Kaylee Belden swims at Bulwagga Bay in the town of Moriah. Work to save the Bulwagga Bay shoreline will be completed in 2013.
Work to save the Bulwagga Bay shoreline will be completed in 2013.
“It has to be done,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “The town board can’t sit back and let that shoreline erode. It’s a black and white issue; there’s no gray area. It has to be done.”
The town-owned beach and campsite on Lake Champlain is being damaged by Lake Champlain erosion. Without action the public beach and 175-site campground will be lost.
“We’re losing 6 to 10 feet of beach a year,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “We’re losing the beach; we’re losing the campground.”
The shoreline has moved back 25 to 40 feet since 1995, according to the Adirondack Park Agency.
Realizing the problem two years ago, local leaders secured permits from the Adirondack Park Agency, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build three revetments made of half-ton rocks reaching into Lake Champlain to combat the erosion. The revetments are 4,080, 4,110 and 4,670 square feet in size, and the beach end of each will be enveloped in landscaped trees and shrubs.
Those permits expire at the end of 2013, so the project must be completed next year.
Preliminary engineering has been completed for the project and the town will soon seek bids for the final engineering plans.
The Bulwagga Bay erosion project is expected to cost $300-500,000.
The town has applied for a $500,000 Regional Economic Development Grant from the state to cover the cost of the project. To date, there has been no movement on the grant.
“We’re on the clock to complete this project,” Scozzafava said. “Those permits expire next year and we have to finish the work.”
If the grant application is not approved soon, Moriah officials will have to borrow the money for the Bulwagga Bay project.
“No one wants to spend money, but Bulwagga Bay is a tremendous asset to the community,” Scozzafava said. “We can’t let it just slip away. If we don’t get the grant we’ll have to bite the bullet and borrow.”
Bulwagga Bay generated $294,737 in revenue for the town in 2012, Scozzafava said. The $120,000 profit will be used to off-set 2013 local taxes.
The campsite has already lost 10 lakefront campsites to erosion, Scozzafava said. That’s $20,000 a year in revenue.
The supervisor also pointed out the campground and beach have economic impact on the business community.
“The people at the campsite and beach stop at stores, restaurants, gas stations,” Scozzafava said. “They spend money in the community.
“Bulwagga Bay is important to our local economy,” he added. “It attracts tourists, it provides local jobs and it plays a role in our economic development.”
If the town borrows money for the erosion project, the loan will be repaid using Bulwagga Bay revenues, the supervisor said.
“The money to repay the loan won’t come directly from from our residents, but it will impact taxpayers,” Scozzafava explained. “It’ll mean there is less money to apply to the tax levy so taxes will go up unless we can find the money someplace else.
“It has to be done,” Scozzafava said. “We’ll do as much of the work as possible ourselves to keep the cost down.
After the project is finished it will require annual monitoring of erosion and water levels on the beach. The town will be allowed to fill in — or “re-nourish” — areas above the revetments where any erosion takes place.