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Officials: Harbor needs work

by Candice Miller on November 30, 2010

Lexington attraction’s deteriorating condition causing buildup of sand
By LIZ SHEPARD
Times Herald

LEXINGTON — The wind off Lake Huron cut through winter clothing, but it didn’t stop people from enjoying the walkway surrounding the harbor last week.
 
Ken Henderson said he walks the harbor every day for the fresh air, peace and quiet.
 
As he spoke about his daily strolls, a trout jumped out of the water.
 
“Where’s my pole when I need it?” Henderson said.
 
While he enjoys the harbor and calls it an integral part of Lexington, he believes it’s in need of attention.
 
Local officials are trying to garner support from legislators to reconstruct the aging harbor, which is a key draw to the area and carries significant weight on the village’s economic health.
 
Bill Oldford, a village trustee and chairman of the Lexington Harbor Committee, said the harbor needs reconstruction, a project that would cost about $6.5 million. The cost of building it more than three decades ago was $3.5 million.
 
A study conducted in 2008 through a state grant resulted in a list of concerns with the deteriorating, outdated
harbor.
 
In the study, Guy A. Meadows, professor and director of the University of Michigan’s Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratories, listed problems and their possible solutions.
 
One of the main concerns was the porous wall allowed sediment to filter into the harbor, filling it with sand at points and rendering it impassable for some vessels while hindering its attraction to boaters.
 
He said dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about every two years isn’t enough. It last was dredged this summer.
 
The structure also has affected beach property to the north and south of the harbor.
 
Meadows said in his study the southern property has eroded during the years and, while material dredged from the harbor is reintroduced to the southern beaches, it is too close to the harbor and filters back into it.
 
It’s also causing large quantities of sand to be built up on the north side of the facility, extending the beach into Lake Huron.
 
Officials also want to address the walkway atop the harbor walls, a location no longer covered by the safety code.
 
Oldford said he would like to see the walkway widened, made handicap-accessible and get railings on both sides.
 
Lexington Trustee Anita Ruffini said she has been in contact with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and continually checks with them to voice local officials’ wishes.
 
Lynn Duerod, Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman, said any projects must be directed by Congress and receive federal funding. She said nothing is in place for the project to be considered.
 
Oldford and Ruffini said they are looking to garner support from legislators including U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. Candice Miller and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.
 
“I will work with the leaders of Lexington to assist them,” Miller told the Times Herald, “with the caveat that the federal government is operating under a deficit. Things are getting much tighter at the federal level.
 
“I am very aware of how important a harbor like Lexington’s is to the town during the summer months,” she added.
 
“Sen. Stabenow knows how important Michigan harbors are to our economy and has fought to secure additional resources for our harbors, including Lexington Harbor,” said Stabenow’s spokesman, Matt Williams, in an e-mail. “She is a sponsor of legislation in the Senate to fully fund dredging and structural maintenance projects for harbors and waterways across Michigan.”
 
Levin could not be reached for comment Monday.

http://www.thetimesherald.com/print/article/20101130/NEWS01/11300305/Officials-Harbor-needs-work

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