Rochester – On June 10, Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed more than 300 stakeholders at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center outlining a new initiative called the REDI program, which he first announced late last month. Lake flooding and extreme weather events continue to be one of the most pressing issues facing state and local governments, oftentimes relying on CSEA and other public service workers to be first responders when crises occur.
At the conference, the Governor announced the creation of the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI). The long-term solution effort will receive up to $300 million in funding for communities along the lake, St. Lawrence River and bordering tributaries.
The goal of the first REDI conference was to bring together communities of interest to develop a plan to protect and adapt infrastructure along a 400 mile stretch which is designed to strengthen the region’s local economies. Subsequent regional meetings will take place all throughout the summer months culminating an unprecedented effort to make our lakefront communities more resilient, more prosperous and more prepared for the future.
New York state has been rolling out emergency resources along the lake as water levels have matched, and in some cases slightly exceeded, the record highs of 2017 when the state spent $100 million to repair damage to waterfront properties and businesses.
NYS DOT employees and local government DPW workers represented by CSEA continue to work in conjunction with the New York Army National Guard and the US Army Corps of Engineers delivering vital essential services regarding flood damage.
CSEA Western Region President Kathy Button says a long-term solution at this time is the right approach. She said, “I agree with many of our CSEA members who have been affected by the flooding who say we should not be spending $100 million every time there’s a natural disaster or emergency. It just makes sense to invest more resources now. I am also very proud of the emergency flood work our CSEA members have been doing over the years. They truly go above and beyond for their communities.”
Gov. Cuomo said that the REDI plan would involve working with local officials, putting pressure on the International Joint Commission which determines and regulates water levels on the Great Lakes, building resiliency and increasing economic potential and development. The funding would be used for building hard and soft infrastructure and include a 15 percent local match from communities.
The eight lakefront watershed counties in the REDI plan include Niagara, Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga, Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence.
-Story & photos Ove Overmyer, CSEA ©2019