Governor Cuomo Announces $43 Million for 31 Projects In Cayuga and Oswego Counties to Advance Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative

(Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Community-Identified REDI Projects Selected after Expert Evaluation and Review

Total $300 Million Appropriated for Shoreline Communities Includes $15 Million for Regional Dredging, $30 Million for Private Businesses, and $20 Million for Homeowner Assistance

Up to $8 Million will be Available for Qualifying Secondary Homeowners as Part of Overall $20 Million Homeowner Assistance Package

REDI Commission will Hold Project Implementation Conference in Albany on November 20

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the state is providing $43 million to advance 31 projects in Oswego and Cayuga 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.

In addition, the Governor announced that the REDI Commission will hold an implementation conference in Albany on November 20. The conference will provide REDI funding recipients with information about project implementation, including permitting and environmental reviews, as well as an opportunity to meet with relevant state agencies to ensure REDI projects are implemented as soon as possible. The Governor also announced that up to $8 million will be available to qualifying secondary homeowners as part of the overall $20 million homeowner assistance package to help all members of the lakefront communities recover from flood-related damages.

"Today, I am announcing 31 REDI projects that will enhance and sustainably protect infrastructure, habitats, and local economies in Oswego and Cayuga counties," Governor Cuomo said. "Two of the last three years have brought record-setting high water levels along the shorelines of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, damaging homes and infrastructure and dealing an economic blow to communities in these areas. Trying times call for innovative solutions, and that's why I directed 11 New York State agencies to mobilize their expertise and develop a suite of actions, with community input, that will create long-term sustainability. These critical projects will serve as the crucial next step in helping these shoreline communities achieve sustainability, resiliency, and economic vibrancy." 

"Shoreline communities have faced tremendous challenges in recent years. That's why we have taken aggressive action to help local governments, businesses, and homeowners with state support to improve resiliency and address the impact of flooding," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This targeted funding for projects in Cayuga and Oswego counties will address infrastructure needs to ensure sustainability long-term. These critical efforts will help to combat devastation from extreme weather events, strengthen our economy, and enhance quality of life for residents."

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 toward 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 beneficial re-use may be employed in ecosystem restoration or erosion management projects, with likely benefits to habitat, water quality, and beach nourishment.    

Each of the REDI counties is receiving at least $15 million for public infrastructure projects. Cayuga County's $12 million of recommended projects is being supplemented with an additional $3 million for public projects to be identified by the local planning committee and following the REDI process within the next three months. 

The complete list of the 31 projects in Cayuga and Oswego counties is available here. Highlighted REDI projects and estimated costs include:  

  • $6,500,000 for the International Pier Project in the City of Oswego to develop a waterfront pedestrian-friendly space with linkage to a city walking trail. The project includes installation of water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, and electrical services, a gateway arch, vehicle parking and controls, relocation and replacement of boat slips, and protection of pier bulkhead and sidewalls for resilience.
  • $6,100,000 for the Wright's Landing Marina Project in the City of Oswego to elevate the marina and improve the resilience of the boardwalk, landscaping, "The Boathouse" restaurant, fire pit, and more.
  • The $4,800,000 County Route 89 Project in the Town of Oswego, will extend the existing sanitary sewer network to new housing for SUNY Oswego, as well as to the Lake Shore commercial district, collecting wastewater from 78 properties. This project will provide a durable stormwater collection system for this community, improving the resiliency of adjacent properties and assets.
  • $2,700,000 for the West Bay Road Storm Sewers Project in the Town of Sterling will install 1.8 miles of storm sewer to collect and manage stormwater along West Bay Road, addressing significant erosion and sediment carried into the bay.
  • $1,600,000 for the Sterling Nature Center Trail and Parking Area Project in the Town of Sterling to upgrade the Sterling Nature Center. The project will minimize impacts from Lake Ontario by using porous pavement, sidewalks, rain gardens, wetlands, and more, and will restore McIntyre Road, the only access point for emergency responders to this section of lakeshore.
  • $1,500,000 for the Phillips Park Walkway Project in the Village of Fair Haven to remove an existing boardwalk, repair and replace a retaining wall, install appropriate anchors, and construct a new boardwalk in compliance with ADA standards. The boardwalk will be used for fishing and other recreational uses. 
  • The $1,500,000 Ontario Shores Drive Project in the Town of Sterling will move, raise, and repave .6 miles of dirt road, ensuring residents and emergency responders have access to homes along the beach.
  • The $600,000 West Barrier Bar Park Project in the Village of Fair Haven will protect the park and ensure public access by repaving the asphalt roadway and the parking lot. Increasing the resiliency of this roadway and the park are critical to protecting a nearby marina on the barrier bar.  
  • $500,000 for the Camp Hollis Project in the Town of Oswego will address shoreline stabilization to prevent septic system overflow in order to protect public health and safety of participants in the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau summer camp program.
  • The $480,000 Joe Fultz Boulevard Project in the Town of Scriba will protect the roadway and nearby homes. The project will first conduct an ecological assessment to identify proper drainage and connectivity between the lake and the nearby marsh, as well as dredging and improved road culverts.

Click here for illustrative depictions of projects.

DEC Commissioner and REDI Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, "When faced with New York's 'new normal' of high water levels along Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shorelines, Governor Cuomo rolled up his sleeves and called on New York's state agency experts to come up with swift and workable solutions. The REDI projects announced today are a collection of sustainable and functional projects that will help Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River communities become stronger and more resilient."

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, President & CEO-Designate and REDI Commission Co-Chair Eric Gertler said, "Rebuilding with greater resilience is more important than ever given the new environmental reality of increasing water levels along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The REDI Commission is working hard to ensure that communities not only recover more quickly from destructive weather events, but are stronger and better prepared for the future, unfortunate effects of climate change."

Thirty million dollars of REDI funds have been set aside for the Lake Ontario Business Resiliency Program, which will be administered by Empire State Development (ESD). Under the program, ESD will provide grants of up to $200,000 to eligible applicants who experienced direct physical flood-related damage due to the high-water levels from Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in 2019.  Eligible applicant types are expected to include small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, farms, homeowners' associations and owners of rental properties. Under the Program, grants will be available to reimburse up to 50 percent of an eligible applicant's capital improvement project that is designed to strengthen their business against impacts of future flooding and make their business more resilient in nature. Each project must also receive matching support from a local government totaling at least 5 percent of state funds to be awarded under the Program. Local contributions are expected to include, but not be limited to, certain tax exemptions offered by Industrial Development Authorities, local government waivers of the costs of ordinarily due permits and fees, and direct expenditures by local governments on project-related infrastructure. To be notified when the Lake Ontario Business Resiliency Program is open for applications, please complete the recently published intake form here.

In addition to the projects announced today, the State Department of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) is administering a 2019 Individual Homeowner Assistance Program that will provide residents in the impacted eight-county region up to $50,000 in state funding to help offset damages to their primary residences. The homeowner application period is open until Oct. 31, 2019, and more information about applying can be found here.   

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "As communities along Lake Ontario's shoreline continue to recover from the effects of devastating floods, it's vital that we make the types of investments that will bolster infrastructure for the long-term. By improving resiliency across flood prone regions, we can ensure recovery efforts for homeowners and businesses will be sustainable."

Many of the REDI projects incorporate green infrastructure or natural or nature-based features and will be designed to have no or minimal environmental impact. Green infrastructure is a cost-effective, environmentally beneficial, and resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts. While conventional stormwater infrastructure, such as piped drainage and water treatment systems, are designed to move stormwater away from the built environment, green infrastructure reduces and treats stormwater at its source while delivering environmental and economic benefits without destroying habitat or disrupting natural features. In addition, Governor Cuomo recently announced that in next year's State of the State address, he will introduce an aggressive nation-leading habitat restoration initiative, "Revive Mother Nature." Revive Mother Nature will support critical environmental restoration efforts, like many of the REDI projects announced today, to help make communities more resilient in the face of climate change and severe weather, while also restoring and increasing fish and wildlife habitat.

Environmental Facilities Corporation Acting President, CEO & General Counsel Maureen Coleman said, "Governor Cuomo has made New York a leader in critical water infrastructure investments. Green infrastructure provides many benefits to communities in addition to alleviating flooding: filtering pollutants, recharging aquifers, rivers and streams, restoring habitat, cooling the surrounding environment, reducing air pollution, and decreasing energy usage. Governor Cuomo's announcement today is a crucial step to making communities across the Empire State resilient in the face of climate change, and helping them prepare for a sustainable future."

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "The projects identified are the result of a thoughtful and positive dialogue with the community. I commend Governor Cuomo for seeking out the perspective of local leaders and following up with steps that are really going to benefit these regions."

Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "New York State has always been at the forefront of leveraging the strength of local and state leaders to protect and enhance its great assets. The projects announced today are a clear demonstration of Governor Cuomo's commitment to preserve the health and safety of New York's residents by protecting critical infrastructure along Lake Ontario. At the Department of State we continue to work closely with many of these communities to revitalize their waterfronts and reinforce their resiliency while also increasing the use of green infrastructure.  We know how important stabilizing the shore and investing in coastal assets like boat launches and docks are to local economies and to a way of life that is connected to the water. The Governor's call to action this summer was answered with strong project ideas, and will soon result in more resilient communities along the shore."

Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, "Governor Cuomo is a strong advocate for Lake Ontario communities affected by flooding. His creation of the multi-agency REDI Commission has brought together expert government resources to find solutions and provide significant funding for projects that will strengthen resiliency and help protect New York State's shoreline as we anticipate continued damage due to severe weather and climate change."

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "When Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River communities were suffering, Governor Cuomo took decisive action to respond to the flooding and offer funding to help fortify critical infrastructure. I've toured a number of sites since the flooding started and seen the impact on residents, businesses and infrastructure firsthand.  The State Department of Transportation stands with the impacted communities, ready to assist our state and local partners as they move toward a stronger, more sustainable future along the shoreline."

New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick A. Murphy said, "Despite incredible efforts by state and local partners to prepare for, and withstand, rising flood waters, they only way we can truly protect the long term health of Lake Ontario communities is by taking a holistic view of the lake and finding ways to strengthen shoreline resiliency. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Cuomo and the hard work of the REDI Commission members, we not only have a plan in place to begin on this work, but have secured the funding necessary to make these projects a reality."

Gil C. Quiniones, President and CEO, New York Power Authority, said, "The great Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are vital to our state's economy. We, at NYPA, are pleased to see the Governor's investment in REDI projects in Cayuga and Oswego counties that will help our shoreline communities be more resilient in this era of immense climate change."

Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "The work of the REDI Commission is a great example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The state, counties and municipalities needed to work together to help the shoreline communities and they did so in a very big way. I was honored to be a part of this process which represents government at its best." 

DASNY Vice President Paul G. Koopman said, "DASNY is proud to support Governor Cuomo's REDI initiative. We stand ready to help address the needs of these affected communities, helping them become more resilient in the face of an ever-changing environment." 

Senator Pamela Helming said, "Plan 2014 has destroyed the infrastructure of our lake shore communities, but we remain committed to rebuilding and preparing for the future. Today's funding announcement will help repair the damage that has been done and work to protect our local residents and small businesses from future catastrophe. Thank you to all who worked to secure this much needed funding."

Senator Patty Ritchie said, "For the second time in just three years, we have seen communities, businesses and homeowners suffer the heartbreaking effects of a major flooding event. I am pleased that Governor Cuomo has recognized not only the importance of helping people get back on their feet, but also a number of projects that will help Oswego County improve its economy, grow its tourism opportunities and be better protected in the event of future flooding."

Assembly Member William Barclay said, "I appreciate the Governor's leadership in addressing the catastrophic flooding we've had along Lake Ontario shoreline.  I was happy to work with Governor Cuomo on securing $300 million in REDI funding.  Hopefully, the selected projects will help preserve natural resources on public lands, recreational opportunities on the lakeshore, and improve some roads, storm water and sewer systems. I look forward to working with the Governor to revoke Plan 2014."

Assembly Member Brian Manktelow said, "The funding for these projects is critical for the communities in northern Cayuga and western Oswego counties to recover from the flooding Plan 2014 has caused. The $4.8 million for the Town Oswego that extends the sanitary sewer line for residents and businesses along Lake Ontario is something that has been of concern for quite a while. Fair Haven, the Sterling Nature Center and the Town of Sterling will truly benefit from the millions of dollars that are being invested. That being said, I am in complete support of whatever measures that must be undertaken to repeal Plan 2014."

Cayuga County Legislature Chair Tucker Whitman said, "As record flooding is an ongoing risk to the well-being of our region's waterfront communities, Governor Cuomo is leading New York State's effective response to deliver help where we need it most. With this new funding for REDI projects across Cayuga and Oswego counties, we will be able to build stronger and better to withstand the threats of high water levels."

Steve Lynch, Director of Planning and Economic Development for Cayuga County said, "Cayuga County businesses and municipalities were hit hard by Lake Ontario flooding in 2017 and 2019, impacting our economy and residents. The innovative projects assembled under Governor Cuomo's REDI program will help residents and businesses impacted by high water levels in Cayuga County rebuild with greater resiliency and long-term stability. We applaud Governor Cuomo for taking decisive action and quickly designing a plan that will help local governments, businesses, and homeowners recover from flooding and combat devastation from future weather events."

James Weatherup, Chairman of the Oswego County Legislature, said, "Oswego County has nearly 40 miles of shoreline on Lake Ontario. A good section of that is the eastern shore, the area of Lake Ontario that receives the greatest damage when you couple high lake levels with wind and storm surge.  Conditions over the last few years have caused significant hardship for both our public and private landowners.  The generous assistance provided by Governor Cuomo and the REDI Commission will help to mitigate much of the damage we have endured while helping us avoid or at least minimize future high water problems.  On behalf of all the public and private Lakeshore community members in Oswego County, we are extremely grateful for the assistance!"

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow, "My sincere thanks to Governor Cuomo for his unwavering commitment to our shoreline communities in need of help. The projects identified by the REDI commission are crucial to our recovery and will enable us to not only repair and replace critical infrastructure and damaged property, but to build back smarter and stronger than ever before. This is what leadership looks like."

Directed by Governor Cuomo, the REDI Commission is led by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Empire State Development. Additional participating agencies and authorities include the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, State Office of General Services, Department of Transportation, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, NYS Homes and Community Renewal, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and Office of Emergency Management, New York Power Authority, State Department of Labor, and the New York State Department of State.