water Kiyak’s chance to make a splash

No Common Council member works harder in Dunkirk than Stephanie Kiyak, which is why it makes sense the at-large representative will be representing the city on the Chautauqua County Water Agency.

Kiyak, who is in her second council term, was approved for the seat during the council meeting last week. We are quite confident she will work in the city’s best interests in moving forward with a north county water district.

One of those interests, however, is the water plant itself. Some officials in city government believe the plant is an asset and has a certain amount of worth. Others, who are in favor of the regional approach, know the truth: it is a liability.

In recent years, repairs to the plant have cost city users millions of dollars.

Infrastructure is at the top of city Mayor Anthony J. Dolce’s list of concerns. With all the water line breaks this winter, those repairs will not come cheaply.

So even though the city has some “attachment” to the plant, it would serve the region better as a major water supplier. Regional initiatives are catching the attention of Albany. In fact, state money will be going toward getting a regional district completed.

But getting that district completed is the tough part. From our view – and recent comments by Dolce on “Viewpoint” on WDOE last week – it seems that “internal” discussions on water plans in closed-door meetings between the city and village of Fredonia may be undermining Chadwick Bay Development Corp. efforts.

Those closed meetings are not being fair to potential partners, most notably the towns, who have a large stake in regional water for the future. These leaders want a water system that is regional and reliable.

In fact, the business community – including major companies such as Nestle Purina, Cott and Carriage House – wants regional water as well.

Which gets us back to Kiyak. She claims to be a big regionalism booster, but often lets boundaries get in the way of that big picture.

In this seat on the agency, she represents the business community as well as the residents. They’ve both paid too much for water improvements in the city while population has been dwindling.

That is why the plant is a liability. As a chief provider for water to neighboring entities, however, the plant’s worth as an asset grows for Dunkirk and the region.

That’s where we need to be.