Monticello, NY – Sullivan County is getting $100,000 to develop a biking/walking plan, State officials just announced.
“In order to boost our health ranking and make our communities more attractive and vibrant, we asked the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to consider us for a Climate Smart Communities Grant, and I’m delighted that they agreed to fund the creation of a bicycle/pedestrian plan,” Sullivan County Planning Commissioner Freda Eisenberg said.
The plan will focus on improving the safety, comfort and convenience of walking and biking paths in local downtowns and along major transportation corridors. Particular attention will be paid to:
- Connecting people to work, school, shopping and essential services destinations
- Ensuring access for people with disabilities
- Seeking guidance from underserved and disadvantaged communities
- Creating alternative modes of transportation that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions
“We have several compelling reasons for dedicating funding to this important effort,” noted Eisenberg. “Sullivan County’s motor vehicle-related mortality rate is nearly triple that of the entire State, and our health rankings are already near the bottom for all counties in New York. In addition to promoting health and wellness, this plan can help address the needs of those without a vehicle of their own. For example, 18% of Monticello households don’t have a car, meaning they need safe and convenient places to walk and bike.”
“These paths also route more wealth and opportunity into communities,” explained Deputy Planning Commissioner Heather Brown, whose Office of Sustainable Energy played a key role in the grant application. “Research has shown positive correlations between improved walkability and increased retail activity, job creation and real estate values.”
Sullivan County is one of only 25 municipalities Statewide to be awarded a Climate Smart Communities grants in this latest round.
“The significant funding under New York’s Climate Smart Communities Program is critical in supporting local efforts to protect residents and infrastructure from the effects of climate change,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “We continue to see increasingly extreme weather each year, and these grants help empower locally-driven, bold action to help meet New York’s ambitious climate goals while setting an example for other municipalities to follow.”
Established in 2016, the Climate Smart Communities Grant Program is a competitive 50/50 matching grant program for municipalities to implement projects focused on climate change adaptation and greenhouse gas mitigation. Project types also include certain planning and assessment projects that are part of a strategy to achieve Climate Smart Communities certification.
Of the total grant funds awarded this round under the implementation and certification categories respectively, 36 percent was awarded to implementation projects located in disadvantaged communities that face a disproportionate burden of environmental pollution, and 66 percent was awarded to certification projects by municipalities that contain a disadvantaged community, as identified by the Climate Justice Working Group.
Once the State provides Sullivan with a contract for the awarded amount, the County will issue a request for proposals from firms interested in collaborating on the plan’s creation. While the grant allows projects to be completed up to five years out, County officials anticipate the plan could be ready as soon as next year.