(PLATTSBURGH- Monday April 17th, 2023) - As the City of Plattsburgh celebrates Earth Day, April 22, it does so having spent a year working to fulfill its pledge to become a New York State Climate Smart (CSC) and Clean Energy (CEC) Community. The City Climate Task Force (CCTF) has been central to this effort. Appointed by the Common Council on April 29, 2022, the task force has advised and assisted the City in carrying out the programs’ actions that address climate change. Approaching the group’s one year anniversary, its Coordinator, Rachelle Armstrong, urges city residents to support CCTF in its effort to build a sustainable future in Plattsburgh. “Building a sustainable community means all hands on deck: city government, city volunteers, and an engaged public. Earth Day is Every Day! The City of Plattsburgh Climate Task Force is committed and mobilized,” says Armstrong
Current Task Force Initiatives
The task force is composed of city residents, volunteers who have devoted many hours over the past year helping the city with CSC and CEC actions that mitigate the effects of and adapt to climate change. One major project, a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory, is a compilation of data about energy use and carbon emissions. The inventory has been funded in part by The Climate Smart Community Grant Program, Title 15 of the Environmental Protection Fund through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.* The city has completed state filings for many other actions including: switching to LED street lights; placing recycling bins in government buildings; designing a plan for biking and walking; installing heat pumps in City Hall; developing an alternative fuel infrastructure (charging stations); providing space for a farmers market; and holding climate related public events. Currently, with task force guidance, the city is on track to earn CSC Bronze Certification and CEC designation this summer.
“When the City started a number of these green initiatives, it became clear that if we packaged them together through this initiative we’d be able to build additional benefits through accreditation,” says Mayor Christopher Rosenquest. “Whether it was installing energy efficient windows, EV charging stations, or the City Hall heat pumps, all of these actions are contributing to better attending to climate concerns as well as building towards a recognized climate smart status.”
Building Partnerships in the Community
To strengthen its efforts, CCTF has cultivated partnerships with individuals and groups who have made important contributions. For example, the Organics Management group is collaborating with the Clinton County Health Department’s KayLeigh Raville, Supervising Health Educator, and Jennifer Perry, Cofounder of the nonprofit, Compost for Good. The Water-smart Landscaping group has enlisted the advice and support of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners. Partnerships with SUNY Plattsburgh professors and their students have been critical to CCTF’s work. Task Force member Dr. Curt Gervich of the Center for Earth and Environmental Science, has connected his students with task force Organics Management, Community Heat Pump Campaign, and Public Outreach Events working groups. His students are also working with Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, the city’s contracted consultant, on the GHG Inventory. Dr. Gervich and Dr. Richard Gottshall, professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship and their students have worked on the Public Engagement plan for this project. Prof. Michelle Ouellette’s Public Relations students developed a plan to increase CCTF social media engagement resulting in a 114% increase.
Armstrong emphasizes, “Our work is energized and multiplied through the contributions of volunteers. Going forward, we aim to enlist the support of more city residents and community groups. CCTF wants to show Plattsburgh that the more community members are involved, the more good work that can be done. A sustainable community is a healthy and safe community. We all need to be on board to build that.”
The CCTF meets the third Wednesday of the month and all meetings are open to the public. The task force is currently recruiting new members and working group volunteers. City residents who would like to become CCTF partners can email task force coordinator, Rachelle Armstrong, at firstname.lastname@example.org