Water works

This is the third of a three-part series concerning issues discussed by Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan, county Industrial Development Agency Director Mike Metzger and Christina P. Orsi, regional director for Western New York Regional Office of Empire State Development at the OBSERVER, in western New York.

If infrastructure investment is the foundation for progress, nine communities in Northern Chautauqua County may be on the way to making some progress.

The creation of a north county water district has been in the works for a few years and County Executive Vince Horrigan thinks a district is coming soon. Horrigan said the regional water system is part of that infrastructure needed for progress and it received $1 million in grant funding last year for supply and configuration.

“We have brought Fredonia to the table, I’m very optimistic. One of the priority projects, this is another million or so investment for the Fredonia piece,” he added. “We now have everybody at the table. We are going to move this project forward. … I am very optimistic by the spring we’re going to have real pipes in the ground.”

Horrigan said finding out the amount the county will bond for is another step.

“That resolution has to be passed by the nine municipalities so they all agree. It comes to the county, the county passes it, we can actually bond at a very low rate. That would give us cash and we can start putting pipes in the ground,” he added. “This is essential infrastructure for Route 5, the businesses, we’re going to get that done.”

Horrigan said all nine municipalities: city and town of Dunkirk, Brocton, Portland, Silver Creek, Hanover, Fredonia, Pomfret and Sheridan were involved.

“The thing that is interesting though is that Hanover and Silver Creek have about a two-year, three-year more contract with the Erie County Water Authority, but we’re going to lay all the pipes in there. We have Fredonia, we have everybody come in,” he explained. “The detail comes down to what is (each municipality’s) water rate going to be. We’ll get that, we’ll get that figured out.

“This is a great regional project and I’m excited about it. Talk to anybody and you’ll see there’s some good stuff going forward on this.”

Horrigan was asked if he thought the municipalities were ready for the project if more funding comes in October through the Consolidated Funding Application process.

“I do. I’ll admit I’m a bit optimistic. I have some work to do with the trustees in Fredonia but I’m making progress,” he added.

Horrigan said the other eight municipalities had signed off and are on board, adding Brocton won’t have to do its own project now.

“When we brought Fredonia’s water plant on with Dunkirk, we brought the communities together. Those that are saying we can’t just look away from a functioning water source that is actually a different water source than Lake Erie, look at Toledo,” he added. “You put that together, because you have to bring the community together. It’s not necessarily the most efficient engineered thing.

“I see that if we get the money announcement in October, we’re going to have a resolution ready to go out to all the municipalities in November for their approval, through their boards to say here’s how we are going to have all the numbers put together. December, it goes to the legislature. Never make predictions, it goes to the December legislature for approval. With that will be the formation of the water agency. It will give us dollars to bond for. January, we will go out to bond.”

Horrigan added there is a win in the plan but there is still a big question.

“We can all say economic development and growth and stuff, but not everybody really shares that intrinsic value because it still comes down to a water bill and how much do I pay,” he stated. “We have to address those things, so we’ll get it.”

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