2013-02-27 / Front Page

Bloomberg Signs Councilmember Gennaro's Green Bills Into Law

Councilmember James F. Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), chairman of the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection, celebrated three critical pieces of “green” legislation signed into law by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that will help the city address the challenges posed by climate change.
The first bill authored by Gennaro, Intro 75A, directs the city Parks and Recreation Department to create a stormwater resistant plant manual that will help reduce severe flooding events like that experienced by the city in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
"This bill is part of our ongoing efforts to manage and reduce runoff from big storms that cause catastrophic damage to many low-lying areas. By directing city Parks to identify and install plantings that capture rainwater, we will reduce the occurrence and severity of these flooding events while also beautifying the city,” Gennaro said. “I’d like to thank Council Speaker Christine Quinn, my Council colleagues and Mayor Bloomberg for supporting this crucial piece of legislation that will help safeguard some of our most vulnerable areas from damaging floods post-Sandy.”
“As part of PlaNYC’s Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan, the City recommends and often uses green infrastructure to control and detain storm water.  This is an important step in helping to reduce the billions of gallons of polluted rainwater which enter New York harbors every year,” Bloomberg said. “This legislation requires the Parks Department to create a stormwater retention manual that will identify plants suitable for stormwater retention and be made available to the public. Plantings conducted by the Department beginning next spring will follow the guidelines outlined in the manual.”
“Soil and plants together act as a big sponge and help to manage water. In this post-Sandy time it is so important that our elected leaders are focusing on the power of plants. With global warming and the shifting of where various plants grow it will be important to update the suggested plant lists as noted in the legislation and that managers continually adapt their practices so that we can draw from all plants to solve current needs,” said Susan Lacerte, executive director of the Queens Botanical Garden.
Intro 399, sponsored by Councilman Albert Vann (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant), increases native biodiversity in public landscapes by requiring the city Department of Parks and Recreation to revise its planting design manual to maximize the use of plant species that are native to New York City.
“Our city’s parks are a place of recreation, relaxation and wonderment for millions of residents and visitors. This bill ensures that the natural ecosystems that make our parks so special are preserved in their original state by outlawing the introduction of invasive plant species that threaten our green spaces and the wildlife that depend on them, leaving them vulnerable to depletion and extinction,” Gennaro said.
“Invasive plant species cost the City millions of dollars a year to eradicate and out-compete native plant species which are important to the City’s native biodiversity.  The Parks Department has made efforts to ensure that plantings done within the City increase native biodiversity whenever possible,” Bloomberg said. “This legislation will require that the Parks Department update its design manuals to increase biodiversity in its landscape practices. Beginning next spring, all plantings conducted by the Department will conform to this manual.  In addition, the Parks Department will create a native species planting guide that will be available to property owners and professional land managers.  The planting guide will advise the public on suitable native plants, their characteristics, and compatibility with other plants.”
“This legislation promoting local biodiversity is an exciting first for New York City. Native plantings in public landscapes will provide beauty, create ecological corridors and support a sense of place. Stormwater sensitive plantings will enhance resiliency and encourage on-site groundwater recharge. Working in concert with nature to build a stronger city is a cutting-edge idea, one I’m thrilled to see being embraced here in New York City,” said Marielle Anzelone, urban ecologist and executive director of NYC Wildflower Week.
Also authored by Gennaro, Intro 887-A establishes a Renewable Energy Webportal that will consolidate information in regards to renewable energy upgrades into one easy-to-navigate website.
“Renewable energy initiatives should be simple and accessible for everyday New Yorkers as they seek to cut energy costs and reduce greenhouse emissions,” Gennaro said. “This web portal will be a streamlined and easy-to-navigate resource to study the feasibility and economic benefits of renewable energy initiatives to fight climate change.”
“New York State and New York City offer a myriad of programs and services to assist property owners in potentially adopting renewable energy systems within their homes and businesses. These programs currently cannot be found in a central location which may limit the ability for some New Yorkers to learn how to implement these renewable energy options,” Bloomberg said. “[This bill] will require the creation of a New York City Renewable Energy Portal which will provide online information and links to City, State, and federal programs and agencies that may be involved in the installation of renewable energy systems as well as provide for a cost-calculator so that the public can determine whether installing a renewable energy system is right for them.”

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