Fredonia expresses support for regional water system

Now that the green light has been given to include Fredonia in a regional water project, along with Dunkirk, village leaders officially expressed the required approval in moving forward with the next steps.

The Fredonia Village Board, during a special meeting Wednesday, unanimously approved a resolution doing just that, thus enabling Chautauqua County to seek $6.3 million in grants and consolidated funding that would help upgrade the village water treatment plant’s capacity and have it become a regional water provider with Dunkirk.

The application for the first round of that funding is due mid-June.

County Executive Vince Horrigan attended the meeting to answer any questions before the resolution’s adoption.

“The regional water system is driven by elected officials; it is not driven by (the engineering firm) Clark Patterson Lee, and it’s important to understand we changed that,” he said. “They provide technical expertise. Period. They’re in the background, and I’ve insisted that’s the way it’s going to be.”

Horrigan explained the multi-million dollar grants would help the water project by funding a 2,000,000-gallon storage tank for Fredonia, some larger piping along Brigham and Waldorff roads and a large, 3,000,000-gallon pumping station. With Dunkirk and Fredonia feeding each other in a regional system, water capacity can increase to 10,000,000 gallons per day, the capacity needed to handle feeding the outlying areas.

The county executive added Fredonia’s support does not mean the village is committed (financially or otherwise) to the project design, nor to any potential water rates; it simply means the county can submit a grant application to upgrade Fredonia’s system.

“What we expect is … we hope to get $1.3 or $1.4 million through the regional economic development council,” Horrigan said. “Dunkirk did this last July. They were able to get a million dollars, we’re hoping to get another million dollars or so, to help us with those storage tanks and the supply.”

Trustee Susan Mackay asked Horrigan if it was possible for Fredonia to have a second seat on the North County Water Agency since Dunkirk holds two seats and Fredonia holds one.

“I’m happy to carry that forward to the legislature,” he replied. “I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t do that, since you’re a primary water supplier now.”

Trustee Joseph Cerrie asked if all the town, city and village boards involved in the water project could meet together as a whole to hash out additional details and clear up any misinformation. Horrigan said that may be possible once the design phase gets under way.

Mayor Stephen Keefe praised Horrigan for the leadership he has shown in addressing Fredonia’s concerns.

“The reason he heard us is because he’s listening, and we haven’t gone through that before; it’s new to us, with this system that we’re looking at,” Keefe added.

Horrigan pointed out he understands where the board is coming from regarding the need for additional details on the water project before committing to anything, as well as the inclusion of Fredonia’s infrastructure in the system.

“We can do this together,” he said. “The engineers got out of the box and I had to get them back in the barn, and they’re back there now. To me, now, this project makes a lot more sense (with Dunkirk and Fredonia together).”

Also during the meeting, Fredonia water and sewer rent increases were approved, with a $10 increase in the minimum sewer charge per quarter, a dollar increase in the current sewer rate per thousand gallons and a 10-cent bump in the current water rate per thousand gallons.

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