After devastating floods in 2006 and 2011, Sidney reviewed damage reports and studies, climate change projections and buyout patterns. They inventoried assets, evaluated risks, and interpreted results. They heard from experts, talked to neighbors and, importantly, they listened to each other. When all was said and done, Sidney came to the difficult conclusion that some neighborhoods at extreme risk simply cannot be protected from flooding. Then the Village made a bold choice: they stepped up and committed any and all necessary support to families who need a fresh start, to relocate to a floodsafe mixed use neighborhood at Riverlea Farm.
River Street's team including Place Alliance New York and New England Environmental, Swiger Consulting and Madeleine Cotts helped that Village to envision and design the 140-acre Sidney GreenPlain - a high-capacity enhanced floodplain that will provide an additional 12 million cubic feet of flood storage - the equivalent of a swimming pool the size of a football field and 20 stories deep - protecting surrounding neighborhoods, the Main Street core, and downstream municipalities from flooding. The GreenPlain will be a community and regional asset offering walking trails, wetland walks, interpretive signage, scenic overlooks, picnic areas, connections to a riverwalk, and active recreation park all within walking distance to Main Street and the Village's small business base. The initiative leverages multiple levels of government, academic, nonprofit, and private sectors to build the GreenPlain and manage the conserved open spaces in a manner that allows for safe private use for recreation, cultural, and entertainment venues with regional impact. Creation of the Sidney GreenPlain will reinforce one of Sidney's strengths – its desirable rural character – while improving the quality of life for its residents, and providing economic development by drawing regional visitors to new opportunities for active recreation, education and entertainment.
It has been recognized as a statewide and national 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, of additional $3.0 million in Community Development Block Grant awards (one of seven competitive supplementary awards by Governor Cuomo.) The plan has been highlighted in numerous conferences and presentations across the state and was a winner of 2014 Award for Excellence in Sustaining Places by the American Planning Association and Award for Excellence in Planning and Design from the American Society of Landscape Architecture.
In May 2015 submitted application to FEMA, supported by the Governor's office for nearly $23.0 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds for design and construction of the GreenPlain. To date the GreenPlain has leveraged over $7.0 million in residential buyouts of estimated 150 families to floodsafe housing. It has leveraged multiple NYS funding awards in 2013 and 2014 NYS Consolidated Funding Application process including 2013 award of $655,000.00 and 2014 award of $1.04 million for green Main Street improvements from NYS Department of State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, and 2014 awards from NYS Empire State Development for $75,000 in feasibility studies for hotel, waterfront entertainment and environmental education center, and reuse of former Amphenol complex.