MORRISTOWN — Homeowners affected by high water along the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shoreline will have to wait until October for applications to be finalized.
The Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative commission met here Monday with about 30 members of the public to describe the process of allocating $300 million for communities, businesses and individuals dealing with recovery from flooding.
Randall Young, regional director of the Department of Environmental Conservation, gave a breakdown of how the money would be distributed.
“As you may have seen recently, $20 million of that has been set aside for homeowner relief,” he said. “Which is going to take place through an expansion of the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence Seaway Flood Relief and Recovery Program that was implemented through New York State Home and Community Renewal following flooding in 2017.”
Mr. Young explained that it would be an individual homeowner process that would run parallel to the REDI Commission’s work and run through four non-profit organizations, Sheen Housing, Capstone, Niagara Falls Housing Services and Neighbors of Watertown.
“Applications will probably be opened on or by October first,” Mr. Young said.
Mr. Young urged homeowners to sign up for updates at hcr.ny.gov.
The remaining $280 million will be divided among regional and county projects.
“Each of the eight counties along the shoreline has been allocated $15 million to spend on projects they have prioritized that will benefit their particular county,” Mr. Young said.
“The final $160 million is set aside for regionally significant projects. Those are projects that will have proposals from the committee that will benefit more than the individual localities but the entire region.”
Christopher Calkins, senior vice president of Ramboll, the environmental consulting firm facilitating the process, explained how the committee has been evaluating projects.
The committee used the Department of State’s risk assessment tool, used in Superstorm Sandy to determine which assets are most likely to be affected by rising water levels and storms. The committee also looked at how effective a project would be.
“It’s not all about numbers. It is also about intangibles,” Mr. Calkins said. “For example, how quickly can a project be implemented? How durable is it? What’s its scale? We want to be careful that we spend our money wisely.”
Also considered are the cost of a project and whether it fits within the monetary constraints of the program and its contribution to economic development.
“Those are the foundational elements of this program,” Mr. Calkins said. “resiliency and economic development.”
Mr. Calkins said the priorities established by the committee are not surprising,
“First, marinas and waterfront business, second infrastructure and then third natural resources,” he said.
Infrastructure projects being considered, Kyle Buelow of Ramboll said, include water and sewer in Waddington, bridge and seawall work in Ogdensburg, bridge work in Morristown, water plant work in Alexandria Bay, repairs to the River Walk and water treatment plant in Clayton and several others.
Mr. Buelow said more than 140 waterfront businesses and marinas were on the project list.
The committee will be meeting with a more formalized list of projects from 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Dobisky Visitors Center in Ogdensburg and will have a final report for the state on Sept. 16.