Governor Cuomo Announces Start of Construction of Resiliency Project at Historic Site in St. Lawrence County
$1.3M Shoreline Stabilization and Trail Improvement Project Breaks Ground at Fort de la Presentation, City of Ogdensburg
Projects Selected as Part of Governor’s $300 Million Resiliency & Economic Development Initiative
New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the start of construction on a $1.3 million resiliency project awarded to the Fort de la Presentation Association, St. Lawrence County, through the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative. The Fort de la Presentation site, located in the City of Ogdensburg, was once used by American, Canadian, Native American, French and British people for worship, trade and protection during wartime. The site is now used for reenactments and community recreation. The project site is located on a peninsula on the St. Lawrence River at the intersection of the Oswegatchie River. Due to proximity to the Rivers, extensive erosion and flooding has occurred on this site. This project will rebuild flood damaged shorelines and trails with more resilient designs that will mitigate future damage and provide enhanced wildlife habitat while maintaining the historic and aesthetic value of the property.
“People travel from across the state to enjoy the recreational opportunities and the rich history of the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence County shoreline communities,” Governor Cuomo said. “The unprecedented flooding that occurred in 2019 devastated infrastructure vital to the tourist industry that this region relies on. Through REDI we are assisting communities in not only rebuilding but in reimaging more resilient infrastructure that will withstand future flooding and support the critical tourism economy.”
“Communities along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario shoreline have faced devastating flooding in recent years caused by climate change, but New York State is leading the way to help them build back better, smarter and more resilient,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The Fort de la Presentation project in the City of Ogdensburg will help mitigate flooding and combat erosion, while enhancing the wildlife habitat and protecting this historic site and place of recreation for years to come.”
Proposed mitigation measures for this project include:
- The Oswegatchie River shoreline will be stabilized using riprap with live stake plantings and toe wood / toe rock installations.
- The St. Lawrence River shoreline work will include rock sill stabilization with soil lifts, natural stone slab steps for pointed access to the river, and plantings along the shoreline including bioretention plantings.
- Raising a portion of the Abbe Piquet Trail above flood elevation and constructing an overlook deck platform on the St. Lawrence River shoreline.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “New York State Parks was proud to work with the Fort de La Presentation Association and local leaders to design this important project. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and REDI, the work will make this historic landmark more resilient to future episodes of high water, while enhancing the Abbe Piquet Trail along the shoreline.”
State Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos said, “Start of construction at the historic Fort de la Presentation is just the latest example of the State’s sustained commitment to help St. Lawrence County shoreline communities impacted by flooding build back smarter and stronger than before. The $300 million REDI program connects communities with resources and assistance to undertake projects that will provide increased protections from future flooding events. Congratulations to the Fort de la Presentation Association for implementing this critical project which will enhance and preserve this special piece of history for future generations to enjoy.”
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “The Fort de la Presentation project is critical for ensuring the future enjoyment of this historic tourist destination. Visiting history buffs, re-enactors and area residents will be relieved to know their beloved fort will be better protected from flooding, thanks to Governor Cuomo’s shoreline stabilization project, which will also improve the surrounding hiking trails.”
DASNY President & CEO Reuben R. McDaniel, III said, “Projects like this that protect our unique historic and natural sites create opportunities for tourism and economic growth and strengthen communities throughout New York. DASNY is proud to support Governor Cuomo’s vision of coordinating New York’s resources to solve the flooding and erosion issues facing so many localities across New York.”
Senator Patty Ritchie said, “Fort de la Présentation offers endless recreational and learning opportunities not only for local people, but also for visitors who travel to our region to experience our rich history. It is critically important that steps be taken to protect this area from future flooding and I am pleased this project, which will help ensure the site remains a much-visited destination for generations to come, is moving forward.”
St. Lawrence County Chairman William Sheridan said, “St. Lawrence County is very encouraged by the anticipated groundbreaking for the Fort de la Presentation Trail Project in Ogdensburg. The local effort that has gone into restoring the land at the Fort location is a critical component of the cultural and historic preservation efforts in the area and is encouraging for tourism along the great St. Lawrence River. This ground breaking will be emblematic of overcoming a natural disaster that damaged the shores along the Northern Border of New York State. We are grateful that the Governor’s commitment to the border communities along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River has remained steadfast during these challenging times.”
Fort de la Presentation Association President Barbara O’Keefe said, “Historic flooding in 2017 and 2019 had devastating effects on the shoreline of Fort de la Presentation highlighting the need for shoreline stabilization. In addition, excessive wind and wave action caused flooding and damage to our new interpretive trail. Flooding reached across the access road, spreading inland. The Fort Association did not have the funds to repair these damages or stabilize the shore. Thanks to the partnership with New York State and through the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative we can now take the needed measures to stabilize the St. Lawrence and Oswegatchie River shorelines and repair and enhance the Abbé Picquet Trail, ensuring that Fort de la Presentation remain accessible to the community and tourists, as well as protect the National Register of Historic Places for future generations. We would like to additionally thank NYS OPRHP for their guidance during this process.”
In response to the extended pattern of flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, Governor Cuomo created 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. The REDI Commission allocated $20 million for homeowner assistance, $30 million to improve the resiliency of businesses, and $15 million toward a regional dredging effort that will benefit each of the eight counties in the REDI regions. The remaining $235 million has been allocated towards local and regional projects that advance and exemplify the REDI mission.
At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the REDI commission toured areas hard hit by flooding on Lake Ontario and worked with local communities to come up with a new vision for the shoreline from both a resiliency and economic development point of view in order to build back better and stronger for the future.
Since the creation of the Governor’s REDI program in the Spring of 2019, 133 REDI funded local and regional projects are underway, including 101 projects in the design phase, 18 projects in the construction phase, and 14 projects completed.