DUNKIRK – After much drama and a delay of more than 30 minutes, City Council members approved construction of a new seawall on Lake Front Boulevard.
Four of the five Council members were required to pass the resolution to bond the project, which would replace a nearly 100-year-old wall on a large section of the city’s harbor area. Councilwoman-at-large Stephanie Kiyak voted against the measure. She said she considered water project improvements and more work on the city’s infrastructure a higher priority than the seawall.
Councilmen Andy Gonzales and William Rivera admitted that their decision came down to the wire late Tuesday afternoon.
The Council took a recess for about 30 minutes to wait for Councilwoman Stacy Szukala, who was late. She apologized and told the Council that she supported the project for many reasons, including the safety of the current wall and the lack of repairs over the years.
Mayor A.J. Dolce said work on the seawall will begin by mid-July. A bid for the project was awarded to a Fredonia contractor, S. St. George Enterprises for $3,895,000. Dolce said the price was a little higher than he had hoped but that he was in favor of the project because of the support of about $1 million in grant funding provided by New York State.
The total project cost is expected to be $4.2 million. Among the resolutions getting support from the Council was a motion to allow the city to seek bonding to pay for the program.
Also at the meeting:
• City leaders granted an easement to NRG Energy so that the large transmission lines for sending natural gas to the coal-powered energy plant could be installed. NRG received approval from the state Public Service Commission recently to continue with plans to repower the plant. The approval came with a plan to keep the local plant running for another 10 years. The motion approved by the Council members will allow the line to run on city-owned property to the NRG plant on the city’s harbor.
• Council members also debated allowing religious services to be held on the city pier. The request from a local church to hold the services was denied.
Church leaders will be told to look for other public parks and green spaces in the city to conduct services. Council members said the matter would set a precedent that would have closed the pier and fishing access area.