Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Keeping New York Economically and Environmentally Sound


By Mayor Michael Bloomberg

In April of 2007, we launched an ambitious sustainability agenda called PlaNYC to keep New York economically and environmentally sound in the years to come. Barely a year after we released the plan, our nation entered a deep economic recession. One of the greatest challenges for any organization is to continue meeting your goals even when resources are scarce. And we’ve been able to do that — by continuing to be resourceful and innovative and thinking our way around obstacles. As a result, we’ve been able to keep advancing a sustainability vision that is so important to our future.

We recently kicked off what’s called “Select Bus Service” on the M15 line between Lower Manhattan and 125th Street. These buses will now run in dedicated bus lanes and make fewer stops — and passengers will be able to pay their fares before they board. All of these innovations are expected to cut commuting times by about 20 percent, which will help us meet our PlaNYC goal of promoting mass transit by making buses faster.

To help keep PlaNYC on track, we’ve also tapped into the incredible spirit of volunteerism in our City. When we rolled out our new NYC Service volunteer effort last year, one of the first initiatives we announced was something called “NYC Cool Roofs.” This is an innovative program to reduce energy usage by applying a heat-reflective coating to rooftops around the City. Last week, I helped volunteers finish coating the one millionth square foot of rooftop — a major milestone. And that will translate into substantial savings on the costs of air conditioning for building owners, while also cutting down the size of New York’s carbon footprint.

Buildings are the city’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions — but vehicles contribute too. That’s why we’re working to reduce the size of city government’s fleet and convert to hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicles whenever possible. Last week, we began testing an innovative program that has the potential to cut the number of cars the city uses — and the costs we pay for them. More than 300 employees at the Department of Transportation will share up to 25 vehicles provided by the Zipcar Company. They’ll be able to use them during business hours. On evenings and weekends, when the city doesn’t really need the cars, Zipcar will offer them to the public. Car sharing holds great potential as a government innovation strategy. It gives us access to cars while avoiding the costs of buying them and paying for insurance, maintenance and parking. And it reduces the congestion on our streets and the pollution in our air.

Another key goal of PlaNYC is making sure every city resident lives within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground. To help us achieve that goal, we are investing more than $300 million to create eight major regional parks. Recently, we broke ground on the fourth of those parks — in Far Rockaway, Queens. In order to move forward with this major investment, we divided the construction into two distinct phases — one that we can pay for now, and one that will be completed as the funding becomes available. The first phase will bring the neighborhood several new benefits, including a football field, a performance venue, a skate park and a climbing wall. These will be welcome additions to all the families in the Rockaway community.

By finding innovative ways to keep these kinds of projects moving forward – even in tough times — we’re ensuring a greener, greater New York for the years ahead


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