e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

The Oneida Flats Neighborhood Oneida, New York
April 2015

Topic Areas: Community Engagement, Neighborhood Re-visioning
Project Scale: Neighborhood
Accomplished by: Maren King, Project Director; Jocelyn Gavitt, Project Associate; Sarah Krisch, Graduate Assistant

  • Community meeting

    The Oneida Flats Neighborhood, Oneida, New York


  • land parcel map

    The Oneida Flats Neighborhood, Oneida, New York


  •  a creek

    The Oneida Flats Neighborhood, Oneida, New York


  • flood damage

    The Oneida Flats Neighborhood, Oneida, New York


  • residents

    The Oneida Flats Neighborhood, Oneida, New York


  • neighborhood shops

    The Oneida Flats Neighborhood, Oneida, New York

    <
  • bike park

    The Oneida Flats Neighborhood, Oneida, New York


  • community meeting

    The Oneida Flats Neighborhood, Oneida, New York


  • a house

    The Oneida Flats Neighborhood, Oneida, New York


  • community meeting
  • land parcel map
  • a creek
  • flood damage
  • Residents
  • neighborhood shops
  • bike park
  • community meeting
  • a house

Introduction

One year after a major flood event on June 28th, 2013, The Oneida Flats Community Engagement Project was initiated to focus on this neighborhood that had been inundated for over a week and significantly impacted. The initial purpose of the project was to understand the uncertainty associated with the damaged properties, to help facilitate better communication between the agencies interested in the community, and to begin a re-visioning process for the neighborhood. The process involved collecting and synthesizing data concerning the neighborhood and associated flooding events as a foundation for planning for the future.

character areasCommunity engagement in this participatory process was vital in creating a shared understanding of the past and present neighborhood conditions to help define goals for the neighborhood. Shortly after the community engagement process began, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offered a voluntary buyout to all property owners as a strategy to keep people safe from the risks of living in a flood zone. This decision shifted the community engagement process, creating more questions for the community and required a refocusing of the vision.

Questions Explored

  • How did the city's natural history and development patterns contribute to the neighborhood flooding?
  • How will the results of the FEMA buyout process affect the future of the neighborhood?
  • How will the results and analysis of the community workshops lead to changes in the Flats Neighborhood?
  • Project Description

    The major steps and milestones in the project process included:

  • The formation of an Advisory Committee which introduced the CCDR project team to the city and the neighborhood, helped identify issues and developed an outreach strategy to engage residents in the planning process.
  • Preparation of a geologic and hydrologic study of the city to understand how its natural conditions affected the neighborhood flooding. Organization and facilitation of two phases of community workshops. The first workshops focused on resident's impressions of the neighborhood before, during and after the most recent flood. This provided residents a way to express to each other and the city what the neighborhood meant to them, the assets and strengths, the concerns, and challenges; and their hopes and ideas for the future.
  • Announcement of the FEMA buyout occurred in October 2014 at around the same time as the first workshops.
  • The second workshop, which occurred after the FEMA buyout offer, acknowledged the uncertainties associated with the buyout offer and opened a line of communication for sharing information and hearing concerns of the residents who will remain after the buyout.
  • By late January 2015, 60% of the properties in the neighborhood had filled out the necessary documentation to be on the list for the FEMA buyout. The buyout process is foreseen to significantly influence the long-term future land use in the Flats Neighborhood. Case studies were researched to help the city and community members better understand how to navigate the process.

    Based on the community members' responses and ideas during workshops, discussion with the city staff and elected officials, assessment of the local geology and flooding history, analysis of the current buyout situation and case study research these elements of the vision were formed:

  • The Flats neighborhood has a long history of being a good place to live, raise a family, own a business, and build close relationships. It will always be recognized as a place of value.
  • For the foreseeable future it will be a neighborhood in transition. The transition process will be grounded in open communication, respect and collaboration among the city, neighborhood residents and property owners, and other support agencies and organizations.
  • The long-term future of The Flats will integrate the social, cultural, and environmental strengths that have been and will continue to be present in this place
  • Four major goals were created which are supported by recommendations for city actions and neighborhood actions.

    • Create open lines of communication to ensure that the city, residents, businesses and partners have access to the same information.
    • Organize a planning process to generate the long term vision for the future of the Flats, with goals, scenarios and phased but flexible implementation plan.
    • Ensure a livable and pleasant neighborhood for people who continue to live there.
    • Manage the FEMA buyout process for optimal efficiency, cleanliness and thoroughness.
    • North Side Riverfront District Planning Guide.