Stormwater projects delayed for further review

John Ford | Staff Writer

As the 2012 Season dawns, many Chautauquans will recall that one year ago the grounds were buzzing with reports that the Institution had received almost $700,000 in state and federal grant money for a comprehensive storm water runoff management system to help protect Chautauqua Lake.

Indeed, Chautauqua staff had already prepared detailed engineering studies that helped to win the grant money. Last summer the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees developed and approved a comprehensive outline. The plan called for establishing a series of mini-wetlands on the golf-course side of Route 394 to absorb storm water before it could pull phosphorous and other pollutants into the lake.

Plans also envisioned small rock dams in the Ravine near the Boys’ and Girls’ Club to further manage runoff and beautify the entire area.

But it has not happened. Yet.

“In the fall of 2011 we were close to finalizing contracts for much of the work we had planned for the 2011–12 off-season,” said Doug Conroe, Chautauqua’s director of operations. “Then we encountered the State Environmental Facilities Corporation.

“The EFC’s mandate covers historical artifacts,” he said. “Since our scope of work involved digging underground, and since we were spending government money, a targeted environmental review was required.”

Chautauqua’s designation as a national historic district and landmark meant the area would need a more lengthy review, so the Institution hired a state-approved cultural resource investigator to complete it.

“We expect this review to be wrapped up fairly soon, certainly during the 2012 Season,” Conroe said. “We’re expecting to get back to our projects after the season.”