Governor Cuomo Announces $60 million for 38 projects in St. Lawrence and Jefferson 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 $60 million to advance 38 projects in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties 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.

"New Yorkers living and working along the shorelines of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have endured extensive damages from record flooding and the state is continuing to step up to help," Governor Cuomo said. "I am pleased to announce these 38 REDI projects for St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties, which will help these communities rebuild and recover after devastating losses while ensuring the area's infrastructure and habitats are better prepared and more resilient in the face of future high water levels."

"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 St. Lawrence and Jefferson 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 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 address the challenges posed by high water levels further, 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.    

The complete list of the 38 projects in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties is available here. Highlighted REDI projects and estimated costs include:  

St. Lawrence County

  • The $11 million project to address infiltration and inflow issues at the Village of Waddington's Wastewater Collection and Treatment Facilities includes improvements for the collection system, including replacing or relining the existing clay tile sewer mains and constructing new stormwater mains. The proposed improvements for the treatment system include a new headworks building and associated equipment, new sludge storage tanks, drying bed improvements, manual sludge dewatering equipment, clarifier modifications, conversion of the existing gaseous chlorine to liquid chlorine for disinfection, new outfall, building renovations, demolition, yard piping, emergency generator, and additional site work. 
  • $4,875,000 for the Morissette Park and City Dock Project in the City of Ogdensburg, including potentially elevating and adjusting its location, will ensure continuous public water access to this important local economic driver.
  • $2,100,000 for the Northumberland Street Bridge Project in the Town of Morristown will open the channel under the structure, allowing for improved flow and passage of aquatic biota.
  • The $1,295,000 Fort De La Presentation Trail Project in the City of Ogdensburg will address erosion and flooding at this site adjacent to the St. Lawrence River. The installation of shoreline stabilization measures and raising the trails will increase accessibility and ensure this site remains a local destination for visitors.
  • The $430,000 Chippewa Bay Boat Launch Project in the Town of Hammond will protect this local business asset by replacing fixed elevation docks with floating docks and slips, elevating fuel pumps, tanks, and other infrastructure to protect assets from high water levels, and installing stabilization measures at the water's edge to safeguard infrastructure.

Jefferson County 

  • The $5,450,000 County Road 57 and Point Peninsula Project in the Town of Lyme includes raising the road and installing shoreline stabilization measures to ensure continuous access for residents and emergency responders.
  • The $3,750,000 Riverwalk Project in the Village of Clayton includes raising the height of the Riverwalk in areas that are below flood stage. This would provide flood protection for an area that includes 11 properties in a registered historic district and serves as a commercial hub for this community.   
  • The $2 million Upper and Lower James Dock Project in the Village of Alexandria Bay will improve the resiliency of this facility, a critical local economic driver and waterfront business by replacing fixed elevation docks with floating docks, relocating fuel pumps, tanks, and permanent structures to higher elevation, and installing stabilization measures at the water's edge.  
  • The $1 million East End Park Project in the Village of Cape Vincent will address damage caused by erosion to the existing seawall and docks. Mitigation measures include resetting the top tiers of the limestone portion of the seawall and raising the wall system, constructing a quarry stone apron behind the seawall, replacing sidewalk adjacent to the seawall, replacing the underdrain, and replacing dock decking, among other improvements.
  • The $160,000 Seawall Project near the water treatment facility in the Village of Sackets Harbor will install additional shoreline protection measures and protect the water intake at this facility. This project will bolster the coastal resiliency of the water treatment plant and surrounding area.  

Click here for illustrative depictions of projects.

DEC Commissioner and REDI Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, "DEC has been working closely with communities along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River since day one, helping to protect homes, businesses, and critical municipal assets from damages caused by record high water. Governor Cuomo's announcement today of these REDI  projects in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties is a testament to New York's commitment to these communities. We're on the job until the job is done and these New Yorkers are back on their feet—for years to come."

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 Jefferson and St. Lawrence 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 Patty Ritchie said, "I have seen first-hand, the devastating effects of this second major flooding event in just three years. Communities, businesses and homeowners have lost so much. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing just how damaging these floods have been to New Yorkers and ensuring that our towns and villages will not only be better safeguarded against future flooding, but through these improvements can grow their economies and tourism and recreational opportunities, while also providing critical help to our businesses and homeowners."

Senator Joseph A. Griffo said, "It is important that we take whatever steps we can to protect communities from flooding and related environmental hazards. These projects, funded through the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, will help to improve infrastructure, enhance and grow communities and strengthen economic development in the North Country."

Assemblymember Mark Walczyk said, "I'd like to thank the Governor for his leadership and attention to the flooding that has occurred across shoreline communities in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties. The projects that were awarded funding though the REDI Commission are a great start in fortifying the regions infrastructure. I look forward to working alongside the Governor and other lawmakers to strengthen the entire shoreline of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in an effort to better protect our community from future flood events."

Assemblymember Ken Blankenbush said, "Helping our homeowners and small business operators rebuild after flooding is paramount. It's equally important that we take preventative measures that fortify our infrastructure against future flooding. This funding does both. It's an investment in public safety, it's an investment in our economy, and I'm pleased we got this done."

Jefferson County Legislature Chairman Scott Gray said, "REDI was an extremely useful approach to help identify and elevate the needs of our community and the support for the projects announced today will be instrumental in helping to protect local shorelines, properties, and economies. We applaud Governor Cuomo for making these investments in Jefferson County, and look forward to continuing to work together to make our region more resilient and successful for the long-term."

St. Lawrence County Legislature Chairman Joe Lightfoot said, "As our community continues to recover from the devastation and damage caused by another major flooding event to hit our region, Governor Cuomo's steady presence and strong support have reassured flood victims that their government cares and they are not alone. The Governor's REDI Commission is a smart and strategic approach that is helping to identify and implement sustainable solutions that will strengthen our future resiliency."

Village of Waddington Mayor Janet Otto-Cassada said, "Under the REDI Initiative, Governor Cuomo's commitment and support to Lake Ontario communities is ensuring that these vital projects move forward to help rebuild the communities in St. Lawrence county affected by high water levels. These projects will not only revitalize the area and our local economy, but also ensure that shoreline communities are built back more resilient to better withstand future natural disasters."

Village of Clayton Mayor Norma Zimmer said, "Communities along the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shorelines have faced serious challenges in recent years due to rising water levels. Launched by Governor Cuomo, REDI is helping to get residents and businesses back on their feet. Most importantly, these innovative projects are long-term solutions that focus heavily on resiliency and sustainability so that these vulnerable communities are prepared for future weather events and are not left picking up the pieces from the devastation flooding has caused."

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.