Destito photo

New York State Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito, above, speaks during Thursday's REDI meeting at SUNY Oswego as Oswego Town Supervisor Rick Kaulfuss, at right, looks on.

OSWEGO —  A coalition of state leaders, municipal dignitaries and community members  gathered at SUNY Oswego Thursday to discuss the future of shoreline-strengthening projects funded by the state.

The Oswego and Cayuga counties Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Planning Committee presented the 31 projects — unveiled earlier this month by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — set to be funded under REDI. In advance of a scheduled Nov. 20 “implementation conference,” officials said Thursday’s meeting was an opportunity to open a conversation about project logistics such as permitting and environmental review. The conference, to be held in Albany, will also allow local committee members to convene with other state agencies, according to state officials.

"The residents of the hard-hit communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline in Oswego and Cayuga counties are now seeing help on the horizon as projects identified through the REDI Commission are taking their first steps forward,” said Commissioner RoAnn Destito of the New York State Office of General Services (OGS), who co-chairs the regional REDI committee. 

“OGS and our state partner agencies are here today and will continue to be here down the road to ensure Gov. Cuomo's commitment to making sustainable change is realized," Destito added.

Cuomo unveiled the REDI project in May and tasked communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline to devise a plan that will protect properties on the shore from flood damage caused by record-setting high water levels while incorporating an economic development component. After the regional committee submitted a list of projects that satisfied the program’s criteria in September, Cuomo announced the region would receive $43 million to help foot the bill on 31 projects to shore up coastal fortifications and spur the economy.

Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Projects

Municipalities and entities in Oswego County were awarded $27.9 million for 19 separate projects through the state's Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI). 

Project Name Location Award Amount Description
International Pier City of Oswego $6,500,000 Stabilize, protect and convert deteriorating International Pier into a pedestrian-friendly open space resembling a park
Wrights Landing Marina City of Oswego $6,100,000 Raise the elevation of marina structures including boat launch, pavilion area, parking lot and access roads. Install bioretention basins to infiltrate store and filter rainwater.
NYS Route 104 And Fred Hayes Blvd. City of Oswego $4,800,000 Address wastewater issues in the town of Oswego's commercial area adjacent to Lake Ontario's shoreline, extending sewer districts from SUNY Oswego
Ford DR. /YMCA bridge Town of sandy Creek $4,000,000 Replace bridge leading to Sandy Island Beach with a higher clearance structure to maintain safety and access
Port Authority Boating Center City of Oswego $1,800,000 A community docking area for up to 25 boats (including the installation of sheeet pile). The dock would be used in conjunction with the H. L. White Maritime museum for boating.
North Sandy Pond Resiliency Project Town of Sandy Creek $600,000 Address reoccuring breaches along a barrier bar that divides Sandy Pond and Lake Ontario
County Route 5/ Lake st. Town of Richland $500,000 Address high water damage to existing retaining wall and construct riprap along county Route 5 at the mouth of the Salmon River to protect property
Camp Hollis Town of Oswego $500,000 Re-grade the shoreline to a more stable slope and install stabilization measures to protect property
Joe Fultz BLVD. Town of Scriba $480,000 Study wetland drainage and determine if dredging, improved road culverts or other measures are best to protect property.
Mexico Point Park Town of Mexico $480,000 Install 350' of natural or nature-based shoreline stablization
County Route 89 Town of Oswego $430,000 Repair and replace drainage structures, elevate and repair portions of the roadway im order to insrease resiliency and improve drainage
Sithe Trail Town of Scriba $400,000 Connect two existing trailheads that have lost their connection due to high waters and wind
West Lake RD. Outfall to Lake Ontario Town of Oswego $400,000 Repace a 40-inch pipe in order for stormwater to effectively discharge from West Lake Road to prevent backup and flooding in adjacent areas
Port Authority Marina East City of Oswego $300,000 Address high water damage to the north end of the Port Authority east operating dock by repairing and enhancing the walls of the dock.
New Sandy Creek Sewer District Town of Sandy Creek $200,000 Mitigate the impacts of high water on the town and village of Sandy Creek septic systems in an environmentally sensitive area
Lake Shore RD. at Snake Swamp Town of Oswego $200,000 Elevate existing road surface for appoximately a 1/2 mile to make it less-prone to flooding and storm damage
Port Authority West Pier City of Oswego $100,000 Repair portions of shoreline stabilization measures, such as retaining walls near Sprague Energy Facilities
Port Authority (Lehigh Cement) City of Oswego $70,000 Repair a portion of the dock along the west side of the waerfront by the Lehigh Cement facility.
Port Authority Marina City of Oswego $40,000 Increase flood resiliency by installng additional floating dock kits and modifying the dock's electrical services.

The regional planning committeee — spearheaded by Destito and New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez — is now ready to move forward with the implementation of the projects.

“We had a lot of questions today about the process, timing and in-kind work,” Oswego County Community Development Director David Turner, who sits on the committee, told The Palladium-Times after Thursday’s meeting. “For example, our highway department is fully staffed with equipment and we have our own engineers. I was trying to get clarification on some of those projects and what we have to do outside contracting to meet state qualifications and requirements within the grants. Those are things we need to understand going forward.” 

Turner said REDI also may be the first time business owners have dealt with state aid processes.

“A lot of the businesses that will be applying — the marinas and campgrounds — are not used to this type of process. They have questions about how much work they can do themselves.”

The Oswego County project set to receive the most funding is the International Pier transformation, which was awarded $6.5 million to fortify the structure, as well as convert it into a “pedestrian-friendly open space resembling a park,” according to the project’s profile released by state officials Thursday.

Additionally, the refurbished pier will connect the city’s walking trail system, require "minimal maintenance,” and will ultimately aim to attract residents and tourists to the area. 

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow told The Palladium-Times he looks forward to the meeting with commissioners from different state agencies, noting he wants to learn how grant funding will be distributed.

"We obviously would like the green light to move forward as soon as possible to get these projects done before we are flooded out again," he said. "That is probably unrealistic for 2020, but certainly realistic for 2021."

Barlow added the city of Oswego will take a flexible approach to project timelines.

"We are prepared to move as slowly or quickly as state government would like," he said. "We are prepared to make available our share of the funding immediately."

Aside from the $43 million dedicated to Oswego and Cayuga, the state is dedicating $15 million to a regional dredging project. The project aims to control sediment in the lake, Destito said.

City of Oswego Director of Community and Economic Development Justin Rudgick praised the state’s efforts in furthering the Port City’s development efforts over the years, citing the Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant awarded to the city and the REDI funds as signs of support for upstate economic development.

“This wouldn't have been made possible without the support of Albany and the governor to invest in the city of Oswego,” Rudgick said.

Rudgick noted he has experience with approval for capital projects from the state and looks forward to meeting project managers during the Albany conference.

“The REDI conference for me is about getting to know the specific project managers assigned to our projects and develop a rapport with them,” he said.

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