Youngstown's Water Street getting reworked later this year

Mar. 18—A Youngstown road along the Niagara River is going to undergo a major work project later this year, after years of planning and revisions.

Water Road, home to the Youngstown Yacht Club and former site Niagara Jet Boat Cruises, will be completely rebuilt as part of a project to help mitigate high water levels from the Niagara River.

Along with milling and putting down of a new layer of asphalt, new storm sewer lines, drains, a submersible pump station, generator and catch basins would also be installed, so that any standing water from high water events would be treated and go back to the river. A new set of stairs going from Water Street to Main Street will also be built.

Village engineer Robert Lannon said this project has been in the works since late 2019, when Youngstown was one of the selected sites in Niagara County to receive funds from the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative. Youngstown was on the receiving end of high water events in 2017 and 2019.

Youngstown received $2.1 million from the state, covering 95% of project costs with the village on the hook for a 5% match, or around $105,000.

REDI was developed during the Andrew Cuomo administration to help increase the resilience of shoreline communities along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Other approved projects for Niagara County are located in Olcott, Lewiston, Wilson, Newfane, and Somerset.

Village Mayor Robert Reisman said they want to be prepared for any future high water events.

"We're just a small village doing the best we can with what we have," Reisman said.

The initial idea for Youngstown's project was to expand permanent sheet piling from the waters edge near the Niagara Jet Boat Cruises building to the north dock. The REDI commission approved the project and the village was authorized $200,000 to do design work, project bidding, and administration. That project never went forward because the Youngstown Yacht Club, a major landowner in that area, did not sign off on it because it did not like the concept.

Lannon said they met with yacht club representatives so that instead of having the sheet piling be permanent, they would be removable, so that in the event of a high water event, the village would set the pilings up, let the bad weather subside, then remove them.

"That appeared to be more acceptable to the yacht club," Lannon said. "We revised the report and the commission approved it."

That project also did not go ahead because the village was not able to get the grant dispersal agreement executed

As the REDI commission informed Youngstown that they had to come up with a project, the village came up with the complete reconstruction of Water Street, which ended up being what the village is going with. Upon meeting with the commission about this, Lannon said they loved the project and that this is what they wanted to do. As of March, about 60 to 70% of the project designs are completed. Reisman hopes it goes out to bid and is ready to go by mid-August.

"One of the benefits of doing that was the village owns Water Street," Lannon said. "No easing is necessary."

The project would take about three months to complete from start to finish, with Lannon wanting work to happen early in the fall so to avoid the peak season during the summer and snow of winter. Events by the Water Street dock typically shut down in October.