NEW YORK MILLS — "We're just here to say goodbye," said Jackie O'Brien, about 20 minutes before 12 Henderson St. was demolished by a public works crew.

O'Brien, along with her sister Mary McCorduck, came to see the small house — where their great-grandmother and grandmother each raised children — for one last time.

On Thursday, a joint announcement by Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri and New Hartford Supervisor Paul Miscione touted a cooperative effort to demolish 11 houses over the next several months that were impacted by severe and repeated flooding by Sauquoit Creek over the years.

At the demolition of the first house on the list — 12 Henderson — Miscione said the former residents of the 11 properties participated in a Federal Emergency Management Agency property buyout program, and $2.1 million in reimbursable funding is available to municipalities by FEMA for their demolition.

"It's sad to think memories are going," O'Brien said. "They said they weren't going to build anything else here. It's going to be part of (Pietryka) park. How can you build (anything new) if it's just going to keep flooding?"

The partnership goes beyond demolition. Utica and New Hartford police departments will use the vacant houses to practice tactical home entry skills.

Miscione said that once all structures are demolished, they ground will be graded and returned to grass.

"It's a great day for shared services," Palmieri said.

Miscione said New Hartford would continue to work with surrounding communities to "create efficiency and cost savings to our residents."

Despite the tear-down of the properties, the lots will continue to have a place and purpose in the community.

As an excavator began to dig into 12 Henderson St., O’Brien said that while she was sad to see a home with ties to her family go, "I’d rather see it part of the park than a commercial property."

Contact reporter Jolene Cleaver at 315-792-4956 or follow her on Twitter (@OD_Cleaver).