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COUNCIL SETS DECISION ON ISSUE OF BERTHING WWII CRAFT AT PIER

Will a World War II landing craft be allowed to berth at the City Pier?

The Common Council is planning to submit a resolution to decide the issue when it convenes next Tuesday.

The Council met informally Monday night with Harold Lawson and Martin R. Garvey of the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum. They are involved in trying to bring the craft to the city.

The "Sphinx" is now mothballed in Virginia, but if the city officials approve the temporary berth, raising the $300,000 necessary to bring the craft to the city can begin.

An act of Congress is required for the Navy release the craft, Garvey said, and if the craft is not maintained, the Navy can reclaim it.

"This would be a New York State memorial for men who served on these ships," Lawson said. "This would bring tourism with reunions and conventions."

Allan Zurawski, a member of the city Harbor Commission, said the commission supports bringing in the craft but has questions about the dock's safety and its use with the craft there.

"The vessel is 326 feet long, 60 feet wide and has 40 feet above the water. The pier is 520 feet long," Zurawski said. "The dock supports fishing and bird-watching that are also tourist draws."

The director of development, Christine Kinn, asked whether dredging would be needed on the east side of the pier to have a channel deep enough for the craft. She also is concerned about the lost revenue from fishing and other tourism if the craft is berthed at the dock.

Garvey and Lawson said a permanent mooring site would be prepared at the museum on Point Gratiot. They emphasized that the dock berth would be only temporary. If possible, they said, the craft would go directly to the museum and not be at the dock at all.

Both men estimated that it would take two years to get the craft to the city.

Earlier in the meeting, the Council Finance Committee discussed purchase orders and other matters.

The Council hired a consultant for the wastewater-treatment plant in 1996, but the bill for $7,000 in services was not presented until now. Chief Operator John Gaasch explained that the consultant was hired in response to safety concerns and that the report has taken this long.

The committee decided to use $7,000 from the plant's contractual account to pay the bill.

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