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Letters to the Editor
March 1, 2017

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CSHOF Board of Directors gives thanks

Dear Editor,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, I wish to offer a note of thanks to the 460 residents and 325 small businesses of Chautauqua County who supported our 36th Annual Induction Banquet, Monday, February 20th, at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club. It was our most successful dinner ever in terms of attendance and advertising by residents and businesses from all regions of Chautauqua County.

We were pleased to induct 11 new members to our Hall of Honor, recognize 42 outstanding high school, collegiate and community athletes for extraordinary accomplishments, and present CSHOF Legacy Society Awards to 6 most-deserving individuals.

The Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame is an all-volunteer organization,dedicated to only one mission: To Honor and Preserve the Sports History of Chautauqua County.

The record-breaking level of support we received for our 2017 Induction Banquet is sincerely appreciated.

Randy Anderson

CSHOF President

Fresh water on the minds of rural Westfield residents

The following open letter was delivered to Marth Bills' office in response to an exploratory survey that she mailed to the businesses and residents of rural West Main Rt20.

Martha Bills,

Currently Westfield residents, along West Main Street, are being challenged to dive into a reality that many see as a giant step forward in building the infrastructure and future of the Village and Town of Westfield, New York...I'm talking about access to "MUNICIPAL WATER"! Who could possibly challenge the need for fresh, clean, WATER...and who would refuse a fresh, reliable, supply of WATER as has recently been offered to the resident stakeholders and businesses along a one mile stretch of West Main Street Rt20?

The answer is no one! The allure and promise of water in a community that has, up to this point, had only one master...WELL WATER cannot be understated! But, before we dive blindly into a tidal pool of unsupported promises, we should ask a few simple questions; how deep is our individual financial liability for this project, can we swim in a pond where we are asked to provide our own lifeguard, What is the Town of Westfield's financial stake in support of the project, what are the hidden dangers that lay beneath the surface, and is this really a clean water resource or a cesspool of half truths, hidden agendas, and lack of perspective about other such ventures that ended in disappointment for their wide eyed and naive victims.

Take a ride with me on Main Street Rural Route 20 East of Westfield Village and you will see water hydrants all along the way... and, you will also see beautiful homes, schools, and hospitals, but, once you leave the Village into what was once farm country, you find a much different picture...a landscape turned into a patchwork of asphalt parking lots in disrepair, closed car dealerships, motels, and retail shops... many closed or in disrepair, time warn mobile home parks, and what appears to be a pattern of uncontrolled sprawl that ended with the inevitable failed dreams of their owners, investors, and neighbors.

I am sure that much of the lure to develop the rural East Main community sprung out of the availability and ready access to Westfield's municipal water. So, what went wrong...did Rural East Main have an adequate impact assessment and growth plan that considered the ramifications of zoning changes that would turn agricultural property into commercial and industrial sprawl? Many thought that it would be progress to build parking lots and cement block retail buildings to replace what was once fertile agricultural property with quiet residential farm houses.

We should beware of programs that change density rules as a means to increase the tax base to pay for municipal programs that openly promise that increased growth will increase individual property values....We all know that when property values rise the home and property owners along Westfield's Rural Main Street will eventually be forced to subdivide and sell off portions of their property or worse, be taxed out of their homes in favor of strip malls, housing subdivisions and parking lots. Let's Not Change What Isn't Broken in the Fake Promise of higher property values...

Ask yourself...What is Westfield and why do people come here to live, work, and play?

Families are here to live because their legacy is farming and they are farmers who are supported by shop keepers, and fishermen, and craftsmen and they built a strong community that today attracts people and families who want safe honest, and friendly neighborhoods...Is that factored into the town's water plan? Can we afford to attract uncontrolled commercial and residential sprawl with hotels, and strip malls, and parking lots along West Main? Do we have a plan to control zoning, and building code that conforms to our rural agricultural legacy and the promise of the Grape Heritage Association's mission?

People come here to work in the farms, wineries, and shops, and to commute to jobs in major markets through our vast infrastructure of interstate highways where they work in factories, and offices. Some Westfield residents even work from their homes , right here in Westfield, by telecommuting to their jobs, world-wide. Are the varied employment needs of Westfield residents considered in the urban sprawl that will be spawned by the current read of your water plan..When you talk with those who come to Westfield to live, work, and play in our peaceful rural community they come for the promise of an un-compromised lifestyle and work-style?

People visit Westfield to Play in the unspoiled rural community epitomized by the West Main Rt 20 corridor that owns the vistas of grape vineyards next only to those you might see in Germany or France...and the small fruit stands that offer farm to table freshness and a unique shopping experience, and the charming Johnson Estate winery..., the oldest estate winery in New York State, that grows, processes and sells its products from their front door and to out of state customers. The Mazza Farm Distillery the first and best of its kind and another example of the farm-to-table agra-marketing paradigm, but, more importantly....It represents progress in the tradition of rural Westfield's culture and legacy!

We could advocate for the water project if there was a promise to leave our rural residential and agricultural zoning alone, maintain current density restrictions, no subdivisions, no high rise, no patchwork of parking lots attached to cement block buildings, and no non-conforming sprawl. So, Martha, don't ask the resident stakeholders to approve the water plan on West Main Route 20 until there is a comprehensive plan to control urban sprawl that will only attract predatory investment with low paying service jobs in strip malls, retail chains, boutique hotels and other non-compatible business enterprises.

Don't ask resident stakeholders to start a project based on the promise of higher property values, when we all know that you can't promise higher property values and if you could, it is merely a dog whistle for higher taxes. Don't ask resident stakeholders to finance the infrastructure for the water line when other town water projects have been supplemented by government grants and town investment. And after all is said and done, don't ask us to pay a higher rate for water than our neighbors in the Village!

P.S,

The Village of Westfield is in dire need of commercial infrastructure that has long been neglected. Barcelona Harbor needs commercial infrastructure to survive and prosper, and the declining Portage Road portal between Barcelona and Westfield is crumbling. We need a Hotel by the entrance to Rt90, we need sporting shops, boat sales, restaurants, gas stations, where are they? NOT ON WEST MAIN RT 20! Let's focus on the needs of many not just a few squeaky wheels!

Your Friends and neighbor

Bob & Sheila Keller

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