Duff has questions regarding ownership of Chautauqua Lake

MAYVILLE – Despite voting in favor of a resolution to change funding to Chautauqua Lake, Bob Duff, R-Sheridan, has questions as to who owns the lake.

Compared to February’s meeting, which lasted more than four hours, Wednesday’s legislature meeting moved along swiftly, with little discussion on resolutions. Absent from the meeting were Victoria James, D-Jamestown; Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown; Charles Nazzaro, D-Jamestown; Paul Wendel, R-Lakewood; and Fred Croscut, R-Sherman.

Regarding an amendment to a resolution pertaining to lakes and waterways funding, Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, and George Borrello, R-Irving, both spoke favorably.

“Just some comments on this resolution, which, in fact, primarily takes a previous emergency fund of $40,000 of 2 percent money and up-front allocates this to Chautauqua Lake Association for a total of $90,000,” Horrigan said.

“I believe this is very good use of these funds so we can do everything we can to preserve and maintain this critical resource, worth 25 percent of our tax base.”

Borrello echoed Horrigan, saying that he also supported the change in funding in order to better care for Chautauqua Lake.

“Cutting the weeds is still treating the symptoms and not the disease,” Borrello said. “The disease is absolutely the source of nutrients that are going into that lake. I’m glad to see the fantastic private partnerships that are coming along with public partnership.”

The amendment to the resolution was unanimously passed by legislators. However, when it came to the portion of the meeting reserved for announcements, Duff decided to speak up regarding the lake, and question the county’s responsibility for funding.

“I can’t believe that the people here in this room can’t ask why in the world did we take all the money to take care of something that we do not own. It’s very simple that the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation owns Chautauqua Lake,” Duff said. “We, the Chautauqua County government, should find out who actually is responsible for that Chautauqua Lake. … Taking our people’s money and just handing it off doesn’t gel good with me. That’s it.”

Also during the meeting, a local law authorizing the county to act as an agent for local authorities for the removal of abandoned vehicles failed.

The local law stems from an abandoned vehicle at the Chautauqua County Airport in Jamestown. Because the vehicle is on county property, town of Ellicott police have requested that the county be responsible for it.

John Runkle, R-Stockton, spoke against the local law during the meeting.

“The issue of abandoned vehicles and their removal from a specific location is already covered under section 12-24 of the New York state legal and traffic law, which I read,” Runkle said. “This legislation makes no sense to me, either from a practical standpoint or a monetary standpoint, and I won’t support it.”

Along with Runkle not supporting the local law, also voting no were Larry Barmore, R-Gerry; William Coughlin, D-Fredonia; Paula DeJoy, D-Jamestown; Duff; Tom Erlandson, D-Frewsburg; John Hemmer, R-Westfield; Timothy Hoyer, D-Jamestown; Rod Rogers, G-Forestville; Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia; Robert Stewart, R-Ellington; and Robert Whitney, D-Jamestown.

Voting in favor of the local law were Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk; Borrello; Thomas DeJoe, D-Brocton; Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk; David Himelein, R-Findley Lake; Horrigan; Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott; and Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville.