ALBANY — With $300 million in state money committed to efforts to protect shoreline and bays from high Lake Ontario waters, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the application period for the Lake Ontario Business Resiliency Program is now open for businesses and other organizations directly impacted by the historic flooding of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River earlier this year.
The Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Commission has made available up to $30 million to support resiliency related capital improvement projects at affected businesses and other eligible organizations, which may qualify for reimbursement of up to 50 percent of project costs, with a maximum award of $200,000.
Cuomo said eligible applicants include most private businesses, homeowners associations, certain not-for profits, farms, and owners of multiple dwellings used for business purposes in the eight-county coverage area, including Wayne.
Applicants must have been impacted by flooding between Jan. 1, 2019 through Oct. 31, or, if not directly damaged and sufficient funding is available, possess a demonstrated vulnerability to future flood-related damage.
Cuomo’s office said applicants must receive a local matching contribution from their municipality totaling at least 5 percent of the program assistance funds. This contribution may include, but is not limited to, tax abatements and exemptions, including from an industrial development authority; local government fee waivers of the costs of ordinarily due permits and fees; and direct expenditures by local governments on project-related infrastructure costs.
Cuomo said eligible capital projects must reduce the applicant’s vulnerability to risks that were experienced during the high-water events along the shores of Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and other nearby waterways such as flooding or erosion. Examples of eligible projects could include elevating and or moving, landward, non-water dependent features such as offices, restrooms, stores, restaurants, parking or boat storage; raising/relocating fueling facilities; converting to floating docks or other docks that allow for movement with water levels (adapted to both high and low water) such that docks can raise to a minimum elevation; strengthening existing dockage by evaluating and strengthening connection points between dock sections (typically the weakest point in a dock’s design); and retaining and/or creating vegetated buffers along the waterfront.
Applications must be postmarked by Jan. 31. Applications and program guidelines, including the full list of project criteria, are available on the Empire State Development website, https://esd.ny.gov.
The funding is a component of Cuomo’s REDI, which includes a multi-agency commission that has been studying ways to strengthen infrastructure along Lake Ontario’s waterfront while bolstering the region’s local economies. Through REDI, the state has committed up to $300 million to rebuild the shoreline, as well as improve resiliency in flood prone regions along the lake. Wayne County has been earmarked for $41 million, and the county and the other shoreline governments receiving funds have begun planning for the projects.
On Friday, Wayne supervisors were briefed on the project scopes and funding needs for the three projects at Crescent Beach, Blind Sodus and Port Bay.
New York state is providing approximately $30 million in funding to Wayne County for restoration efforts toward barrier breaches and slope stabilization at those three locations, with the county responsible for 5 percent of project costs. The board made no decisions on where those funds will come from.
Wayne County as a whole was awarded funding for 10 projects, with the county taking on three of them. The other seven projects, totaling $11 million, are planned in Sodus Point, Williamson and Ontario.