By Samantha McDonnell
DUNKIRK - Chautauqua County may be seeing funding for water projects throughout the county due to proposed legislation. Rep. Tom Reed was joined by several elected officials and community members to discuss the Water Resources Reform and Development Act Friday, Nov. 9 on the shores of Lake Erie in Dunkirk.
Photo by Samantha McDonnell
Congressman Tom Reed visited Dunkirk Friday, Nov. 8 to discuss the proposed legislation Water Resources Reform and Development Act which could potentially fund water-related projects in the county and region.
Reed explained WRRDA has passed the House of Representatives with an overwhelming amount of 'yes' votes and the Senate passed its own version of the bill. The bipartisan legislation "bodes well for us here in Chautauqua County," he said.
"What WRRDA will do, is it sets the stage for these dredging projects like Chadwick Bay, Barcelona, Cattaraugus Creek, and Chautauqua Lake will also have a component in this WRRDA bill. It will set the stage for us to be competitive," Reed said.
WRRDA removed $12 million of backlogged projects that were lost in "red tape" in Washington, D.C., according to Reed. These projects will again be brought up and will have a competitive edge, including those in Chautauqua County that may have previously been passed by. Projects will be judged under criteria and Congress will sign off on the projects. Under the proposed legislation more money will be coming to harbors nationally from a harbor tax.
"A lot of the money for these dredging projects come from the harbor maintenance trust tax. Under the proposed legislation, 10 percent of that money will now be dedicated to harbors such as what we have here," Reed said.
Among those in attendance at the press conference was County Executive Greg Edwards. He commended Reed for understanding the county and the region and voting accordingly to legislation that will benefit the area. He said by Reed pushing for WRRDA, "it shows his commitment to find out what's valuable to Chautauqua County."
"Congressman Reed has understood the value of this water issue to the economy, jobs and opportunities to Chautauqua County. He has invested a tremendous amount of time. I have always been impressed when he comes to present on issues. He listens first, identifies what the issues are, does his research and when he comes to events like today, he speaks with authority and does hard work of finding out what's important and what needs to take place to get things done," said Edwards. "This is a great win for Chautauqua County as far as I'm concerned. I think we all need to lock together to make sure this sails through the rest of the way."
Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce was also in attendance and welcomed Reed back to the city. Dolce said he is in support of the bipartisan legislation on behalf of the city and those who rely on the city marina.
"This is crucial for (all those who rely on the marina) to continue operating as they do. What's good for them is good for the city of Dunkirk and Chautauqua County. I'm here to lend my support for this piece of legislation and anything the city of Dunkirk can do on behalf of it," Dolce said.
The proposed legislation will be turned into a bill in the House and Senate by the end of the year, Reed predicts. WRRDA will provide funding for many projects that have been in the planning stages by elected officials and through work done with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including projects for removing invasive species and flood prevention.
"I'm very excited about that because we are very well positioned here to have those projects move ahead quickly now that there is a funding source," Edwards said.
George Borrello, chairman of the Lake Erie Management Commission, said he is thankful to Reed for his hard work on the issue and the continued effort for the dredging project along the shores of Lake Erie. Reed said it is important to make sure the infrastructure is maintained in the harbor and throughout the county to make sure future investments are protected.
"... Once you lose this capital infrastructure, it's going to take a tremendous amount of cash to restore it. It's not only about protecting it now but looking down the road to make sure those proper investments are there to protect not only Dunkirk Harbor but Cattaraugus Creek, Barcelona and Chautauqua Lake," Reed said.