Fair Haven Flooding 19.JPG

FILE - In this June photo, high water levels can be seen at Fair Haven Beach State Park and along the shoreline of Little Sodus Bay in Fair Haven. 

The village of Fair Haven and town of Sterling in northern Cayuga County will receive millions from the state to repair damage caused by high Lake Ontario water levels and prevent future flooding from affecting shoreline communities. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday visited Oswego and announced the state will provide $43 million to fund 31 projects in Cayuga and Oswego counties. Twelve of the projects are in Cayuga County. 

The projects in northern Cayuga County include $2.7 million for the installation of a stormwater collection system along West Bay Road in Sterling, $1.6 million to repair four miles of hiking trails and construct new infrastructure at Sterling Nature Center, $1.5 million to raise and pave Ontario Shores Drive and $1.5 million to reconstruct the Phillips Park walkway. 

The state will also invest $1.2 million to raise the western parking lot at Fair Haven Beach State Park. The lot has flooded when lake levels rose to record levels earlier this year and in 2017. 

The projects were endorsed by the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, a commission established by Cuomo to determine how to invest $300 million in state funding to strengthen the shoreline and boost the economy in communities affected by flooding. 

At an event in Oswego Thursday morning, Cuomo said local leaders, not the state, determined what projects work best for their area. 

"You tell us where it floods, you tell us what we need to do and we'll fund your initiatives," Cuomo added. "And that's what the REDI Is all about." 

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Cuomo preferred this approach instead of responding to flooding every year it happens. After flooding in 2017, a federal disaster declaration was issued and the state spent millions to repair damage caused by the high water levels. 

When flooding occurred this year, Cuomo pushed for solutions that would prevent further damage. 

"It's about building a new future and investing in one of the most beautiful places in the United States of America," Cuomo said. 

During the Oswego event, Cuomo reminded attendees that the state is suing the International Joint Commission — an attempt to force the U.S.-Canadian panel tasked with overseeing shared boundary waters to cover the state's costs of responding to the flood damage. 

In October, Cuomo estimated the costs to repair damage caused by flooding exceed $1 billion. 

On Thursday, Cuomo said the goal of the lawsuit is to force the IJC to "pay attention to New York." But he's also not waiting for the commission to help New York before taking action. 

"We're saying, you know what, let's take the situation into our own control and let's do what we can," he said. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.