Offshore Breakwater and Pier Will Have Modifications Installed To Mitigate Extreme Weather Impact On Olcott Harbor Navigation Channel And Improve Angler Safety
Project Selected As Part of State's Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of a $14 million resiliency project awarded to the town of Newfane, Niagara County, through the State's Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI). Olcott Harbor is an important recreational harbor located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. The harbor area includes the Town of Newfane Marina, Olcott Yacht Club, Hedley Boat Company, McDonough Marine, and several private homes. In 2017 and 2019, the harbor entrance was overwhelmed by flooding, wind-driven waves, and sediment deposition in the navigation channel. High water levels, wave agitation, and new sediment deposits prevented safe refuge and navigation by large and small recreational watercraft.
"Climate change is a reality we cannot afford to ignore and New York is tackling the challenge head-on. As part of those efforts, we are working to rebuild, reimagine and protect the shoreline communities that were devastated by the high waters of 2019," Governor Kathy Hochul said. "With strategic infrastructure investments, and through our partnership with local governments, we are seeing long awaited flood mitigation projects, like the breakwater project in the Town of Newfane, come to fruition. This completed project is a testament to the great feats that can be accomplished when state and local government work together."
Through the partnership with New York State, and supported with REDI investments, the town of Newfane was able to accomplish the offshore breakwater construction project and significantly modify the east and west piers, mitigating the negative impacts of extreme weather conditions on the harbor entrance, therefore protecting boaters, local businesses, and public/private properties that play a critical role in the local recreation/sport-fishing based economy. In addition, because the Olcott piers and the mouth of Eighteenmile Creek are among New York State's most popular sport fishing access locations for anglers - many without boats - and the pier modifications are specially designed to improve angler safety and attract fish.
Resiliency measures implemented in the project include the installation of an offshore oval, rubble-mound breakwater approximately 350 feet in length, and the enlargement of the east and west piers to reduce wave action and sedimentation at the mouth and within Olcott Harbor navigation channel, preventing flooding and shoreline damage, as well as to make navigation more amenable for longer periods throughout the year.
Governor Hochul also announced today that dredging of the Olcott Harbor will be undertaken in November, as part of the State's $15 million REDI Regional Dredging Project. The dredging, which will be undertaken upstream from the town of Newfane's Breakwater project, will remove built-up sediment from the bottom of the waterway to allow for continued safe harbor and passage of watercraft. The dredging fleet with consist of a GPS equipped hydraulic excavator from a barge, removing an estimated 1,600 cubic yards. Removed sediment will be loaded into trucks for dewatering and temporary stockpiled at the marina. After dewatering, the sediment will be transported to a Town of Newfane owned facility for later use.
To date, the State has completed 14 REDI dredging projects, and removed approximately 61,000 cubic yards of sediment to provide recreational boaters with safe access to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Completed dredging projects include Port Bay, Blind Sodus Bay, East Bay, Bear Creek and Pultneyville in Wayne County, Sandy Pond Inlet and Salmon River/Port Ontario in Oswego County, Irondequoit Bay, Braddock Bay, and Sandy Creek in Monroe County, Little Sodus Bay in Cayuga County, Golden Hill State Park in Niagara County, Oak Orchard in Orleans County, and Henderson "The Cut" in Jefferson County.
All dredging activities are dependent on favorable weather and water conditions.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner and REDI Commission Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, "With unwavering support from Governor Hochul, the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative is working collaboratively with flood-prone communities like the town of Newfane to reimagine our infrastructure and rebuild community assets. The Olcott Harbor Breakwater project will promote economic growth in this community while improving quality of life for residents living along the shoreline."
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "Recreational boating and fishing are crucial to local tourism economy and quality of life in Lake Ontario communities. The work by the Town of Newfane to protect Olcott Harbor will make this popular Lake Ontario destination safer and more enjoyable for residents and visitors."
Dormitory Authority of New York State President and CEO Reuben McDaniel III said, "DASNY is proud to support Governor Hochul's vision for securing communities and vital resources like Olcott Harbor from significant weather. The harbor is a unique and important site for Town of Newfane residents, for Niagara County businesses, and for visitors from all across New York and beyond, now and for the future."
New York State Office of General Services Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner Roslyn Watrobski said, "The completion of REDI projects in communities throughout the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River region is something New York State and our local government partners can be proud of accomplishing. This vitally important work will benefit the economy, safeguard our environment, and provide protection against future flooding."
Senator Robert Ortt said, "Those who live and work around Olcott Harbor are no strangers to the damage and destruction that the high waters of Lake Ontario can cause. Since 2019, local residents and government officials have worked with New York State and the REDI Commission to ensure that safety and mitigation measures are put in place to prevent the same amount of damage that we have seen in recent history. I am thrilled to see the completion of this much-needed project and applaud all of those involved who helped make this a reality."
Assemblyman Michael Norris said, "I am proud to have worked with Governor Hochul and the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Commission to deliver key critical infrastructure projects and funding that will refortify our shoreline and protect our residents, businesses, and community assets from future high-water levels. The Olcott Marina project will help protect and preserve the Town of Newfane Marina, Olcott Yacht Club, Hedley Boat Co., McDonough Marine and several private homes. This is truly a transformational project that will positively impact future generations to come. I appreciate the cooperation and perseverance of Governor Hochul, Senator Ortt, Town Supervisor Tim Horanburg and so many local and state officials who made this key economic and tourism investment a reality."
Chairman of the Niagara County Legislature Rebecca Wydysh said, "The Olcott Harbor Breakwater Project encapsulates what the REDI program is really about, as we are not simply repairing damage from Lake Ontario flooding, but we are seizing the opportunity to build for the future and open up new possibilities. The result will hopefully mean a longer navigation season and increased economic activity. I want to acknowledge the work of my colleague, Legislator John Syracuse and Newfane Supervisor Tim Horanburg who worked so closely with state officials to make the Breakwater Project happen. And to the contractors and workers on this project, you did an unbelievable job."
Town of Newfane Supervisor Horanburg said, "Olcott Harbor has been negatively impacted by rising waters and harsh wave actions for years. The historic flooding of 2019 devastated the harbor. Through the State's REDI program we have finally been able to build the critical breakwater, vital in protecting the residents and businesses that have made their home along the harbor shore and allowing Olcott Harbor to remain a safe haven for boaters. I would like to thank Governor Hochul for her unwavering support of the breakwater project and for her commitment to the Lake Ontario shoreline communities, like the Town of Newfane."
In response to the extended pattern of flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, New York State established REDI to increase the resilience of shoreline communities and bolster economic development in the region. Five REDI Regional Planning Committees, comprised of representatives from eight counties (Niagara and Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego, and Jefferson and St. Lawrence) were established to identify local priorities, at-risk infrastructure and other assets, and public safety concerns. Through REDI, the State has committed up to $300 million, to benefit communities and improve resiliency in flood prone regions along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
Since the creation of the State's REDI program in the Spring of 2019, 134 REDI-funded local and regional projects are underway, including 85 projects in the design phase, 20 projects in the construction phase, and 29 projects completed.
For additional information, project profiles and REDI news, click here.