Cuomo's Office Issues Grants For St. Lawrence Projects
ALBANY - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo NAS 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.