Table scraps

Sandbags sit stacked on top of each other in May along the St. Lawrence River Walk in Clayton. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

When it comes to compensating seasonal residents for damage done to their homes as a result of flooding on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, state officials have had a change of heart!

Well, sort of.

In August, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo outlined eligibility criteria for this financial assistance. About $20 million has been allocated through the 2019 Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Flood Relief and Recovery Program.

Homeowners could receive up to $50,000 through the state Homes and Community Renewal, and the deadline to apply for funding is Oct. 31. This is part of the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative.

However, there was a hitch. People could get this funding for damage done to their primary residences. This meant that seasonal residents would need to fend for themselves.

Realizing how unfair this was, many seasonal residents and some public officials raised a stink. If the state finds it necessary to provide any monetary relief for the prolonged high water levels this year, why should some homeowners be left out in the cold?

Ah, state authorities heard their voices! Basil Seggos, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and Eric Gertler, acting president and chief executive officer of Empire State Development, said Tuesday that seasonal residents could apply for relief funding as well.

They want us to believe that they’ve responded to the concerns expressed. But when examining the conditions that have been placed upon seasonal residents, it’s obvious there isn’t much substance to their offer.

Seasonal residents may receive funding once the primary homes of property owners have been taken care of — and only if there’s any money left over. In other words, they’ll be thrown the table scraps.

This approach is outrageous. Many seasonal residents pay property taxes on two homes in New York. Have they become second-class citizens simply because they maintain more than one house?

If the state is going to offer this relief funding, all property owners whose homes have been affected must be treated the same. Seasonal residents should have to scrounge for the financial morsels tossed to them from on high. Their loss isn’t less significant, and it’s insulting that a state program has been set up indicating that it is.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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