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Plans to make lakeshore communities more resilient take shape

August 27, 2019 05:26 AM

IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. (WHEC) — Plans to toughen up Lake Ontario’s shoreline against high lake levels became clearer Monday when the state’s Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Commission spelled out the projects it’s considering to improve lakeshore communities’ ability to withstand flooding.  

At the Irondequoit Public Library, the commission met with local leaders from around Monroe County and discussed 50 projects in the county still being considered.

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“Some of these things are actually relatively easy fixes that probably should’ve been done a while ago,” Irondequoit town Supervisor Dave Seeley said.

“But, this funding really does help facilitate that. If you’re talking about the state paying upwards of 85%, these are projects made more feasible for us.”

Under the REDI plan, the state plans to make $300 million available for resiliency projects that could quickly safeguard locations and facilities important to public services, safety, infrastructure or economic activity.

Seeley and the town asked for funding to improve Irondequoit’s storm and sanitary sewer systems, upgrade pumping stations and better fortify the northern end of St. Paul Boulevard. There, a hodgepodge of sandbags, AquaDams and pumps have battled the rising lake and Genesee River since spring.

“It worked, but it’s not the ideal long-term solution," Seeley said.

"The goal is to have that same long-term effect- keeping the water out and pumping the water that is there back into the river.”

Irondequoit also proposed improvements at the Irondequoit Bay Marine Park. For much of the spring and summer, rising water there covered the boat launch, the parking lot and the approaches to the docks. 

"Terrible,” said Ed Wlodarski of Rochester. 

He didn’t get his new boat out onto the lake until Monday in part because of the water, and observed that the water level had been so high they had to build a wooden platform just to get to the docks.

The REDI commission’s emerging “to do” list included improvements aimed at public, private and business facilities across the county:

  • Between Rochester and Webster, a plan to raise the elevation of Empire Boulevard along the southern end of the Irondequoit Bay.
  • Greece’s long list of proposals includes improved storm drains, as well as new sea walls and berms to protect frequently-flooded Edgemere Drive and Goodwin Park. They submerged and unusable for much of the summer.
  • In Webster, a proposal exists to raise the dock access, as well as to move and better secure fuel tanks at Mayer’s Marina
  • Parma requested help to switch homeowners to a new sanitary sewer system, because septic systems could be overwhelmed by flooding. Parma also requested valves to keep storm drains from backing up when lake levels were high, and new berms to protect neighborhoods upstream from the lake when high waters back up into wetlands, a potentially touchy environmental question.

“The response I’ve gotten is that they’re willing to look at any project,” Parma Town Supervisor Jack Barton said. “Even wetlands. That’s not an approval. But at least there they make it sound like it’s an open option.”

Barton acknowledged that Parma was not as far along in its request as communities like Greece, which have their own engineering staffs.

At Monday’s meeting, Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich showed off extensive preliminary engineering studies to support the town’s ideas.

Having such homework to show, he said, improved each project’s chance of being approved and getting started soon.  

“I could say it’s possible to start work before the end of this year," he said. "Pretty much all of it.”

Credits

Charles Molineaux

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