DUNKIRK – Dredging work at major harbors in northern Chautauqua County is on the radar screen for officials of three communities.
Army Corps of Engineers dredging work at Barcelona Harbor in the Town of Westfield is scheduled to get under way June 14. The Corps determined that Superstorm Sandy in 2012 choked the harbor channel with debris, making boating difficult. As a result, the Corps in 2013 announced plans to dredge the channel.
The City of Dunkirk and Sunset Bay in the Town of Hanover are angling for Corps assistance for their harbors, as well.
But for Sunset Bay, a lack of records on the harbor’s depth is complicating that goal.
County Legislator George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, said he had asked Corps members to gauge the depth of the harbor.
“Basically, we couldn’t qualify for funds because there were not records on the depth of the harbor prior to the storm in 2012,” Borrello said.
“The day they went to put the boat in the water of Cattaraugus Creek and check for depth, they hit the boat propeller on the bottom,” he said.
And other than some dredging by the Hanover Highway Department near the municipal boat launch, there has no dredging of Cattaraugus Creek at the bay.
“Basically, they haven’t dredged the channel in 30 years,” Borrello said. The last time there was significant work done on the channel was when the breakwaters were built by the Army Corps of Engineers 30 years ago. Hanover Supervisor Todd Johnson said a dredging project could cost $500,000 to $800,000.
Hanover and Dunkirk are both hoping to secure enough funding to take advantage of dredging equipment that would already be in place at Barcelona Harbor in June.
The County Legislature is poised to offer $50,000 to each of the three communities. The issue is on the agenda of the Legislature’s meeting Wednesday.
Even in Barcelona, where federal funding will pay for more than half of the dredging work, local municipalities are expected to contribute.
Mayor A.J. Dolce said the $50,000 would be a big help toward city plans to have the harbor area of the boat launch dredged.
Dolce noted that Dunkirk’s inner harbor appears to be sound but that the vicinity near the public boat launch at the city pier is not. He estimates that it would cost $150,000 to dredge that area.
“It would be a huge bonus for the recreational fishing boats,” the mayor said, noting that the city is host to several fishing tournaments during the summer.
Borrello added, “Basically, we are on a pretty tight schedule to see if we can get the support of the (Corps) and get the project scheduled for the companies that do the dredging.”
The legislator also said members of the Lake Erie Management Commission are expected to look at funding options for dredging projects when they meet today in Portland.