Olcott is ready to build multimillion-dollar defenses against Lake Ontario's high waters, which have hit shoreline communities so hard the last couple of years. Just in time for the construction, lake levels are low.
Tourist time starts soon in the Niagara County hamlet of Olcott, long a destination with its beach, quaint little shops, the carousel and that summer feeling. The last two years, tourism was hit very hard by the high water levels of Lake Ontario.
However, the lake level is low this year because it was a dry winter and the various agencies on both sides of the border have been dumping water down the St. Lawrence River for months. The level is so low, in fact, the plug is being put back in to raise the water level a few inches.
The Town of Newfane is taking construction bids until next Monday and hopes to award the contract two days later to start work quickly. Supervisor Tim Horanburg said the bids are for a big project that will be made easier by low water.
"We will be lining both federal piers with rubble. We will be extending both federal piers with rubble. The west federal pier will be extended 60' and the east federal pier will be extended by 100' and there will be a seawall, a 400' seawall, built out into the lake 500' from the end of the piers," Horanburg said.
Cost estimates are between $12-$14 million. The work is being paid for with town, county dollars, $500,000 from the federal government and a large allocation from state REDI cash, which is being used all along the lake for repairs from high water damage.
It is such a big project and involves so many trucks carrying rock into Olcott for the project that Horanburg said $500,000 is built into the budget to repair streets damaged by the trucks.
"Until they hit Olcott, they will be on state and county roads. Once they hit Olcott, it'll be on our roads and we know it's going to be be very hard on our roads," he said.