Governor Hochul Announces Start of Construction on Series of Flood Resiliency Projects in City of Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County

Government and Politics

December 2, 2022

From: New York Governor Kathy Hochul

Over $6.3 Million To Stabilize Shoreline and Protect Flood Prone Public Space Along the St. Lawrence River

Part of State's $300 Million Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the start of construction on a series of flood resiliency projects in the City of Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County. The three projects breaking ground were awarded over $6.3 million in grant funding through the State's Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative. Once complete, these REDI-funded projects will help mitigate the impact of future high-water events and improve resiliency of the shoreline.

"We are taking bold steps to build resiliency against climate change, making sure we are prepared for the one-in-100 year events that continue to happen all too frequently," Governor Hochul said. "New York is transforming shoreline communities along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, and these transformative projects will help ensure the wellbeing of every resident and visitor in the City of Ogdensburg and help us fight back against the effects of climate change."

In 2019, the St. Lawrence River had record high water levels that resulted in devastating floods throughout communities along the river's shoreline. These events caused degradation of public infrastructure and restricted public use of popular tourist destinations like the Morrisette Park and the city's public docks, negatively impacting public safety and local economies.

The City was awarded more than $8.3 million by the REDI Commission for a total of four projects. The first of the four awarded resiliency projects, located at the Maple City Trail, began construction earlier this year and work is progressing. Today's announcement includes:

    Morrisette Park and City Dock, $4,875,000: Morrisette Park is a popular gathering place for residents and visitors of the city, offering a tennis court, wooden playground, sanitary pump station, and public parking. Flooding and repeated storm action have severely eroded the park's shoreline and damaged the existing seawall. During flooding, the turnaround and parking area became inundated with water and was deemed unsafe for use forcing the closure of the playground. Resiliency measures to be implemented in the project consist of installing fill and grading to elevate the park and nearby Caroline Street two to three feet. Existing site features including stormwater structures, asphalt paths, concrete sidewalk, granite memorials and site lighting will be reconstructed or reset to accommodate the grade change. Nature-based sill shoreline protection will be installed on the shoreline northeast of Morrisette Park to provide increased resiliency for the exposed higher portion of the riverbank from future high-water events and wave run-up. The nature-based sill consists of placement of rip-rap stone at the water's edge along with erosion control matting with integrated vegetation upslope from the rip-rap berm. The adjacent City Dock sheet pile wall will be raised by two feet to protect Morrisette Park from flooding during future extreme events.

    Municipal Marina and Pier close to Dobisky Center, $911,973: The Ogdensburg Municipal Marina, located on the St. Lawrence River, includes over 70 boat slips, drawing recreational boaters and fishing enthusiasts to the city. Increased water levels have led to structural impairment of the marina's seawall causing inundation of the marina and substantial undercutting of the stormwater outfall. Repeated flooding has eroded the Municipal Marina shoreline leaving the marina unprotected from high water and wave action, resulting in unsafe conditions for users and the temporary closure of a portion of the park, which includes a heavily used gazebo and boardwalk located near the Dobisky Center. This project consists of stabilizing the river side of the Municipal Pier by installing driven steel sheet piles and cap, rip-rap shoreline protection on the southern shoreline of the Municipal Marina and elevating the existing Gazebo by approximately one foot.

    Greenbelt Park, $530,000: Greenbelt Park is located near the confluence of the Oswegatchie and St. Lawrence Rivers. Approximately 680 linear feet of waterfront has rip-rap revetment which deteriorated due to frequent wave action. The lack of shoreline protection results in standing water over much of the green space, parking area, and park boat launch, during high river levels. Flood mitigation measures will consist of rip-rap shoreline protection, extending the existing rip-rap revetment to protect the currently exposed higher portion of the riverbank from future high-water events and wave run-up.

New York State Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "The New York State Department of State continues to make critical investments to protect communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline. We are proud to work collaboratively with sister agencies through the REDI Program to make the city of Ogdensburg's waterfront more resilient by improving critical infrastructure. These investments will help the city withstand possible future high-water events and build the resiliency of this popular destination. Working together we can help ensure that tourism resources like this one continue strengthening the local economy for years to come."

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and REDI Commission Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, "New York State's REDI investments are providing St. Lawrence River shoreline communities like the city of Ogdensburg with the expertise and resources necessary to build back better after severe storms and high water driven by our changing climate. Stabilizing the shoreline and improving the city's flood prone public waterfront spaces will enhance recreational opportunities for residents and visitors and promote economic development for years to come."

New York Power Authority Interim President and CEO and St. Lawrence County REDI Commissioner Justin E. Driscoll said, "The St. Lawrence River is a tremendous resource that enhances the economy, tourism, recreation, and the environment of North Country communities. New York's strategic investments in projects that support shoreline stabilization through the REDI program have resulted in tremendous benefits for New Yorkers and visitors. These new investments in Ogdensburg's parks, trails, and marina will provide the city a more resilient shoreline and improved recreational opportunities for residents and tourists for many years to come. "

Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) President and CEO Reuben R. McDaniel, III, said, "DASNY is proud to partner with REDI, DOS, and our local partners to help develop the structures needed to protect residents and businesses in the City of Ogdensburg, now and for the future. We're grateful to Governor Hochul for her continued support of this important initiative and her commitment to strengthening communities all across New York."

State Senator Patty Ritchie said, "Ogdensburg's Greenbelt has always served as the crown jewel of the city's waterfront, drawing visitors from across the North Country and Canada to the community to enjoy the majestic St. Lawrence River. After visiting these sites with representatives of the REDI Commission to better understand the damage caused by historic high-water events, we were able to work together to obtain the $6.3 million in funds Ogdensburg needed to make these critical repairs."

Assemblymember Mark Walczyk said, "This latest round of REDI projects is a huge win for the City of Ogdensburg and its residents. Fortifying our shoreline and strengthening infrastructure along Morrisette Park, City Dock, the municipal marina and pier and Greenbelt Park not only is a vital matter of public safety but is also crucial for our economy, as they draw both residents and tourists alike to our downtown waterfront community."

St. Lawrence County Chairman William Sheridan said, "The County is pleased to see this series of transformative REDI project underway in the City of Ogdensburg. The St. Lawrence River draws visitors from around the world, and once complete these projects will ensure that residents and travelers from afar will be able to safely access and enjoy the waterfront along the City's shores."

City of Ogdensburg Mayor Jeff Skelly said, "Our waterfront parks and public spaces contribute to our regions recreation economy and improve quality of life for Ogdensburg residents. Funding through the New York State REDI program has made it possible to transform and protect these assets for future generations. We are thrilled to be underway with construction and look forward to completing the projects in the coming months."

In response to the extended pattern of flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, New York State established REDI to increase the resilience of shoreline communities and bolster economic development in the region. Five REDI Regional Planning Committees, comprised of representatives from eight counties (Niagara and Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego, and Jefferson and St. Lawrence) were established to identify local priorities, at-risk infrastructure and other assets, and public safety concerns. Through REDI, the State has committed up to $300 million to benefit communities and improve resiliency in flood prone regions along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Since the creation of the State's REDI program in the Spring of 2019, 134 REDI funded local and regional projects are underway, including 46 projects in the design phase, 43 projects in the construction phase, and 45 projects completed.