WESTFIELD, NY (WNY News Now) — Efforts are underway to help restore the Barcelona Harbor in Westfield.
On Wednesday local and federal officials surveyed the northern Chautauqua County community to find out what must be done in order to save the fishing pier.
“It has been brought to my attention by our County Executive PJ Wendel that this is his absolute number one priority federally is to get this harbor back up and running. It’s a federal harbor, it’s full of sediment, it’s been all shoaled in and we’ve had some very drastic weather these last couple years. Storms that drew a lot of sediment in, we have to get a solution with the Army Corp of Engineers to see it with my own two eyes before I can go and have the meeting I need to have,” says Congressman Nick Langworthy.
Unusual winters, like what we are expiring this week, has devastated the harbor.
“We’ve had unusual weather conditions, with no ice on the lake that normally would protect the shoreline, and the water levels as Dave mentioned are high and the winds have been extreme so it’s created quite a crisis for us,” explains Martha Bills, Westfield Town Supervisor.
So far no immediate action has been taken to rectify the growing issue.
“Four years ago the harbor was open, four years later with consistent seiche’s every year it’s really been closed off. So what was once a safe harbor designation by the Coast Guard is no longer that same designation. This is the only safe harbor between Erie and Dunkirk so it’s a concern,” says County Executive PJ Wendel.
Congressman Nick Langworthy says safety, commerce, and tourism is on the line, which is why he wants this project to be expedited.
“They’re on the docket to get some dredging this year, the scope of the project might be much larger than once was thought to be because of what we’ve had this winter,” explains Langworthy. “We wanna see this cleaned out. If we wanna go pursue additional monies in this year’s budget, so be it.”
Though dredging the harbor will allow it to open again for boat season, more will need to be done to sustain the harbor long term.
“A long term solution, the dredging is very temporary. The infrastructure here, the current breakwall is past its life expectancy, I think there needs to be a breakwater in front of this, kinda like a windbreak on a thruway where you plant trees to let the snow fall out before it gets to the pavement. This is really no different, it needs a structure so that sediment load that’s in our harbor stay west of our harbor in between the two structures,” explains Town Councilman Dave Spann.