Niagara Gazette — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to completely dredge Wilson Harbor, along with five other New York Harbors that are eligible for Hurricane Sandy aid.
It's welcome news to Town of Wilson Supervisor Joeseph Jastrzemski.
“The dredging of the harbor is long overdue,” he said last week, adding he has been working with local lawmakers, including Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey, state Sen. George Maziarz, and U.S. Rep Chris Collins to lobby for dredging of the harbor.
“There are a lot of people in our corner who would like to see this get done,” Jastrzemski said.
Godfery said a key to getting attention to the issue is to have Wilson businesses join the cause.
“We must get local businesses to advocate for the harbor,” he said, adding that a fully functional harbor would draw people to the area.
Through the Sandy Supplemental Appropriations Bill, there is approximately $685,000 set aside to dredge recreational harbors in New York including Wilson, Barcelona, Irondequoit, Oak Orchard, Little Sodus, and Rochester. Through that law, the USACE is permitted to use that funding to dredge the harbors back to pre-storm depths only. However, the majority of these upstate harbors are long overdue for dredging, and silt removal to restore pre-Sandy levels would still leave a significant amount of work to be done to remove accumulated sediment and restore functionality.
With the equipment already in the harbor to do the job, Schumer believes the Army Corps will save $2 million by finishing the dredging projects in their entirety.
“It makes zero sense to complete storm-related work and then stop without completing all the required dredging to finally allow these harbors to be used to their utmost potential,” Schumer said in a press release Wednesday. I urge the Corps to eliminate extra spending and expedite the full dredging of these harbors — let’s get the job done.”
If the Army Corps combines Sandy funds and fully dredges Wilson Harbor this summer, it will only cost them an additional $120,000. If they wait until next year to fully dredge the harbor, the cost will be $320,000.