As North Hempstead Town Supervisor I’ve been actively engaged in the sustainability of Long Island. Sitting as a board member of the Long Island Regional Planning Council and working with the Regional Economic Development Council on its Long Island Sustainability Plan has also given me a unique perspective on this issue.
The subject took center stage recently at a meeting of Gov. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council hosted by the Long Island Association in Melville. With the Town of North Hempstead designated as the lead agency for Long Island’s Cleaner Greener Communities Sustainability Plan, I had the opportunity to present to the REDC our 21st century vision outlining tangible actions the region will need in order to move forward.
The Cleaner, Greener Communities Program was announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in his 2011 State of the State address and is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
The Cleaner, Greener Communities Program empowers regions to create more sustainable communities by funding smart development practices. The plan outlines tangible actions that are targeted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and target job growth in the areas of land use and livable communities, transportation, waste and water management, energy and community development.
Many of the priorities outlined in our consortium’s Long Island Sustainability Plan mirror programs that we in North Hempstead have instituted over the course of my administration.
For example, recycling is an integral part of any sustainability program. Here in North Hempstead in 2008, the Town’s Comprehensive School Recycling program has become our marquee environmental initiative. Since its initiation, the groundbreaking effort has connected with nine of the Town’s 11 school districts to collect and recycle paper, plastic, aluminum and glass (commingles). Last year alone, the program reaped more than 450 tons of paper and 140 tons of commingled recyclables. A sister initiative, the “Caps Back” program, collected more than 3,940 pounds of bottle caps.
Of course, North Hempstead’s commitment to protect the environment goes beyond recycling.
With evidence mounting that medications flushed down the toilet or tossed into the municipal waste stream damage the environment and eventually reach drinking water supplies,we became the first municipality in Nassau County to implement a pharmaceutical take-back program. Since its inception in 2009 the Town of North Hempstead has collected more than 4 tons of unused and unwanted pharmaceuticals. Acknowledging the program’s crucial role in helping protect the environment the US Environmental Protection Agency presented the Town with its Environmental Quality Award for this groundbreaking effort.
North Hempstead’s environmental initiatives continue to evolve, from our electronic waste collection program, to our rain barrel and composting initiatives to our brand new Platinum LEED-certified community center in Westbury.
For us, protecting the environment boils down to protecting our residents’ quality of life. As we like to say, North Hempstead is doing more and doing it greener!