Cuomo Administration Officials and State Agency Experts Meet with Recipients of Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Funding at REDI Conference to Expedite Projects
Governor Encourages Municipalities That Suffered Substantial Flood Damages to Join State's Lawsuit against International Joint Commission
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced additional resources to expedite the 132 projects awarded funds through the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative. Additionally, members of the Governor's administration and New York State agencies met with recipients of the REDI funding today at the first-ever REDI implementation conference in Albany to further expedite the projects across Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shorelines. At the conference, representatives from the eight REDI counties—Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence, and Wayne—are meeting with the 11 state agencies guiding the effort. REDI funding recipients will receive information about project implementation, including permitting and environmental reviews, to ensure projects advance expeditiously. The Governor also encouraged municipalities that suffered substantial damages due to high water on Lake Ontario to join the State's lawsuit against the International Joint Commission. On Friday, Nov. 15, Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James filed an expanded lawsuit on behalf of the State against the IJC for failing to implement its flood protocol for the Moses-Saunders Power Dam.
"After floodwaters damaged homes, roads, and local infrastructure in dozens of communities on the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, I directed New York State agencies to mobilize their expertise and do their utmost to help implement projects that will create long-term sustainability," Governor Cuomo said. "Today, I welcome REDI award recipients to Albany to meet with agency experts, work out next steps, and get questions answered - all to help advance projects from design and planning to permitting and implementation as quickly as possible. These projects will realize the State's vision to sustainably protect and enhance the region's critical infrastructure, environment, and local economies. Working together, we are moving these critical projects forward and helping shoreline communities heal from high water."
"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, address the impact of flooding, and fight the threat of climate change," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This targeted funding for projects in Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative counties will address critical infrastructure needs to ensure sustainability long-term. These important efforts will help to combat devastation from extreme weather events, strengthen our economy, and enhance quality of life for residents along our Great Lakes for generations to come."
At the REDI implementation conference, participating state agencies introduced an engineering report program to ensure that the environmental assessment process for every single project will be completed by mid-February 2020. To ensure assessments are completed in a timely manner, project sponsors without completed engineering studies will be able to opt in to a centralized State contract. In addition, the Department of Environmental Conservation and other State agencies committed to an expedited permitting process for REDI projects that involve existing infrastructure, approximately half of the 132 projects awarded funding.
Governor Cuomo also announced that State agencies, in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, secured engineering services to kick start the eight-county regional dredging project and deliver a project outline in December. The outline will identify areas to be dredged and include a timeline for implementation.
State agency REDI partners include DEC, Empire State Development, Homes and Community Renewal, Environmental Facilities Corporation, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Department of Labor, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Office of General Services, New York Power Authority, and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.
Five REDI regions, comprised of eight shoreline counties, 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, during this past spring and summer, REDI organized 25 stakeholder and community meetings and workshops with hundreds of residents, convened more than 15 planning committee meetings, and directed state agency and engineering experts 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. In order to build resilience, reduce the risk of future property damage, and minimize habitat impacts, DEC compiled general guidelines for coastal design and development projects. These guidelines, available on the REDI guidance webpage, include technical data, regulatory guidance, best practices and available resources for development along the dynamic shorelines of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Details about projects awarded REDI funds in Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence, and Wayne counties, as well as the regional dredging project that will benefit all of these counties is available here.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Governor Cuomo's leadership of the state's response to communities plagued by high water on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River has been a textbook example of good government and crisis management. Before, during, and after floodwaters ravaged shoreline properties and critical infrastructure across the region, the Governor has acted decisively to deliver resources and remove obstacles to accelerate recovery and reconstruction. Today we're here to ensure REDI project sponsors have the information and tools necessary to advance and protect community assets in the years to come."
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, President & CEO-Designate and REDI Commission Co-Chair Eric Gertler said, "Climate change isn't just an environmental issue, it's an economic one. Governor Cuomo and his administration recognize that rebuilding to the same standard in the face of global warming is short-sighted. Working hand-in-hand with local leaders, the REDI Commission has developed a meaningful economic development strategy that ensures residents who live and work along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River can quickly recover and will be more resilient for the inevitable environmental challenges ahead."
New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick A. Murphy said, "In 2019, state agencies worked in tandem with our local partners to launch an unprecedented effort to help New Yorkers withstand the rising waters of Lake Ontario. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated emergency and it's clearly become a recurring situation. Only by taking a holistic view of the lake and finding ways to strengthen shoreline resiliency, we will be able to protect the long term health of lakeshore communities. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Cuomo and the dedication of the REDI Commission, this long term vision is now coming into focus and it won't be long until residents begin to reap the benefits of these thoughtful plans."
Gil C. Quiniones, New York Power Authority President and CEO, said, "The St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario shoreline communities are important to NYPA and we are proud to stand with our fellow community members to build back better and stronger. We, at NYPA, are pleased to support Governor Cuomo and the shoreline communities' efforts to strengthen resiliency against future high water events. At this conference, our goal is to make sure that any outstanding questions are answered so that stakeholders can work together to move these priority projects along."
Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, the communities along Lake Ontario have the resources and tools at their ready to rebuild their shoreline. The Department of State is pleased to work alongside the REDI communities to accelerate their projects and is committed to help strengthen the resilience of their communities for the future."
Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, "Through his forward-thinking REDI initiative, Governor Cuomo has brought the expertise and resources of multiple State agencies to bear on the ongoing efforts to repair as quickly as possible the damage caused to Lake Ontario communities by high water levels. As a member of the Governor's REDI Commission, I am seeing firsthand how well this collaboration between State and local governments is working to protect the people and the infrastructure they depend on in this region against future flooding."
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "The efforts of the REDI commission are an example of how government agencies can work together to help the people of New York. I am honored to be a member of the commission and the important work that is being done."
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "Governor Cuomo continues to offer unwavering support to the hard-hit communities along the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shorelines. The State Department of Transportation is proud to stand with the Governor and our partners in government as we fortify critical infrastructure and create stronger, more resilient communities for residents and businesses. The targeted investments we are making as part of the REDI initiative will help improve the quality of life and spur economic growth in impacted communities for years to come."
DASNY Vice President Paul G. Koopman said, "DASNY is pleased to be part of this important initiative and help the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario shoreline achieve sustainability and resiliency. As one of the REDI funding entities, we are at the conference today to answer any outstanding stakeholder questions and advance these vital projects. By working together, we will make certain these shoreline communities can meet their future emergency needs and realize long-term economic success."
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "I commend Governor Cuomo's decisive steps to mitigate the broad damages caused by the repeated flooding in this region. I look forward to working with the communities to implement these measures, and getting people out and enjoying the parks, beaches, campgrounds, boat docks and boat launches that the Lake Ontario region is known for."
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Today's conference continues Governor Cuomo's decisive and holistic response to the catastrophic flooding along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. HCR is proud to be part of a dedicated team that is working alongside impacted communities to identify local priorities, expedite recovery projects, and develop long-term solutions that protect and enrich shoreline assets well into the future."
Jefferson County Legislative Chairman Scott Gray said, "In the wake of historic levels of flooding on Lake Ontario, the Governor has been a champion for the many communities along the Lake. He immediately stepped in with disaster relief measures and provided residents with much needed help to protect their homes. The next phase of this response to the new normal of flooding, the REDI Commission, is going to transform the economic prospects of our communities and protect our homes well into the future. This would never have been possible without the Governor and I commend him for his leadership."
Lynne Johnson, Chair of the Orleans County Legislature, said, "The REDI Commission's innovation could not have been accomplished without the vision of Governor Cuomo. His emphasis on local and state partnerships was key to this initiatives success and to ensure each county meets the goals for their communities. I have every confidence that the funds provided will restore, renew and revitalize our most deserving projects."
City of Oswego Mayor William Barlow said, "The support Governor Cuomo has shown to our community and others along the Lake Ontario shoreline that were devastated by historic flooding has been unprecedented. The REDI Commission is an innovative approach to rebuilding our infrastructure for the future and it will help ensure our communities are prepared to withstand extreme weather and flooding that is sure to come. As Governor Cuomo has said, this is the new normal, but with his help and the help of the REDI Commission, we will be prepared for it."
David McDowell, Mayor of the Village of Sodus Point, said, "Since 2017, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River communities have been inundated by flood waters that have caused million of dollars in damages. Throughout this process, Governor Cuomo has remained a friend and a champion for our communities, providing invaluable support. Today's conference will go a long way in helping local communities expedite the efforts to rebuild and recover and I cannot thank the Governor enough for his support."
Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich said, "The historic flooding we experienced is now a future we must prepare for. The REDI Commission has taken an innovative, comprehensive approach to tackling that challenge, and thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, our communities are looking forward to coming back stronger than we ever had before."