An online petition seeks relief from the Plan 2014 lake management plan, which many blame for flooding

GREECE — Leaders and homeowners in Greece are calling for help from the White House to change policies that regulate the level of Lake Ontario.

The Monroe County town has launched an online petition calling for "relief from the stipulations in IJC Plan 2014," the lake management strategy enacted this year by the U.S.-Canadian International Joint Commission. Many local leaders and homeowners blame the strategy for elevated lake levels at the start of this year’s heavy rains, which then resulted in still higher lake levels and damaging flooding.

“We can't just sit back and accept this,” declared Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich. "I cannot have the residents of my town incur tens of thousands of dollars in damages each and every year. It's impossible. Nobody can do that.”

“We've got to get it on the radar screen,” explained homeowner Wayne Knox, who proposed the petition idea in a community meeting Thursday night as Greece residents expressed exasperation at what they saw as a lack of help, or even attention, coming from elected leaders.

“[Sen. Chuck] Schumer hasn't shown up. [Sen. Kirsten] Gillibrand hasn't shown up. [Rep.] Louise slaughter hasn't shown up,” exclaimed homeowner Shannon Bielaska. “We are their constituents. They owe it to us. We are the voters. We are the people they should be helping, and they're not here.”

If the petition can gather 100,000 signatures within 30 days, it will require a response from the White House. Reilich said he hopes for a change in policy at the IJC, or possibly a change in its membership, which includes three representatives from Canada and three from the United States.

“Perhaps Donald Trump, our president, will replace the three from the United States,” Reilich mused. “Maybe, one of them could even live in a town along the Great Lakes — that would be novel — so they understand the damage and the power of these lakes."

Homeowner Victoria Visiko said the petition was a logical step for a community desperately trying to save homes and property, and getting tired. “One minute we are angry,” she said. “The next minute we're sad.  The next minute we have to fight this.”

After suggesting the petition idea, Knox granted it could face a long road before any change actually takes place.

“If you look at WhiteHouse.gov, there are a lot of petitions where there are 1 million signatures and haven't been acted on yet," Knox said. "So we don't know if this is going to be successful, but we want to get it on the radar screen."