by Nyack Mayor Don Hammond
At a special press event during during Earth Week 2019 in Memorial Park, I looked at the river and our waterfront and reflected on what we are doing as a community to protect the beautiful resources we have. We were gathered with county and state officials and representatives from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to celebrate Nyack’s becoming the first community in Rockland County to receive bronze certification in New York State’s Climate Smart Communities program. That’s a recognition of work we’ve been doing for several years to, prepare for the impacts of climate change and work as a community to change our practices and behaviors so that we can achieve that vision for the future.
We also were recognized by the NYS Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) for becoming a registered as Clean Energy Community. That program promotes clean energy solutions, and Nyack has started tracking energy use in our government buildings and has completed several other actions in order to qualify.
It’s good to stop and reflect on the effort that has gone into this—starting six years ago when Jen White was mayor and continuing ever since. The village hired Bob Galvin as our land use planner, Marcy Denker became our Sustainability Coordinator, and we started to work on reducing our carbon footprint through better planning and outreach.
We’re now seeing some real progress. Nyack is lowering its greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency and alternative energy. Installing new LED streetlights will reduce our lighting energy usage by 68 percent. Municipal buildings now use 100 percent green electricity sources.
But we are just getting started. New York has set goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. It’s important for us to do as much as we can to get to these emissions goals or even better them. But currently, New York only uses 3 percent wind energy and less than 1 percent from solar energy. That means we need to keep educating ourselves and taking meaningful, high impact actions whenever we can.
We are talking with the adjacent villages about these things, and they’ve been bringing us into their initiatives. We’re trying to create communities along the riverfront and in Rockland that are committed to sustainable practices. For example, on the new initiative for bulk green energy purchasing called Community Choice Aggregation, we’ve been sharing information with our neighboring village leaders and the town supervisors. That’s how we’re going to scale up and make meaningful progress.
Students and teachers at Nyack High School are helping us with outreach, research and artwork on our BYOBag campaign to educate the community about single-use bags, and we intend to keep those relationships going.
With the help of a very committed board, our Sustainability Coordinator Marcy Denker, and dedicated community volunteers, we’re stepping up the effort. You will be hearing a lot from us about this. We want to change habits and challenge people to think differently.
There are many opportunities for you to become involved both on a personal and community wide level. To join in being part of the solution please email Marcy at email@example.com.
Don Hammond is the mayor of Nyack, NY.