Governor announces $49 million for Orleans, Niagara in Lake Ontario projects
Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the state is providing $49 million to advance 20 projects in Niagara and Orleans counties as part of the first round of funding under the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative.
Governor Cuomo launched REDI in May to increase the resilience of shoreline communities and bolster economic development in the region. Today’s announcement marks a major milestone in the REDI effort. Identified by the communities and evaluated by state agency experts, the projects address both immediate and long-term resiliency needs, enhance economic development, protect critical infrastructure, incorporate green, natural, or nature-based features, and will help sustainably rebuild and enhance communities along the Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River shorelines.
“The recent challenge of historic high water levels along the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shorelines calls for a swift and innovative response, and today I am announcing REDI projects in Niagara and Orleans counties that will create long-term sustainability for communities and businesses,” Governor Cuomo said. “I directed 11 state agencies to mobilize their expertise and assess a portfolio of community-driven actions that will sustainably protect and enhance the region’s infrastructure, habitats, and local economies. Working together, our Empire State experts and stakeholders came up with 20 projects in these counties that will help the region regain resiliency and economic vibrancy.”
Since record high water levels in 2017, New York State has committed more than $100 million to rebuild communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline that were devastated by flooding, only to again experience record high water levels and flooding in these same communities this year.
Five REDI regions, comprised of eight counties (Niagara and Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego, and Jefferson and St. Lawrence) were established to identify local priorities, at-risk infrastructure and other assets, and public safety concerns. The REDI Commission allocated $20 million for homeowner assistance, $30 million to improve the resiliency of businesses, and $15 million toward a regional dredging effort that will benefit each of the eight counties. The remaining balance, $235 million, has been allocated towards local and regional projects that advance and exemplify the REDI mission.
To identify projects, over the course of three months, REDI organized 25 stakeholder and community meetings and workshops with hundreds of local residents, convened more than 15 planning committee meetings, and directed New York State agency and engineering experts to expend thousands of hours to evaluate more than 500 projects proposed by communities. The projects comprise a range of at-risk assets, including shoreline stabilization, public health and safety, critical water and wastewater infrastructure, marinas and harbors, and land loss/value, among other priorities, with an emphasis on natural or nature-based features and green infrastructure.
For each project, multi-jurisdictional permit reviews, and any associated environmental reviews, will be needed prior to any final determination to proceed. To build resilience, reduce the risk of future property damage, and minimize habitat impacts, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has compiled general guidelines for coastal design and development projects. These guidelines include technical data, regulatory guidance, best practices, and available resources for development along the dynamic shorelines of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. This comprehensive technical and permitting information to help expedite the permitting process is available on the REDI guidance webpage.
To further address the challenges posed by high water levels, in addition to the county-specific projects announced today, Governor Cuomo announced an eight-county $15 million Regional Dredging effort to sustainably maintain safe navigation channels to harbors and bays along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. These channels are critical to the vitality of recreational and commercial boating, which generate millions of dollars annually in economic activity and support more than 1,000 jobs across the region.
The effort will address the required maintenance dredging of at least 17 harbor channels used primarily for recreational boating. Dredging sediments appropriate for benecial re-use may be employed in ecosystem restoration or erosion management projects, with likely benets to habitat, water quality, and beach nourishment.
The complete list of the 20 projects is available by clicking here. Highlighted REDI projects and estimated costs include:
• The $2,531,000 Yates Town Park and Expansion Project in the Town of Yates will provide shoreline remediation and expansion to include NYSEG land to create resilient wildlife refuge, increase areas of protected wetlands, and enhance public access to the Lake Ontario shoreline. It will also include shoreline protection treatments on the east and west borders of the park to mitigate effects of wave action/erosion on proposed wetlands.
• The $2,062,000 Lakeshore Road (Route 97) Project in the towns of Carlton and Kendall will seek to stabilize a bluff alongside Route 97 and improve shoreline protections for the road and buried water lines. This project includes consideration for a large-scale offshore shoal system to improve fish habitat and act as a wave break.
• The $628,000 Lakeside Park Road East and West projects will restore and protect this roadway to ensure access for residents and emergency responders. Shoreline stabilization measures will protect the road and buried utilities.
• The $751,000 Point Breeze Boat Launch Project in the Town of Carlton will help upgrade and increase the resiliency of this facility by replacing fixed elevation docks with floating docks and slips. These improvements will help maintain this facility, which supports local economic activity and access for recreational boating.
• The $131,000 Thompson Drive Project will address erosion of the turnaround, ensuring water access at the beach. This nature-based project will reduce erosion and protect local infrastructure while maintaining access along the route.
• The $15,707,000 Olcott Harbor Project in the Town of Newfane will encircle the lower harbor with a promenade and shoreline stabilization to secure public health and safety by providing flood protection for critical sanitary sewer infrastructure and residences in the hamlet of Olcott and Newfane. This project will support economic development through aesthetic and water access improvements. Resilience measures, including elevated shoreline treatments, one along East Harbor and the other along the West Harbor, will together protect Pump Station #6, businesses, buildings, and residences in the eastern portion of the harbor, and the town’s critical sanitary sewer infrastructure, which benefits the entire area. In addition to the shoreline protection measures, the project would entail improvements to the existing pump station to mitigate erosion and other high water related damage. The project may also include raising the elevation of the east Federal Pier, which protects the harbor entrance.
• The $3,362,000 Sunset Island West Barrier Bar Project in the Town of Wilson will include paving, raising, or otherwise reinforcing paths that protect land that might provide shoreline protections between the path and water.
• The $2,103,000 Village of Youngstown Waterfront Project in the Town of Porter will provide protection to the waterfront to support economic development, recreation, and tourism. The project will raise existing shoreline stabilization measures and add floating docks and jetties to reduce wave action for boating activity and shoreline erosion.
• The $1,814,000 Olcott Beach Berm Project in the Town of Newfane will redesign the beach berm to create a long-term solution to stabilize the berm and provide a flood strategy behind the berm, such as added floodway roads and/or a pump system. It will protect the west side of Olcott from wave action, as well as a town parking lot and year-round businesses and homes in the low-lying area.
• The $87,000 YMCA Camp Kenan Project in the Town of Somerset will provide shoreline protection measures to help maintain public access to the camp. The camp is adjacent to the shoreline, which has experienced flooding and erosion due to high water levels and wave action. The nature-based shoreline stabilization measure will protect the camp, which serves as a seasonal home away from home for hundreds of campers each year.
Senator Robert G. Ortt said, “The residents, businesses, and localities along Lake Ontario’s shores continue to face crippling flood waters due to the dangerous and ill-advised implementation of Plan 2014. However, New York State has stepped up and taken the lead on assisting those who have suffered from the millions of dollars’ worth of flood damage, and I am proud to have voted for this flood relief assistance funding. This $49 million will go a long way to help those that have been impacted by the flooding get back onto their feet, rebuild lost property, and fortify preventative infrastructure measures.”
Assemblymember Michael J. Norris said, “For many decades, there has been a critical need and a lot of discussion about fortifying the Olcott Harbor with a new break water wall and addressing other infrastructure deficiencies along the Southern shore of Lake Ontario. Now, with today’s action by New York State of investing millions into key infrastructure and resiliency projects, which includes funding for the Olcott Harbor Project and other important points across Niagara and Orleans Counties, these communities will be ensured fortification and stability in these economic and tourism centers for decades to come. I commend Governor Cuomo for his partnership in securing this investment in rebuilding and revitalizing our shoreline infrastructure. This is a perfect example of how government should work, with bipartisan efforts, to deliver for the hardworking taxpayers of the State of New York.”
Assemblymember Steve Hawley said, “I am pleased to see that the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) is moving forward with a large financial commitment from the state to help homeowners, businesses and municipalities in Orleans County recover from last year’s historic flooding. We’ve all witnessed the devastation along the lake’s southern shore and the heartache it has caused for so many. But, I am confident that the REDI will accelerate the recovery process and help rebuild the shoreline through completion of this package of projects. I will continue working with state and local leaders to see that those impacted receive the help they need moving forward.”
Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson said, “Whether it’s devastating flooding or severe storms, Governor Cuomo has always answered our call responding to the needs of Orleans County. Today’s announcement will help our community build back stronger than ever and I thank the Governor for his continued support for our region.”
Town of Kendall Supervisor Tony Camaratta said, “I commend Governor Cuomo for being our advocate securing the funding that we will need to repair flood damage and to be better protected from future disasters. This investment will go far in improving our quality of life across the board, from making vulnerable areas safer to laying the foundation for economic growth.”