 2016 Lakewood-Busti Stormwater Mgmt. Engineering Study (DEC/EFC EPG), closed ca. Jan 2019
- 2013 Celoron Breakwall & Boardwalk LWRP Phase I Grant, closed ca. Sep 2018
- 2016 Celoron Breakwall & Boardwalk LWRP Phase II-III Grant, closed ca. Aug 2019
- 2017 Mayville-Chautauqua Stormwater Mgmt. Engineering Study (DEC/EFC EPG), closed ca. Feb 2020
- 2015 County Round 12 WQIP Streambank Stabilization Projects at Ball, Bemus, Goose, Prendergast, Dutch Hollow (Phase 1 & 2), and West Dutch Hollow Creeks, closed ca. April 2022
- 2017 Celoron Park Improvement (Amenities Building) LWRP Phase IV Grant, closed ca. Mar 2021
- 2018 Lakewood Chautauqua Avenue Green Street Retrofit (NYSEFC GIGP), closed ca. Jan 2022
- 2018 County Round 15 Skimming Capital Equipment (NYSDEC WQIP), closed ca. Apr 2022
- 2018 Village of Lakewood and Town of Busti Precision Swale Stormwater Retrofits (NYSDEC WQIP), closed ca. September 2022
Additional information is available on the Alliance website Projects page and in our Annual Reports:
- Projects Page: http://www.chautauquaalliance.org/projects/
- Annual Reports: http://www.chautauquaalliance.org/annual-reports/
V. 2023-2024 Membership Drive Update
R. Perry indicated that emails requesting membership renewals were sent in late June. R. Perry indicated that any prospective Members who did not receive that email can contact him. R. Perry thanked those Members who have already renewed for the 2023-2024 year and those considering renewal. R. Perry indicated that he is happy to meet with Member organizations to discuss the process and the Alliance.
VI. 2023-2024 Alliance Consolidated Local Funding Program Update – Request For Applications
R. Perry indicated that there is an overview of this year’s Consolidated Local Funding Program Request for Applications in the meeting packet. R. Perry indicated that blank applications and program information were distributed via email on July 12, 2023. R. Perry indicated that any current Member organization is eligible to request funds from the Alliance, and the applications are due on September 7, 2023 at 4 p.m. R. Perry thanked Members involved with the program, as well as local charitable foundations and Chautauqua County for contributing funding to the program for lake and watershed projects.
VII. 2023 NYS Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) Update
R. Perry indicated that the NYS Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process has been open since the middle of May, and the deadline for submissions is July 28, 2023. R. Perry indicated that Alliance staff have been working with Members to identify projects that are eligible for programs being funded by the CFA. R. Perry indicated that there are currently three CFAs that the Alliance is partnering on. R. Perry indicated that these include a Non-Ag Nonpoint Source Planning Grant that is being pursued with the County to create an engineer-prepared sediment and debris management along Bemus Creek.
J. Cirbus indicated that he has seen large boulders in Bemus Creek along Meadow Drive near the Bemus Point United Methodist Church. J. Cirbus asked if that could be material that was installed for streambank stabilizations.
R. Perry indicated he was unsure, and indicated that if this grant is funded those could be the type of conditions that the engineer would be looking at. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance could follow up on the boulders, perhaps with D. McCoy, and relay any information on that back to J. Cirbus.
R. Perry indicated that the Alliance is also partnering on two Water Quality Improvement Project CFAs, including a culvert replacement on Carpenter Pringle Road for the Town of North Harmony. R. Perry indicated that the stream is a tributary of Ball Creek, and the site has issues with culvert sizing and erosion. R. Perry indicated that the final CFA currently being prepared is a partnership with the Village of Lakewood to construct a shallow wetland pond complex and restore a defunct stormwater basin along Fairmount Avenue.
R. Perry indicated that final budgets are still being prepared for these CFAs, and once match requirements are determined he will reach out to the Alliance Board via email to approve matching funds. R. Perry indicated that a record of any email vote would be included in the August work session minutes.
B. Erickson indicated he has heard discussions regarding County purchases of lake equipment.
P. Wendel indicated that the County is looking to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to purchase two pieces of equipment. P. Wendel indicated that discussions have taken place with the Chautauqua Lake Association regarding details and specifications of the needed equipment. P. Wendel indicated that currently a harvester and a transport vessel are being considered for purchase, and that this would be an exciting addition to our lake maintenance capabilities.
B. Erickson thanked P. Wendel for the update, and agreed that his was an exciting development.
P. Wendel indicated that there is currently a lot of discussion in Northwest Pennsylvania regarding the French Creek watershed and federal wetlands. P. Wendel indicated that the federal government is taking steps to create a wetland refuge within the French Creek watershed, which could include property in the Village of Sherman, Town of Mina, and Town of French Creek. P. Wendel said this concerns an endangered species of mussel, and that thus far the rollout of this project has caused many issues in Pennsylvania. P. Wendel indicated that all of the counties he has spoken with in Pennsylvania are opposed to this, and that local support is lacking. P. Wendel said that a public information session is still being organized, and that there was no contact with Chautauqua County, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, or NYS officials during this process.
J. Jablonski asked if P. Wendel is reaching out to local conservation organizations for input before discussing this with the federal government. J. Jablonski requested that this be done.
P. Wendel indicated that this is a recent development, and indicated that the County would involve local organizations moving forward.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that property owners should also be involved in the dialogue, as they may have opinions that are different from conservation organizations.
P. Wendel indicated he agreed with that, and that thus far the federal government’s outreach has been lacking to all groups.
B. Erickson asked that J. Jablonski be recognized, and indicated that there will be a reception at the Lawson Center on July 20, 2023 to celebrate his legacy of work with the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. B. Erickson thanked J. Jablonski for all of his work.
IX. Open Floor: Member Representatives and Community Members in Attendance
J. Cirbus indicated that there is also a great deal of concern about potential wetland designations around Chautauqua Lake, and asked if there are any updates on that.
B. Erickson indicated that NYSDEC Region 9 Director Julie Barrett O’Neill spoke at the Chautauqua Lake Association’s 2023 Annual meeting, although he was unsure if she addressed that topic.
J. Wehrfritz indicated she had addressed the topic on at least two other occasions.
J. Cirbus indicated his support for addressing this proactively, as it may be too late once a wetlands declaration is made. J. Cirbus indicated that this is related to Governor Kathy Hochul’s push to add 1 million acres of wetlands statewide, with each region contributing to the total.
J. Jablonski indicated this sounds like good news to protect the wetlands of Chautauqua Lake.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that this is a project to create new wetlands, rather than protect them.
J. Cirbus indicated that designating the South Basin as a wetland would cause a lot of problems, and that there is a point where conservation can go too far and begin impacting human use of the environment and the economy.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that conservation is only one part of the NYSDEC’s mission, and that economic and social factors are equal.
P. Wendel indicated that there was a 2022 law passed which changed the state’s qualifications on designating wetlands. P. Wendel indicated this law would go into effect in 2025. P. Wendel indicated that he and others have been in contact with J. Barrett O’Neill and that it remains to be seen how the law might affect the South Basin. P. Wendel indicated he could refer emails to interested parties about this law, and that state government representatives for the County are on top of the issue.
K. Rine indicated that there is a scheduled meeting of Longview property owners this Saturday to address the issue, and voice the concerns of property owners.
B. Erickson indicated that this is an issue involving all Alliance members and asked that we keep one another informed of what we find out.
A discussion followed of unallocated or outstanding Alliance funds for lake management operations.
P. Wendel inquired about what steps would be needed to deliver additional funding to the Chautauqua Lake Partnership for this year.
R. Perry indicated that funding allocations are subject to the Board’s approval, and the typical practice is to disperse funds once a grant agreement including a budget and scope is in place.
M. LaTone indicated that he would work with R. Perry and P. Wendel this week to resolve the outstanding funds issue.
D. Conroe indicated that the money the Chautauqua Lake Association receives from the Alliance is tied to particular work.
J. Jablonski asked if Members could submit proposals to the Alliance Board that could be funded with unallocated monies.
R. Perry indicated that last year there were some unallocated funds available around this time. R. Perry indicated that Members submitted short proposals to the Board to request those funds for late-season work. R. Perry indicated that additional funds for aquatic invasive species were dispersed this way later in 2022.
B. Erickson asked that the Board pursue the same strategy this year, and that proposals for late-season work be evaluated at the Alliance’s August work session.
J. Cirbus asked if the Alliance’s fund balance must go to zero at the end of each year.
B. Erickson indicated that County funds must be expended in a calendar year, and that funds from local foundations can at times be rolled over with permission.
D. Emhardt made a motion to adjourn the July 13, 2023 meeting. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 5:03 PM
The Alliance Board of Directors passed a motion to approve these 7/13/2023 Meeting Minutes on 8/17/23.