Failure to communicate

There are two major players in a potential north county water district, the city of Dunkirk and the village of Fredonia.

Members of both the city’s Common Council, and the village’s Board of Trustees, have been asked to pass resolutions that would name Chautauqua County as the lead applicant in applying for $38 million in a Consolidated Funding Application through the state’s Western Regional Economic Development Council. The funding would be used in putting the district together at a reduced cost.

While council members were clear in wanting more information when they tabled a resolution of support at their July 16 meeting, the village board has not indicated a strong desire to be involved with a water district. Village Attorney Sam Drayo attended Tuesday’s meeting and said he was not taking a position on the district but did know that his board wanted more information on the district from the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation.

“When (CBRDC Executive Direc-tor Kathy Tampio first appeared before our board meeting, I think it was a week and a half, two weeks ago, I found out for the first time that the game plan in your application would be to close the Fredonia filtration plant,” Drayo stated. “I guess that’s still the game plan?”

CBRDC consultant Rick Henry replied, “Yes.”

“What about the city of Dunkirk, is there going to be a new plant owned and operated by the district or are you going to retool, update and make improvements to the existing plant?” Drayo asked.

“The plant is already in the process of being upgraded. We have recommended just adding the two additional components, flocculation and sedimentation,” Henry replied.

“So there is no new plant, am I correct?” Drayo asked.

“Correct,” Henry replied.

Drayo said all the board received after the meeting with Tampio were spread sheets with a lot of figures.

“A lot of the questions being asked tonight could have been answered in a brochure or some sort of pamphlet, some sort of information that spells it out, not just all verbal,” he added. “We haven’t got that information and we, the village, and I’m sure the city of Dunkirk, has to do due diligence. This may be a great thing and it may have some major errors in it, but we need the information. We need to look at your recommendations and why you’re recommending this, what are the reasons for it. We haven’t seen it, we’ve just seen spread sheets; that’s all we have in Fredonia, spread sheets.”

County Executive Greg Edwards said Fredonia has not supplied the majority of information that CBRDC asked for in February. Edwards added that Dunkirk was forthcoming with its records and the information was processed and released. He added that there was never any intention of building a new plant in Dunkirk and that was clear in 2008 and that CBRDC has been talking about the project for 18 months.

“All your initial questions would have been answered at the Chadwick Bay level for almost a year and a half,” Edwards added. “The reality is what we’re asking Dunkirk tonight, whether or not they’re supporting the request for dollars, is the same question others asked in Fredonia. Are you interested in assisting in some grant dollars?”

Drayo had a reason for Fredonia’s delay in its response.

“The fact of the matter is you called Mr. St. George right in the middle of our budget process and you were aware of it,” Drayo charged.

Edwards said he was aware of when Fredonia was asked and what was asked for but Drayo said the question was about getting information and facts presented so questions could be answered.

“Since June of 2012 you’ve had a year to prepare written reports, something explaining the options you were going to present. We haven’t seen anything like that,” Drayo continued. ” … We need more information. Six days ago we get printed spread sheets and from that we’re supposed to make a decision? … A serious question of asking us to give up our water treatment plant that has operated 80 years, pretty favorably. Yes, there’s been a couple problems but you have to look at the whole 80 years. It’s a serious question for the village and we need good information before we can endorse a plan that’s going to ask for that plant to be decommissioned.”

Edwards said that was not being asked right now of anybody.

“We’re asking whether or not, you’re willing to commit to supporting an application for grant dollars so that the next step can actually be taken; that is building a rate structure, a model, on that known quantity,” he stated. “Are there grant dollars out there? Is there support out there at the state level to go forward or not? We’re not asking Dunkirk to sign a document tonight to transfer your water plant for now. We’re not saying that we’re asking if you support the next step.

“That’s the same ask for Fredonia; would you be willing to support the county as the lead applicant supporting the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation actual work to go out after state dollars to determine what the actual cost reduction would be by the application of grant dollars to this regional process. … The relevant question is, is the village of Fredonia willing to try and reduce the overall cost of doing this essential work by getting some grant dollars from the sources that are out there?”

It was agreed that the grant writers would supply the application’s narrative to both Dunkirk and Fredonia officials for their review. It was noted the application has a hard deadline of Aug. 12 at 4 p.m. Dunkirk’s council is scheduled to meet Monday in regular session while Fredonia’s board is not scheduled to meet until Aug. 12.

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