A RENEWED VISION: These illustrations imagine how Sidney might use sustainable green infrastructure to mitigate flooding. Our renewed vision considered:
How should vacant land be transformed?
What heritage and cultural histories can we share?
Which areas are best suited to hold floodwater?
What does our natural ecosystem need to thrive?
How can we conserve spaces for recreation, entertainment and education?
Which local government, academic, nonprofit, and private sector partners want to help?
NEW FLOOD WARNING GAUGES CRITICAL TO KEEP THE VILLAGE SAFE.
Help keep Sidney safe from flooding! Please consider a donation to raise funds for two new flood monitors in Sidney and Sidney Center. The current monitors are inoperable and need to be replaced to ensure we have as much warning as possible prior to a flooding event.
Sidney High School Flood Monitoring Program
Through a 2008 grant from State Farm Insurance, Sidney High School students have worked to install, monitor, and collect data from a network of rainfall and stream height gauges. This student-managed system provides the Sidney community with crucial advance warning time in the event of future flooding. Our students are getting a good look at what service-learning is all about and are expanding their science research skills at the same time. Students make potential flood forecasts when conditions warrant and upload this information to the Internet via the school’s webpage, as well as provide early warning to village and county officials through email. This service proved to be a vital tool during the devastating flood of September 2011. Students and teachers were able to provide accurate water level forecasts several hours in advance of the crest of the river in the village of Sidney, allowing residents time to move belongings to higher levels and seek safety in a timely manner.
After devastating floods in 2006 and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, we accepted that we cannot protect vulnerable residents and at-risk neighborhoods from flooding. We must adapt to make way for more water – restoring open space and ending the cycle of rebuilding. Gradually, with many partners, we are helping residents relocate safely and helping the Susquehanna and its tributaries spill into their natural floodplains. Using a 2012 grant from the NYS Department of State, our Recovery and Resilience Plan described our Village as “a small community with big plans, turning challenges into opportunities through collaborative local and regional partnerships, consensus around climate change, a commitment to work with nature, and sheer determination to be safe and resilient.” That remains our goal.
Over nearly a decade we’ve advanced the Sidney GreenPlain – a climate adaptation initiative that uses nature and natural flood reduction measures in a managed retreat project to relocate 100 families, buy out over 100 properties on 140+/- acres and remove infrastructure. We will build upstate NY’s largest green infrastructure enhanced floodplain ecosystem capable of storing an additional 12 million cubic feet of flood water (the equivalent of a swimming pool the size of a football field and 20 stories deep). In 2013, we set out preliminary ideas to create a valuable asset for our Village, our neighbors and our region. We were awarded over $17 million through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to determine feasibility, design and construct the GreenPlain.
sharpening our focus.
COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the powerful roles public space, green space, open streets and recreation play in creating personal and community resilience. For us – the GreenPlain is the single opportunity we may ever have to expand our public realm while improving quality of life, supporting economic development, and reducing flood risk. Walking trails, wetland walks, scenic overlooks, picnic areas, a riverwalk, and active park all within a short walk to our newly green infrastructured Main Street core can maximize co-benefits. If we can leverage government, academic, nonprofit, and private sector partnerships to manage conserved open spaces we can create regionally impactful places that draw people to new recreation, education, and entertainment.
We continue to fulfill our commitment to create enough flood safe housing to accommodate every family interested in relocating. More than 60 apartments have been created (32 family apartments with a community center at Sherwood Landing and 30 senior apartments and community space at Liberty Street). Another project in development would add 22 single family homes and 10 two family townhomes.
our greenplain model.
The GreenPlain has been recognized as a model of green infrastructure floodplain reclamation; a priority project by the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council; and a contributor to a win by the Southern Tier for Outstanding Regional Cooperation and recipient, with Broome and Tioga Counties in NY’s Rising to the Top Competition. The concept has been presented at numerous conferences and won awards for community engagement, citizen planner leadership, planning, resilience, sustainability and urban design from NY Chapters of the American Planning Association and American Society of Landscape Architecture.
The Nature Conservancy observed that “some communities across the United States have begun the important work of creating a vision for reusing land following buyouts and managed retreat” and included the Sidney GreenPlain as one of four examples. As part of Community Transformation at the Water’s Edge Initiative, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Consensus Building Institute concluded that “Unlike residents in other towns, Sidney’s citizens did not want to rebuild back to the pre-flood status quo, and they rejected the idea of a continuous cycle of rebuilding. Instead, residents proposed building back a better, more resilient, and sustainable community. Much of this determination to intelligently rebuild arose from the residents’ loyalty and love for their community. For most of them, Sidney was unquestionably home. Their progressive approach and desire to stay within the community allowed citizens to effectively partner with government agencies.” Sidney_casestudy.pdf (squarespace.com)
doing the right thing.
Put simply, protecting each other, our environment and our economy is the right thing to do and worth the cost.
PEOPLE: It’s right to protect residents’ lives, safety, and health, avoid losses and meet our obligations to future generations. We can improve environmental justice and ensure the independence of underserved, elderly and low-income community members to participate and have influence.
ENVIRONMENT: It’s right to preserve our environment by conserving scenic resources, restoring open space, safeguarding clean air and water, diversifying habitat, and nurturing abundant fish and wildlife. We are committed to equitable outcomes and environmental stewardship.
ECONOMY: It’s right to enhance our economy by avoiding the cost of future damage, supporting current businesses, enhancing the Main Street environment, improving property value and helping our families rebuild equity and retirement savings.
Manage the retreat of 100 families out of harm’s way
Buy out 140 (or more) flood vulnerable properties
Sustain the Village’s climate adaptation vision
Promote climate adaptation and nature-based mitigation measures
Build Upstate New York’s largest green infrastructure ecosystem
Develop green and open spaces for gatherings, recreation, and entertainment
Grow a 50 acre (plus) riparian forest with pathways, trails, and boardwalks
Tell stories of the land and water: from native settlements to managed retreat
Educate about resilience and floodplain ecology
Attract visitors and support Main Street
Read more about the origins of the GreenPlain concept in Sidney's 2014 NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan.