Boat launch work begins in Orleans County

The New York Department of State has begun construction on a $627,000 resiliency project awarded to Orleans County through the state’s Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI). The money will fund work on the Point Breeze Boat Launch near the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek, within Oak Orchard Harbor, in the town of Carlton.

During the flooding of 2019, the boat ramp became submerged, preventing access to the floating docks and forcing the boat launch to be closed. The project seeks to alleviate future flooding of the Point Breeze Boat Launch, ensuring recreational boaters have continued access to the dock system, the boat launch ramps and to local businesses and popular tourist attractions.

The boat launch, which was open to the public this season, is now closed for construction and will reopen in the spring of 2022.

“The Point Breeze Boat Launch provides a gateway to Oak Orchard Creek and Lake Ontario for economic, recreational and tourist activities. During the Lake Ontario high water events of 2017 and 2019 the Point Breeze Boat Launch became partially submerged resulting in limited access to safely launch boats,” said Orleans County Legislature Chairman Lynn Johnson. “Thanks to the efforts of the REDI Commission, we can fortify a very important piece of county infrastructure and sustain long-term use. These improvements will make our infrastructure more resilient to future high-water events while improving our ability to support economic and recreational activities.”

Resiliency measures to be implemented in this project include the installation of a new boat ramp and abutment above high water level; sloping of the roadway to the new boat ramp; and regrading the remaining portion of the roadway.

“When the Point Breeze Boat Launch is forced to be closed during high water events, the businesses that call Oak Orchard Harbor home pay the price. The work that is being undertaken will support our local businesses by ensuring that the launch remains open and accessible to both residents and visitors of Carlton,” said town of Carlton Supervisor Gayle Ashbery. “REDI continues to show the positive path that can be taken when state and local governments work in tandem.”

In response to the extended pattern of flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, the REDI Commission was formed and 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 in the REDI regions. The remaining $235 million has been allocated towards local and regional projects that advance and exemplify the REDI mission.

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Construction to address flooding begins at Braddock Bay

Construction has begun on the West Point Marina resiliency project in Greece, one of 11 Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) projects awarded to the town of Greece.

The nearly $550,000 grant-funded project will help protect West Point Marina, or Braddock Bay Marina, from future flooding and ensure continuous recreational opportunities. West Point Marina is within the state-owned Braddock Bay Park and has 300 public slips. During highwater periods, the existing seawall — with an elevation of 248.5 feet — is completely submerged, and the existing fuel pump becomes exposed to standing water. Wave action can damage the pump and create a hazardous flooding condition.

“New York state is committed to improve resilience to extreme weather events and protect the health and safety of its residents and visitors,” said New York state Secretary of State Rossana Rosado in a statement. “The Department of State is proud to work with the town of Greece and its elected officials on improving West Point Marina to help protect this important recreational asset and bolster the local economy.”

The project includes important flood mitigation measures such as raising the seawall to above flood level, relocating the fuel pump landward, installing and connecting a new sewer line to meet the existing line,  and relocating sidewalks.

“West Point Marina in Braddock Bay is a focal point of Greece’s waterfront area and protecting the investment there is critical to our waterfront economy,” said town of Greece Supervisor William Reilich. “The project has been designed to protect marina facilities, improve the safety of marina operations and protect the environment during highwater periods. Gov. Cuomo’s REDI program is helping Greece and other waterfront communities build back stronger after the devastating flooding of 2017 and 2019. With yet another REDI project underway, we are proud to continue doing our part to make Lake Ontario’s north shore more resilient in the face of unpredictable water levels.”

Officials noted that flooding threatens significant local, state, federal and private investments at Braddock Bay. The park and surrounding state Department of Environmental Conservation Wildlife Management Area offer unique recreational opportunities to the community including public fishing and hunting, recreational boating, bird watching and more. Braddock Bay Marina is positioned to be a significant revenue source for the town, generating roughly $175,000 annually at full capacity, officials said.

“Lake Ontario provides fresh, clean water throughout the state and is critical to the upstate landscape and economy. REDI’s investment in the West Point Marina Seawall will protect our community and the homes of our neighbors from continued flooding,” said state Sen. Jeremy Cooney, D-Greece. “As we navigate the effects of climate change we need to invest in these projects to safeguard the health of our natural resources.”

The REDI Commission was created in response to record flooding that hit the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shoreline in 2019. Through REDI, the state has committed up to $300 million to rebuild the shoreline and improve resiliency in flood-prone regions.

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Lakeshore flooding project begins in Sodus Point

Construction has begun on a $7.58 million Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) project in the village of Sodus Point.

The project will protect public areas, businesses and homes along Wickham Boulevard and Greig Street from lakeshore flooding. The groundbreaking is a separate $310,000 project to install a dune system with vegetative stabilization at Sodus Point Beach to reduce flooding and improve the recreational and aesthetic values of the beach and surrounding areas, officials said.

The stabilization of the sand used to build the dunes was achieved with the help of dozens of volunteers who helped plant more than 10,000 grasses.

“Over the past several years, flooding on Lake Ontario devastated the infrastructure and economies of numerous communities throughout Upstate New York,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Friday. “However, now thanks to the state’s historic REDI initiative, villages like Sodus Point are beginning to build back better. By taking a forward-looking approach, implementing critical flood mitigation measures along the shoreline and strengthening infrastructure, we are not only protecting residents and property but setting up the village’s tourism industry, which is so critical to the local economy, to thrive once again.”

The project will be undertaken by the village of Sodus Point with oversight by the Department of State. It includes important flood mitigation and water quality protection measures including replacing and adding storm sewers throughout the area.

New storm sewers will convey flood and stormwater to existing and proposed outlets and provide gate valves on all stormwater outlets. The new storm system also will reduce the amount of sediment and debris entering the bay. Additionally, a new seawall will help protect the area from flooding and erosion.

The project also will integrate public access and recreation improvements such as a multi-purpose conceptual design for the shoreline stabilization measures including a bench sitting area along the road for recreational opportunities, as well as installation of new pavements, gutters, curbs and sidewalks to serve as a pedestrian link between businesses and residential areas.

The Department of State also has been working with the village to address the loss of beachfront from erosion and flooding by building a protective dune system. The dune system increases flood protection and reduces risk through the installation of a nature-based shoreline feature that entailed placing sand along roughly 1,800 feet of impacted shoreline.

“Through the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, New York state has made a significant investment in the strength and future of our shoreline communities. Today’s groundbreaking paves the way toward a more secure infrastructure and the protection of businesses, homes and the treasured natural resources in this area of Sodus Point,” said Sen. Pamela Helming, R-Canandaigua. “Once completed, this project will also enhance economic development and tourism opportunities in the community.”

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Lakeshore flooding projects receive funding

Several Rochester-area communities will share more than $130 million in funding as part of the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI), Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced late Wednesday.

The state will provide $43 million for Monroe County, $41 million for Wayne County and $49 million for Niagara and Orleans counties as part of the first round REDI funding, designed address resiliency of shoreline communities and bolster economic development in the region.

“To respond to the challenges faced by New Yorkers on the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shorelines, I called on 11 state agencies to mobilize their expertise and support local communities and help to implement actions that will create long-term sustainability,” Cuomo said in a statement.

In Monroe and Wayne counties, the $84 million will be used to advance 43 projects, while the $49 million in funding will support 20 projects in Niagara and Orleans counties.

In Monroe County, notable projects include:

$9.17 million has been awarded for the comprehensive Edgemere Drive Project in the town of Greece. The project combines seven separate projects submitted to the Monroe County REDI Planning Committee that together address critical transportation, stormwater and sanitary sewer infrastructure improvements with resilient, nature-based shoreline stabilization.
$9.17 million has been awarded for the comprehensive Edgemere Drive Project in the town of Greece. The project combines seven separate projects submitted to the Monroe County REDI Planning Committee that together address critical transportation, stormwater and sanitary sewer infrastructure improvements with resilient, nature-based shoreline stabilization.

• $9.17 million for the comprehensive Edgemere Drive Project in the town of Greece. The project combines seven separate projects submitted to the Monroe County REDI Planning Committee that together address critical transportation, stormwater and sanitary sewer infrastructure improvements with resilient, nature-based shoreline stabilization. Components of the project include:
o The Old Edgemere Drive Sewer Project ($2.9 million)
o The Crescent Beach Road Sewers Project ($1.2 million)
o The Edgemere Drive/Island Cottage to Crescent Beach Project ($850,000)
o The Edgemere Drive/Cranberry Road Project ($150,000)
o The Edgemere Drive Storm Sewer Project ($1.5 million)
o The Long Pond Outlet/Channel Park ($1.9 million)
o The Edgemere Drive Project ($650,000)
• The $5.86 million project in the town of Parma will install a low-pressure wastewater conveyance system, including grinder pumps and a force main connected to the Monroe County Department of Environmental Services. In 2017 and 2019, floodwaters inundated septic systems creating a threat to public health and safety.
• The $2.67 million Irondequoit Bay State Marine Park Project will address recurring flooding of the boat launch and parking area at the park. The project will raise the boat launch and install new docks, install shoreline stabilization from the boat launch west to edge of the parking lot, resurfacing the parking lot, and installing new stormwater infrastructure to convey water from the parking area to the bay.
• $1.77 million for the St. Paul Terminus Project in both the city of Rochester and the town of Irondequoit will mitigate flooding inundating areas at the termination of St. Paul Boulevard during high water, which prevents safe access to nearby condominiums, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Maritime Station, U.S. Coast Guard Station and several businesses. The project will modify existing, deteriorating shoreline stabilization measures, build a new stormwater pump station to convey stormwater to the adjacent Genesee River, install permanent check valves to control storm drain discharges to the river, modify the wastewater pump station to handle additional flow and be flood-proof, and modify the boat ramp and storm drains at the USCG Station.
• The $1.5 million project to elevate Lake Road in the Town of Webster above floodwater levels will help stabilize the shoreline.

“I am pleased to partner with the governor and the DEC to deliver this critical funding to our area to promote resiliency and help prevent future devastating floods,” said Sen. Rich Funke, R-Perinton. “In combination with our efforts to hold the IJC accountable in court for its inability to protect our residents, this investment forms the basis of a long-term strategy to better manage water levels and better serve lakefront communities environmentally and economically.”

Earlier this month, the State of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation sued the International Joint Commission, the agency that regulates water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, arguing that the IJC failed to do its job during both the flooding in 2017 and again this year.

“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,” 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.”

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, officials said. The lawsuit argues that the IJC must compensate New York State for the destruction resulting from water level mismanagement.

In Wayne County, REDI plans include a $14.63 million Crescent Beach Project in the town of Huron on Sodus Bay that will address multiple-barrier bar breaches. A $12.17 million project will address shoreline erosion on the bay due to the breaches of the now-degraded barrier bar.

“The quality of input and cooperation in developing this list of projects for Monroe and Wayne counties was truly exceptional and everyone involved in REDI appreciates the commitment and effort of our local partners,” said DEC Commissioner and REDI Co-Chairman Basil Seggos in Wednesday’s announcement.

A $2.1 million project in Orleans County will seek to stabilize a bluff alongside Lakeshore Road in the towns of Carlton and Kendall and improve shoreline protections for the road and buried water lines.

“I am pleased to see that the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative is moving forward with a large financial commitment from the state to help homeowners, businesses and municipalities in Orleans County recover from last year’s historic flooding,” Assemblymember Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, said. “We’ve all witnessed the devastation along the lake’s southern shore and the heartache it has caused for so many. But I am confident that the REDI will accelerate the recovery process and help rebuild the shoreline through completion of this package of projects.”

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 identified as at-risk. The remainder of the original $300 million has been allocated towards local and regional projects that advance the REDI mission, officials noted.

“The projects we’ve announced funding for today were carefully selected by experts and stakeholders who believe they are the best areas for investment,” Cuomo said in his announcement Wednesday. “$300 million is a lot of money, but I’d rather invest $300 million in resiliency efforts now than spend over $100 million every time there is another flood.”

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Initiative readies funds for flood damaged homes, businesses

Local and county government contributions toward the state’s new Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI), which addresses sustainability in light of recent flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline and St. Lawrence River, have been lowered in response to municipality pushback, according to a letter from REDI co-chairs this week.

The REDI program allocates $300 million toward the immediate and long-term resiliency of the waterfront communities. As a result of community feedback, REDI has reduced the local match from 15 percent to 5 percent for all qualifying projects.

On Aug. 7, REDI officials said up to $20 million of the $300 million would be earmarked for an expansion of its Department of Housing and Community Renewal Residential Home Repair Program. The program also will award each of the affected eight counties—including Monroe, Orleans and Wayne in the Rochester area—with up to $15 million for qualifying projects per county and additional funding of up to $160 million in total for regionally significant large-scale economic development and resiliency projects.

REDI co-chairs Basil Seggos, state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, and Eric Gertler, Empire State Development acting commissioner, said that while the work of the initiative has been on investing in municipal resiliency infrastructure, communities expressed the need for funding of private businesses, particularly marinas. REDI will allocate some $30 million of the $160 million toward private business projects focused on resiliency.

The REDI program will contribute up to 50 percent of the total cost of the private resiliency projects capped at $200,000, with a local match expected to be 5 percent of the state contribution.

Homeowners whose primary residences are affected by flood damage along those shorelines will receive some funding, as available. Those homeowners will be prioritized ahead of those whose houses are secondary residences, officials said.

“Working together, we believe this approach addresses the major issues brought to our attention,” Seggos and Gertler said in their letter. “Obviously, this is a difficult situation for all involved but we are on our way to making real progress.”

In a separate news release this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the application period for the 2019 Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Flood Relief and Recovery Program will run through Oct. 31, allowing homeowners to apply for up to $50,000 in damage recovery funds.

“Historic flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River has had severe consequences for homeowners and it is vital that New York State intervene and lend a helping hand,” Cuomo said in the statement. “While the state continues to focus on regionally significant rebuilding and resiliency efforts, the $20 million available for homeowners will provide much needed financial relief and is a major step forward for families recovering from these devastating floods.”

Applications are available on the state Homes and Community Renewal website.

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State earmarks $20 million for flood assistance

New York State will earmark up to $20 million to expand the state Department of Housing and Community Renewal Residential Home Repair Program in response to homeowners along Lake Ontario who have said they still are in need of individual assistance following recent flooding.

In a recent progress report on the Lake Ontario community planning process, the state’s Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) commission noted that since its meeting in Rochester in June, state planning teams have empowered REDI communities to bring hundreds of projects ideas forward.

Up to $300 million may be available for large-scale projects that will rebuild and enhance the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shoreline from resiliency and economic development points of view. Projects may include protecting critical infrastructure and enhancing natural features that support coastal resilience. The $20 million will come from that funding pool, REDI officials said in their letter to municipalities last week.

“As a point of clarification, local government can propose projects to protect against economic loss from home value deflation by flood exposure where the local government has identified a geographic configuration allowing a break wall or dunes to protect a critical mass of homes,” the progress letter states.

Co-commissioners Basil Seggos and Howard Zemsky said the focus is on regionally significant efforts in that regard and expects awards of up to $15 million total for qualifying projects per county, with additional funding of up to $160 million in total for regionally significant, large-scale economic development projects.

“On behalf of the REDI Commission, we are grateful for the tremendous participation of the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River communities thus far and are eager to review your submissions,” Seggos and Zemsky said in their letter. “Working together, we are confident that we can produce projects of great long-term community protection and benefit.”

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Cuomo visits Rochester to announce $300 million flood initiative

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Rochester Monday morning to drum up support for his new Lake Ontario Resiliency & Economic Development Initiative, or REDI.

Governor Cuomo hosts first Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Conference and announces up to $300 Million in funding available for communities impacted by Lake Ontario flooding. (Photo provided)
Governor Cuomo hosts the first Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Conference and announces up to $300 million in funding available for communities impacted by Lake Ontario flooding. (Photo provided)

“We have a major challenge ahead of us,” Cuomo said to a standing-room-only crowd that included elected officials and business and community leaders at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

That challenge is repeated flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario, which the state threw $100 million at in 2017 as a defensive move. This year, Cuomo has promised up to $300 million through the REDI program as a pre-emptive strike against the devastation that occurs following record rainfall and melting snow.

“I don’t believe in living in a state of denial. If you deny the problem then you don’t have to solve it,” Cuomo said. “We could say this is a one in 100-year flood. Except it happens about 10 times in a year. We could say this is not our problem. But that’s not who we are. And that’s not what New York is all about.”

In a June 8 letter to the chairs of the International Joint Commission—a board that is responsible for helping to prevent and resolve disputes about the use and quality of boundary waters of Canada and the U.S.—Cuomo called out the commission for failing to do enough to mitigate flooding this year.

“The IJC was put on notice in 2017 when the lake set high-water level records and should have been aware of the present danger from the massive snowpack and likelihood of continued rains into the spring of this year,” Cuomo wrote. “Yet, rather than acting, the IJC continued the status quo, resulting in more flooding and more property damage in New York.

“We demand that the IJC make New York whole for its millions in unreimbursed expenditures and that the IJC modify its water management and planning to reduce the flooding and damage being done to New York’s shoreline communities,” he continued.

Cuomo’s letter noted that on June 4 this year, Lake Ontario remained at 249.02 feet, extending the new historic lake level record first reached two days prior.

“It is expected that the water level of Lake Ontario will continue rising gradually over the next several days,” he wrote.

Cuomo on Monday said the question is not if the historical flooding will happen again, but when it will happen again.

“I don’t want to be on the defense; I don’t want to just wait for the emergency to happen and then we respond to the emergency,” he added. “Let’s figure out a proactive strategy to get ahead of it and actually improve upon it.”

To that end, Monday’s REDI conference was designed to bring together key stakeholders to develop a plan to protect and adapt infrastructure along the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River waterfronts, while strengthening the region’s local economies.

“I would rather invest more and build it back better, more resilient, more economic development potential so we’re actually not wasting $100 million, we’re investing $300 million. And that’s what today is all about,” Cuomo said. “Many communities along this 400-mile stretch had economic development potential that we have not exploited. And we’re saying now is the time to do it.”

Cuomo announced the initiative last month. The commission will be co-chaired Howard Zemsky, president, CEO and commissioner of Empire State Development, and Basil Seggos, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, and will include other state commissioners.

“This is the new normal, and we just cannot rebuild to old standards. We have to build to the future. And we must employ all the tools in the toolbox,” Seggos said at Monday’s conference. “It’s not just hard infrastructure. It’s not just soft infrastructure. It’s all of it integrated into a plan.”

The commission will look at the critical public infrastructure, wastewater, intakes at drinking water plants, marinas and ports who are having difficulties operating and other things, Seggos said.

“This is a sprint to the finish,” Seggos said. “This is a sprint to Labor Day. But the process will continue much beyond that at the state level.”

Five regional breakout sessions were planned for Monday’s conference, at which local leaders would learn more about REDI and the work ahead of them. Monroe County’s session included a planning team of Rossana Rosado, secretary of state; Roberta Reardon, commissioner of the state Department of Labor; Dan O’Hara, director of the Office of Emergency Management, state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services; Tim Walsh, chief, Western Flood Protection and Dam Safety Section, state Department of Environmental Conservation; Vincent Esposito, executive director of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council; and Conor McMahon, the governor’s regional representative.

“This is going to be an unprecedented action. This is going to take total partnership. It’s going to take creativity. It’s going to take everyone working together. It’s going to take us pushing the envelope. It’s going to take significant resources,” Cuomo said of the initiative.

REDI will have four meetings between now and the commission review Sept. 16. A July 8 meeting will include a site tour and community needs assessment, discussion of assets and the risk to those assets, brainstorming of strategies for mitigating risk and generating an initial project list.

Cuomo joked that his father, Mario Cuomo, who was governor of New York for three terms, had few emergencies to handle in comparison to himself.

“We’ve had more experience in dealing with emergencies than any administration in history,” Cuomo said. “My father was governor for 12 years. The emergencies he had to deal with were too much snowfall on the Thruway. With one phone call, close the Thruway. That’s it. We went right back to the ball game.

“That’s not what this is,” he added. “These are storms, floods. It’s life-threatening.”

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