Chautauqua Lake Association Details Financial Challenges at 2012 Annual Meeting

The Chautauqua Lake Association’s financial challenges were presented in detail by board members at their Annual Dinner Meeting on Monday June 25th at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club.

The CLA serves the community by being the “steward” of Chautauqua Lake with weed harvesting, shoreline clean-up, scientific monitoring, public education and debris removal. The group has recently been dealing with serious financial shortfalls in a year where lake conditions are considerably less than ideal for lake home owners and tourists. Although $50,000 was restored to the CLA through state grants supported by State Senator Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell 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,” CLA Board President Chris Yates said. “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.”

CLA Treasurer Deborah Moore said the CLA’s expenses were lower by $107,000 in 2011, which was a reflection of the reduction from three crews to two crews.  She added that 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 in cases of equipment replacement need and extreme reductions in funding.

Past President and board member Randy Graham publicly thanked the local foundations, private donors, the county, state, towns and local villages for their continued support for the CLA. He also thanked Cummins Engine of Jamestown for their “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 (June 30th and August 4th) and The Shults Auto Group’s “Paddle for Chautauqua Lake”(August 11th) are deeply appreciated by the Association, Graham said.

Dick Kimball, representing State Senator Cathy Young, read a letter saluting the dedication that the CLA has maintained in protecting and improving lake quality. Assemblyman Andy Goodell attended the meeting and said, “The CLA has great advocates in Albany in Senator 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. 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,” he 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 Senator Chuck 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 501c organization with just under 1400 members.  The group’s mission is to provide effective and efficient lake maintenance services for the benefit of all Chautauqua Lake users. The CLA is committed to initiating and implementing in-lake management activities to protect and improve the quality of Chautauqua Lake. The CLA’s primary goal is to ensure the natural beauty, safety and utility of the lake as a recreational resource.