The Army Corp of Engineers has started the dredging of Barcelona Harbor.
Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel said the harbor has essentially been shut down due to the sediment that filled in over the last several years.
He said while $1.1 million in federal funding was approved for the project, the timeline needed to be sped up so as not to impact the late Spring and Summer commercial fishing season, “In a call with the Army Corp, they said they were waiting for the state. In typical County Executive Wendel fashion, I picked up the phone, hit mute and took my camera off, and called the DEC and talked to Julie O’Neill who is a phenomenal partner in the DEC for the county. I said, ‘Julie, what are the chances that we could get in here earlier than July? It makes no sense.’ ‘Let me look at it County Executive,’ and within a couple days she came back and said, ‘Boom, we can get you in as early as May, does that work?'”
Wendel said his administration is continuing to work on engineering projects to deal with sediment issues in Barcelona and Dunkirk Harbors as well as Hanford Bay and Sunset Bay, “We do have engineering studies that we’re going to go for funding, putting in a request next year. Those engineering plans, once they’re in hand they help us leverage funding because there’s EPA funding coming out. There’s money, we’re being told, will be released shortly, so if we have those plans in hand, we’re at the front of the line ready to apply for funding and opportunities.”
Wendel added that Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District will be a big partner in these future projects.