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Re-visioning downtown Ovid

Seneca County Cornell Cooperative Extension and Seneca Towns Engaging People in Solutions (STEPS) have been selected to partner this fall with Design Connect, a multi-disciplinary, student run community design organization based at Cornell University which provides planning services to improve local communities. Design Connect students engage directly with the community to develop design and planning projects based on residents’ interest and input. The initial project to be undertaken this semester is to develop ideas for downtown Ovid’s “streetscape”. The group will create conceptual ideas and renderings of a re-envisioned downtown as well as possible economic strategies to achieve the vision. Sample designs for vacant lots, street design, a coherent village design and signage will be produced. Designs will reflect community input and a feedback loop between the project team and community residents is an essential component in the process. “We couldn’t be more excited to be chosen and are glad we can bring these resources from Cornell to work with us in southern Seneca County” stated Ave Bauder, Seneca County CCE Executive Director and Co-chair of the STEPS Steering Committee. “The Design Connect students see community input as vital as they work with us, so their approach ties completely into that of the STEPS Project.” Theresa Lahr, the STEPS Project Director, added “We hope that this will be the first project in a successful, ongoing relationship between the group and the STEPS neighborhood. We know many of our residents already have more project ideas that include each of the southernmost four towns in Seneca County.”The local Design Connect Project team includes students in planning, design, preservation and engineering. Over the next few weeks they will gather community input through surveys, interviews and open meetings to re-envision the downtown of the Village of Ovid for economic revitalization and a healthy neighborhood experience. These plans will include street scaping and village design interventions on the existing structures as well as proposed reuse of vacant areas. This process will involve all stakeholder groups such as STEPS, CCE, neighborhood residents, business owners, land owners, community leaders and elected officials to fully understand the possibilities, the needs, and the barriers to such a project. The group will establish two-way communication channels and a takes a consensus and trust-building approach to decision-making with the community. The group will revise the preliminary design in keeping with the feedback received from the community. Design Connect will present the final plans and designs to the community by mid to late November 2014.Anyone with questions about the project is encouraged to contact Theresa Lahr at STEPS: (607)403-0069, mtlahr@gmail.com or Ave Bauder at Seneca County Cornell Cooperative Extension: (315) 539-9251, bauder@cornell.edu. The STEPS project is a long-term program that acknowledges that where you live and the social, economic and environmental state of your neighborhood has an impact on your health. It focuses on the positive assets of our community. As part of a year-long process STEPS is assessing the neighborhood (the towns of Covert, Lodi, Ovid and Romulus) to discover the many strengths we can build on to create a healthier community. Participation by all of the residents of the neighborhood is encouraged and welcomed. STEPS is a S2AY Rural Health Network project made possible by a grant from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation. For more information call the STEPS office at (607) 403-0069.For nearly 100 years, Seneca County Cornell Cooperative Extension has served the people of the County, putting to practical use the scholarship and research of Cornell University and the national land grant system in the areas of agriculture and food systems sustainability; families, nutrition, health and safety (human ecology); youth development (4-H); environmental and natural resource enhancement; and community and economic vitality. The office is located at 308 Main Street Shop Centre in Waterloo. For more information on programs, please call the office at 315-539-9251 or e-mail Seneca@cornell.edu.

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