REDI Commission begins meetings to discuss future of Lake Ontario shoreline infrastructure

Jul 11, 2019

Lake levels have reached an all-time high in upstate New York. Plans to improve and establish infrastructure along Lake Ontario’s shoreline communities are being developed to deal with what Governor Andrew Cuomo has said could be the ‘new norm’.

The Olcott Yacht Club is among the many businesses and homeowners along Lake Ontario using pumps and sandbags to prevent further damage from flood waters.
Credit Chris Caya / WBFO News File Photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in May the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Commission would be formed to help communities on the waterfront develop plans to deal with higher levels. They started meeting with residents and local leaders across the state Wednesday to discuss where to start.

Planning groups met in Oswego, Barker, Rochester, Lyons, and Clayton.

DEC Region 9 Office Director Abby Snyder said this is just the first of several meetings.

“For purposes of today’s meeting, it was really more brainstorming. I’m thinking about maybe a dredging project,” Snyder said. “Then there’s much larger projects like offshore shoals to control wind direction and flow. There are many different ideas.”

Snyder said they have toured several areas impacted by both this year’s and 2017’s flooding. Part of the Commission’s plan includes ways to harden public facilities and enhance natural features with sand replenishment on the Lake Ontario waterfront.

New York State Parks Western District Director Mark Mistretta said the meeting in Barker, New York was a productive one. They’re seeing many communities implement their own plans.

“There’s an example of a bar owner in Wilson that has been doing some of the shoreline improvements just to help get ahead of the game. I think there is a sense of some optimism, but also an understanding there is still some very tough issues ahead of us,” he said.

According to Mistretta, the Village of Lewiston has already spent some of their own money to raise their docks and public areas by a couple of feet.

Mistretta said it’s about planning for the greater good, but that doesn’t mean they are going to exclude plans that would involve private land.

“Your public projects or public lands have more of a community impact and is more of a community asset, but there are private assets that also impact communities,” Mistretta said. “So we encouraged everyone to submit project that they feel best will help the community in the long run toward resiliency that helps protect their private assets which could be related to tourism, the boating industry, the fishing industry. Many of those assets are privately held too.”

You can learn more about the REDI Commission here.