This morning at City Hall, Mayor Kathy Sheehan proclaimed the beginning of “Earth Week” in Albany. The mayor was joined by Congressman Paul Tonko and other government and business officials to discuss ongoing community-centric initiatives and upcoming events.
"And so it is with great pleasure that I am declaring this Earth Week in the city of Albany. We have Earth Day tomorrow and we have Arbor Day at the end of the week, and so it seemed like we should just be celebrating spring after this long long winter.." Mayor Kathy Sheehan laid out the city's green initiatives: to be walkable, livable and environmentally-friendly. "we have to make sure that as we build out our infrastructure, we're doing it in a way that takes into account temperature changes that are happening, water levels, and the possibilities of the environment around us, for rooftop gardens, and for lots of opportunities to just carve out beautiful beautiful places where we can commune with nature. And we're so fortunate in the city of Albany, that from Washington Park to this little park to the Hudson River we have beautiful spaces that people can enjoy and we're looking to develop more so that we can be not only walking in that environment but recreating in that environment."
Sheehan says there are "too many" projects to highlight, directing those interested to go to Albany new york dot gov. She says the city is making plans to revitalize a park in Arbor Hill, install a "rain garden" in the Heldeberg Neighborhood, and reestablish the Livingston Avenue Bridge as an eco-friendly pedestrian crossing linking the Albany and Rensselaer rail trails.
Congressman Paul Tonko says it’s important to resolve the concept of climate change. "Whether we accept that science or not, there are needs out there for children and families who are impacted by growing situations of respiratory problems with issues like Asthma and what have you. And so I think whether we buy into the science of it or not, there are improvements that are required with the many many reminders from mother nature that there indeed are changing forces out there." Tonko stressed that air and water quality are "at an utmost high priority."
Albany Common Council Member Leah Golby encourages more people to explore and enjoy Albany via bicycle. "It's a fun exercise and it really gives you the opportunity to see the city in a slower, more peaceful way."
Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin says from one end of Albany to another, Earth Week is for everyone. "I remember as a child riding the bridge on my bike over to Rensselaer, and to know that people will be able to do that again in the near future is a real sign that we are keeping our city the way that it should be. A sustainable city. A walkable city. A rideable city."
Ongoing City Environmental and Sustainability Projects
North Swan Street Park
The future North Swan Street Park will soon emerge on a one-acre plot that currently includes a basketball court and asphalt area in a state of disrepair. Developed with extensive outreach to and input from the community and designed to EPA Green Project Reserve standards, North Swan Street Park will provide a welcoming community space and park with several environmentally-friendly features. Green initiatives within the North Swan Street Park include porous asphalt, permeable reinforced concrete pavers, porous concrete sidewalks, a rain garden, bio-retention facilities, soil restoration/de-compaction, vegetated swales, and tree plantings. Located in Arbor Hill, this park will be a multigenerational oasis on a block that has seen millions of dollars of new investment in affordable housing and retail space.
NYPA Energy Master Plan
The City of Albany is participating in an exciting new project with the New York Power Authority (NYPA). Albany is one of 5 cities in the state (along with Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers) to be selected for development of an Energy Master Plan with the goals of:
- Reducing energy consumption and costs
- Strengthening the reliability of the City’s energy infrastructure
- Creating jobs in clean energy industries and improving the local economy
- Contributing to a cleaner environment.
This project is coordinated and funded by NYPA and is being developed by NYPA’s consultant, VHB, Inc. in cooperation with the City and its partners.
Helderberg Neighborhood Association Rain Garden
The Planning Department and Albany Housing Authority have awarded the Helderberg Neighborhood Association a new rain garden as the prize for winning the Neighborhood Energy Challenge. The Water Department and the Department of General Services will install a rain garden at the corner of Pinewood Avenue & Hackett Boulevard using a design created by members of the Helderberg Neighborhood Association with assistance from the Planning Department and the Water Department.
Projects that we expect to move forward in the near future
The City of Albany has many beautiful and important natural spaces, some of which remain underutilized. One of these spaces is the Tivoli Lake Preserve, an 80-acre urban nature preserve right in our backyard – the second largest in New York State. Tivoli Lake Preserve has the potential to become an actively-used centerpiece of the surrounding community and a destination for people throughout the City and beyond. This summer, the City will undertake a community engagement and visioning process that will offer an opportunity for City residents and other stakeholders to create a vision for how they would like to see this incredible resource used in the future. This opportunity is made possible through a $30,000 grant from the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYSDEC) Hudson River Estuary Program, in partnership with the New York State Office of Environmental Justice.
Complete Streets Guidebook
In June 2013, the Albany Common Council adopted a Complete Streets Ordinance which requires that the needs of all users be considered in any future City street construction, reconstruction, or resurfacing projects. Albany recently was awarded a Community and Transportation Linkage Planning Program grant by the Capital District Transportation Committee to create a Complete Streets Policy and Design Manual. This document will establish criteria for streets and intersections throughout the City based on the street/intersection type, context, and use. The manual will determine street typologies, provide design guidance, and establish policies with standards of implementation. This manual will be created with the input of the Department of General Services, the Division of Traffic Engineering, and the Division of Planning, along with feedback from stakeholders, and will be used as a guide by municipal departments when instituting any City street construction, reconstruction, or resurfacing projects, as well as for public and private developments.
Corning Preserve Transportation Improvements
The City of Albany is currently in the process of implementing enhancements to the Corning Preserve that will improve accessibility to the Preserve along with bicycling and walking opportunities within the Preserve. These enhancements are part of the Corning Preserve Master Plan, which seeks to improve our wonderful waterfront park through phased projects that will enhance its aesthetics, improve accessibility, and provide more recreation options for visitors. This Master Plan is a direct result of public outreach to community stakeholders and is available on the City’s 2030 Plan website at www.albany2030.org.
Madison Avenue Road Diet and Traffic Calming
The Madison Avenue Traffic Calming project is a road diet with pedestrian and bicycle improvements incorporating Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) for local traffic signals. A typical road diet involves the reallocation of four travel lanes to three travel lanes (one travel lane in each direction with a center two‐way left‐turn lane) to improve mobility for all users. ITS for local traffic signals improves efficiency of the roadway with synchronized signals that respond to traffic flows and peak demands. These coordinated traffic signals and road diet will assist drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians in reaching their desired destinations safely. The City has submitted funding applications for this project and expects to receive approval this year.
Quail Street Green Infrastructure Project
The City of Albany received a grant under the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to construct portions of a Complete Street that includes Green Infrastructure (GI) design improvements along Quail Street. The segment of Quail Street included in the grant falls in the Albany Education District between Madison and Central Avenue. The project includes new trees to expand the urban canopy and reduce runoff, pervious pavers and bio-retention areas to increase infiltration and improve water quality. The College of Saint Rose and the University at Albany’s Downtown Campus are partners with the City on this project.
Codes Review & Model Local Law Project
As part of a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the City worked with the Stormwater Coalition of Albany County and coalition members on the development of Model Local Laws seeking to remove barriers and promote the use of green infrastructure within the City. The City also received a grant for the Albany 2030 Sustainable Code Project which will further the Model Local Law work by codifying recommended language from the model into City Code. The project will consist of a comprehensive update to the Code of the City of Albany to allow for the incorporation of sustainable design and smart growth principles, with specific emphasis on zoning and development regulations. The project will also address green buildings codes, enhanced storm water management practices, urban agriculture, downtown and waterfront design standards, bike infrastructure requirements, and streamlined permitting options.
Looking to the Future: Long-Term Goals
787 Alternatives Planning
This summer the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) will begin a planning study of the I-787 Corridor and potential alternatives. CDTC, in partnership with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the City of Albany, applied for and was awarded Federal Transportation, Community and System Preservation (TCSP) Program funds to support an integrated, multi-modal transportation and land use planning study of the I-787 corridor from Exit 2 to Exit 9. This initiative will identify future cost effective infrastructure concepts for the I-787 corridor that support downtown economic development efforts, brownfield redevelopment, and improved walking, biking and transit access to the waterfront. The primary objectives of this initiative are to:
1) identify the short and long term infrastructure needs for I-787 and its related access roads through a structural evaluation;
2) undertake a public involvement effort and visioning exercise;
3) identify feasible near-term access improvements to support waterfront revitalization and economic development initiatives such as downtown and brownfield redevelopment; and
4) identify feasible strategies, based on long term infrastructure needs that would reduce infrastructure maintenance costs and improve transportation/community compatibility.
The final plan will also identify the steps that CDTC, NYSDOT, the City of Albany, and the corridor communities will need to take to further evaluate identified strategies in a detailed implementation plan.
The City of Albany will work closely with CDTC on this planning effort and will continue to advocate for alternatives that will provide the people of Albany access to their waterfront.
Livingston Avenue Bridge Pedestrian Walkway
The City of Albany is committed to seeing the Bike and Pedestrian Walkway on the Livingston Avenue Bridge restored as part of the Empire Corridor project. The benefits of restored access across the river via a walkway on the Livingston Avenue Bridge have been featured in several local and regional plans, including the City’s 2030 Plan, the Albany Bicycle Master Plan, the Corning Preserve Master Plan, and the Patroon Creek Greenway Plan. In addition, the Common Council has passed a resolution expressing their support for re-establishing the walkway.
A multi-modal bridge would link a growing network of multi-use trails, including the Erie Canalway Trail, Albany County’s Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail, and the proposed Rensselaer County Trail. Enhancing walking and biking transportation across the Hudson River will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the transportation network and make the riverfront a more attractive and accessible place to visit.
Upcoming Neighborhood Clean-ups and Tree Planting Events
2014 Earth Day and Arbor Day events in Albany
- The 2014 Earth Day Bike Parade will start at 11:45 AM at the corner of Judson and Livingston Ave. by the Tivoli Preserve. The ride will last approximately one hour and will end at the Ezra Prentice Homes at 625 South Pearl Street. For more information contact Sandy at email@example.com.
· Arbor Hill Elementary School Garden Installation – Come help the Arbor Hill Elementary School install their Edible Schoolyard Garden and learn about the innovative work being done to educate youth about Healthy Food Choices and Sustainable Living. Program begins at 1:00 PM at Arbor Hill Elementary School, 1 Arbor Drive. Work gloves, shovels and wheel barrels for everyone willing to join in will be available. For more information, contact Brother Yusuf at 518.330.6320.
· The City of Albany is providing a tree for the ARCH Addiction and Recovery Center located at 231 Sherman St. a program sponsored by St Catherine’s and Equinox. For more information, contact Meaghan Furman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-489-4236.
- “Toolkit for Sustainable Urban Living,” a composting demonstration at the Albany City Hall from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM. To RSVP, call 518.434.9821, and for more information visit www.albanyny.org.
· Normanskill Farm Tree Planting and Drum Circle (Friends of Normanskill Farm, DANA and Million Women Drummers). 6:00 PM. Yellow Brick Road off Delaware Avenue.
· NYSDEC Tree Planting, Empire State Plaza - North End at noon. Across from the Capitol - State Street Side, Albany, Albany County. Tree planting and unveiling 5th grade Arbor Day poster winner. For more information on Trees for Tribs, call 845.256.2253 or visit www.dec.ny.gov/lands/5274.html.
- Global Youth Clean-Up Day and BBQ at Lincoln Park, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Hosted by the Department of Recreation, Department of General Services, and Albany County.
- South End Earth Day Event
- 10:30AM - 3PM: Meet at Elizabeth Street Park on Elizabeth Street between Fourth Ave and Alexander Street for neighborhood lot clean-up projects (lunch will be provided)
- 3-6 PM: Gather at the corner of Warren Street & Eagle Street for a celebration, including games/contests, mobile petting zoo, outdoor sporting demonstrations, community barbeque and a DJ.
- For more information, email Shanna at email@example.com.
- The event is sponsored by Albany Green Coalition in cooperation with many neighborhood partners.
- The Earth Day Camp-Out 101 will be held at Lincoln Park starting at 3:00 PM. The Youth Ed-Venture & Nature Network in partnership with the South End Neighborhood Association is hosting an Earth Day Camp-Out featuring fly fishing demonstration & lessons, fresh water fishing clinics, an introduction to kayaking & canoeing and an outdoor campsite. For more information and volunteer sign-up contact Brother Yusuf at 518-330-6320.
- The Capital District Community Gardens will host a Community Garden Work Party from 10AM-12PM at the Livingston Avenue Community Garden. Volunteers from the Albany Police Athletic League and a group of students led by the Albany County Youth Bureau will help prep garden plots for the upcoming growing season and help sign up new gardeners. The garden is located behind the Tivoli Park Apartments off Livingston Avenue, between North Lake Avenue and Judson Street. For more information contact CDCG at 518-274-8685, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.cdcg.org.
- The Capital District Community Gardens will also host a Seed Bomb Planting at the Brighter Choice Charter School for Boys, located at 116 North Lake Avenue from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. An educator will assist children with making seed bombs. Students will plant the seed in planters and bring them home to their own gardens. For more information contact CDCG at 518-274-8685, email@example.com, or www.cdcg.org.
- Habitat for Humanity presents “Attack the Block”: a youth driven initiative to clean up the Capital District from 9AM to 1PM. There are multiple events for children ages 6-16, including landscaping, a picnic table build, and a neighborhood clean-up. To participate, RSVP to Mandee Nann at Mandee@habitatcd.org or 518-462-2993.
· The Sheridan Hollow Spring Spruce up will be held at 1 pm. Meet at 255 Orange Street and wear gloves. Contact Louise McNeilly at Lmcneilly@ahphome.org.
· Tweed Ride: Meet at 540 Delaware Ave. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/228400587361363/?ref=22.