Within the last two years, $385,000 in local funds were secured to bring $1.6 million in state grant funding. Currently, nine projects are underway with the Alliance serving as the primary facilitator and working with six of the nine municipalities bordering the lake.
“There were a lot of expectations when the Alliance was formed, and I think we’ve met them,” said Erin Brickley, executive director for the Alliance. “It took time to get up and running. With the existence of the Alliance, there’s nothing but potential.”
The Alliance evolved from the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission, an advisory committee formed by the County Legislature in 2005. Through the Alliance, framework was established with goals to secure funding from various sources to implement projects in and around the lake. The Alliance’s staff includes Brickley and Randall Perry, project manager, who facilitates the grants and projects.
The nine municipalities that border Chautauqua Lake along with 22 local organizations are Alliance members. Each member has donated funding used for purposes to supply the required local matches to receive the grants.
Brickley said it took a few years to get buy-in from municipalities and groups. With that part complete, Brickley said relationships are being built and projects are moving.
“It’s been a great process,” she said. “Each municipality and group are focused on things and we know they’re stretched (on funds). That’s where we come in and write grants to bring in state funding to leverage what we have.”
After becoming fully operational in 2015, the Alliance worked successfully to secure six state grant awards to address streambank and channel instability on various creeks. Together, the projects are estimated at $1.43 million. Of that total, $1.07 million in grants were secured.
A stabilization project on Prendergast Creek was completed in the fall. Work to stabilize sections of Bemus, Goose, Ball, Dutch Hollow and West Dutch Hollow creeks are expected to begin this year and in 2018.
Brickley said she’s particularly excited about the Alliance’s work with the town of Busti and village of Lakewood to secure funding for a study on stormwater infrastructure. The study will act as a guideline for projects to mitigate potential flooding and nutrients from entering the lake. The study will cost $136,500. The state is supplying $100,000.
With success seen for Lakewood and Busti, the Alliance is beginning to work with officials in Mayville and Chautauqua to get a similar study going. A study in the Jamestown area is a future target.
The Alliance has also worked successfully with the village of Celoron for waterfront improvements, which include installation of a heavy limestone rip-rap, a new boardwalk and a handicap-accessible kayak and canoe launch. The Alliance is also working with the Chautauqua Lake Association, Audubon Community Nature Center and Roger Tory Peterson Institute to strengthen invasive species control, particularly on early detection. Funding was secured though state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean.
“There’s no silver bullet to solve Chautauqua Lake’s issues. Multiple disciplines need to be addressed,” Brickley said. “It’s about education and helping to fill a gap in funding to assist with projects.”
Brickley said pulling together stakeholders was a huge lift. As for the Alliance’s outlook, she said she “sees nothing but more growth.”
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