The draft Capital Region Sustainability Plan released last week seems too good to be true. If it doesn’t deserve recognition as the best of the 10 regional plans being developed under Gov. Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities Program, it certainly deserves some of the $90 million the state will make available this year to fund sustainability projects.
The plan says all the right things and adopts just about all the principles of the smart growth movement. That movement advocates land-use planning to prevent sprawl, protect farmland and encourage the density required for livable, sustainable communities.
One of the plan’s goals is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 — through such means as transit-oriented development and more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly infastructure.
Another is to encourage investment and redevelopment in cities (particularly inner cities), town centers, villages and hamlets, where the density and need are greatest and the infrastructure already exists, rather than create it anew all over the countryside.
And another is to encourage the local food movement, through community gardens, local produce in neighborhood stores and farmer’s markets like Schenectady’s Greenmarket (which, the plan points out, has received a $7,000 state grant to create a satellite market in the “food desert” area of Bellevue).
We think this plan is worthy of state funding, and that anyone who sees it (it’s available for review and public comment at www.SustainableCapitalRegion. org) would agree.
But as with the 10 regional economic development councils, which Gov. Cuomo also conceived and which created these plans (with $1 million each from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the process is important in itself. Getting a region’s government, business, nonprofit and academic leaders together to set regional goals and decide how to achieve them has great value, with or without state funding.