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WHEATFIELD – Work on repairs around Olcott Beach is expected to be completed by the time the beach reopens next May, Newfane Councilwoman Laura Rutland said Tuesday, after the project was approved for $118,460 in Niagara River Greenway funding.

The Host Communities Standing Committee, which controls the purse strings for Greenway projects in Niagara County, unanimously approved the Town of Newfane’s funding request.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $131,292, with the town paying the amount not covered by the Greenway grant.

The town took over control of the Lake Ontario beach from the county two years ago, although the beach officially remains part of Krull Park, a 325-acre county-owned lakefront park.

Newfane Supervisor Timothy R. Horanburg said, “It’s the only beach I’m aware of along Lake Ontario that still maintains lifeguards.”

A concrete pier to the east of the beach, built by the county in the 1950s, is rapidly deteriorating, and the funding includes $29,460 to resurface the pier.

The remainder of the Greenway money will be spent on shoring up and rebuilding a wall behind the beach.

Rutland said the wall originally was the foundation of the long-gone Olcott Beach Hotel.

Horanburg said the repair work will include a makeover for the concrete stairs that lead from the overlook terraces down to the beach. “They need a lot of work,” he said.

The beach, scene of the annual Olcott Lions Club Polar Bear Swim in March, also has been vexed for several years by frequent closures because of E. coli bacteria, whose source has not been definitively determined.

Horanburg said improving the surroundings will not only make the beach more attractive but also link up with two other Olcott projects that previously received Greenway cash.

In 2010, the standing committee invested in a $213,000 splash park in Krull Park, and in 2011 it provided $52,644 for a comfort station at the Olcott Beach Carousel Park, which is across the street from the beach terraces.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com