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Cuomo announces $49 million in Lake Ontario projects, including Olcott breakwall

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced $49 million in projects for Niagara and Orleans counties that he hopes will repair damage from the spring flooding and erosion and prevent future damage from high water.

The list of 20 projects he announced Wednesday includes $15.7 million for high water protection at Olcott Harbor, for which the Town of Newfane has been seeking funding since the 1960s.

The project will "protect against storm surge, flood water inundation and some of the critical assets down by the waterfront," said Basil Seggos, environmental conservation commissioner and co-chairman of the state Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative.

Newfane Supervisor Timothy R. Horanburg has been a host to Cuomo on three of the governor's visits to Olcott to inspect the high water affecting residents, businesses and the town sewer system.

"I thank him for his ongoing support for Newfane, Niagara County and all the communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline," Horanburg said.

The Olcott Harbor project will be "transformative" for the lakefront hamlet, State Sen. Robert G. Ortt said.

The lower harbor will be protected with a promenade, the town's sewer pump station will be improved and the east pier along the harbor may be raised, according to a Cuomo news release.

In a separate project, the state will provide $1.8 million for a new permanent berm to protect homes in Olcott's low-lying West Bluff neighborhood, replacing a temporary berm county crews created in May 2017.

Other Niagara County projects include a $3.3 million barrier to protect Sunset Island in Wilson; a $2.1 million project to stabilize the shoreline of the Village of Youngstown; and $87,000 to protect the Buffalo Family YMCA's Camp Kenan site in Somerset.

In Orleans County, the state will fund shoreline protection measures at Yates Town Park, Point Breeze and Route 97 in Carlton.

"This is work we should have been doing anyway," Cuomo told a crowd of local officials at the Fort Niagara State Park Officers Club in Youngstown. "The shoreline and your region are going to be better than it was before."

The state allocated $300 million for Lake Ontario flood relief this year, including $20 million to reimburse homeowners and $30 million for lakefront businesses that incurred flood damage.

Cuomo also said the state will spend $15 million on dredging projects along the entire lakeshore.

"I believe it's going to happen again," Cuomo said. "Let's build back for the anticipation of higher water."

The state has sued the International Joint Commission over its lake water level management policies that Cuomo said caused much of the damage.

"We are bearing more than our fair share," Cuomo said. "We are paying too high a price."

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