Sustainable New Castle: A Place to Plant Your Family

It was good to talk about a “Sustainable New Castle” vision with the Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB) at their monthly meeting.  They are passionate volunteers always looking for new ways to make a difference. And they do.

Voters may not realize, but I’ve had a front row seat in the climate and environmental movement most of my life: earning an undergraduate degree in Environmental Analysis & Policy, working for Vice President Al Gore, and advising governments in all corners of the globe on energy industry reform over the past twenty years.  I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t; about leadership and change.  I have come to appreciate the urgency, but I also refuse to panic.

I want to use my professional expertise to help New Castle become “Sustainable New Castle: A place to plant your family.”  If done right, we can become a town known for our conservation and sustainability, it can make good economic sense for everyone, and it can even help increase our property values.

Below are some of the ideas we have been talking about and that I discussed with the SAB.

And here are a few key areas I’d like to highlight:

(1) Energy Sources: There is a real opportunity to build community solar and now battery storage in our community. Specifically, the idea of parking-covers in the back commuter lot could be a cost-neutral project and offer residents a discount of ~15% on their electricity bills.  That is the type of project, be in in parking or on commercial roofs, we think make economic sense and make our town more sustainable.

(2) Protecting the Local Ecosystem: Our Town’s natural areas and open spaces are assets that make New Castle a desirable place to live  These assets need protecting.  Town leadership is needed on issues including mitigation of airplane noise and emissions to protecting sensitive and residential neighborhoods. Resident efforts like the Pollinator Pathway should be supported. And the Town can also host and promote more events with sustainable themes, although certainly, any event that helps bring people to Town to shop local helps.

(3) Inspire & Educate our Kids (and Adults): I grew up in a family of outdoorsmen, gardeners and conservationists. Getting outside and engaging in activities such as beekeeping (something my Mother taught me) inspired me for life; and it has already changed my 7 year old (see photo below).  I believe the biggest impact we can have on our world is to get our kids outside and inspire and educate. Our kids are going to solve our problems for us, for sure. We could partner with organizations like Teatown Lake Reservation (a part of New Castle in the west end).  We could create internship opportunities for high school and college students and sponsor competitions that affect change. And the Town could lead by example with its own buildings and property to demonstrate sustainable practices.