Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

March 18, 2020

Dan Keefe | Brian Nearing
(518) 486-1868 |

State Parks and Office of General Services Announce Groundbreaking for $1.2 Million REDI Resiliency Project at Fair Haven Beach State Park

Project will mitigate damage to parking area caused by flood waters

Elevating parking area will protect crucial park access and safety for public during busy summer season

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the state Office of General Services today announced groundbreaking for a $1.2 million REDI resiliency project at Fair Haven Beach State Park on Lake Ontario in Cayuga County. The project will restore the facility's parking capacity impacted by high water, helping ensure access and safety to park visitors during the busy summer season.

The project will improve parking facility conditions that deteriorated and became hazardous as a result of flooding in 2017 and 2019. The West Beach lot is potholed and rutted and, during the high-water events of 2017 and 2019, major portions were closed due to high water. The project will improve and protect the West Beach parking area from flooding by:

  • Elevating the parking lot by approximately two feet to make it more resilient to future high water, and provide enhancements for adjacent natural dune creation and habitat formation.
  • Installing an improved drainage system and repaving the parking area.
  • Replacing an existing water service line during construction.

The West Beach parking area is expected to be complete by Memorial Day weekend. An additional expansion of the East Beach parking area will be performed in conjunction with the REDI funded work and is expected to be complete by July 4. Total parking capacity will increase in Fair Haven Beach State Park from improving the layout of parking spaces as well as an expansion of the East Beach parking lot.

Fair Haven Beach State Park often fills to capacity on summer weekends and is an important lake shore destination in Cayuga County. Without the project, park patrons will be faced with reduced parking options to access the West Beach area of the park, the most popular part of the facility. This project addresses the overflow parking in non-designated areas that poses safety concerns for pedestrians and degrades natural areas not intended for parking.

In response to the extended pattern of flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, Governor Andrew Cuomo created the Resiliency & Economic Development Initiative (REDI) to increase the resilience of shoreline communities and bolster economic development in the region. Five REDI regions, comprised of 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.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "I commend Governor Cuomo for investing in projects that will make Lake Ontario communities more resilient to future episodes of high water. Making the infrastructure at Fair Haven State Park more resilient is crucial to our ability to safely welcome nearly 300,000 visitors each year, and to protect the park's natural habitat."

Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, the State has been working collaboratively and successfully with communities along Lake Ontario to rebuild their shoreline and create resiliency against future flooding. We at OGS are proud to be constructing this project on behalf of state Parks and for all the people who thoroughly enjoy visiting Fair Haven Beach State Park."

Senator Pam Helming said, "This is an important step forward for the Fair Haven community and will help ensure that local residents and tourists alike will be able to take advantage of all that Fair Haven has to offer. The Lake Ontario Flooding devastated our local communities. However, throughout this crisis local residents and leaders at every level of government have come together to support our recovery. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and NYS Parks for this continued leadership and I look forward to working with my governmental partners to advocate for continued recovery efforts."

Assembly member Brian Manktelow said, "This is great news for Fair Haven Beach State Park. The improvements are sorely needed, and the upgrades will make going to the park a much better experience for visitors. One of the key improvements is replacing the water pipe now: it will save taxpayers money. Hopefully, this work will alleviate existing parking issues, especially if it done by Memorial Day as planned."

Cayuga County Legislator Aileen McNabb-Coleman said, "Infrastructure projects such as this, are vital to ensuring the Fair Haven Beach State Park can provide ease of access and safety for both local residents and the thousands of tourists who descend upon the Cayuga County community each summer season. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for recognizing the substantial economic impact recent flooding has had along Lake Ontario communities and for providing this much needed REDI funding to continue recovery efforts and reinforce the local economy."

Stephen Lynch, director of Cayuga County Planning and Economic Development said, "Fair Haven State Park has always been a key recreational and tourism asset serving residents of Cayuga County and the region. The proactive and rapid infusion of New York State REDI funding to address severe flood impacts to the Lake Ontario beachfront and park facilities will ready the Park for the 2020 season and the resiliency improvements installed will allow Fair Haven State Park to remain a critical component of the Cayuga County economy for years to come."

Sterling Town Supervisor June Smith said, "Being a frequent visitor to the Fair Haven Beach Park myself, I have seen the flooding, lot deterioration and excess parking along park roadways during the past summers. I am very supportive of all improvements to our park as it is a wonderful asset to our community. The park consistently brings visitors into our area as well as offers relaxing opportunities such as fishing, boating, walks, beach-sitting, sunset viewing, camping and employment to locals. The Town of Sterling is thankful we are blessed with all the Fair Haven Beach Park opportunities and supports these improvements."

Village of Fair Haven Mayor Jim Basile said, "This important announcement is vital to the future of our community, as residents and small businesses continue to recover from the flood devastation in recent years. Providing resiliency initiatives at Fair Haven Beach State Park will further bolster that recovery by improving upon the numerous recreational opportunities which draw both locals and thousands of tourists to our village each year. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his continued assistance to our region."

Fair Haven Beach State Park features one of the finest public lakefronts in upstate New York, with towering shoreline bluffs, sandy beaches and adjoining hilly woodlands. The park has 1500 feet of sand beach including 600 feet of guarded swim area. Campgrounds and cabin areas lay within the park's gently rolling woodlands.

Governor Cuomo announced earlier this week that entrance fees at State Parks will be waived. During the current COVID-19 public health crisis, getting outdoors and connecting with nature is a way to help maintain our mental and physical health Hiking trails, historic site grounds and restrooms remain open, although many large indoor facilities, such as nature centers, visitor centers and historic houses will be closed to the public.

While enjoying outdoor spaces, please continue to follow the CDC/NYSDOH's guidelines for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19:

  • Try to keep at least six (6) feet of distance between you and others.
  • Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, and kissing.
  • Wash hands often or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and playground equipment.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches, which are visited by 77 million people annually. A recent university study found that spending by State Parks and its visitors support $5 billion in output and sales, 54,000 private-sector jobs and more than $2.8 billion in additional state GDP. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.