U.S. Coast Guard: Stay off Oswego breakwall

The U.S. Coast Guard is warning people in Oswego to stay off the breakwall in Oswego Harbor. Senior Chief Joseph Orlando says the wall is not meant for people, and the Coast Guard has had to deal with several instances of people getting hurt.

"In the past, we've had several calls including hypothermic people in distress on the breakwall, people being swept into the water, and also people with medical injuries on the wall," says Orlando.

Orlando says, in April, two students were washed off the breakwall and suffered hypothermia. Last month, he says another person cut her leg badly on a section of steel reinforcement rod that was poking out from a deteriorating section of concrete.

On top of that, plans are underway to improve the breakwall. Last year, Senator Charles Schumer said the breakwall was "in danger of collapsing." He secured $300,000 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make repairs.

The Buffalo District Army Corps of Engineers says the project is in the design and engineering stages, and they're hoping to finish that stage by the end of the year.

Senator Schumer's office says when that stage is complete, the Senator will have a better idea how much the total project will cost. Then, he will ask the Senate's Energy and Water Development Subcommittee for the funding. The total project is expected to cost about $4 million.

Several people who live in Oswego say the breakwall is used frequently, and since people are going to walk on it anyway, making improvements would be a good idea.

"Weather and age are going to break down the wall, but that's kind of why we need it rebuilt," says Maribeth Hibbert-Nelson, who let her daughter walk on the wall.

Arlene Johnson would also like to see the wall improved.

"Our harbor is such an important part of our city. This is an important part of our harbor, so I think it would be just great if they could repair it," says Johnson.

The Army Corps of Engineers says the breakwall was authorized, designed, and built as a navigation structure, and it should not be used by the public as a recreational facility.