IRVING – Smaller boats have no trouble accessing Lake Erie at Sunset Bay, but larger craft, or sailboats with deep keels, find the small boat harbor to be nip-and-tuck.
Chautauqua County Legislator George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, champions dredging for this and other Lake Erie communities in the county.
Borrello persuaded members of the Chautauqua County Legislature’s Planning and Economic Development Committee to visit the harbor for the next regular meeting on Thursday. He is bringing them to Sunset Bay, where they will meet at Cabana Sam’s restaurant.
Borrello said he is waging a campaign to get all the Lake Erie harbors recognized for their role in recreation and contributions to the economy. He said he would like charter fishing boats recognized as a commercial enterprise by the Army Corps of Engineers.
At the Dunkirk Harbor, Public Works Director Tony Gugino said he is applying for a 10-year permit to dredge the areas of the harbor that are not in the federal channel. Gugino said he would welcome any cooperative agreement between the towns that represent Sunset Bay and the small boat harbor at Barcelona, near Westfield.
The Barcelona Harbor is on the schedule of the Army Corps to be dredged next spring. The harbor there was clogged when Superstorm Sandy raced through last year.
Borrello and Gugino said it would be in their best interest to have dredging occur in their communities when Barcelona’s harbor has the equipment.
“I think the cost of bringing the equipment into the water is about $50,000 alone,” said Borrello, who believes there will be a savings if Dunkirk and Sunset Bay use the same equipment before or after the Barcelona project.
All five members of the Dunkirk City Council are supporting efforts to get the county involved in dredging and any cooperative efforts to keep their harbor available for boating. They drafted a letter to County Executive Gregory Edwards and hope the issue is raised during the next County Legislature meeting this month.
City Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak, who is pushing to keep the issue in the forefront of county government, said the city’s fishing tournaments and other water recreation sports bring in large amounts of tax dollars and she wants to keep the harbor in great shape to encourage return business.