MAYVILLE - The mission of the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission is evolving. Not by chance, but out of necessity.
The seven-year-old advisory group to the County Legislature has studied and identified two major factors affecting the lake: Nuisance weeds and algae blooms.
And for years the commission has identified a solution: Develop a watershed management plan that reduces inflow of nutrients and sedimentation, and focus on in-lake maintenance in the form of mechanical weed harvesting.
Lyle Hajdu, chairman of the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission, left, discusses stream banking to resolve sedimentation issues in the lake during a meeting of the legislature’s Planning and Economic Development Committee.
P-J photo by Eric Tichy
But a lack of authority, no legal means to receive funding and inability to carry out its own recommendations may force the all- volunteer commission to re-evaluate its role to the county and the lake.
"You need a functioning organization," said Lyle Hajdu, volunteer chairman of the CLMC. "I'm grateful for what we have been able to do.
"But I can't pick up the phone and direct any action. We are just an advisory group. Thank God we have the CLA (Chautauqua Lake Association) and CWC (Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy) to get things implemented."
Hajdu on Wednesday gave a 2013 CLMC report to the legislature's Planning and Economic Development Committee. Hajdu said the report was put together quickly, and noted not all commission members had a chance to review it.
On just its third page the report notes the commission's "evolving mission." Aside from identifying short- and long-term goals, the CLMC has adopted a new mission: "Implement the recommendations."
But to go forward, funding needs to be secured and contractors need to be hired. In fact, it's the first time the lake commission has formally outlined what funding would be needed to carry out its recommendations.
The CLMC proposes it would need $464,680 in financial support - either from county, local, state or federal sources.
"From our inception we have been getting our funding from various functioning organizations," Hajdu said, noting the CLA. "Just to develop our management plan we had to ask for funding. Well now, the plan is in place and in the books. Now we need to implement it."
Funding recommendations in the CLMC report closely resembles a resolution pushed by Legislature Minority Leader Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown. That resolution, which called for $200,000 for the in-lake and long-term care of Chautauqua Lake, was heavily criticized for its fund balance use.
"Politics is a funny thing," Cornell said. "I would have liked to see my resolution pass to get the lake the funding it needs for this year."
Cornell said she approached County Executive Greg Edwards about scheduling a meeting regarding the lake and discussing the role of the CLMC. That meeting has not taken place, and Cornell said a new approach needs to be investigated.
"The legislature created the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission," she said. "I think it's time the legislature find a way to give the CLMC an appropriate vehicle to get some of those things done."
She added: "We need to come up with a new approach."
A recommendation made in the CLMC report includes building boat-launch kiosks that not only inform boaters on nuisance weeds, but allows disposal of vegetation in a secured location.
"Who designs the kiosk," Hajdu asked. "Who retains the contractor? Who has that responsibility? It's not going to be volunteers; it would have to be a functioning organization that would advocate for the process.
"I'm advocating to start that process, to have that meeting," he continued. "I'm not advocating for any special treatment. I just want to get something going."
Those who have sat on the lake commission note its humble beginnings.
"The commission needed to be formed," said Karen Rine, who sat on the CLMC board from its inception through last year. "It united all of the lake groups. The legislature wanted one voice for the groups."
Mrs. Rine said prior to the commission, the Chautauqua Lake Partnership in 2001 sprayed chemicals in the lake to manage weeds. However, to continue her group, the state required a detailed management plan. Thus, a commission is formed.
"We realized that we needed a little more authority so we all got together to get something done," Mrs. Rine said. "The irony is that has taken 10 years to get that plan established."
And with little authority now to implement the plan, chemical use has stayed in limbo.
"We need to be given more authority," she said. "We need to be able to get grants. ... The legislature did a great thing by forming the commission but they didn't go the extra mile."