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Cuomo allocates funding for Lake Ontario homeowners, feds to review Plan 2014

Jason Smith
WRVO News (file photo)

New York State will add relief to homeowners to a program meant to rebuild and recover from record high water levels along the Lake Ontario shoreline this year.

Local governments and businesses have already submitted applications for part of the $300 million Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, also known as REDI. Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said his city’s application focuses on raising parts of the Wright's Landing Marina, as well as other improvements to the marina and the International Pier.

"We’re really trying to strike that balance between fixing the damage done by the high water in recent years and also use our marina and waterfront as the economic tool it can be," said Barlow.

Earlier this week, Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski) said the $300 million would be helpful, but it concerned him that none of the money was made available for individual homeowners.

"Some of this money we’re talking about municipalities and businesses, great, but we can’t forget the homeowners," said Barclay on Monday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo heard the concerns from lawmakers, and this week agreed to tweak the original plan.

"We’ll take 20 million from the 300 million dollars, set it aside to do single residences that have incurred damage from the flooding," Cuomo said Wednesday in an interview on WXXI in Rochester.

Cuomo said residents will need to apply through local governments, which would send the applications along to the state. He also said part of the funding could be used for clusters of private properties along the lake to build barriers against future flooding.

Meanwhile, Reps. John Katko (R-Camillus) and Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) announced Wednesday that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will conduct a study to review Plan 2014, the water management plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River implemented by the International Joint Commission.

Lake Ontario has seen record high water levels in two of the last three years since Plan 2014 went into effect. The IJC says increased precipitation, along with record high water levels in the other Great Lakes are to blame for Lake Ontario's high levels, not Plan 2014, but many homeowners who live along the shoreline, as well as state and local officials, have called for a repeal of Plan 2014. 

According to Katko's office, the GAO review will look at three areas:

  • The process of development for Plan 2014
  • The implementation of Plan 2014 and if it's meeting the plan's requirements
  • The concerns of stakeholders and how the IJC is addressing those concerns

"This GAO study is a step in the right direction for the IJC but more needs to be done," Brindisi said in a statement. "Homeowners, business owners, and families in Oswego County are fed up with the inaction and lack of foresight from the IJC. Hopefully this study will provide a clear path to fixing what’s gone wrong with Plan 2014. I will continue to be vigilant and hold both sides of the IJC accountable to Oswego County residents."

Jason has served as WRVO's news director in some capacity since August 2017. As news director, Jason produces hourly newscasts, and helps direct local news coverage and special programming. Before that, Jason hosted Morning Edition on WRVO from 2009-2019. Jason came to WRVO in January of 2008 as a producer/reporter. Before that, he spent two years as an anchor/reporter at WSYR Radio in Syracuse.
Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.