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FEMA funding to assist in seawall project

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward The retaining wall on Lake Erie in the city of Dunkirk will be getting repaired once FEMA funds are released. The project is expected to cost $950,000.

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday announced $579,453 in FEMA funding will be provided for the city of Dunkirk to begin construction on the Lakefront Boulevard Seawall, which was severely damaged in last year’s Halloween storms.

The senators said the restoration of the seawall would not only protect Lakefront Boulevard and the waterfront, but also jumpstart the process of economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic ground Dunkirk and the rest of New York to a halt.

“The reconstruction of Dunkirk’s seawall will increase investment in the lakefront and the entire community, shoring up the region’s economic future. The new barrier wall will boost public safety and foster a rebirth of the city’s tourism and outdoor recreation industries,” Schumer said. “I proud to deliver this funding that will keep Dunkirk safe from future storms and allow residents to once again enjoy the beauty of the waterfront.”

Added Gillibrand: “Communities across Upstate New York are still dealing with the extensive damage caused by the 2019 Halloween storms, and it is our responsibility to assist in the recovery efforts to protect shoreline communities. This FEMA funding will help support efforts to rebuild Dunkirk’s seawall, making the waterfront more resilient and able to withstand the threat of natural disasters. Dunkirk’s lakefront seawall is essential for protecting the community from future flooding and storms. I will continue to do everything I can to ensure our shoreline communities get the help and resources they need.”

Specifically, FEMA will cover the federal cost share of $579,453 and the city will provide a local match at $193,151. The total project is expected to cost $772,604.

The retaining wall on Lake Front Boulevard will be completed by Memorial Day 2021 according to a contract in discussion between Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas and contractor St. George Enterprises.

“The Lake Front Boulevard situation, we are moving forward with that, I have made contact with the contractor,” Rosas said during Tuesday’s Dunkirk Common Council meeting. “We have a new contract, we just added a couple of things to the other contract that was approved, basically two issues that were spoken about in executive session. The contractor is agreeing to have the project 100% complete by Memorial Day of 2021. The payment plan will be that we’re working with FEMA, the contractor has agreed to work with us with the FEMA payment plan.”

The contract, which is still in negotiation, is expected to be signed soon and the supplies and materials will be ordered and the crew should be working on the project next week.

First Ward Councilman Don Williams questioned what might happen if the contractor is unable to finish the repair by the agreed upon date.

“We considered all the options. There was a lot of behind the scenes communication,” Rosas responded. “To get to the point where we’re at now, there was a lot of work done, the process with FEMA and getting that plan approved was a long process.”

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