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Presque Isle Group Not Ready to Back Corps of Engineers Project

Posted on November 26, 2015

Presque Isle Advisory Committee members are concerned about contaminants.

The group has questions about a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to use material dredged from Erie’s harbor to build up Presque Isle’s Gull Point.

“Is the potential harm or contamination worth what we really get out of this?” park Operations Manager Matt Greene asked.

The committee, at its meeting Thursday, approved a motion by member Greg Sesler indicating that the group couldn’t support the project until core sampling was done down to the dredge depth to check for chemical and biological contaminants.

The Army Corps is planning a project to place colored sediment tracers in water at three sites off Presque Isle in 2016 and track whether the particles end up in areas that help Gull Point to grow. If the tracer outcome is favorable, the Corps is proposing to eventually use sediments dredged from the harbor to help combat erosion at Gull Point.

In addition to being worried about contaminants in the sediment, committee members also expressed concern that the availability of the material depends on the dredging schedule.

“That means it might be once every 10 years, or more or less,” Eric Obert said. “It’s not available when you need it.”

Also Thursday, the committee heard a presentation on the Presque Isle Lighthouse by Jeff Kidder of Kidder Wachter Architecture & Design.

He said proposed projects for the facility, which has been opened to the public, include new sidewalks and fencing, a ramp to make the building accessible for people with disabilities, a higher railing at the top of the tower to make it safer, conversion of the existing two-car garage into a visitor center with a 16-by-24-foot addition to provide exhibit space and a gathering area, and new free-standing restrooms.

In other business, the group:

– Heard from Greene that AT&T and Verizon expressed interest in expanding cell phone coverage on the peninsula. He said officials are waiting to hear whether the companies would want new towers or to use existing infrastructure.

“Obviously we have concerns about towers and other things that aren’t aesthetic to the park,” he said.

– Was told by Greene that the project to connect the park to the sewer system run by the Millcreek Township Sewer Authority has been going well and should be done in a couple weeks.

– Unanimously chose John Lyon to continue as the committee’s chairman.

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