Community leaders from towns and villages along Lake Ontario’s shoreline gathered at SUNY Oswego July 10 to come up with project ideas to help residents and business owner deal with flooding in the future.
The gathering of the REDI Commission — Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative — in the Sheldon Ballroom was the first to brainstorm ideas on projects to help the shoreline in the event of future flooding, but also to help the economy not take such a hit when flooding does occur.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state plans to invest up to $300 million in funding to shoreline communities.
This year and in 2017, massive flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline stretching into the St. Lawrence River has wreaked havoc on residents and businesses. Many businesses have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in business along with spending thousands to fix their flooded sites.
Residents have seen their shoreline property slip into the lake and some houses and summer homes have taken on inches and feet of lake water. Some officials said residents have actually walked away from their property, knowing there is nothing left to salvage.
Community officials have to come up with project ideas to submit to the state by Aug. 2. Another meeting of area leaders is set for 10 a.m. July 29, also at SUNY Oswego.
At the July 10 meeting, Sandy Creek Town Supervisor Nancy Ridgeway said obtaining state money to shore up her town is paramount.
“We feel like we’re in Lake Ontario,” she said. “We worry that this flooding is going to do the town in and we don’t know what to do about it. If this continues, it will cripple the town of Sandy Creek.”
Some of the issues Sandy Creek wants to address is erosion, especially at Sandy Island State Park, and septic systems at residences and businesses. She said many septic systems have been compromised during flooding and untreated sewage is floating out into the lake.
Another project is dune restoration in Renshaw Bay. She said there are 33 parcels there in jeopardy from erosion of dunes along the shoreline.
Ridgeway said the town received $320,000 in state money to move sand and restore some dunes north of the current channel. But now the dunes need to be double in size to restore the shoreline, she said.
While the town of Richland doesn’t have as much property on the shoreline as Sandy Creek, Town Supervisor Daniel Krupke said there are some projects in Richland that also could use help.
He mentioned improvements for Ramona Beach Road South to help emergency vehicles reach the many seasonal camps there. He said right now, EMS vehicles won’t go down that road because of the shape it is in.
Krupke also said the breakwall at Brennan’s Beach needs to be fixed, the marina at the Selkirk Lighthouse needs improvements, work is needed at the Pine Grove boat launch and the Selkirk Shores boat launch and docks.
“$300 million is a lot of money, but once it is stretched out, there is not a lot of dollars to do anything major,” Krupke worried.