OTTAWA — State and village officials joined Ottawa residents at the Putnam County Education Service Center on Tuesday to brainstorm possible uses for flood buyout properties during the Making the Most of Ottawa’s Floodplain Buyouts Workshop.
The attendees consisted of Ottawa residents, members of the Blanchard River Flood Mitigation Coalition and the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District and local business owners.
The village of Ottawa has purchased 55 floodplain properties since 2008, totaling 25 acres of land. The properties were purchased using funding from government grants, Hazard Mitigation Grants and Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants, said Steve Ferryman, of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
Before discussing ideas of what to do with buyout properties Councilman Tim Macke first asked the attendees to consider what Ottawa is known for and what they wanted the village to be known for.
“This next section is about what we would like Ottawa to be,” Macke said. “We’re a bedroom community for larger cities. We’re known for our school system.”
“I would like to see us embrace the fact that we have a river here,” Teresa Croy, of Ottawa, said.
Croy and her husband, Don Croy, take care of riverside property and encourage people to make use of the river through canoeing and fishing, they said.
“We need to work on a park system for the river,” Don Croy said, adding river access could be one of the uses for some of the buyout property.
David Salvesen of the University of North Carolina gave a presentation on what other communities in the country have done with flood management buyout properties. Many communities try to create community gardens, dog parks, campgrounds and other such locations.
Austin, Minnesota, purchased 240 homes in flood mitigation buyouts and used the properties for trailers and different parks. They also received special permission from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repurpose a flooded church into a community center, he said.
Ferryman gave examples of what Ohio communities have done with their flood buyout properties. While a few of them just have vacant lots where purchased properties stood, Cuyahoga Falls turned their buyout lands into a pavilion and concert area where they hold events for the public, he said.
After Salvesen and Ferryman were done with their examples the attendees were separated into five groups to brainstorm uses for the floodplain buyout properties.
Some of the ideas the groups game up with included:
•Adding facilities to Arrowhead Park.
•Making the properties near the river usable by local students for biological and ecological class laboratories.
•Creating a picnic area downtown where Ace Hardware once was.
•Creating an amphitheater with a downtown picnic area where people can relax.
After lunch the groups shared their ideas with one another and discussed the obstacles and strategies for implementing the best plans born from the brainstorming sessions.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362