Several residents concerned over proposed changes

Pier plans unveiled

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy Attendees at Thursday’s forum inside the Dunkirk High School get a glimpse of an initial concept for improvements to the Dunkirk City Pier.

More than 60 were in attendance to see an initial concept for improvements to the Dunkirk City Pier on Thursday inside Dunkirk High School.

The concept, as discussed by consultants from Barton & Loguidice, shows several changes that aim to improve the appearance of the pier all while creating more recreation and enjoyment.

Funds for pier improvements come from $2.5 million the city received in 2017 from the state as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. A portion of those funds are designated to be used to beautify the pier, according to Mayor Willie Rosas.

“Those improvements can be anything we want it to be,” he said. “It has to be approved by the state. We’re talking about better lighting, some new benches, paving and maybe some greenery in there. We want to make sure that the message is clear: That this is to make our community and pier a better place for our residents and our visitors.”

Jeffrey Nadge, consultant with Barton & Logudice, told attendees the pier right now is a big parking lot with 56 spaces. The pier itself is 1.16 acres of asphalt pavement. “What we’re looking to do is kind of promote and enhance this entire area and minimize conflicts between pedestrians, boats and vehicles coming in,” he said. “We want to create an enhanced area with a better sense of arrival and better sense of place.”

The initial concept depicts an entrance arch as individuals make their way into the pier. In addition, the concept shows plaza space, parking, perimeter pier walkway 6- to 8-feet in width, as well as a 10,000-square-feet open lawn space and a pier overlook toward the end. Nadge said they’re also considering shade structures like canopies for pedestrian’s comfort and a play structure for children to enjoy.

With the concept, the marina and boat launch will see no changes in how it operates now, according to Nadge. Fishers will also be able to fish all around the pier.

However, those who currently drive around the pier wouldn’t be able to do that with the proposed concept. As for parking at the pier, it would be reduced from 56 to 34. Nadge said the concept incorporates flexible, multi-use space for fishers, pedestrians and those who visit the pier.

“This would retain the majority of existing functions,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is to come up with compromise for this to be flexible space. We’re trying to enhance the experience of mobility all along the waterfront.”

The changes proposed didn’t sit well with several residents who attended as concerns were heard over the inability to drive around the pier. Some took issue with the greenspace and trees and the maintenance that would come with that while others had concern over parking.

Mayor Willie Rosas acknowledged to attendees that feedback was heard and understood and that they’re not going to do something the community doesn’t want. Rosas said the city will make some changes before they come back with a final design.

Rebecca Yanus, city planning and development director, said the project will increase pedestrian traffic to the pier while better connecting the pier to waterfront trails. Yanus said it creates a destination place on the city waterfront.

“In order for Dunkirk to attract new residents to the city, capitalize on the new businesses that are happening in the city and right outside the city, and capitalize on creating a destination place that wants to make these new people coming for the jobs want to live in our city, change is what we have to do,” Yanus said. “The tide is literally changing in Dunkirk and there are so many great things happening. It’s an exciting time for Dunkirk.”