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City Seeks Breakwater Study Funding

Segmented breakwalls are on the westward side of beaches at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pa. The city of Dunkirk is seeking grant funding for an engineering study to look at putting similar breakwalls near the beach along Lakefront Boulevard. Photo by M.J. Stafford

The city of Dunkirk is seeking money for an engineering study on putting in breakwaters along Lakefront Boulevard and off the Marina.

The Common Council passed a resolution Tuesday to try for a $50,000 grant from the New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Basin Small Grants Program, to fund the study.

City Planning and Development Director Vince DeJoy said previously proposed “honeycomb” designs that would attach to the Dunkirk Pier are no longer getting considered.

Instead, a system of segmented offshore breakwalls is in the mix , similar to what exists at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pa.

“It’s long been known and studied that there’s destruction action … from waves coming from the northeast that reflect off the pier and damage boat docks and boats themselves,” DeJoy said. “Solutions have been studied and one of the solutions that would likely result in catching those waves before they enter the harbor is detached breakwaters.”

City planners have been working with Edgewater Resources on fixing the harbor wave problem. According to Tuesday’s resolution, the marina and waterfront planning firm submitted preliminary designs for the breakwaters May 19.

“We’re looking to cobble together as much funding as we can to initiate the engineering and design,” DeJoy said. The city has applied for federal funding to build the breakwalls, he added.

“It wouldn’t be just to address the wave action but would create a more vibrant habitat for wildlife… and could create additional beach area along Lakefront Boulevard,” he said.

Former Common Councilman Don Williams advocated for the idea of segmented offshore breakwaters. He focused on the issue in his final committee meeting as a councilman in late December.

Department of Public Works Director Randy Woodbury said then that putting in the breakwalls would protect Lakefront Boulevard, by increasing beach size.

He also said, quoting old studies, it could cost $8 million to get the walls in.

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