Steve Imburgia had a beautiful view for his Memorial Day barbeque but he may not be able to enjoy it for much longer. Every year his property on Ontario Shores Drive in Sterling shrinks by a few feet as the shoreline erodes. Last year a tree next to his house went over the cliff into Lake Ontario. At the current rate, Imburgia believes his home could follow it in three years.
"We only have about five feet left until it reaches our back porch," said Imburgia.
Time is running out all along Ontario Shores Drive. Groundwater draining out of the lake-side hill causes soil to erode. The dirt slides down the hill and is taken away by the powerful currents of Lake Ontario.
Neighbors say an engineering project to stabilize the hill is too big for them to handle on their own. Imburgia and his neighbor Eileen Dillon are hoping the Town of Sterling, Cayuga County or New York State will provide assistance.
"You are probably not going to completely stop it but if you can slow it down," said Dillon.
"Without having something to hold the earth back and planting into that, it's just going to keep washing away," said Imburgia.
The costs of of potential stabilization projects are unknown but the erosion is not going away. A taxpayer funded project to save vacation homes could face strong opposition but Imburgia says soon more and more homes that also pay taxes will be falling into Lake Ontario.
"If it was an overnight disaster like Hurricane Sandy, where it wiped us out overnight, we could get the funding. But because it happened over many years, they don't seem to have it as an urgent problem," said Imburgia.
The Town of Sterling recently approved a two million dollar public water project for the Ontario Shores Drive neighborhood even though many neighbors are not sure their homes will still be standing when the water system is installed.