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On YouTube: Wayne Leaders Want REDI Funds That'll Impact Homeowners
Coastal Community Development Program - News

NOTE: New York Sea Grant's Great Lakes Coastal Community Specialist, Mary Austerman, and NYSG's part-time Coastal Community Development Assistant, Jessica Kuonen, was in attendance at one of these meetings.

By Jim Aroune, Spectrum News

Huron, NY, July 11, 2019 - Bays are big in Wayne County.

The state's new REDI program to help communities along the Lake Ontario shore develop new infrastructure and economic projects would seem ready-made for the battered region.

"Our bay bars are getting destroyed by the high waters and the wave action," said Huron Supervisor Laurie Crane

Crane and local leaders from Sodus and Sodus Bay gathered at Wayne County's public safety building Thursday with other county leaders to launch their bids for the state's $300 million REDI competition. Governments must find matching funding for any project for it to be accepted, but the other expectation the commission that will consider the REDI plans has is that each benefits the public, not the individual property owner. 

"We need to invest in the infrastructure and the regional economies. Now that may benefit individual homeowners if there are systemic problems or projects impact them," said Betsy Mallow of the NYS Homes and Community Renewal.

That did not sit well with Wayne leaders who spent 45 minutes with state staff fine-tuning their priority list at Thursday's work session.

"I understand about … making our shoreline more resilient," Crane said, "but our resident owners, our properties for which they've worked our entire lives. That's the priority here. And I don't see it as a priority here."

As Wayne County leaders began the REDI process, they believed their communities would see little of the money, with most of it going to larger communities, including those in Monroe County.

Williamson's trying to improve the Pultneyville Harbor and a county park. Supervisor Anthony Verno also is targeting a marina twice-bitten by flooding since 2017. But Verno says the state has not made REDI for more sparsely-populated sections of the lakeshore.

"I don't see how it's going to work in Wayne County," Verno said. "I'll fight as best I can for them. But I don't think they'll raise to whatever they'll call ‘acceptable.'"

For all of the local governments along the big lake's 266 New York miles, finalized projects, with matching funding plans, need to be submitted by August 2. They'll learn by the end of September whether their projects will be in line for REDI dollars.

Related ... On YouTube: State Holds Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Meetings

By Jim Aroune and Ryan Whalen, Spectrum News

Rochester, NY, July 10, 2019 - With flooding becoming all too common along the Lake Ontario shoreline, New York state is aiming to spend its money before the damage happens.

- The state launched Lake Ontario REDI in the spring, pledging $300 million
- Several REDI meetings were held across the state Wednesday
- A commission will ultimately determine what projects get funding

"Another season's going by and we need to do something about it. We need to be more proactive," Mark Mistretta, NYS Parks Western District director, said.

In the spring, Gov. Cuomo launched the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI), earmarking up to $300 million for communities.

"Time is of the essence," Mistretta said. "We are looking for the project ideas, the submittals by August 2 and by mid-September we're going to have that list prioritized and we're going to be submitting it to the REDI Commission."

State officials have already done site tours along the shoreline and drafted a preliminary list of potential projects. Wednesday, they held meetings with local leaders and stakeholders in several of those communities like Barker and Greece.

"I think at the moment, we're brainstorming so they should be putting forth any project that they think has some value," DEC Regional Director Abby Snyder said.

The goal of the initiative is not just to bolster infrastructure to make it less susceptible to flooding and erosion, but to choose projects that will spur local economic growth.

The town of Greece’s plan would add 13,500 feet of piping to the sewer system that would allow for relief during flooding conditions. It also includes the construction of a 1,600 foot wall to protect the asset that is Goodwin Park.

The state's formula for resiliency will raise the bar for infrastructure plans.

Everyone here learned that all of their plans must be built to sustain Lake Ontario levels of 257 feet — eight feet higher than even this spring's record levels.

"Places like Olcott, places like Wilson, their economies in large part exist around the lake and whether it's fishing, whether it's tourism, whether it's restaurants, people coming in, when those businesses are closed, when people  aren't coming in, there is a huge effect," state Senator Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, said.

The state said funding will be available to both private and public entities although it will probably skew toward municipal projects. Wilson Lakeside Market Owner James Bowman said any project in his area, will help make up for lost sales.

"If I can get the tourism back, I benefit," he said.

A REDI commission will ultimately chose the projects and how the money is disbursed, but local governments will need to match 15 percent of the state funding. Ortt said that can be onerous but potentially worthwhile for small municipalities.

"For some of these projects, you're never going to have a better opportunity to get them done," Ortt said.

Groups will meet three more times before the state decides in September how to help their communities meet the lake's next challenge.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly. Our program also produces an occasional e-newsletter,"NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog, www.nyseagrant.org/blog.

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