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Mohawk Valley Regional Coalition Receives $1 Million for Cleaner, Greener Communities Regional Sustainability Planning

(June 25, 2012)

Mohawk Valley Regional Coalition Receives $1 Million for Cleaner, Greener Communities Regional Sustainability Planning

A coalition of Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and Schoharie counties, towns and organizations has received $1 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to create a comprehensive smart growth plan for regional sustainability. This plan is part of the Cleaner, Greener Communities program, a major environmental initiative announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last year.

The coalition, comprised of a broad spectrum of government representatives, local municipalities and various agencies from within each county, will develop a smart growth plan for the Mohawk Valley Region Economic Development Council (REDC) area. The Otsego and Oneida County Economic Development and Planning departments will lead the planning process for the region.

“On behalf of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council, we are eager to continue our strategic planning process with the recent award from NYSERDA’s Cleaner, Greener Communities Program. With this award, we can continue to define our area’s resources and assets, cultivate sustainable economic development initiatives and refine a sustainable strategic plan that will enable the Mohawk Valley Region to realize its full potential as an efficient and economically vibrant region,” said Larry Gilroy, co-chair of the Mohawk Valley REDC.

“This is great news for our region and an important step forward for sustainable growth in the Mohawk Valley,” said Bjong Wolf Yeigh, President of SUNY Institute of Technology and co-chair of the Mohawk Valley REDC. “Building on the work that our Regional Council has already done, this strategic support will take our effort in the right direction.”

The development of a comprehensive regional sustainability plan is the first phase of the Cleaner, Greener Communities program and is intended to provide resources that each New York region can use to develop its own vision, goals and objectives for a sustainable future, identify actions needed to achieve that future and outline metrics to measure success. Only one award was made in each region of the state.

“This funding is an excellent opportunity for the Mohawk Valley Region to develop a plan that improves environmental quality by reducing air, water and land pollution and improves quality of life through smart growth and sustainable development,” said Francis J. Murray Jr. President and CEO of NYSERDA. “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, all New Yorkers will benefit, as the regional plans will examine each region’s available resources and provide a specific vision to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

“Otsego County is proud to be the sponsor of the application to the Cleaner, Greener Communities Program and looks forward to working with the Mohawk Valley Region and its stakeholders to plan and eventually implement energy-efficient, environmentally safe and sound projects that will be economically beneficial to the Mohawk Valley Region,” said Karen Sullivan, Otsego County Planning Director.

“This is a tactical step toward securing investments to implement smart growth strategies in the Mohawk River Valley. By addressing critical issues like brownfields, main streets, energy, water and transportation, this funding will provide the blueprint for structural changes in the way we do business,” said Diane Shoemaker, Director of Economic Development for the City of Rome.

“We look forward to working with our partner municipalities and community leaders in the Mohawk River Valley to realize Governor Cuomo’s vision of tapping regional strength to confront quality-of-life challenges. I am excited to be on the team charged with mapping a cleaner, more efficient future for the Valley,” said Ray Durso, Director of the Genesis Group.

Once a plan is developed, additional funding will be available from the Cleaner, Greener Communities program on a competitive basis to implement projects that support the goals of the plans. Projects must create opportunities from achieving carbon reductions, energy efficiency savings and/or renewable energy deployment while enhancing job creation, economic investment and development consistent with the region’s sustainability and REDC strategic plan.

"This is extremely well timed. A Task Force of city residents has just completed a document, Oneonta 2030, which makes a series of recommendations for wide-ranging actions to make Oneonta a fully sustainable community. The Common Council and I are working to address these recommendations in our multi-year financial and capital plans," said Richard P. Miller, Jr., Mayor of Oneonta.

“This is another one of the positive effects of the MVREDC process. When multiple counties work together to address over-arching issues, everyone benefits. Creating a plan for Cleaner, Greener Communities will identify regional priorities and is the first step towards changing the face of the region,” said Steve DiMeo, President, Mohawk Valley EDGE.

“We are honored to have been an active participant in the Cleaner, Greener Communities program application process for the Mohawk Valley Region,” said Darla M. Youngs, executive director of the Otsego County Conservation Association. “Sustainability features prominently in OCCA’s strategic plan, and one of our program goals for this year was to partner with the Otsego County Planning Department in the development of a countywide energy plan. The regional scope of this project makes it that much more exciting.”

Program Director Travis Sauerwald served on the grant Planning Committee and, on behalf of OCCA, will continue as coordinator of grant-related actions for Otsego and Schoharie counties.

OCCA’s strategic plan identifies promotion and use of renewable energy sources, exploration of models for locally-produced energy, and energy conservation and reduction in the use of fossil fuels as key among concerns for the county’s energy future.

For further information on the Mohawk Valley Region’s sustainability growth planning process, please contact: Carolyn Lewis, Director, Otsego County Economic Development, at 607-432-8871 x207 or or Karen Sullivan, Director, Otsego County Planning Dept. at 607-547-4225.