Proposed breakwaters would protect land and create a beach | News, Sports, Jobs

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This drawing from a study from the late 1990s shows what the segmented offshore breakwaters would look like along the eastern side of Dunkirk’s seafront. Top right is a photo of similar breakwaters at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA.

DUNKIRK – Segmented breakwaters, placed off the shores of Lake Dunkirk, from Steger high rise buildings to Wright Park, would protect Lakefront Boulevard and recreate a beach in this area. They would also cost untold millions of dollars, and funding for the work is far from obvious.

These points were clarified during a meeting of the Dunkirk Ministry of Public Works committee on Thursday. Committee leader Don Williams, who is leaving the Joint Council on January 1, sought to shed light on the idea of ​​breakwaters in his final act as chairman.

Williams said he and DPW chief Randy Woodbury were in a meeting about six years ago during which the idea of ​​segmented offshore breakwaters, similar to what’s in place along the west side of the Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pa., was mentioned.

“We thought it would have been a wonderful thing to have here”, he said.

They have been defending him ever since. Although Williams has acknowledged that there is no funding in place, he hopes “At least start some basic work.” “

Officials from the city of Dunkirk met with marine engineers on Thursday at a meeting of the Ministry of Public Works committee to discuss the idea of ​​erecting segmented breakwaters off the shores of the lake. Photo by MJ Stafford

Part of that groundwork was inviting a few civil engineers, Tom Bender and Paul Parker, to Thursday’s meeting to discuss the benefits of breakwaters and the logistics of building them.

“You have to be very careful with the way you place them” Parker said, noting that they cannot obstruct anything flowing into the lake.

There are currently breakwaters to the west of the area in question. They are located closer to the port of Dunkirk, to protect it. The outer breakwater was built “Before 1836”, according to Woodbury. The interior walls, one of which connects to Lakefront Boulevard, away from the Steger Tower, were built much later.

Several earlier studies commissioned by the city, dating back to the 1990s, proposed segmented breakwaters along Dunkirk’s eastern seafront, which is currently not protected by any lake barrier.

Woodbury reviewed the situation along Lakefront Boulevard, noting how a severe storm in 2019 destroyed the lake wall. It was rebuilt this summer and weathered a similar storm well on December 11 as the guardrails are now held in place by rebar and not just gravity.

Placing the breakwaters would protect the lake wall, allow the city to keep Lakefront Boulevard open all winter and create a beach along the wall, Woodbury said. There used to be a beach in this area, but it was washed away decades ago.

“The city wishes to maximize the friendliness of the beach on Main Street to the wastewater treatment plant” he said.

Williams, who lives in the area, said the breakwaters will also protect properties near the lakefront. As it is now, “You have freezing weather and wind and all that, you have debris coming everywhere” he said.

“Yes, a beach would be a good thing, but for the longer months of winter, it’s more a question of safety” when it comes to the benefits of breakwaters, Williams said.

As for financing and construction, Bender said the city could do it but it would be very expensive. However, “The federal government pays for it, they will play by their rules”, he said.

The real cost of the project is not at all clear. Woodbury, citing previous studies, said it could be as high as $ 8 million.

Bender believed the city should only proceed with the project if it passed a cost-benefit analysis and seemed skeptical of its effectiveness. He said the main benefit would be the protection of Lakefront Boulevard from damage.

Woodbury said he doubted the Army Corps of Engineers would participate in such a project, for a long list of reasons.

Committee member Nancy Nichols said creating a beach that would be extra space for families along the waterfront should have positive effects on economic development.

Woodbury asked Parker directly if the breakwaters would be an asset to the city. Parker said they would.

However, the director of DPW then admitted that the project could be so expensive that it might not be done all at once, if at all.

“The only way we’re going to do that is hit it in segments (or) we get miracle funding,” he said.

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