Village of Lansing

This month the Lansings have been working on becoming Climate Smart Communities,  The Village of Lansing passed a resolution to join the program in mid-November, and will likely take the next step in becoming certified as a Climate Smart Community at their next meeting when Trustees are expected to vote on creating a Climate Smart task force, with Deputy Mayor Ronny Hardaway as the chair.  Town of Lansing Director of Planning C.J. Randall encouraged the Town Board last week to consider joining the program at its December meeting.

"I think the most important thing for the Village right now immediately is to assess our climate resilience is and what are we doing?" Hardaway said. "What have we done, what are we doing, and what will we do to protect the Village from the effects of severe weather damage, rain storms, tornadoes --  whatever comes along due to climate change when it comes along 20 or 30 years from now."

There has been resistance to the program in the Village, largely by Mayor Donald Hartill and Trustees John O'Neill and Randy Smith on the grounds that the program does not provide a concrete path to achieving climate friendly goals, and their resistance to what Smith called 'top down' governance because the program is a New York State initiative.  But after stripping the 'whereas-s" from the State's sample resolution, the board unanimously passed it.  It is expected they will also pass a resolution at their next meeting to create a Climate Smart task force for the Village.

"There needs to be somebody who manages that task force. Ronnie would be appropriate to do that," Hartill said. "On the other hand, I would like Randy if he would be willing to serve on that task force, to join that. We have a couple of other people that are very interested in it, but I think we really need to have a balanced approach to the process."

The coordinator is the municipality's interface with the State, collecting the required data and entering it into an online portal in order to to get points that acknowledge initiatives the Village already has accomplished that will gain it points toward Bronze or Silver certification.  That chair leads the task force that will be made up of experts and other members of the community that are interested in contributing.  One or two Planning Board members may also be included.  Hardaway said that in such a small community it makes sense for the Coordinator to be the same person as the Task Force chair, and the other trustees agreed.

The Town of Lansing is also considering becoming part of the program.  At this month's Town Board meeting Director of Planning C.J. Randall encouraged the Board to pass the resolution that is the first step in becoming certified.  Randall said that help available for local municipalities in gathering data needed for the certification would allow her to concentrate on other vital planning projects for the Town on top of other benefits the program may offer.

"Climate aside, it really is a resiliency program, essentially to extend planning capacity to smaller municipalities that essentially need the help," said Randall. "For us, we have a newly formed Conservation Advisory Council who's scope of work and mission includes completion of a natural resources inventory.  The great thing about the Climate Smart Communities is that we can receive free technical assistance from Cornell Cooperative Extension to do that work."

The task force is essentially an advisory committee, similar to the Town's Conservation Advisory Council or other such committees that may propose specific projects to the Village or Town boards,  Those governing boards would then consider the proposals and their vote would be the final say on whether or not to adopt the recommended projects, keeping the final decision in the hands of elected officials.

Hardaway noted that some of the initiatives the task force may explore may be rejected because they are not specifically relevant to the Village, or because they are too expensive.  He added that things that may not be possible now may become viable options in the future as technology progresses, and that the task force would continue to monitor those things as time goes by.  He said that becoming a Climate Smart Community could also have a 'bottom up' effect that may increase its influence in Albany.

"If we're part of this Climate Smart Community, we will have a strong voice within the County and help our County have a strong voice in Albany, I hope," he said.