Using Community Input and Data to Make Informed Decisions Posted on June 10, 2016 by wpengine Share this post Some of the many things we love here at GTECH include community input, innovative solutions, working with great people to improve our region’s community and environmental health, data, and transforming liabilities into assets. For these reasons and many more, we were very excited to partner recently with Economic Development South (EDS) and the Saw Mill Run Watershed Association (SMRWA) to conduct a Green Boulevard Property Acquisition Study along Route 51 and Library Road. The long-term vision for the Green Boulevard is to enhance the economic, environmental, and social health of the corridor. The Route 51 corridor and the Saw Mill Run watershed currently face several challenges such as blighted properties, localized flooding, and impaired water quality. Transforming under-utilized impervious areas such as parking lots and/or blighted properties into naturalized or floodable recreation areas represents the opportunity to reduce stormwater and flooding impacts, improve water quality, increase the viability of the commercial corridor, expand passive and active recreational options, and improve property values. GTECH’s role in helping to realize this vision was to develop and apply a property analysis matrix to identify properties for inclusion in the Green Boulevard. With inspiration from Neighborspace Baltimore’s Open Space Planning approach and benchmarking from around the country, we developed a methodology which utilizes stakeholder input to inform a data-driven approach for identifying the most suitable properties. First, we developed goals and objectives for the project. We surveyed stakeholders to understand the importance of each of these goals and objectives. Based on 141 survey responses, we used a process known as pairwise comparison to gauge the relative importance of the goals and objectives. Next, these weights were applied to the criteria which were initially identified as the characteristics that must be present to achieve the individual objectives. These are shown below with their associated weights. Our next step was to perform multi-criteria spatial analysis on the study area’s 451 parcels to identify which parcels align most closely with the goals identified by stakeholders. This focused on the presence of the 18 criteria outlined above. An example of this process is below. The final step before mapping findings was to combine the results of the weighting derived from stakeholder input and the multi-criteria spatial analysis. This involved multiplying each parcel’s score for each of the 18 criteria by that criteria’s weighting that was developed from stakeholder input. Generally speaking, characteristics of priority parcels include those which are vacant or have poor-condition buildings, provide stream access, are in the 100 year floodplain, have experienced flooding, are in close proximity to existing trails, parks, and streams, are publicly-owned and/or tax delinquent, have low property values, and are of significant size. Finally, the results were mapped to share with EDS and SMRWA – a version of a roadmap to help inform the process of creating the Green Boulevard. Due to an anticipated multi-year acquisition process, new data will become available and conditions will likely change. Our process was developed with these factors in mind – the entire process or parts of the process can be re-run at any time. We’re excited about this methodology and hope to be able to modify it for other land-use scenarios across the region. We tried to minimize excessive detail and jargon for the purpose of this blog, but would love to talk more to anyone who may be interested (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org).