HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — It was a harsh winter for most in Western New York, but it was especially harsh down on the shores of Lake Erie, where the town of Hamburg will be responsible for cleaning the beach of hundreds of yards of piles of debris the season left behind.
Woodlawn Beach, one of the most popular summer spot along the lake in Erie County, is far from ready for business.
Thousands grace its fine sand every day when the weather’s warm. But before the first sun tan can be had on this shore, guys like Raymond Pawlowski have their work cut out for them.
“This is the worst,” said Pawlowski, who’s the working crew chief in Hamburg in charge of that stretch of beach. “In fact, I contacted the operators last month, and they said, ‘When do you want us? And I said, ‘As soon as possible.’ And they came down yesterday, they said, ‘We see what you mean. We didn’t realize it was this bad.'”
Crews are crunched for time. Dozens of piles of debris, some more than 10 feet high, dot the shoreline.
“You’re looking at what we have to deal with, all the piles of the debris, all the driftwood from the winter storms,” Pawlowski said. “And we have more probably to come, with the creeks washing out, all the currents coming this way.”
Most of the material is organic, sticks and leaves and plants. But there’s still the occasional flotsam washed ashore.
Bill Dorsey of Cheektowaga took a friend’s kids to the beach to burn off a little energy on Friday.
He says he visits Woodlawn often.
“It’s usually a beautiful beach, and it just looks like there’s a lot more piles of garbage than normal,” he said. “But they’re going to have to move a lot faster.”
While crews have a little more than three weeks before Memorial Day, time is even shorter for other parts of the beach, which are still covered in debris.
Wedding season waits for no one. And this year, it starts at Woodlawn Beach May 15.
Pawlowski says they’ll be ready.