New Lights Brighten Transit Center and Save Money

As noted here this summer, the City Council approved installation of new high-efficiency LED light fixtures in the New Roc City and Transit Center garages, supported by a loan from the New York State Power Authority.

Now installation at the Transit Center is almost complete, and the work at New Roc City is about to begin. These new lights for our parking garages are expected to cut energy use by about half, reducing CO2 equivalent emissions and energy costs for the City. Over the expected 20-year lifespan of the new lights, total savings for local taxpayers will be about $2 million.

Reducing municipal energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions is one of the goals of GreeNR, New Rochelle’s Sustainability Plan. In this spirit, the City is already undertaking comprehensive (and money-saving) energy improvements at City Hall and the Police/Court facility. Up next: replacing all outdoor street lights with more energy-efficient models.

You can read more about the lighting upgrades in Patch and the Daily Voice, or watch the video report from Patch below.

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Comprehensive Tree Inventory Launched

Trees offer many benefits to our community — they mitigate flooding by soaking up water, improve air quality, reduce the urban heat island effect, take in carbon dioxide, and, of course, they make our city more attractive. For these reasons, New Rochelle’s Sustainability Plan, GreeNR, sets a target of planting 10,000 new trees on public property by 2030.

This month, the Council will take an important step toward this goal by commissioning an inventory of street trees throughout New Rochelle. Put simply, this analysis will determine where new trees could most sensibly be planted. When completed, the data from this survey will be incorporated into the City’s computer-mapping of New Rochelle and will serve as the basis for a coherent, multi-year program of tree planting. That will be a big improvement over today’s ad hoc tree planting activities.

The study will cost just under $20,000, but will be paid for entirely by the City’s tree fund, which is supported by fees charged in connection with developments and site plan approvals. No general tax money will be employed. By making this modest investment, we can ensure that any future resources devoted to urban forestry are utilized efficiently for maximum public benefit.

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Lincoln Park Community Garden Harvests First Bounty

After a year of planning, learning, recruiting, fundraising, and planting, the Lincoln Park Community Garden is now showing its true colors — beautiful greens, reds, and yellows — from the garden’s first harvest. (Some beautiful photos from the garden’s bounty have been posted online.)

The site of the former Lincoln Elementary School has been transformed into an organic garden by scores of local volunteers with the backing of community organizations and the New Rochelle Department of Parks & Recreation. A learning center organized in coordination with the garden will sponsor workshops on healthy living and the environment both on-site and at schools, senior centers, and other community centers.

Following on the heels of another successful community garden in Ward Acres, I am encouraged that healthy food choices and cooperative recreation opportunities are on the rise in New Rochelle. Increasing the number of garden plots in New Rochelle is one of the many recommendations contained within GreeNR, New Rochelle’s sustainability plan.

For information about participating in programs at the new Lincoln Park Community Garden and Conservancy, visit the garden’s page on Facebook, or email growlincolnpark@gmail.com.

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Historic District Walk Kicks Off Public Health Initiative

Everyone enjoys a good walk (well, most everyone). It’s not just a matter of improving our own personal health, although that is certainly important; a community in which more people walk will feature less traffic, better air quality, lower medical costs, and maybe even increased commerce. You get the idea.

For all these reasons, New Rochelle’s Sustainability Plan GreeNR recommends the formation of Neighborhood Walking Groups, and to help kick off this initiative, the City is hosting “New Ro Walks!” on Sunday, September 9th at 9:00am. Starting from City Hall, you can take either a 1.5 or 2.5 mile walk though the city’s beautiful historic district with your family, friends, and neighbors.

There’s more information about “New Ro Walks!” on the City’s website, in this poster, and this press release. This registration form can be downloaded and mailed in, or you can register at the event starting at 8:00am on City Hall’s front lawn. If you’re interested in forming or joining a walking group in your own neighborhood, organizing is taking place on Facebook.

Public health is an essential part of community sustainability. And if we can have fun while doing good, so much the better. I hope to see you on September 9th.

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City’s “Green Team” Recommends Good Environmental Practices

New Rochelle’s Sustainability Plan, GreeNR, contains many ambitious goals, some of which are already being actively pursued, including major capital improvements aimed at upgrading the energy efficiency of public buildings. But GreeNR also makes clear that smaller, common sense, day-to-day actions have real value. To this end, our Sustainability Coordinator recently assembled an inter-departmental “Green Team” to review practices in City Hall and make recommendations for improvements. You might be interested in a sampling of the new standards that will be introduced as a result of this process:

  • Encourage general recycling by providing additional recycling bins that are accessible in all areas of City Hall, and also by circulating informational materials to all employees.
  • Reduce paper use by adjusting all printers so that two-sided printing is the default option and by distributing documents electronically in PDF format whenever possible.
  • Improve ink toner cartridge recycling by designating one responsible party in each department.
  • Reduce wasteful energy use by installing motion detectors that automatically shut off lights when no one is present in a room. (These are likely to be installed in 2013.)
  • Promote cell phone recycling through semi-annual reminders to all employees that used cell phones can be recycled at City Hall.

None of these actions are going to change the world, but they are evidence of the City government’s evolving commitment to sustainable practices. We will keep trying to do better.

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