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Carlton, Ridgeway town offices closed to public

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 March 2020 at 12:09 pm

Ridgeway and Carlton town offices are closed to the public until further notice.

Any tax payments in Carlton can be made online though the link provided on the town website.

Any other payments can be made by using the drop box located in the zoning enforcer’s door.  Please put any payments in an envelope with a name and phone number. If there are any questions or concerns please call the Town Hall at 585-682-4358.

In Ridgeway, the Town Court will be closed to the to the public in cooperation with the directive sent by Governor Cuomo, said Town Supervisor Brian Napoli.

The Town Board’s regular meeting today will go on as scheduled.

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2 harbors in Orleans picked for dredging by state

Staff Reports Posted 12 February 2020 at 12:36 pm

Johnson Creek, Oak Orchard among 20 channels to get attention

File photo by Tom Rivers – A boat passes through the Oak Orchard Harbor. Sediment builds up in the channel which can make it difficult for larger boats to use the harbor.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that 20 harbors on the southshore of Lake Ontario will be dredged, including Johnson Creek in Carlton near Lakeside Beach State Park and the Oak Orchard Harbor at Point Breeze.

The Oak Orchard Harbor dredging is scheduled to start in June 2021 and the Johnson Creek Harbor will get attention in July 2021.

The $15 million regional dredging initiative is part of the State’s $300 million effort to repair and build resiliency in communities recovering from damage caused by high water levels and flooding.

The governor made the announcement during a stop at Sandy Pond in Oswego County, where a $600,000 REDI award for the North Sandy Pond Resiliency Project will help the Town of Sandy Creek strengthen the barrier bar dividing Sandy Pond and Lake Ontario. The next round of dredging to commence at Blind Sodus Bay, Wayne County, in April, Cuomo said.

“New Yorkers living and working along the shorelines of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are still reeling from last year’s record flooding that devastated their communities,” Cuomo said.

The full lists of harbors to be dredged includes:

Orleans County: Oak Orchard Harbor, Johnson Creek

Niagara County: Wilson, Olcott Harbor

Monroe County: Sandy Creek, Braddock Bay, Long Pond Outlet, Irondequoit Bay

Oswego County: Sandy Pond Inlet, Salmon River/Port Ontario

Wayne County: Port Bay, Blind Sodus Bay, Bear Creek Harbor, Pultneyville, East Bay

Cayuga County:  Little Sodus Bay

Jefferson County: Clayton French Creek Marina, Henderson “The Cut”

St. Lawrence County: Ogdensburg “City Front Channel,” Morristown Navigation Channel

The first REDI project completed is at Mexico Point State Park in Oswego County where record-high water levels at Lake Ontario in 2017 and again in 2019 caused devastating damage to the shoreline.

In just four weeks, 435 linear feet of shoreline was stabilized with the placement of 3,200 tons of stone. The project, which was completed ahead of schedule on Feb. 6, will preserve public access to Lake Ontario at Mexico Point Park and protect the local economy through the continued attraction of visitors.

At a Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Conference in Albany in November 2019, Cuomo introduced the $15 million Regional Dredging Project to the representatives of communities slated to receive REDI grants, letting them know that later that month field teams would be identifying areas to be dredged and developing a timeline for implementation.

Each dredging project is targeted to be complete no more than four months from its start date, with dredging expected to commence in:

• April 2020 at Blind Sodus Bay

• September 2020 at East Bay and North Sandy Pond Inlet

• October 2020 at Braddock Bay, Pultneyville and Little Sodus Bay

• April 2021 at Sandy Creek

• June 2021 at Olcott Harbor, Oak Orchard Harbor and Wilson

• July 2021 at Irondequoit Bay, Long Pond Outlet, Bear Creek Harbor, Henderson “The Cut,” Johnson Creek, Salmon River/Port Ontario, Ogdensburg “City Front” Channel, Morristown Navigation Channel and Clayton French Creek Marine.

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Group will discuss Parkway future at meeting today in Kendall

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 January 2020 at 8:45 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: The western end of the Lake Ontario State Parkway runs along 12.7 miles in Orleans County.

KENDALL – The Lake Ontario State Parkway Steering Committee will meet today in Kendall to discuss the future of the recreational route.

The 7 p.m. meeting at the Kendall Town Hall will include a review of alternatives for the Parkway. The public is welcome to attend the session.

The Genesee Transportation Council in Rochester and Orleans County have been studying the future of the Parkway, looking at possible alternatives for the westernmost 12.7 miles of the Parkway that runs along the lake through Kendall and part of Carlton. Altogether, the DOT spent about $14 million on the paving projects.

At today’s meeting, some of the alternatives will be presented as well as estimated costs of implementation. The committee will evaluate some of the future concepts for the Parkway.

Today is the committee’s first meeting in about two years. Since the last meeting, the state Department of Transportation has repaved stretches of the Parkway near Kendall and Hamlin.

The committee has mulled some ideas for the Parkway, including closing the northern side, currently the western lanes, and have the Parkway be a regular two-lane state road on the south side.

That would free up the northern side for possible housing development. Except, in many places, there wouldn’t be enough room north of the road to accommodate new development because the Parkway is too close to the lake.

The Transportation Council also is considering closing off either the north or south sides to traffic and designating one side for cyclists and snowmobiles. But County Legislator Ken DeRoller has said snow doesn’t seem to “stick” too well on the Parkway surface.

And the state would need to modify the interchanges if traffic was allowed on only one side. The cost of redoing the interchanges might negate any maintenance savings from closing off one side to traffic, DeRoller said.

The committee looking at the Parkway also is considering a reduced speed of 40 miles per hour for the Parkway, or perhaps an elevated speed limit to make the road faster for motorists.

DeRoller has said he favors more maintenance and paving in the current Parkway setup. He thinks the roadway should be better marketed as a connector to popular state parks at Lakeside Beach in Carlton and Hamlin Beach. Those two state parks together draw 443,000 visitors annually, DeRoller said. They each have about 250 camp sites.

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After 2 years of study, Albion woman earns American citizenship

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 January 2020 at 9:15 am

Mother of 4 works as supervisor at Intergrow Greenhouses

Photo by Tom Rivers: Rosa Santiago, in back, is joined by her daughters during a celebration on Monday after she passed her American citizenship test. Rosa’s daughters include, from left: Tiffany, Michelle and Alexis.

WATERPORT – Rosa Santiago was celebrated on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, for earning her American citizenship.

Santiago, an Albion resident the past 13 years, passed the citizenship test last Wednesday. She will be sworn in as a new American during a ceremony on Feb. 27 at the U.S. Courthouse in Buffalo.

Santiago, 38, started taking English classes at the World Life Institute in Waterport about two years ago. She also studied American history and prepared for the civics test she needed to pass to become an American.

Her teachers and classmates threw a party for her at the school on Stillwater Road, where she has taken classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings the past two years.

Santiago, a supervisor at Intergrow Greenhouses, said she was motivated by her four children to learn English and pass the test. She has a son, 18, and three daughters, ages 9, 12 and 14.

She has been in the area for the past 13 years, working in agriculture. She was at Lake Ontario Fruit, an apple packing facility in Albion, before going to Intergrow.

A native of Mexico, Santiago said earning her American citizenship gives her security to stay in the country with her family. She also looks forward to voting and having a US Passport.

Cheryl Lieberman, one of Santiago’s teachers, praised Santiago’s persistence in learning English and preparing for the citizenship exam.

“Do not be fooled by this tiny, shy, young lady,” Lieberman said during a celebration for Santiago on Monday. “She has tremendous strength inside of her and a determination.”

Santiago went to her classes on the two evenings each week after a full shift at work.

“Rosa maintained the strong desire to pass this test and she let nothing discourage her from achieving that goal,” Lieberman said. “She fought for it and never gave up.”

Santiago is the 12th student from the World Life Institute to earn American citizenship since 2010. She said seeing the other students reach that goal was a strong motivator and encouragement for her.

WLI runs the program with support from the Orleans-Niagara BOCES Continuing Education. Sue Diemert, a literacy specialist for the program, said the World Life Institute staff are dedicated and caring teachers. She praised Santiago for her success with the program.

“We celebrate out students and our new citizens,” Diemert said.

Provided photo: The staff at the World Life Institute in Waterport celebrated Rosa Santiago on Monday evening. Pictured from left include Linda Redfield, a teacher at WLI; Monica Beck, a teacher; Rosa Santiago; Rosa’s daughters, Tiffany, Michelle and Alexis; and teachers, Gejlana Carter, Harris Lieberman and Malvy Rivera.

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Modern will resume trash pickup on fire lanes beginning today

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 December 2019 at 8:49 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Garbage and recycling on Lakeside Park Road in Carlton hasn’t been picked up the past two weeks. The service is to resume this week.

CARLTON – Modern Disposal has told county officials the company plans to resume garbage pickup on fire lanes this week.

The company didn’t pick up garbage the past two weeks after notifying town officials in Yates, Carlton and Kendall it had safety concerns with employees bringing the big garbage trucks on the narrow roads, which are privately owned.

“Modern will resume service to all residents along Fire Lanes including Sunset Island and Park Ave Extension, the two most critical areas of the Fire Lanes issues,” Joe Hickman, Strategic/Municipal Sales Manager for Modern, said in an email to county officials. “To continue service in these areas, Modern will deploy smaller collection vehicles (collection bodies on a 1 ton chassis platform) which provides our driver improved maneuverability and visibility than that of tradition refuse and recycling collection vehicles.”

The county manages the garbage and recycling contract with Modern. The contract will need to be modified to reflect the company’s increased costs with using smaller trucks for the service, Hickman said in his email.

“Modern recognizes that Fire Lanes are private property maintained by residents and private contractors,” Hickman said. “If the conditions of any Fire Lane become compromised due to weather or other factors, Modern’s drivers will decide on a ‘go or no go’ to service.”

Any “no go” situations will be reported to Modern’s Customer Service Department who will share the information to both county and town officials, Hickman said.

Modern will meet with town and county officials on Dec. 9, with a goal to have an agreement that satisfies all parties’ concerns and requirements. Hickman said the goal is to have a new program serving residents on the fire lanes by March 1.

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County approves $300K contract to fix bridge in Carlton

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 November 2019 at 10:24 am

CARLTON – The Lakeside Bridge in Carlton, north of Kuckville, will get significant repairs over the winter and will be closed to traffic several hours during work days.

The Orleans County Legislature on Thursday approved a $308,126 construction bid from C.P. Ward in Scottsville.

The Lakeside Bridge will get new deck panels, expansion bearings on the east end and underside truss bearings.

The federal government is paying 80 percent of the costs, with the state paying 15 percent and the county the remaining 5 percent.

The bridge is the only way across Johnson Creek in the area known as the peninsula by Lake Ontario. The contractor can’t close off the bridge for months while the work is done because residents and service vehicles need to get across.

John Papponetti, the county highway superintendent, said he expects work to start next month and be complete in early April.

The contractor will likely have the bridge closed to traffic from 8 to 11 a.m. and then from noon to 3 p.m. on days when the contractor is on site. That will keep the bridge open to traffic for most of the day, and still allow contractors to get work done.

Papponetti said the contractor will develop a schedule – which is dependent on weather – and that will be communicated with residents in the community.

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Garbage pickup on most fire lanes to resume by lake

Photos by Tom Rivers: Vince DeWind of Park Road in Carlton stands with a garbage can where the road intersects with Lakeside Park Road. The community didn’t have its garaged picked up on Monday when Modern Disposal said it would no longer do curbside pickups during the winter on many fire lanes in Carlton, Kendall and Yates.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 November 2019 at 3:41 pm

CARLTON – Residents on many of the fire lanes and narrow roads by the lakeshore in Carlton were surprised to discover on Monday that Modern Disposal wouldn’t be picking up their garbage or recycling.

The company had notified the lakeshore towns – Carlton, Kendall and Yates – it had concerns over the narrow roadways. The company is using bigger trucks and Modern told residents in an email they had concerns for employees’ safety on the narrow roadways. Many of those are privately owned and aren’t maintained to the standards of a public road. There are more potholes and overheard limbs to contend with.

Modern told residents to take their garbage and recycling to collection points at the end of streets.

Town and county officials have received numerous phone calls and emails about the matter. The garbage and recycling contract is negotiated by the county.

Carlton Town Supervisor Gayle Ashbery said today she was caught off guard by the change that started this week.

After discussions with Modern, the company has agreed to resume garbage and recycling pickup on the seasonal roads, except for three – Erway Tract, Park Lane Extension and Sunset Island (by the peninsula north of Kuckville).

Garbage and recycling was left out Monday in Carlton on Lakeside Park Road but still hadn’t been picked up this morning.

Modern officials said their evaluation was fair about the safety of sending their trucks down the fire lanes. However, the company was “abrupt” in implementing the plan and didn’t allow enough time for the communities to review the plan and communicate the changes to residents, Joseph Hickman, strategic/municipal sales manager for Modern, said in an email to county officials today.

“In order to provide these community the required time to review, discuss and inform residents, we are suspending service changes and resuming normal collection,” Hickman wrote in the message.

Ashbery said Modern will likely be putting dumpsters for residents on those three streets to leave their garbage. The company is working on how to handle pickup on those three streets during the winter months.

The company said it would go back through Carlton today and Thursday to grab the garbage and recycling that was put out for Monday.

Vincent DeWind is one of the homeowners on the seasonal Park Road. He acknowledged it’s tough terrain for the garbage trucks.

“It’s very tricky backing up for them,” he said.

He faulted the local government and Modern for not communicating with residents about the changes.

He worries now that garbage could pile up at the collection spots, and could be a big cleanup effort if the trash blows around. He also said it will take much more effort for the residents to take it to the collection spots, especially for the senior citizens.

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Orleans REDI projects total $17 million, with $9M sewer project in Kendall the biggest

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Town of Yates Park on Morrison Road has picnic tables, grills and a pavilion close to the shoreline. The state approved spending $2.5 million to expand the park and help protect it from flooding. This photo was taken this afternoon.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 October 2019 at 7:14 pm

Yates Town Park approved for $2.5 million in improvements, expansion

The $49 million announced by Gov. Cuomo today for 20 lakeshore projects in Orleans and Niagara counties includes $17 million in Orleans County.

The projects will improve public land and infrastructure, including roads, a new sewer system in Kendall and Hamlin, and an improved Yates Town Park.

The money announced today is part of the first round of funding under the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative. There is also $20 million available for homeowners and $30 million for businesses that will be allocated later.

Governor Cuomo launched the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative in May to increase the resilience of shoreline communities and bolster economic development in the region.

He said today it was necessary as part of “a new normal” with high lake levels. The governor wants projects that will protect important public land and infrastructure from future flooding.

The governor was at Fort Niagara in Youngstown to announce the funding for Niagara and Orleans. The state is paying 95 percent of the costs, with the local governments chipping in percent.

Those projects include:

Orleans County

Wastewater Infrastructure for Kendall and Hamlin, $9,053,000

This project will disconnect homes from the septic systems and connect them to a wastewater system. A privately owned facility (located at Troutburg in the Town of Kendall) will be turned over to the Town of Kendall, and approximately 125 residences in the towns of Hamlin and Kendall will be connected to the facility.

The project will solve the problems for lakeside residences with septic issues west of West Kendall Drive, including along Lomond Shore West, Edrose Shore, Knapp Shore, Thompson Drive, and near Lakeland Beach Road and Bald Eagle Drive in the Town of Kendall, plus residences near Beachwood Park Road in the Town of Hamlin. This project will connect these areas to a sanitary sewer and convey wastewater to a treatment facility.

Yates Town Park and Expansion in Yates, $2,531,000

The Yates Town Park is located off Morrison Road, northeast of the Village of Lyndonville.

The Town of Yates proposes to expand the town park with enhanced recreational and water access opportunities. This project seeks to further enhance the park’s environmental resiliency, protect and expand its natural and nature-based features, and increase public access to the area’s recreational resources.

Proposed mitigation measures in the project will consist of:

• Installing shoreline stabilization measures to protect the park shoreline and associated features

• Evaluating opportunities to enhance recreation and water access through a new kayak launch and playground

• Installing upgrades to the park’s amenities, including an upgraded parking lot area, enclosed pavilion and bathrooms, and a 10 foot wide nature trail

Lakeshore Road (Route 97) in Carlton, east of Point Breeze, $2,062,000

Lakeshore Road is eroding rapidly and creating a hazardous situation for the roadway infrastructure and the waterline adjacent to the road. This project seeks to address the erosion of the bluff, as well as the existing failed shoreline protection.

Proposed mitigation measures in the project will consist of:

• Protecting the toe of the bluff with shoreline stabilization measures

• Stabilizing the bluff through grading and fill (where possible)

• Vegetation along the embankment

The project assumes 1,500 foot long by 40 foot wide shore stabilization with fill and new vegetation for 10 to 20 foot of the width. During the engineering process, the project should also evaluate potential of shore protection measures.

Public Town Road Ends/Culverts in Kendall, $1,500,000

Culverts adjacent to Ed Rose Shore, Knapp Shore, and Thompson Drive are impacted by high water levels resulting in culvert ends being clogged with debris. This project will install a more resilient box culvert concept. A culvert located at Lakeland Beach Road needs fortification, and riprap will be placed at the outlet of the culvert to provide protection.

Proposed mitigation measures in the project will consist of:

• Replacing end of culverts with box design systems at four locations (Edrose, Knapp Shores, and Thompson Dr.)

• Upgrade stabilization measures at the Lakeland Beach Road end of culvert

Point Breeze Boat Launch in Carlton, $751,000

The docks and boating slips at the Orleans County Marine Park will see upgrades.

The 72-slip boat launch is owned by the county at the Orleans County Marine Park.

Proposed mitigation measures for the project consists of:

• Replacement of fixed elevation docks with floating docks and slips, inclusive of anchorage and posts to permit only vertical dock movement

• Modification and upgrades to impaired boat launches to increase resiliency

Lakeside Park Road East in Carlton, $385,000

The bluff  on which the eastern portion of Lakeside Park Road sits has been experiencing erosional impacts, creating a 30 to 40 foot drop that has become a hazardous condition for the road and public water line in the area. This project aims to stabilize the bluff  to protect these assets.

Proposed mitigation measures in the project will consist of:

• Protecting the toe of the bluff with shoreline stabilization; stabilizing the bluff with embankment vegetation

• Where space allows, the bluff will be graded back to a more stable slope

Lakeside Park Road West in Carlton, $235,000

The Town of Carlton Highway Department uses a payloader to carry pallets of sandbags across a washed out section of Lakeside Park Road West on June 2. A chunk of road washed out in May. Residents at three houses have to walk through the washed out road to reach their houses. The road will protected with riprap in one of the REDI projects.

The shoreline on which Lakeside Park Road sits has been experiencing flooding impacts from both Johnson Creek and Lake Ontario, including the loss of an access road/lane, land protecting homes, and public water lines. West of the intersection with Lakeside Road there is approximately 300 feet of public water line at risk of being exposed and compromised.

Proposed mitigation measures in the project will consist of:

• Constructing an access road to place protective materials along the shoreline

• Placement of riprap stone to protect the public water line during future high water level(s)

Thompson Drive turnaround to become beach access in Kendall, $131,000

A section of Thompson Drive at the western end of Kendall was eaten up by Lake Ontario in the spring 2017. This photo was taken on May 7, 2017.

The former Thompson Drive turnaround provides beach access to the Lake Ontario shoreline. There is an opportunity to turn the former turnaround into beach access, coupled with nature-based shoreline protection.

The proposed project would reduce shoreline erosion, protecting local infrastructure and maintaining access along the route.

Proposed mitigation measures in the project will consist of:

• Installing natural or nature-based shoreline protection addressing the erosion of the turnaround, which is nearing the shoreline edge

• Ensuring and enhancing access to the shoreline

Route 237 right-of-way in Kendall, $40,000

The shoreline/waterfront area along the Route 237 right-of-way is experiencing significant erosion as a result of high water levels, flooding, and wave intensity. A project is currently ongoing to install riprap along the waterfront to protect the eroding shoreline associated with the right-of-way, abutting the riprap of two neighboring private properties.

Proposed additional mitigation measures in the project will consist of:

• Construction of a berm to further stabilize the shoreline and protect the area from future flooding

• Filling the gap between existing shoreline protection features with additional shoreline protection

• A protective barrier to provide public safety, and limit access from hazardous conditions at the end of the Route 237 right-of-way

Installing markers on submerged structures in Orleans and Niagara, $50,000

In-lake structures throughout Niagara and Orleans counties, when underwater, may result in hazardous boating conditions. Installing temporary safety markers is a proactive approach to protect public safety.

This project will install safety markers on submerged structures (piers). The structures will be clearly marked by installing temporary warning buoys.

For more on the projects, including the $32 million for those in Niagara County, click here.

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Carlton hunter who fell from tree stand thankful for help from first responders

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 October 2019 at 1:02 pm

Provided photo: Tyler Jurs is pictured with a deer last year. Jurs was badly injured Monday when he fell from a tree stand.

CARLTON – A hunter who fell from a tree stand Monday is thankful for the volunteer firefighters, COVA medics and Mercy Flight helicopter that came to his rescue.

Tyler Jurs, 27, was building a tree stand off Lake Ontario State Parkway in Carlton on land owned by Lynn-Ette and Sons, a farm where his brother works and father recently retired from.

Tyler was putting steel steps in an ash tree. He was about 8 feet up, standing partly on a branch when it snapped. Tyler plunged downward and one of the steel steps tore into his thigh. He had a huge gash from above his knee to his hip.

He called 911, and used his own belt as a tourniquet. He learned about the importance of trying to stop the bleed as a member of the Carlton Volunteer Fire Company the past two years.

He was about 400 feet from the road. He credits the makeshift tourniquet for keeping him alert.

Matt Hughson, a Carlton firefighter, was the first on scene. He saw Jurs’ truck by the road and headed into the woods. He was a welcome sight for Jurs.

Another Carlton firefighter, Seth Dumrese, appeared and put an actual tourniquet on Jurs.

“It was nice to see familiar faces,” Jurs said today. “They were my friends. It was comforting to see them.”

He still needed to wait in the woods for an all-terrain vehicle with a backboard. The Lyndonville Fire Department was contacted and they brought the ATV. They transported Jurs to the road, and he was then taken by Mercy Flight.

He was discharged from Strong Memorial Hospital on Thursday. He is taking some steps on his feet, while being on the mend. He looks forward to getting back to work with the DOT, where he is a maintenance worker and drives a plow truck during the winter.

Jurs is used to responding to others in need. He now has a deeper appreciation for firefighters, medics and Mercy Flight.

“You guys are all amazing,” Jurs posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday. “You guys have no idea how much it means to have you all there and reassuring me that I would be OK. Without you guys could have been a totally different story.”

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NY will sue IJC for water level ‘mismanagement’ that damaged shoreline communities

Photo by Tom Rivers: An employee with the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control checks pumps on May 10 for a 450-foot-long AquaDam along the shoreline in Carlton, just west of the Oak Orchard Harbor. The state and local municipalities have tried to protect property and fight erosion from the high lake waters.

Posted 9 October 2019 at 1:30 pm

‘We will not shoulder the burden of the destruction that is a direct result of the IJC’s gross mismanagement of Lake Ontario water levels, and the IJC needs to compensate New York for the severe damage to the homes and businesses along the shoreline. That’s what this lawsuit is all about.’ – Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is filing a lawsuit against the International Joint Commission for its mismanagement of Lake Ontario water levels that caused catastrophic damage to shoreline communities.

As a direct result of the IJC’s mismanagement, extremely high water levels exacerbated damage to residences and businesses, swept away large swaths of the shoreline, and upended the lives of thousands of New Yorkers twice in the past three years. Property owners have suffered severe erosion and loss of vegetation, while the State sustained more than $4 million in property damage that it still has not been able to fully repair. The lawsuit argues that the IJC must compensate the State for the destruction resulting from water level mismanagement.

“The facts of the matter are plain: The IJC’s function is to manage the Lake Ontario water levels, and they failed – period. They have been wholly unresponsive and have taken no action to make the situation better,” Governor Cuomo said. “We will not shoulder the burden of the destruction that is a direct result of the IJC’s gross mismanagement of Lake Ontario water levels, and the IJC needs to compensate New York for the severe damage to the homes and businesses along the shoreline. That’s what this lawsuit is all about.”

Specifically, the complaint asserts the following causes of action:

• Negligence:  IJC breached its duty by failing to take sufficient steps to protect the interests of New York property owners on the Lake Ontario shoreline.

• Nuisance:  Based on the severe flooding that resulted from IJC’s mismanagement, IJC was or should have been substantially certain that its conduct would cause an invasion of the State’s interest in the use and enjoyment of its land.

• Trespass: IJC failed to increase outflows from Lake Ontario to lower water levels and abate flooding, which constituted an invasion of property.

In an attempt to mitigate exposure to property owners, the State repeatedly called on the IJC to release as much water from the Moses Saunders Dam as possible. Rather than protect shoreline communities, the IJC has favored commercial shipping interests. In a June 8 letter to the U.S. and Canadian Chairpersons of the IJC, the Governor, on behalf of the State of New York, called on the commission to take immediate action to correct its water management protocols to remedy the ongoing threat to the citizens and businesses caused by Lake Ontario flooding.

The Governor demanded that the IJC reimburse New York for its costs, and make additional funds available for resiliency projects and other protective measures made necessary by the IJC’s acts and omissions. The IJC has failed to address any of these demands. Instead, the IJC has recently reduced the outflows slightly notwithstanding continued record-high water levels. As laid out in the DEC’s complaint, the IJC can no longer hide behind a claim of sovereign immunity and must now answer for its negligent conduct and failure to adhere to obligatory requirements to address high water levels.  The IJC’s failure to take action compels this legal action.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Time and time again, Governor Cuomo has called on the IJC to put the safety and integrity of New York’s shoreline communities ahead of shipping interests. And repeatedly, the IJC failed to act. New York State is making significant investments to improve the resiliency of homes and businesses along Lake Ontario. We are now demanding that the IJC do the responsible thing, and take action to safeguard our communities from high water.”

In 2017, New York State responded quickly to the crisis and took immediate action to protect communities by delivering critical state resources to help communities and businesses rebuild. The State committed $117 million to rebuild communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline that were devastated by high water levels in 2017, only to once again this year experience record-high water levels in these same communities. Following these events, the IJC should have recognized the significant potential of future devastation from rising waters and taken action to lessen the extent of damage caused by flood waters.

Assemblyman Michael Norris, R-Lockport, said, “Taxpayers and businesses along the southern shore of Lake Ontario have suffered significant damages and this legal recourse is necessary to obtain justice for them moving forward. I commend Governor Cuomo for initiating this action.”

This year, and to prepare for anticipated, future high water levels on the lake, Governor Cuomo established the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, or REDI Commission and committed up to $300 million to support its efforts. The multi-agency REDI Commission is charged with developing a plan to increase the resiliency of infrastructure along Lake Ontario’s waterfront while strengthening the region’s local economies, which are heavily dependent on summer tourism.

The commission is currently examining areas susceptible to damage caused by the rising waters, including those hit hard in 2017, in order to develop a package of new state actions ranging from legislative changes to aid packages to executive actions that will not just rebuild the shoreline, but improve resiliency to withstand unforeseen weather events. The state anticipates it will have spent $45 million in response and damage costs for 2019, and as part of REDI’s comprehensive examination of projects to promote resiliency and economic development in the affected region.

In addition to delivering millions in funding to help restore residents and businesses affected by the rising water-levels on Lake Ontario, New York State has deployed more than 1.5 million sandbags, hundreds of pumps, and 11,000 feet of temporary dams in eight counties along Lake Ontario in preparation for damage caused by high water levels.  New York State will continue to take aggressive action to ensure residents and businesses are protected from these high-water levels, but the state should not have to bear the costs without any action from the IJC.

Editor’s Note: State Sen. Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, issued this statement: “Today’s announcement that New York State would be suing the International Joint Commission for damages caused by flooding connected to Plan 2014 is long overdue. Although the Attorney General’s office declined to act on my proposal to sue the federal government for damages caused by Lake Ontario’s flooding back in May, I am pleased to see they have had a change of heart and will now seek financial compensation for the residents, localities, and businesses along the lake’s shores.

“Lake Ontario property owners, localities, and businesses have been devastated by flooding in two of the last three years in large part due to the International Joint Commission’s Plan 2014, which was approved in the last days of the Obama administration. That is why I was the first elected official to call on going after the International Joint Commission for damages. These businesses, localities, and residents have been forced to live with dangerous flooding that has caused immense financial strain due to the implementation of Plan 2014. New York State cannot continue to be the sole provider of emergency relief funding for residents impacted by Lake Ontario’s flooding, and it is time for the federal government to take responsibility for the damage it has caused.”

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