While the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association has no formal position on the proposed Finger Lakes Resort and the many changes the project has been through over the past several years, we are obligated to comment on the most recent request by the developer for a large docking system in order to obtain financing. We appreciate the hard work of the City Council members and understand that the various obstacles stalling the project in the past are a source of intense frustration. We feel that the urgent pressure to immediately approve docks is distracting the council from important facts and issues with long-term implications for the city and Canandaigua Lake.

Most importantly, CLWA supports the Uniform Docking and Mooring Law adopted by all six municipalities on the lake to regulate construction and shoreline dock saturation. No one could have dreamed that the city of Canandaigua would consider offering a docking system for private and exclusive use on public land. This is clearly in contrast to the intent of the law. The current request from the developer is the exact reason the UDML was adopted: to prevent the “shoe horning” of a large docking system to service residential development when the developer owns minimal — or in this case — no waterfront.

Second, CLWA fully supports the 2014 Canandaigua Lake Watershed Management Plan, which cites threats to water quality of Canandaigua Lake, including more intense use of shoreline and increasing boat use. As stated in the Management Plan, preservation of open shoreline and public spaces is vital to the health of the lake. Undeveloped sections of shoreline are not “dead spaces” but important components of natural capital that provide long-term benefits to water quality.

Third, the health of the lake is the most important aspect of our local economy. Our lake is stressed as a result of development, agriculture and problematic on-site wastewater treatment systems in the watershed. Changing climate patterns exacerbate the problem. Our local municipalities share the obligation of stewardship to prevent further decline in water quality, and most towns on the lake are updating their local codes to do just that. Impaired water quality would be very costly to the city, surrounding communities and the 70,000 people who get their daily drinking water from the lake.

Lastly, approving private docks on publicly owned land will set a dangerous precedent for the entire lake. Would the city be supportive of another town on the lake approving such a measure? If the developers of Pinnacle North demand docks on public land for phase five of their project, how will the city deny that request?

We urge City Council to move very cautiously in your deliberations on this important issue. Please understand that the city is part of the larger Canandaigua Lake community and that the legacy you leave is more important than how quickly the Finger Lakes Resort project is completed.

Wade Sarkis is president of the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association.