Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors Meeting
Thursday, June 9, 2016
4:00 p.m. at Stow Senior Center
Directors Present: Sally Carlson, Pierre Chagnon, Don Emhardt, Ken Shearer, David Shepherd, David Spann, and David Wesp.
Absent: Vince Horrigan & Linda Barber.
Others in Attendance: Erin Brickley – Alliance Executive Director. Randall Perry – Alliance prospective new hire.
Founding Member Representatives in Attendance: Craig Butler & Doug Conroe- Chautauqua Lake Association, Karen Rine – Chautauqua Lake Partnership, Lyle Hajdu & John Jablonski – Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Tom Cherry – Chautauqua Utility District and Rick McMahon – Chautauqua Cattaraugus Board of Realtors.
Scientific Review & Advisory Committee Members in Attendance: Dave McCoy.
I: Call to Order:
Mr. Chagnon called the meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:05 pm. It was noted for the record that there was a quorum (7 of 9) present.
II: Approval of Minutes:
Mr. Wesp made a motion to accept the minutes of the 5/12/16 Board Meeting as written, seconded by Mr. Spann. The motion was approved unanimously.
III. Approval of Recommended Candidate for Project Manager Position:
Mr. Chagnon advised the group that Randall Perry is in attendance as the recommended prospective candidate for the new Project Manager position with the Alliance and gave a summary of the hiring steps involved. After the application deadline, there were 30 applicants that were initially assessed by the Executive Director using a developed scoring mechanism. From there, the top 10 candidates participated in a phone interview with Ms. Brickley and the top 5 candidates were identified. The initial scoring and phone assessments were documented and available for any interested Director to review. The top five candidates were then asked to come in for a live interview. Alliance participants for the in-person panel interviews included Ms. Barber, Mr. Chagnon, Mr. Shepherd, Mr. Spann and Ms. Brickley. After all five interviews and panel discussions were completed; this group unanimously chose Mr. Perry as the recommended candidate. Mr. Shepherd did note for the record that all five top candidates were very qualified and that we were lucky to have such talent interested in the Alliance position.
Mr. Chagnon asked that Mr. Perry give a brief summary of his background and qualifications to those in attendance. Mr. Perry is a native of Maine and previously worked as a geological consultant specializing in environmental and water resource projects including field investigations and remediation, watershed modeling, and contractor oversight. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Earth Sciences from the University of Maine and has co-authored peer-reviewed papers on lake and watershed processes in Maine and Europe. Mr. Perry is also a former U.S. Marine and Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Most recently, he served as an Adjunct Instructor at Fredonia State University of New York teaching Geoscience and Environmental Science courses with a focus on water resources, geochemistry, surficial processes, and environmental assessment.
Mr. Shepherd made a motion to hire the recommended candidate, Randall Perry, as the Alliance Project Manager, seconded by Mrs. Carlson. The motion passed unanimously.
IV. Update on 2nd Annual Membership Drive:
Ms. Brickley advised the group that all identified members (founding as well as potential) were sent a Membership Letter of Request and 2016-2017 Membership Form on 5/24/16. It was also noted that the Executive Director will be going outbound to as many member meetings as possible this summer to give each an in-person update on Alliance activities over the last year as well as officially request ongoing membership.
V. Update on 2015 WQIP Grant Awards:
Ms. Brickley advised the group that all six state assistance contracts between the DEC and the County are in process for these stream bank stabilization projects. Permitting efforts are under way. The project implementation team will consist of the Alliance (contract work and grant administration), Soil & Water (design (4 of 6), permitting, construction contractor oversight and final site inspection) and CWC (education and outreach). It is hoped that the four smaller dollar projects (Goose, Ball, Bemus & Prendergast Creeks) will be constructed and completed this year. The two larger dollar projects (Dutch Hollow & West Dutch Hollow) will require hiring an Engineering firm for final design so these two will not be physically implemented until 2017. It was noted that there are some variables that are out of the team’s control such as the length of time it takes for state contracts to be processed at the state level. Ms. Brickley advised that all data that we were required to submit for the state assistance contracts has been completed.
VI. Update on Match Fund Proposals (Foundations & County):
Ms. Brickley updated the group on the efforts related to the Alliance proposal for a grants match fund supported by area foundations as well as the County. The idea is for the county and the local foundations to work together to expand match fund opportunities which leverages local fiscal assets in order to magnify the amount of outside state and federal grant funding that can be secured for the Chautauqua Lake watershed. Ms. Brickley informed the group that grant applications to five area foundations had been submitted the first week of March and that they have now all been decisioned. Three of the five applications were approved for a total of $160k worth of match support. Now that the local foundations have reached their final decisions, the Alliance will proceed in going back to the County with this update and request the County participate at the same funding level.
VII. Discussion of Alliance Participation in the Local 2% Waterways Grant Program:
Ms. Brickley advised the group that the Alliance submitted three grant applications to the local 2% Waterways Grant Program this year; one on behalf of the Village of Celoron and the other two (at the request of Soil & Water) on behalf of individual landowners. Based on the Alliance’s organizational mission, our focus is on acquiring state and federal funding by leveraging local resources. Therefore, it was felt that the topic of the Alliance applying to the local water grant program was appropriate to bring up for group discussion. Mr. Chagnon wanted to make sure that if any members had any concerns or comments, they had a transparent forum to discuss and address them.
Mr. Conroe felt it was pertinent to point out the 2% program has several delineations including: 2% Waterways Grant Program, 2% agency allocations and the 2% reserve fund account. Mr. Conroe noted that between the local foundation grants and the 2% waterways grants that the Alliance wrote 8 local applications and the Board should be aware that this could cause the perception that we are too focused on local resources when we should be focused on bringing in outside funding. Ms. Brickley noted that the local efforts were to secure funding on behalf of our members and for outside funding match use and leverage for member projects/ grant applications going forward. These efforts are in line with our mission and directly benefit the members and do not go toward covering Alliance operational costs. Mr. Shepherd pointed out that in order for the Alliance to leverage local resources, we needed to cement local resources and the current approach is to partner with the local foundations in addition to the county. He wondered if there are alternate paths that would work better than the current path chosen by the Alliance and stated suggestions are very welcome. Mr. Conroe said he fully understands these efforts are for the benefit of members but cautioned that it may be a slippery slope.
Mr. Jablonski commented that Celoron is a member of the Alliance and felt it was fine to submit a local grant application of their behalf. However, he did not think it was appropriate for the Alliance to be implementing projects but rather stay focused on the grant writing and administration services. Mr. Jablonski wanted to know if area foundations would also be providing match funding for projects on other lakes and waterways in the county, not just Chautauqua Lake. Mr. Shepherd noted that the local foundations involved are focused solely in the southern portion of the county based on their own mission parameters so this is moot. Mr. Emhardt commented that he is delighted that the Alliance worked on assisting the Village of Celoron and looks forward to seeing more assistance given to our municipal members going forward.
Focusing on the three 2% applications, Mr. Chagnon noted that one was directly for an Alliance member and the other two were done at the request of an Alliance member, Soil & Water. Mr. Spann stated that Soil & Water would like to see the Alliance write many more 2% applications for individual landowners in the future because whether the grant funding is local or from outside, it’s all part of the bigger picture to improve Chautauqua Lake. Mr. Conroe disagreed and saw that as simply shifting work that is already being done. Ms. Brickley also disagreed with Mr. Spann’s vision because she felt that working on behalf of individual landowners was already the focus of existing entities such as Soil & Water and would likely negatively impact the Alliance’s ability to coordinate and work on behalf our member organizations as well as shift focus away from bringing in outside (state / federal) grant dollars.
Mr. McCoy commented that this was all very healthy discussion and as a new organization it’s important to explore where and what our capacities are. He feels the Alliance 2% submissions will help to raise the bar for this local program and that the more the Alliance is involved in 2% applications from the start, it may be easier to leverage those projects for more and bigger projects down the road. Ms. Brickley noted that it’s really a question of where in that process the Alliance enters. Soil & Water can interact with local landowners and still perform the site evaluations as they have always done and then communicate or forward on those projects that need additional funding sources above and beyond the 2% Waterways maximum grant award of $40k to the Alliance for consideration.
Mr. Chagnon thanked everyone for being open to this type of discussion and thanked them for their opinions and insights. However, this year’s 2% program deadline of 6/1/16 has now passed and we have time to discuss this topic again prior to next year.
VIII. Discussion of July Board Meeting:
Ms. Brickley advised the group that the Stow Senior Center is booked on the normal Alliance meeting date and time for the month of July. It will also be a very busy month due to the holiday, the upcoming office move on the 22nd, and the state CFA grant application deadline of 7/29/16. Therefore Ms. Brickley requested cancelation of the July Board meeting. Mr. Wesp made a motion to cancel the July meeting, seconded by Mr. Emhardt. The motion passed unanimously.
IX. Open Floor / Member Updates:
Mr. Emhardt opened the floor to any Member updates or upcoming events and/or comments from the general public in attendance:
- Mr. Conroe gave an update for the CLA. The harvesters have been out and mainly cutting curly leaf pondweed which has been thick this year, especially in the south basin. Often, because this plant grows early then dies off and sinks prior to the peak recreational use of the lake in early July, the CLA doesn’t always harvest this type of growth but has the last couple of years due to lake users’ needs and level of growth.
- Mr. Chagnon gave an update on behalf of the County. Based on the TMDL for Chautauqua Lake, several actions have been taken by the County including additional funding to Soil & Water to pursue and grow the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program for area farmers. The AEM program is designed to assist farmers with mitigating non-point source pollution. The County is pleased with the efforts by Soil & Water to enroll more farmers and agricultural projects into the program and Mr. Chagnon is involved in drafting an upcoming press release to make sure the general public knows about this great AEM program and the effort at Soil & Water to expand its offerings to local farmers. Mr. McCoy noted that these efforts are in line with the TMDL but also the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan.
- Mr. Jablonski advised the group that the CWC annual meeting and dinner has been tentatively scheduled for 8/7/16. He is excited to announce the planned guest speaker will be the President and CEO of the Chesapeake Bay Conservancy
- Mr. McCoy gave an update on the county efforts to address severe erosion problem under the I-86 bridge on Ball Creek caused by a large downed tree. The County has been in contact with the DOT bridge inspection unit as well as the DOT Environmental unit. Efforts are ongoing. Mr. McCoy has been out in the field observing some older 2% stream projects and most are holding up very well. Another topic noted was the recent waste overflow issues from Empire Cheese. Mr. McCoy also spoke on current lake levels as the County is receiving a lot of calls from lake users that are concerned the lake levels are low. He advised the agreed upon goal for ideal lake levels since the 70s has been 1308.25’ and that is what the Bemus gauge on the lake is reading at. There has been lower than normal precipitation and Warner dam was only releasing the very minimum required flow to the Chadakoin. Mr. Shearer said that as a marina owner, he has never received so many calls for people getting stuck trying to leave their docks and/or boat lifts. After further discussion, it was agreed that perhaps the lake level gauge should be double checked for proper calibration.
Mr. Wesp made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 5:12, seconded by Mr. Shearer. The motion passed unanimously.