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Bill would help Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River homeowners 'harden' shorelines

Payne Horning
WRVO File Photo
High water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have eroded the shoreline despite protective measures like breakwalls.

After Lake Ontario reached new heights in 2017, the state and many homeowners invested substantial amounts of money rebuilding the breakwalls and other barriers along their shorelines - only to see much of it washed away again in 2019. North Country state Assemblyman Mark Walczyk says it's time for a new strategy.

"We need to streamline the process and solve it today so we don’t continue to lose our shoreline," Walczyk said. 

Walczyk has proposed a bill that would cover up to half of the cost homeowners make to harden their shorelines if they work with the state Department of Environmental Conservation on the plan.

"When the state taxpayer is making an investment, they want to make sure it's a good one," Walczyk said.

Walczyk says this would not only help make New York's shorelines more resilient, but it would also get more state money to property owners. The governor's Resiliency & Economic Development Initiative Commission (REDI) has already allocated $20 million to help homeowners, but Walczyk says many have been unable to qualify for those funds.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.