LAKEWOOD - The Chautauqua Lake Association' recently hosted its annual meeting at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club.
The Chautauqua Lake Association serves as the steward of Chautauqua Lake with weed harvesting, shoreline cleanup, scientific monitoring, public education and debris removal. The group has recently been dealing with serious financial shortfalls in a year where a warm winter and spring resulted in more weed growth in the lake. Although $50,000 was restored to the association through state grants supported by state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, and state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Chautauqua County, and $60,000 being funded by the county, the association is still only able to utilize half of its fleet and employ a third of its staff.
"It's been a trying year to say the least," said Chris Yates, association board president. "With less money coming in we have had to incorporate new methodologies and accentuate our partnerships with both the public and private sector. By incorporating new management techniques like volunteerism, special event promotion, owner lake-front clean-ups and the adoption of the 'Welfare to Work' program we are streamlining efforts to produce the best possible results to service our lake."
The Chautauqua Lake Association held its 65th annual dinner recently at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club. Members of the board of directors presented in detail the financial challenges the organization is facing this year due to funding cuts. Pictured from left are: state Assemblyman Andy Goodell; Randy Graham, CLA past president and board member; Terry Turner, treasurer; and Chris Yates, CLA president.
Deborah Moore, association treasurer, said the organization's expenses decreased by $107,000 in 2011, which was a reflection of the reduction from three crews to two crews. She said increases in operating support from the Holmberg, Lenna and Sheldon foundations and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation have made current operations possible. The association has a capital reserve balance of $556,000 which, according to Mrs. Moore is needed for the protection of the $5 million dollars in equipment the CLA owns. She said the money needs to be reserved for when equipment has to be replaced and for when funding is cut.
Randy Graham, past president and board member, thanked the local foundations, private donors, the county, state, towns and local villages for their continued support. He also thanked Cummins Engine of Jamestown for its "outstanding volunteer efforts to insure the quality and safety of Chautauqua Lake." Current efforts like the "Adopt-a-Shoreline" program started by the Jamestown Rotary Club and The Shultz Auto Group's "Paddle for Chautauqua Lake" on Aug. 11 are appreciated by association officials, Graham said.
Dick Kimball, representing Sen. Young, read a letter saluting the CLA's dedication in protecting and improving lake quality.
"The CLA has great advocates in Albany in Sen. Young and myself and we would both love to get more money to help, but with a $3 billion dollar shortfall in state spending it has been a tough fight,'' Goodell said during the meeting. "The lake is actually a separate line item in the state budget. That shows the incredible importance the lake has to people in this county."
He commended the work and diligence the CLA has shown in protecting the lake.
"It's easy for people who sit on the sidelines to complain about what's not being done about the lake but the CLA steps up and makes a difference. They roll up their sleeves and their members open their wallets to make this organization successful," Goodell said.
A question and answer period followed the meeting with many lake residents asking questions about work schedules, use of CLA barges and trucks and suggesting the implementation of boating fees. One question was asked about when the Army Corps of Engineers might intercede in taking some action to remedy the lake's excessive weed growth. Yates said he talked to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer's office recently and was promised there would be efforts to involve the corps and to secure more funding for maintenance of Chautauqua Lake. Many residents wanted to know if they could clean up their shorelines themselves and have CLA equipment on hand to clear the debris. Yates encouraged the practice and said to call the CLA at 763-8602 to learn of what might be possible.
The Chautauqua Lake Association is a not-for profit 501(c)(3) organization with nearly 1,400 members. The group's mission is to provide effective and efficient lake maintenance services for the benefit of all Chautauqua Lake users.