NEW BUFFALO — Two representatives of U.S. Congressman Fred Upton along with members of the New Buffalo City Council and the New Buffalo Shoreline Alliance got an up-close look at the eroded shoreline south of the city’s harbor aboard a Coast Guard boat out of Michigan City on Friday, Nov. 8.
New Buffalo Shoreline Alliance Vice President Ed Oldis said the seas were a little rough, but the view of “a lot of destruction” visible up and down the coastline made it worthwhile.
“There is a lot of work to be done to save a bunch of homes,” he added.
Among those on board the Coast Guard vessel were Legislative Assistant Stephanie DeMarco from Upton’s Washington D.C. office and District Director Mike Ryan from the Congressman’s St. Joseph/Benton Harbor office; New Buffalo Mayor Lou O’Donnell IV and City Council member Bob Spirito; Shoreline Alliance President Ted Gryzwacz and others.
Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott, who also went on the tour, called for a emergency declaration to possibly get federal funds for the area.
Oldis said Upton has already testified in favor of appropriating specific funding for New Buffalo in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2020 work plan including $625,000 for more dredging to replace sand in the shoreline and $200,000 for a Section 216 study of the breakwall to see if modifications to the structure could make the situation better.
He added work on the 2020 budget is continuing.
Oldis said a group from the New Buffalo Shoreline Alliance plus local officials including Scott are slated to meet with Upton, senators, Army officials and other “decision-makers” in Washington D.C. in December.
Oldis said the Coast Guard boat they rode on is designed to “roll over completely and keep going.”
“I asked them to demonstrate that when we were on the water,” he quipped.
Warwick Shores Homeowners Association President Joe Galetto recently said the current crisis has its roots in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1995 decision to stop depositing sand on the southern shore below the New Buffalo breakwater after they had done so for about 20 years to keep the beaches in that area from disappearing.
He said there were years after the Corps stopped depositing sand south of the breakwater when the lake level was high, but there was still enough beach left to offer some protection. Now there is no beach at all.
During the group’s recent annual meeting, Shoreline Alliance President Ted Grzywacz said “This is a public problem that touches on every aspect of our lives. Any money spent to protect our beaches is an investment in our homes, our schools, our communities, our economies and our future,”