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Cuomo pledges $300M for Lake Ontario REDI plan to address shoreline flooding

Governor Andrew Cuomo kicked off the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, or REDI Commission on Monday in Rochester – promising upwards of $300 million to improve infrastructure along Lake Ontario.

“Intelligence and common sense dictates that this is the new normal, and we should expect continued high water levels for Lake Ontario. We should not be surprised in two years if we are in the same position, and once you accept that premise, it’s a fool’s errand to rebuild to the same standard,” Governor Cuomo said in late-May. “So let’s redesign and re-envision a different type of shoreline with different protections and build for these inevitable factors in the future. We are launching the Lake Ontario REDI commission that will tour the affected areas and work with local communities to come up with a new vision for rebuilding the shoreline from both a resiliency and economic development point of view, since many of these communities thrive on the summer tourism industry. We are taking a short and long term approach – not just emergency preparations today, but also rebuilding better and stronger for the future.”

He reiterated that stance on Monday.

The commission will tour and examine areas that are hard hit by flooding on Lake Ontario, including areas that were impacted by severe flooding in 2017, and develop a package of new actions – ranging from legislative changes to aid packages to executive actions – that will not just rebuild the shoreline, but improve resiliency to withstand whatever Mother Nature has in store in the future. Part of this plan includes ways to harden public facilities and enhance natural features such as living shorelines and sand replenishment on the Lake Ontario waterfront.

The commission will be co-chaired by Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos, and will include other New York State Commissioners. Other members of the multi-agency commission include:

  • Secretary of State Rosanna Rosado
  • Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito
  • Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon
  • Dormitory Authority of the State of New York President and CEO Gerrard Bushell
  • New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas
  • New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez
  • Parks and Historic Preservation Acting Commissioner Erik Kulleseid

Flooding has devastated parts of the southern Lake Ontario shoreline, which includes communities in Monroe, Wayne, and Cayuga counties in the Finger Lakes region.