by Marcy Denker
A year ago, Nyack announced its Sustainable Nyack Action Plan 2015-2016, with goals and actions for a greener village. There were four categories: Landscape and Water, Energy, Recycling and Waste, and Communication. The Village made great progress on all fronts, from solar and LED to recycling and tree planting. I am the Village’s Sustainability Coordinator. This year, we expect to hit some more big goals; but to make it happen, the village needs volunteers and input.
Our greatest progress last year was on landscape issues; in particular, tree protection. Right now, we’re planning a wide-spread planting program and small tree nursery for public and private properties in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension, BOCES, Rockland Conservation Service Corps, and other partners. We laid the foundation last year by completing a professional inventory of all public trees and potential planting sites in the Village, and developing a list of recommended trees. We expect the community to be very involved. (Let us know if you want to help plan our pilot project now or be involved later!)
The Tree Committee has also begun working with the Building Department and Planning Board to improve the tree protection provisions in the Village Code. And the Comprehensive Plan Update team has been incorporating the recommendations for protecting trees and other natural resources, in the Green Infrastructure Report from 2013, into the current discussions about land use and sustainability.
The Village is creating a more coherent process for planting and maintaining landscapes on Village-owned property and modeling best practices for Nyack as a whole. Nyack now has a no-leaf blower policy for municipal properties, and the Department of Public Works began transitioning staff to new responsibilities for management of streets and parks.
Last spring, the Village Board adopted a resolution in support of the leaf-mulching program known as “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em.” The Mayor reached out to larger property owners to engage them in the effort, and the work continues. The Tree Committee arranged to distribute Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em bookmarks in school backpacks this fall and publicized the campaign in a Village email blast. We’ve heard that people got the message and were excited to try it. Next year we plan to do a better job of getting the word out with yard signs and by working directly with local landscapers. (Want to know more about it? Go to http://leleny.org/)
In the Energy category of the Action Plan, we got important work done on planning for municipal property. The Village Board has authorized Daylight Savings Company to conduct an energy audit of Village Hall and Nyack Water Plant with partial funding from NYSERDA FlexTech Program. The audit will serve as a municipal energy efficiency masterplan that will help us prioritize actions, like replacing windows and installing solar.
We completed the Green House Gas Inventory of Municipal Operations (thank you, Bruce Kenney!), an important step in our quest to become a certified Climate Smart Community, and now plan to set reduction targets in the Comprehensive Plan Update process.
We made progress on the issue of LED conversion of the streetlights, something that many nearby communities are working on. We’ve taken step one — assessing whether it makes economic sense to purchase the streetlights from O&R. Next we will need to decide whether we want to negotiate a price with the utility and how the lights would be maintained. Beyond that, we would work on lighting design decisions and a timeline for conversion to LED.
What about energy efficiency and alternative energy for the whole community? It’s coming in 2016! Solarize Hudson Valley has selected our proposal to run a Solarize Nyack campaign in the spring. Maybe you’ve been considering solar panels and need a little help making decisions. Solarize Open Houses with experts will take the pain out of the process and get you a discount too. If you are already thinking about solar, please send us a quick message and let us know. If you have installed solar panels, contact us so that you can share your knowledge as a “solar ambassador.” We’ll help you with the campaign.
Later this year, we plan to begin promoting NYSERDA’s Home Performance with Energy Star program. If you have already had an energy audit, we would love to hear about it.
In the Recycling category, the best news is that the Village is developing a plan for a new weekly recycling program for all districts. It will be a big improvement. The Village is also preparing a resolution in support of Say No to the Bag, and would like to help encourage the community to think twice before leaving those reusable bags home or in the trunk of your car. Again, if you see a way to be a partner on this, call us.
And the Communication category? It’s a hard one. We’re trying lots of ways. We’re working on a plan for a Sustainable Nyack presence at the Farmers Market and would love to have other volunteers to help.
Remember, engaged volunteers make things happen. Check out the list of goals in the Sustainable Nyack Action Plan. We’d love to hear from you.
Marcy Denker is the Sustainability Coordinator for the Village of Nyack.