Philipstown Achieves Climate Smart Certification

Also, pollinator garden suggested for Town Hall

Philipstown has been certified as a Climate Smart Community, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced on Thursday (March 4).

The town completed 16 actions to achieve certification, including a greenhouse gas inventory and a community choice aggregation program, it said. Philipstown also established an open space conservation overlay district.

“The town’s community greenhouse gas inventory is one of New York State’s most comprehensive and innovative reports completed by a local jurisdiction,” the DEC said in a statement. “In the report, Philipstown moved beyond traditional approaches by including considerations for forests and land use along with household consumption patterns.”

The certification will allow the town to apply for state grants related to mitigating the effects of climate change. 

The announcement came a day after the Town Board heard from its Climate Smart coordinator, Krystal Ford, about a plan to watch the coneflowers grow. Or maybe the dogbane or blazing stars, or other species proposed for a pollinator garden at a refurbished Town Hall. 

Ford succeeded Roberto Muller, who last fall announced plans to move out of the area. She suggested the town join the Putnam Pollinator Pathway effort and replace a 250- to 500-square-foot section of the Town Hall lawn with flower-bearing plants to attract birds, bees and other insects endangered by pesticides and lawn chemicals, loss of habitat, climate change, proliferation of invasive species and other threats. 

An initiative of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Putnam Pollinator Pathway links gardens sponsored by municipalities, conservation groups, institutions and private owners in a pollinator-haven network across the Northeast.

In a written report, Ford noted that pollinator plants sequester more carbon, which contributes to global warming, than turf grass. The garden would require less maintenance than a lawn, she added, and might even inspire residents to create their own. 

Ford said that volunteers would care for the Town Hall garden, whose needs should decline after a couple of years as the plants “basically crowd out the weeds.” She estimated that planting the garden would cost $4.50 per square foot. 

Supervisor Richard Shea called the project “a great idea” and advocated incorporating much or all of the lawn around Town Hall. Aside from defining lot boundaries, a lawn – especially a large one — is “kind of ridiculous. It gives you nothing,” he said. He estimated that a larger pollinator garden would cost $8,000 but predicted it would save money on lawn care and provide seed for birds in winter and beauty in other times of year. 

He also noted that the renovation of Town Hall has cost $1.7 million. “I don’t think $8,000 will break us at this point,” he said.  

Town Hall Nearly Ready

After 18 months of work, renovations to the historic Philipstown Town Hall, built in 1867 on Main Street in Cold Spring, just west of Nelsonville, should be completed by the end of March, Board Member John Van Tassel said on Wednesday. 

The town government intends to start moving back into the building on April 1, he said. Its departments have been operating from the Old VFW Building on Kemble Avenue. It also has offices in a renovated house behind Town Hall.

One thought on “Philipstown Achieves Climate Smart Certification

  1. Congratulations to Philipstown for reaching the bronze level of the state’s Climate Smart Communities program. The town has taken real steps to become a climate leader, but we can achieve even more.

    In 2019, New York State passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to empower every New Yorker to fight climate change at home, at work and in their communities. This legislation was incredibly important, but with the state facing massive budget shortfalls, what will happen to our commitment?

    If the state cuts services for schools, health care and the environment, it would be abandoning New Yorkers in a moment of great need. If the pandemic has shown us anything, these issues don’t just go away, they become exacerbated and devastating, modeling what would happen with a climate breakdown: The rich will be mostly untouched, while the most vulnerable among us, including communities of color and lower incomes, will be disproportionately impacted.

    Climate change is already upon us. I just turned 21 and it’s terrifying that there won’t be a planet to live on within my lifetime unless we take action. That’s why we need passage in 2021 of the Climate and Community Investment Act. According to a projection by NY Renews, the act would raise $15 billion annually from corporate polluters to create green jobs, invest in front-line communities, build a renewable economy, and help New Yorkers not just survive but thrive.