On the morning of August 28, 2011, as Hurricane Irene passed over the Catskills, the Schoharie Creek rose slowly at first until a flash flood hit, causing creek waters to rise over 7 feet in 1 hour and a total of 16 feet in 12 hours. The Schoharie broke from its banks roaring down Main Street at an astonishing peak flow of 120,000 cubic feet per second – greater than the volume flowing over Niagara Falls. Three long blocks of the town's Main Street were ruined and Prattsville lost 40% of its structures to demolition. No residence or business survived untouched or undamaged causing Governor Andrew Cuomo to describe the Town as "the worst hit community" of all the affected towns, hamlets, and cities in the State of New York.
For nearly fourteen months, River Street Planning & Development organized and led a volunteer team of colleagues to assist the Town of Prattsville, in Greene County to recover from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee. Our work involved all aspects of community planning, design, economic assessment, implementation planning, and advocacy. Our team included Alison Bates, Behan Planning & Design, CLA, Delaware Engineering, Elan Planning and Design, GAR Associates, Lamont Engineering, Omni Housing Development, Inc., Place Alliance, Room One Planning and Resign, Studio JDK, the SUNY Graduate Program in Urban and Regional Planning, Synthesis LLP, the Troy Architecture Program and The Chazen Companies. Please see http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/nyrcr/final-plans. While the professional and student planners helped build a framework for community engagement they didn't lead the process – the community did, and a deeply devoted and motivated cadre of citizen planners were born.
They held town-wide brainstorming/visioning sessions with nearly every family in town represented. Three public workshops and a four day charrette were held to establish a shared vision. Dozens of additional workshops and meetings were held to fine-tune the implementation projects. To create excitement and an even higher level of ownership of the efforts, they held a "Create a Town Slogan" contest and "From the middle of nowhere to the center of everything" became the Town's motto. They made a conscious effort to make sure everyone had a chance to be heard, sending out two surveys, both online and by mail, to residents asking for input. Using all input received from meetings and surveys, they developed a vision statement compiling all views. The result was a delicate balance of historic roots, compassion for their neighbors and hope for their children's future. In 2013 Prattsville was named a NY Rising Community.
The Town has advanced a new Town Common – a safe, sustainable and resilient development offering senior housing, a health center and community center in a location walkable to the hamlet and designed using LEED ND and AARP Age Friendly Community standards. Without waiting for State or federal assistance Prattsville cultivated relationships with potential. Please see https://stormrecovery.ny.gov/sites/default/files/crp/community/documents/prattsville_nyrcr_plan.pdf.