U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are calling on the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to direct available funding toward an emergency dredging of Barcelona Harbor in the town of Westfield.
Citing recent storms that have washed sediment over the break wall, the channel has increasingly shallowed.
Schumer and Gillibrand said the sediment buildup poses a “significant threat” to the operational viability of the harbor and therefore the regional economy.
“Barcelona Harbor is an economic lifeline for the surrounding community, but recent sediment accumulation has created significant concerns about continued operations, making it all the more vital for the Army Corp of Engineers to prioritize dredging the federally-maintained waterway,” Schumer said in a statement. “The harbor is one of the few safe harbor marinas along the Lake Erie shoreline, making its availability all the more important as a critical refuge for boaters. This vital body of water must be returned to its fully functioning depth and condition ASAP so the local community can breathe a little easier and use the harbor to its upmost potential, both for business and recreation.”
“New Yorkers are working hard to recover from the economic crisis and Barcelona Harbor is an essential economic driver for the surrounding communities — but frequent storms and rising water levels are risking its viability,” added Gillibrand. “We must ensure this vital resource remains fully operational to support boaters, fishers, and the regional economy along Lake Erie. I’m urging the Army Corp of Engineers to expedite funding to the emergency dredging of Barcelona Harbor so that the local communities can rebuild a strong economy.”
The pair said failure to act will “seriously impact the safety of boaters on Lake Erie.” Additionally, the harbor serves as a launching point for commercial and recreational fishers on Lake Erie, and lack of access to this significant economic asset would negatively impact Westfield and the surrounding towns and businesses.