$9.5 million revitalization of International Pier in Oswego, New York will boost storm resilience and protect tourism economy

On April 22, 2021, construction began at International Pier, a $9.5 million community resilience project funded through the New York Governor’s Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative in the city of Oswego.

The infrastructure renewal project will protect the deteriorating pier and convert the historic structure into a pedestrian-friendly open space that is connected to the city’s walking trail system.

New York’s Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, “The revitalized International Pier in Oswego will allow residents and visitors to enjoy the updated pedestrian boardwalk and vibrant public space on the shores of Lake Ontario, while also strengthening the shoreline and protecting against future flooding. With support from New York State, the transformation of International Pier will attract visitors and recreational opportunities and help lakefront communities like Oswego build back stronger and more resilient for the future.

The International Pier’s new layout will utilize space to better serve recreational boaters and draw residents to the waterfront with fresh opportunities to enjoy the area.

Ultimately, the project will build upon the $3.1 million REDI project underway at Wrights Landing Marina, which will further promote and enhance recreational opportunities while creating a vibrant and open public space.

Years of flooding on Lake Ontario devastated communities along the shoreline and the local economies that depend on the waterfront to drive tourism every year,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “This project to restore the International Pier in Oswego, along with many others spurred by this initiative, takes a forward-looking approach toward revitalization by strengthening a critical piece of infrastructure to help ensure it can withstand future severe weather events and flooding, while also creating an exciting summer destination to help revitalize the local tourism industry.

The project at International Pier was necessary due to damage the structure incurred from increased water levels and storm-driven wave action on Lake Ontario. Resiliency and revitalization measures to be implemented at the pier include:

  • Installation of new water, sanitary sewer, stormwater collection, as well as new electrical services;
  • Addition of a gateway arch and additional visitor parking;
  • Improvement of the landscape;
  • Relocation and replacement of boat slips;
  • Installation of shoreline stabilization to protect the pier bulkhead and sidewalls.

New York State Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, “We are excited to see the revitalization of Oswego’s International Pier getting underway. Building a better and stronger future for the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River communities has always been the goal of Governor Cuomo’s REDI program, and this project will result in tremendous benefits to city residents, tourists, and local businesses alike.

The REDI projects complement the Governor’s $10 million award to Oswego in 2016 through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “As a frequent visitor to the city of Oswego through my work on the REDI Commission, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impacts that a rising Lake Ontario can have on shoreline communities. Through this project, not only are we building back better and more resilient through targeted investments at the International Pier but enhancing recreational opportunities for residents and visitors of the city of Oswego. Every step of the way, the REDI Commission has listened to local officials, residents and business owners, and we have worked hard to put forth projects that will best help communities withstand the calamities of global climate change.

The Department of State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program is also providing more than $1.5 million for additional improvements to the marina, including repainting the lighthouse; trail connections to Breitbeck Park; firepits; new and improved restrooms, with showers for boaters; a new fuel station; and a new boater services building.

Chairman of the Oswego County Legislature James Weatherup said, “Oswego County is blessed with an abundance of historic, cultural and natural resources. Not the least of those is our advantage of being a Great Lakes coastal community. Lake Ontario and is various tributaries within the county attract visitors from across America and around the world. The improvements proposed for the International Pier, and the waterfront in general in the city of Oswego, provide even more opportunity for people to access and enjoy the beauty of Lake Ontario while further enhancing the quality of life for our residents.”

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, comprising 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.

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said, “The transformation of the International Pier will be a truly transformative project for the city of Oswego and our waterfront. Converting this underutilized pier into an attractive, pedestrian-oriented boardwalk will serve as a great, new attraction that will help draw people to our community. This project will make our waterfront much more accessible and creates a space that’ll generate more traffic and economic activity along our world-class waterfront. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and the REDI funding program, Oswego is finally capitalizing on our natural assets while protecting our shoreline from future storms and flooding.

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.

Since the creation of the Governor’s REDI program in spring 2019, 133 REDI-funded local and regional projects are underway, including 105 projects in the design phase, 14 projects in the construction phase, and 14 projects completed.

Oswego County REDI Milestones:

  1. East Operating Dock, Oswego County, Port of Oswego Authority, Construction Complete, $300,000 award: Installation of a cellular steel sheeting wall to break high water wave action in the impacted area to protect the north end of the East Operating Dock. This project will also protect the integrity of the dock, ensuring continued operation and maintaining public safety.
  2. Port Authority Marina, Oswego County, Port Authority of Oswego, Construction Complete, $40,000 award: Installed new, self-adjusting docks to replace docks that were at a fixed elevation.
  3. Port Authority West Pier, Oswego County, Port Authority of Oswego, Construction Complete, $149,513 award: Shoreline stabilization measures along the West Pier where high water and excessive wave action had negatively impacted the berm.
  4. Mexico Point State Park, Oswego County, Construction Complete, $480,000 award: Installation of 435 linear feet of shoreline stabilization with the placement of 3,200 tons of stone to prevent further shoreline depredation.
  5. Wrights Landing Marina, Oswego County, City of Oswego, Construction Phase, $3,100,000 award: Raising the elevation of marina structures to compensate for higher water levels, including the boat launch, pavilion area, parking lot, and access roads. The structures will be raised approximately three feet to reduce future flooding. Additional mitigation measures include adding Bioretention basins to infiltrate, store, and filter the rainwater.
  6. Port Authority (Lehigh Cement), Oswego County, Port Authority of Oswego, Construction Phase, $70,000 award: Repair the portion of the pier wall by the Lehigh Cement facility.
  7. North Sandy Pond Resiliency Project, Oswego County, Town of Sandy Creek, Construction Phase, $600,000 award: Nature-based shoreline (beach and dune) restoration of barrier island and stabilization of channel.

New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado concluded, “New York State is committed to improve resilience to extreme weather events and protect the health and welfare of its residents and visitors. As part of the Governor’s REDI initiative, we are helping Lake Ontario communities revitalize their waterfronts and strengthen resiliency against future flooding. The Department of State is proud to work with the city of Oswego and its elected officials on transforming the International Pier to create a new waterfront parkland destination. These improvements will benefit Oswego residents and the many visitors who will enjoy this incredible asset for years to come.

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.

Photo courtesy of Office of New York Governor.

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