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Community meeting in Seneca County brings out housing concerns: “The living infrastructure is very scattered” (video)

There’s a special meeting happening under the gazebo at the Ovid Farmer’s Market.

“We thought partnering with the farmer’s market might be a good idea to get kind of a group that might not normally attend a meeting like this out and present,” says Seneca County Planning Department Deputy Director Joe McGrath.

McGrath helped organize the gathering made up of people who live in the southern part of Seneca County.

Consulting firm hears Seneca County residents’ concerns about housing (video)

They’re at the beginning stages of a housing needs assessment project, for which Seneca County received a grant.

More: Seneca County to hold housing meeting at Ovid Farmer’s Market

Buffalo-based analytics firm meets residents

The county hired the consulting firm Highroad Community Planning & Analytics based out of Buffalo.

Now, Russell Weaver and his colleague are in the information-gathering stage.

“We typically take an approach that looks at a lot of data to identify what the market situation is, how it is either meeting or not meeting the needs of the population who lives here now,” explained Russell Weaver with Highroad Community Planning.

But he says the data doesn’t tell the whole story.

“So we try to get out and hear from folks what their needs are,” Weaver says. “We’re here to learn and to be able to understand from residents who live here what they see as the challenges right now and what they’re worried about for the future.”

More: Officials in Seneca County take on housing issues

Lack of affordable housing a topic of conversation

And this group isn’t being shy about that.

“Housing is an issue here,” says Jean Curry of Ovid. “I think there’s a lot of issues in Seneca County.  I think I mentioned transportation.  The fact that it’s very long. The things like the villages and the living infrastructure is very scattered.”

Several here spoke about the lack of housing available for people with medium to low incomes.

“We’re got the better-off people like me who live on the lake and we’ve got better housing,” Curry says. “But between the lakes there is a lot of housing that is very poor.”

Input helps consultants come up with a plan

McGrath feels they got some good information.

“I think I learned a lot more about our villages,” McGrath says. “I work with the County planning board pretty often. A lot of the projects that we review are sometimes more rural or based of communities like Waterloo or Seneca Falls and I don’t always hear about what’s happening in Lodi or Ovid or Interlaken and I’m glad to hear more about what’s happening.”

The second meeting will be held in mid-October at the Seneca Falls Community Center.