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April 16, 2013

Sandy money to be used for dredging

Wilson, Olcott and Oak Orchard affected

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

'It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good."

— Ageless Idiom

With a push from Hurricane Sandy, the long-awaited dredging of harbors in Wilson, Olcott and Oak Orchard are on track to happen in 2014, according to Congressman Chris Collins.

The Army Corp of Engineers is getting Sandy money and now has the funding it needs to perform maintenance the Lake Ontario recreation harbors. Sandy was the second-costliest hurricane in U.S.  history.

"The dredging of these three local harbors is long overdue,” said Collins. “Local residents and government leaders have been pushing the federal government to prioritize the work in order to maintain and maximize the harbors’ economic and recreational importance. These waterways are not only used for summer boating and recreation, but play a critical role in supporting the regional economy through the charter fishing industry."

With recreational boating and fishing in danger, dredging the Wilson harbor is critical to the area economy. Some dredging occurred in 2004, but now boats get stuck in the silt in the Federal harbor that has accumulated over the last decade.

Money had been put aside for harbor projects, but recreational boats has taken the back seat to commercial issues. Wilson Supervisor Joe Jastrzemski has been lobbying to get the harbors dredged and a meeting with State Senator George Maziarz, Collins and local leaders last month at the Wilson Town Hall.

Collins followed up with phone calls to the Army Corps of Engineers and set up a meeting in Washington, D.C. He got the good news.    

"The key to unlocking these dollars was getting Congress to pass the Sandy relief," Collins said by phone from the Capitol Tuesday. "The Corps of Engineers did their own research and was able to connect Superstorm Sandy to some level of increase in silt in the harbor and therefore could go in to do dredging to get the harbor back to where it was prior to the storm."

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