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Earth Matters: A Greener Nyack by 2030


Earth Matters focuses on conservation, sustainability, recycling and healthy living. This weekly series is brought to you by Maria Luisa Boutique and Strawtown Studio.
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by Susan Hellauer

The Amazon is burning, glaciers are melting at record speed, the thermometer is blowing its top… Someone NEEDS to do something.

That someone can be you, and you don’t have to chip in to buy Greenland, or trek to Antarctica. There’s work to be done right here in Nyack. Take it from Village of Nyack Sustainability Coordinator Marcy Denker, whom I recently spoke to about climate-sparing initiatives that she and the Nyack Sustainability Committee are unveiling.

What should we be looking for from the Sustainability Committee this fall?

The Village of Nyack—a New York State Bronze Certified Climate Smart Community (CSC)—is getting ready to start work on a Climate Action Plan.

What is a Climate Action Plan?

A typical basic Climate Action Plan starts with data about your community’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, from both municipal operations and the broader community. The plan then sets goals to reduce those emissions, and describes actions to reach those goals.

We applied for a grant last month from the CSC program to support a multimedia outreach campaign about this project. In order to have an effective Climate Action Plan, we need a high level of awareness and “buy-in” from the community, because this is something that the community itself is going to have to implement.

On April 25, 2019, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) came to Nyack’s Memorial Park Gazebo to congratulate the village on achieving Certified Bronze status in its Climate Smart Community initiative. From left to right: Rockland County Legislator Harriet Cornell, Nyack Sustainability Coordinator Marcy Denker, Nyack Trustee Louise Parker, Brendan Cahill (representing Senator David Carlucci), Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, Kelly Turturro (DEC), Nyack Mayor Don Hammond, Brad Tito (NYSERDA). (Photo: Susan Hellauer)

Is there a time frame for Nyack’s Climate Action Plan?

We will be setting goals for 2030—things to do and results to achieve over the next ten years. We want to look at all sorts of opportunities for actions that would actually get us to our goals and objectives. Our Climate Action Plan would show all that information, and provide a roadmap to follow. It will also include emergency plans and steps for climate change adaptation. The planning should be completed by the end of 2020, so we’ll have a plan in hand to use through 2030.

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Why 2030?

It’s partly because it’s the typical thing to do–it’s a manageable target–and also because the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act has a set of 2030 goals. When the IPCC climate change report came out last year, it primed people to be thinking that sort of “decade” time frame.

How are you going to find GHG emissions reduction opportunities here?

We will be doing direct outreach with local stakeholders–residents and also organizations like churches, schools, community programs, and civic organizations–to see what they are already doing, and how we can partner together in order to strengthen all this work.

For example, I described our initiative to the Nyack School District Board and superintendent at a meeting in July to get their support for our grant application. They were enthusiastic about it, and the superintendent mentioned things that the district itself will be doing to address climate change in their own facilities. That’s important information for us.

bike rack

Emission-free transport to Upper Nyack Elementary School

I’m also working on getting meetings with church leaders and Montefiore-Nyack Hospital. I had a great conversation with the head of the the Rotary Club, and we have new partnerships with committees in Upper Nyack and South Nyack. We’ll also be doing outreach with the business community, and not just retail and restaurants. For example, I’m excited about the possibility of doing home energy retrofits. If we promote things like this, we’re promoting green jobs. We’re thinking of this broad coalition of community stakeholders as the “Nyack 2030 Coalition.”

Will this Nyack 2030 Coalition help with creating the Climate Action Plan?

I’m looking to have a series of conversations with all these different community partners—the Nyack 2030 Coalition—to find out what their concerns are, and how they are acting on these concerns, how we can work together to identify potential opportunities for cutting our GHG emissions. I’ve set up an evening time in the Nyack Library Community Room in November so that we can get some of these community partners to talk together and contribute to our plan.

But to create the Climate Action Plan itself, we’ll put together a small steering committee this fall. The plan will identify potential areas to act on, and shape the data and the plans into a report. The Nyack 2030 Coalition will surely have some overlap with the steering committee, but it will be a community-wide network with a shared agenda that will continue to work together, and, we hope, will keep getting better and better.

The steering committee will be selected from key community stakeholders, and our own Sustainability Committee which has now grown to 20 participants.

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rockland climate alliance die in nyack

Rockland Climate Alliance leads a “die-in” at the May 24 Climate Strike at Nyack’s Veterans Park Gazebo. Photo: Lorien Barlow

What kind of outreach will you do?

We’re going to publicize all of this, but if we snag the CSC grant, we could hire a professional graphic artist to help us with this branding, and create printed newsletters (not just online resources). We’ll also create coordinated posters and other materials so that people can, over time, see these events and actions dispersed around the community are part of a mutually supported effort.

Are there any examples of this kind of initiative in our region?

The Village of Dobbs Ferry created a Climate Action Plan a few years ago that is nicely done and a good model  For the Nyack 2030 Coaltion we’re looking more closely at the ambitious effort of Bedford 2020 in Westchester. They created a Climate Action Plan back in 2012, and have achieved a lot of their goals with a wonderful set of initiatives in schools, churches and businesses that they make easily accessible on their website.  We know that we have also done a number of these things, and can create something similar that’s appropriate for our community.

How can people find out more, or get involved?

We are interested in hearing from people and organizations who want to participate in this effort. Email me at mbdenker@gmail.com. Or visit our table at the Great Nyack Get Together on September 14, noon to 6p, in Memorial Park.

Those who reach out won’t necessarily have to join a committee. We need a mix of Nyack’s people and groups for discussion and brainstorming, to come up with real, rational steps that work for our community. We want to build our capacity up and get our emissions down.

This is a transformation that we really need to start to imagine. So we want to widen our pool of knowledge, and grow a bigger brain.

Learn more:

Hudson River Sunrise, Clermont, Main St, Nyack, Lens flare. Photo Credit: Dave Zornow

Hudson River Sunrise, Clermont, Main St, Nyack. Photo: Dave Zornow

Earth Matters, a weekly feature that focuses on conservation, sustainability, recycling and healthy living, is sponsored by Maria Luisa Boutique, and Strawtown Studio. Read Earth Matters every Wednesday on Nyack News And Views, or sign up for the Earth Matters mailing list.

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Nyack Farmer's Market



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