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Harlem Valley towns get Climate Smart money

kaitlinl@millertonnews.com

HARLEM VALLEY — After fulfilling the necessary requirements to be recognized as registered Climate Smart Communities (CSC), the towns of Amenia, North East and Dover are among the municipalities that received recent funding from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYSDEC) Climate Smart Communities Grant Program.

Since 2016, the DEC’s 50/50 matching grant program for New York State municipalities has helped to support eligible climate adaptation and mitigation projects and to provide support for communities seeking to become state-certified CSCs. All municipalities registered as CSCs can choose to undertake the actions deemed most appropriate for the area’s particular objectives, capacity and other related circumstances. By documenting its completion of specific local actions, registered CSCs can work toward CSC Certification with support from the CSC Certification Grants. After completing these actions, the registered communities earn points toward its designation as a certified CSC.

As of last December, 248 New York state municipalities have adopted the CSC Pledge in order to become registered CSCs and “engage in programs to increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy and a green economy,” according to a press release from the NYSDEC. A total of $7.3 million was awarded to municipalities across the state last December as part of the $763 million in Regional Economic Development Council Awards. 

Amenia

Amenia received $17,208 to pursue CSC certification through the completion of two CSC actions. Such actions will include completing a road-stream crossing vulnerability assessment in order to determine climate vulnerabilities associated with bridges and culverts. The town is also looking into completing climate smart resiliency planning to identify gaps in its policies related to climate vulnerability and adaptation as a guide for future policy and project direction.

“The whole point of doing the projects is to get Climate Smart Committee Certification and also to be eligible for grants to improve the town,” said Amenia town Supervisor Victoria Perotti.

After receiving notice about the amount awarded, Perotti said the town’s Conservation Advisory Committee (CAC) started working on setting the Climate Smart projects in motion. According to the town’s grant administrator Mike Hagerty, the town was working on developing a draft contract for the Amenia Town Board to consider adopting

“We are hoping to begin implementing the grant in May or June and are seeking to coordinate with the Housatonic Valley Association who assisted the town in developing the grant,” Hagerty said.

North East

With a total of $29,708 in CSC Grant funding, the town of North East has joined forces with the village of Millerton to work toward CSC certification. Both the village and the town registered as CSCs last summer and have since started looking into plausible CSC certification actions. Among some of the actions, the town and village intend to complete an inventory of their government greenhouse gas emissions and create climate action plans; examine the area’s bridges and culverts to determine flooding vulnerability; and perform a climate resiliency planning analysis to identify gaps in climate vulnerability and adaptation policies.

For the project involving the bridges and culverts, North East Councilman Chris Kennan explained that the Webatuck Creek flows through the town and village and that part of the village lies on a flood plain. The goal is to protect the village from the effects of flooding.

Having taken charge of writing the grant proposal, Kennan said, “This is important stuff for us to do. We live in a really beautiful part of the world and sometimes it’s easy to think that climate change won’t happen to us … but we’re as susceptible to climate change as any other town is.

“I’m really proud of what the town and the village are doing together,” Kennan continued. “I’m very happy with the grant proposal that we prepared. I think it’s a really strong one and we’ll be talking more about the Climate Smart program going down the road.”

While the majority of projects won’t be finished overnight, Kennan said it’s important to engage community members as the project gets started. 

Dover

Dover received $14,723 to amend its comprehensive plan to include a Climate Smart sustainability chapter. According to Dover Town Clerk and Climate Smart Dover Task Force Co-Chair Katie Palmer-House, this is the second time the town has received a grant from the CSC Grant program.

Through the funding it received last December, the town intends to create a sustainability chapter that will articulate a vision, guiding principles, an action plan and sustainability evaluation measures to promote economic growth while protecting the town’s environmental assets.

“This sustainability chapter will be a way of looking at the comprehensive plan through the lens of Climate Smart principles and practices,” Palmer-House said.

The chapter will serve as a supplemental chapter in the plan that will focus on climate-best practices, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions; waste prevention; increased energy efficiency; increased recycling and reuse; and practicing green building, a practice that refers to altering a building so that it “reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts on our climate and natural environment,” according to the World Green Building Council. Through those five areas, Palmer-House said the chapter will encompass the practical meaning of the term “sustainability.”