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Officials Tout Much-Needed Funding For Barcelona Harbor Work

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, middle, is pictured Monday at Barcelona Harbor with Westfield Town Supervisor Martha Bills, left, and U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy and Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel at right. Photo by Sen. Schumer’s office

WESTFIELD — A display of bipartisanship floated in on Lake Erie Monday as U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy touted funding for Barcelona Harbor work.

Schumer, a Democrat and the Senate majority leader, was joined by Republicans Langworthy, Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, and Westfield Town Supervisor Martha Bills as he announced a $7.5 million earmark for repairs to the breakwalls at Barcelona.

The senator showed up at the pier in a black SUV on a February-frigid, but brilliantly clear, afternoon. His handlers left it running 20 feet from the podium as he spoke. With a flight to catch, Schumer got back in immediately after speaking and left, taking no off-topic questions.

During his brief visit to Barcelona, Schumer talked up his ability to get funding for Lake Erie improvements.

He said, “PJ, when I got money for Dunkirk beach, said, ‘What about Barcelona beach?’ I said, ‘Next year.’ That was a year ago, and here we are.”

Schumer called waterways and harbors “one of the true gems of Chautauqua County… the beating heart of the vibrant tourism economy, with families coming far and wide to visit the beautiful waterways here. Then they shop in our downtowns, they visit our main streets, they come to the restaurants, they want convenient access to places like Barcelona Harbor right behind us.”

However, he noted, sediment buildup and extreme weather have compromised the harbor. Schumer then reiterated how he helped get money for dredging of the harbor, which was completed last summer.

“But, one of the biggest outstanding questions after we got all that done, for Barcelona Harbor, was repairs to the breakwall. … it was no longer keeping out the sediment that was so important in keeping the harbors and beaches beautiful. Many thought these repairs would be stuck in the water.”

Also crediting Langworthy, Schumer then announced they have secured the $7.5 million in funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair the Barcelona breakwalls.

The earmark is not 100% sure, as budget negotiations still continue. However, Schumer promised, “I’m here to vow to fight tooth and nail to protect this funding for Chautauqua County, to get these repairs done. I’m the majority leader, first ever from New York. I use my clout for New York. We were able to get this in the bill and it’s going to stay in the bill.”

The senator added, “A working, well functioning harbor and booming tourist sector means a four letter word here in western New York: J-O-B-S.”

Schumer later said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could begin work on the breakwalls within “a couple of months” of the federal budget’s ratification.

Langworthy said of Schumer, “There’s no secret we’re of different parties, but for Western New York and the Southern Tier, we will work hard every single day for jobs and a better future for our community. So thank you very much for that working relationship.”

The congressman noted that Wendel also approached him about work for the harbor. “This is a harbor of refuge, and in the disrepair it has fallen into, it is no longer a harbor of refuge — and it is being restored as we speak,” Langworthy said. “The dredging that took place last summer saved the season, saved the livelihoods of so many charter fishermen, divers, recreational opportunities.”

Wendel pointed out that last year before the dredging, “you could walk across from breakwater to breakwater. It was plugged, you couldn’t get in our out… I’m persistent. I didn’t stop there — as the senator said, I came back and said, ‘Let’s do more, we’re only halfway there.'”

Bills expressed her appreciation to the trio who spoke before her “and the team who has worked so diligently over the last decade to help us solve these problems here at Barcelona Harbor.”

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