March 08, 2019

Schumer, Gillibrand, Katko Call On U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers To Provide Funding For Repairs To Little Sodus Bay Harbor In The Village Of Fair Haven

Little Sodus Bay Harbor is an Important Channel that Provides Safe Passage for Boats Traveling Between Little Sodus Bay and Lake Ontario and Helps Drive Local Tourism; After Years of Weather Damage, the West Pier and West Barrier of the Harbor Are Collapsing, and With Lake Ontario Reaching High Water Levels, Harbor Is at Risk of Severe Flooding

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and U.S. Representative John Katko (R-NY-24) today announced that they are calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to provide funding for repairs to the West Pier and West Barrier Bar of Little Sodus Bay Harbor in the Village of Fair Haven. Little Sodus Bay is a harbor that provides safe passage for recreational boats traveling between Little Sodus Bay and Lake Ontario. Years of strong winds and flooding have severely deteriorated the harbor and its fixtures, and its pier and barrier bar are now collapsing. With water levels on Lake Ontario reaching high water levels – 15 inches above the normal average for this time of the year – the harbor and surrounding communities stand in danger of severe flooding.

“With the West Pier and West Barrier Bar of Little Sodus Bay Harbor already in a state of disrepair and continuously deteriorating, and the Lake Ontario water levels only rising, families and property owners in the Village of Fair Haven are saddled with the serious risk of flooding and property damage and harming the local tourism economy,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I am urging the Army Corps of Engineers to direct any available funds towards repairing the West Pier and West Barrier Bar of Little Sodus Bay, to fend off the possibility of future flooding. I vow to do everything possible to push these crucial infrastructure projects across the finish line to shield the surrounding Little Sodus Bay communities from any preventable harm.”

“People from all over New York travel to Fair Haven to enjoy fishing and boating at Little Sodus Bay Harbor. After years of weather damage, however, the harbor’s West Pier and West Barrier Bar are in desperate need of repairs,” said Senator Gillibrand. “With water on Lake Ontario reaching such high levels this year, I am calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to help Fair Haven prepare against possible flooding. Without these repairs, homes and businesses around Little Sodus Bay Harbor are vulnerable to damage, and we need to do everything we can to mitigate this risk ahead of time.

“As our community faces another year of high water levels along Lake Ontario, Little Sodus Bay is experiencing serious flooding and damage.  Without repair, the harm to the shoreline and harbor will cause long-tem, costly challenges for the community, and inhibit tourism for years to come.  That’s why it is critical that the Army Corps of Engineers prioritize funding repairs for Little Sodus Bay, and I join Senators Schumer and Gillibrand in asking for immediate attention to this issue,” said Rep. John Katko.

“In order to ensure the safety of our residents and our local economy, repairs to the West Pier and West Barrier Bar require immediate attention,” said Village of Fair Haven Mayor James Basile. “We’ve already been in contact with the Army Corps of Engineers who are aware of the urgency. I thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Congressman Katko for their help and advocacy in securing resources to make these vital repairs.”

Little Sodus Bay Harbor in the Village of Fair Haven has long been a popular tourist destination for visitors from New York State and across the country. The harbor is a deep draft recreational harbor providing safe passage between Little Sodus Bay and Lake Ontario. Nearly 150 properties border the bay’s shore line, including residential and vacation homes, marinas, campgrounds, and other recreational facilities. This has created tremendous opportunity for the area’s small business community, which now contributes to much of the Cayuga County and larger Central New York economy. Without the protection of a strong, durable pier and barrier bar, this community is at risk of flooding, which would force the channel to close down and the local tourism economy to suffer.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite

Chief of Engineers and Commanding General

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

441 G Street NW

Washington, DC 20314

Dear Lieutenant General Semonite,

We write to request that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocate Fiscal Year 2019 Operations & Maintenance funding to repair the West Pier and West Barrier Bar of Little Sodus Bay Harbor in New York State, which recently failed due to years of deterioration and above average water levels on Lake Ontario. The rapid deterioration of the West Pier and West Barrier Bar is a result of years of strong winds and flooding that have caused severe damage to the harbor and many of its fixtures. Without immediate repair, the surrounding towns and villages of Cayuga County could face devastating consequences to its residential communities, local economy, and strong tourism sector.

            Located in the Village of Fair Haven, Little Sodus Bay Harbor is a deep draft recreational harbor providing safe passage between Little Sodus Bay and Lake Ontario. Nearly 150 properties worth over $30 million in property value border the bay’s shore line, including residential and vacation homes, marinas, campgrounds, and other recreational facilities. The Village of Fair Haven has long been a popular tourist destination for visitors from New York State and across the country. This has created tremendous opportunity for the area’s small business community, which now contributes to much of the Cayuga County and larger Central New York economy.

            According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, water levels on Lake Ontario are up 6 inches from last month and 15 inches above the normal average for this time of year, raising the risk of flooding in the region. Without the protection of a strong, durable pier and barrier bar, this community and its many economic contributions to New York State may face troubling new realities. Should the channel close down in the event of another flood, which is likely due to rising Great Lakes water levels this year, property values will likely diminish, and local restaurants and shops could suffer significant loss of business—potentially creating both a residential and tourist “exodus” from the Village of Fair Haven and Cayuga County.

Consequently, the breakwall failures that currently exist in Little Sodus Bay Harbor’s West Pier and West Barrier Bar require urgent resources and attention, especially with current above average water levels on Lake Ontario. It is our understanding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains Operations and Maintenance funds which are typically reserved for projects concerning commercial shipping harbors. However, given the severity of the anticipated consequences of any further damage to Little Sodus Bay Harbor and surrounding properties, we respectfully ask that funding be allocated to repair this project in Fiscal Year 2019. We urge you to take this request seriously and help the Village of Fair Haven preserve the vitality of their community.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.

Sincerely,