Local Waterfronts Benefit from Revitalization Program

A legislative column by Assemblyman Will Barclay

When constituents take the time to write or call, I’m always appreciative. Your calls help me to be a better lawmaker and, often, when people call on any given topic, your calls collectively influence the outcome of important decisions.

One recent example involved the state’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. The Governor’s original budget included plans to drastically cut the program’s funding. Originally, Gov. Paterson proposed to allocate $9 million, as opposed to the $27 million appropriated in the previous year’s budget. Municipalities and individuals rallied against this decision. Our office received several phone calls and letters from folks who believed this to be a poor decision. Thanks to those phone calls, e-mails and letters, and active leadership in Albany, the program was saved and, this year, $24 million went to the LWRP. While it was less than last year’s budget, there is still significant state dollar investment being redistributed to local communities. Funding is largely used to maintain waterfront safety and conduct commerce.

The summer months provide us with the opportunity to enjoy our waterfronts. According to the Department of State, 90 percent of the state’s population and a wide variety of economic activities are concentrated in the communities along its waterfronts—from the largest cities to the smallest hamlets. Our waterfronts are rich in natural resources with abundant fish and wildlife as well as bluffs, beaches and wetlands, forests, and farmlands.

Waterfronts are a way to bring new life and energy to communities. Places like Oswego, Jordan, Fulton, Camillus, Pulaski and Baldwinsville, to name a few, have taken advantage of their waterfronts and used them to attract tourists, maintain attractive and central gathering places for their residents and maintain water safety for boaters and fishermen. This, in turn, has improved economic activity, preserved historic and abandoned structures, improved waterfront recreation, and restored and protected natural resources.

The city of Oswego has used this program well. In an attempt to better link the Oswego River to Lake Ontario harbors and waterfront, it has added mile-long recreation areas on both sides of the Oswego River; made improvements to Wright’s Landing, including breakwater construction, removal of old boat houses, development of aquatic education building, construction of pedestrian walkways, entrance road and parking lot, and made improvements to increase the efficiency and use of the Port of Oswego.

Through LWRP, Oswego also has improved its existing coal pier to provide additional public access and boating facilities with pedestrian connections to pier and linear parks. The city also has adopted Coastal Erosion Hazard Area Management regulations and a new waterfront consistency law; completed a housing site analysis; developed a priority listing of developable sites; completed feasibility analyses for key waterfront buildings; and analyzed the feasibility of establishing a foreign trade zone.

I would encourage more people to learn about the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. The Department of State’s Division of Coastal Resources maintains an informative web site on the program that can be found at http://nyswaterfronts.com/aboutus_lwrp.asp. Applicants are viewed on a number of criteria including community involvement, historic and scenic assets, flooding and erosion, as well as public access and recreation. The LWRP is one way to watch state tax dollars be reinvested in our local region.

If you have any questions about this topic or any others, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling (315) 598-5185.