June 26, 2012
Region gets $1M to plan green projects
State gives grant to regional development council to create environmental initiatives
Cortland County and four other Central New York counties received $1 million from the state on Monday under a program intended to foster environmental initiatives and regional sustainability.
The money, provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, comes from the state’s Cleaner, Greener Communities program.
It is being funneled through the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, which is comprised of Cortland, Madison, Cayuga, Onondaga and Oswego counties.
The sustainability initiative was set into motion last year when Gov. Andrew Cuomo established a competition between regional economic councils statewide.
The Central New York council won the competition, deemed to have the best regional economic development plan.
On Monday, Cuomo dolled out about $3 million to three of the state’s 10 councils. The other seven received about $7 million in December.
Chris Carrick, energy program manager for the Central New York Regional Planning Development Board, which is leading the planning process for the region, said the $1 million will go toward planning things like upgrading traffic signals or planning community-based windfarms.
County Planning Director Dan Dineen, a member of the coalition, said it is too early to say exactly what sustainable initiatives will be laid out in each member community.
Various planning boards statewide are developing plans that Dineen said will be considered when NYSERDA releases about $90 million in funding next year.
“One region may end up getting $15 million as a result of their plan and another may get $5 million as a result of their plan,” Dineen said.
Carrick said wind is a viable resource in Cortland County and therefore the plan might explore opportunities for community-based windpower.
Either municipalities or groups of residents could own or have a stake in developing these types of projects, Carrick said.
Another possible aspect of the plan would be providing for upgraded, energy efficient traffic signals or upgrading the city water treatment facility.
The $1 million covers the preparation of the plan, which must be completed by Dec. 31, and funds the planning board staff as well as the two consulting teams the board hired.
Carrick said the plan will examine greenhouse gas emissions and energy use across the region and within each community. The plan will set targets that take into consideration things like energy use, transportation, waste and water management and land use, said Carrick.
The plan aims to conserve natural resources and improve the quality of life, he said.
“We’ll be outlining short- and long-term actions that the region can take to achieve the targets and goals that are set,” Carrick said.
Dineen said he expects the $90 million funding allocations to be announced by mid-2013.
Carrick encourages municipalities and nonprofts and businesses to contact him with ideas for projects. He can be reached at email@example.com or 315-422-8276, ext. 213.
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