OLCOTT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Construction officially started on the $14 million dollar resiliency project and breakwall in Olcott Harbor along Lake Ontario on Wednesday.
The harbor was devastated by flooding in 2017 and 2019. Businesses have been waiting for a breakwall for decades.
David Hedley owns Hedley Boat Yard, a family business that’s been around for more than 100 years. Parts of it were destroyed by the flooding over the past few years.
“We were totally flooded down here, there used to be a building behind me that we tore down recently had four inches of water in it, couldn’t save it. The docks were all underwater, probably a good 12 inches over the docks, couldn’t rent anything out” said Hedley.
The goal of the breakwall is to prevent this from happening again. This project seeks to mitigate the negative impacts of extreme weather conditions on the harbor entrance, which will protect boaters, local businesses, and public and private properties that play a critical role in the local recreation-based economy.
Hedley said he also hopes the break wall will help increase tourism by creating stability.
“It makes me feel good for this little town because this little town can grow now. It can be developed into something big and something to be proud of,” he said.
Vic Thibault is the director of junior sailing at Olcott Yacht Club which was also damaged in the flooding. It was forced to close for awhile and he said they plan to rebuild it. He also wants to build docks outside the club to raise revenue once the breakwall is complete.
“It’s amazing to see it finally happening it’s gonna make our harbor one of the premiere harbors on Lake Ontario,” said Thibault.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was at the ground breaking and said the people of Olcott deserve this project.
“This community is resilient, this is one tough community. All of you have put up with so much with the flooding and the devastation and the impact on local tourism,” she said.
They’re hoping to finish the breakwall by the end of the year, weather dependent.