by Dan Telvock - Investigative Post
Opening Gallagher Beach for swimming is "probably impractical from a public health standpoint" because of stormwater pollution, sediment contamination and neighboring toxic sites, a consultant for the Erie County Health Department has concluded.
The consultant's analysis, obtained under the Freedom of Information Law, and subsequent reporting by Investigative Post raises serious concerns about a plan being pushed by U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Byron Brown.
They want to open the beach for public swimming as part of a larger plan to develop the Outer Harbor into a state park. Higgins, a champion of opening the city's waterfront to the public, is pressing to open the beach next summer. But the county consultant said presence of potential health hazards require study that could take more time to complete than what Higgins' timetable calls for.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has read the consultant's report and said work must be done to ensure the beach water is safe.
"I've commented in the past that until we do more testing ... I myself wouldn't swim in it," he said.
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