Bays are big in Wayne County.

The state's new REDI program to help communities along the Lake Ontario shore develop new infrastructure and economic projects would seem ready-made for the battered region.

"Our bay bars are getting destroyed by the high waters and the wave action," said Huron Supervisor Laurie Crane. 

Crane and local leaders from Sodus and Sodus Bay gathered at Wayne County's public safety building Thursday with other county leaders to launch their bids for the state's $300 million REDI competition. Governments must find matching funding for any project for it to be accepted, but the other expectation the commission that will consider the REDI plans has is that each benefits the public, not the individual property owner. 

"We need to invest in the infrastructure and the regional economies. Now that may benefit individual homeowners if there are systemic problems or projects impact them," said Betsy Mallow of the NYS Homes and Community Renewal.

That did not sit well with Wayne leaders who spent 45 minutes with state staff fine-tuning their priority list at Thursday's work session.

"I understand about … making our shoreline more resilient," Crane said, "but our resident owners, our properties for which they've worked our entire lives. That's the priority here. And I don't see it as a priority here. "

As Wayne County leaders began the REDI process, they believed their communities would see little of the money, with most of it going to larger communities, including those in Monroe County.

Williamson's trying to improve the Pultneyville Harbor and a county park. Supervisor Anthony Verno also is targeting a marina twice-bitten by flooding since 2017. But Verno says the state has not made REDI for more sparsely-populated sections of the lakeshore.

"I don't see how it's going to work in Wayne County," Verno said. "I'll fight as best I can for them. But I don't think they'll raise to whatever they'll call ‘acceptable.'"

For all of the local governments along the big lake's 266 New York miles, finalized projects, with matching funding plans, need to be submitted by August 2. They'll learn by the end of September whether their projects will be in line for REDI dollars.