MAYVILLE – Members of the Chautauqua County Planning and Economic Development Committee gave their approval to designating $100,000 for the city of Dunkirk to help pay for emergency repairs to the retaining wall on the lakefront.
Installation of new bracing and supporting rock was completed recently and is expected to keep the wall from deteriorating for several years. The city’s water intake valve was in danger of collapsing under the crumbling structure of the wall.
The Dunkirk Common Council earlier approved the emergency repairs, which are expected to cost around $250,000. The base of the wall was stabilized to protect the water intake line and the land near the harbor. About 550 feet of the wall was damaged from years of erosion and harsh winter weather. The cracks and extent of the damage were investigated by state and county health department officials this spring and an emergency plan was put in place in the event of a collapse.
County Legislator Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk, said that since the last county meeting, he has met with Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce and Councilman at Large Willie Rosas to investigate the project. He recommended that the committee members authorize the $100,000 contribution. The original resolution called for only $40,000 to be given to the city.
The funding represents 20 percent of the county’s total bed tax fund for this year.
“We don’t do a lot of projects on Lake Erie and certainly a lot of our bed tax revenues are received from that area,” Ahlstrom said. The funding is earmarked for maintaining the areas that promote tourism and protect natural resources, especially the lake waters.
“Dunkirk’s harbor in general is home to vibrant activities all summer long,” Dolce said. He said the city has been promoting the area for several years.
He said the retaining wall was increasingly unstable. The land near the wall was built up by fill and deterioration of the retaining wall could have eroded the Memorial Park area in the city.
“A real fear existed that the wall would become destabilized and cause damage to Memorial Park and the water line which serves 15,000 customers,” said Dolce. He said the damage was unforeseen and not budgeted by the city.
“The cost of not addressing the remediation would have been severe,” he said. “Memorial Park, which fronts the city’s west harbor basin, is reclaimed land which is supported by a decades-old lake wall.”
“The city incurred additional expenses to secure braces and ensure that there was not a collapse at the plant,” the mayor said.
Legislator George Borrello, R-Silver Creek, chairman of the committee, said he was concerned about the negative impact on Lake Erie waters. “We are stabilizing a bank to prevent the flow of contaminates into the water,” he said.