Happy to share that I have joined @ClimateMayors — a network of municipal leaders with a common commitment to building sustainable, equitable, resilient cities.
Joining is timely. New Rochelle just completed a comprehensive analysis of our greenhouse gas emissions, and the data, as illustrated in this power point, show impressive GHG reductions, especially in the indirect emissions from our residential sector. With tools now in place for ongoing GHG tracking, we’ll be able to update these figures going forward, measuring the impact of local actions to address the climate crisis.
Personal testimonials are a powerful way to inspire action. That’s why Sustainable Westchester is looking for New Rochelle residents who can share their own stories about going green. To share your experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (914) 242-4725 ext. 122. More here.
There are lots of obvious benefits that flow from downtown development — new housing and job opportunities, a stronger tax base, a more attractive and culturally vibrant city center, and better access to goods and services, to name just a few. A key benefit that’s often overlooked, however, is that the right kind of development helps to confront the climate crisis. It may seem counterintuitive to think of dense, high-rise construction as a form of environmental progress, but it is. Transit-served downtowns like New Rochelle’s are less car-dependent and consume less energy per capita than other patterns of development. And by densifying urban cores, we help to preserve natural open space elsewhere. These facts are well illustrated in this really neat map from the New York Times which shows how land use patterns contribute to — and can help address — the climate emergency. There are, of course, many other factors that affect climate change, but this may be the area in which local government can have the greatest impact. So, in addition to being great for New Rochelle’s parochial interests, downtown development is among the best things we can do for the planet.
Last night, the City Council received a significant update on the LINC project, which aims to transform much of Memorial Highway into a linear park. Following months of study, our planners and traffic analysts now recommend an improved design, which provides for two-way traffic through most of the project area, the grounding of the overpass at North Avenue, and a better connection to Exit 16 of the New England Thruway. The updated plans also integrates green space adjacent to Memorial Highway into the overall park configuration, a big expansion. There’s more detail in this presentation.
Public input will remain paramount as we progress to final design and programming, and as the last slide of the deck illustrates, there is still much work ahead, with construction not expected to commence until 2025. But, make no mistake, this project will happen. New Rochelle has already won highly-competitive federal and state grants totaling about $20 million to implement the LINC, and I could not be more excited about this transformative vision for enhancing our community and improving the lives of tens of thousands of residents.
I am proud that New Rochelle’s early adoption of the NYS Stretch Energy Code was highlighted in a recent virtual summit hosted by Sustainable Westchester @SustWest. (The panel on which I participated begins at about 34:00.) NY Stretch is part of our larger effort to promote environmental and social governance, especially in the context of downtown development. It’s the right thing to do for our community and planet, cuts ongoing operational costs, and makes New Rochelle more attractive to mission-oriented investment.
It’s not a good idea just yet for us to gather in a big crowd at City Hall for a traditional State of the City Address, so, instead, I recorded a message to report on the opportunities and challenges confronting New Rochelle, and on the progress we have made together as a community. Please watch a video of the speech or read my remarks.
Even through the worst of the pandemic, New Rochelle kept making big strides on the essential priorities that will shape our future. When it comes to our economy and our budget, our environment and our neighborhoods, and our commitment to the dignity and worth of all people, we are poised to emerge from the crisis with fresh momentum and a renewed sense of possibility and optimism. The State of our City is strong.