Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NYC Gets New Parks, More Trees and Cleaner Air

New Gardens and Cleaner Are First Legacy of Greening Western Queens Program

New Yorkers will enjoy new parks, more trees and cleaner neighborhoods, thanks to a three-year $8 million investment by North Star Fund. North Star’s first round of grants are already reshaping the community, bringing together unlikely allies to build environmentally sustainable neighborhoods and bring green jobs to the Woodside, Sunnyside, Astoria and Long Island City sections of Queens. In its first year, the Greening Western Queens initiative brought 87 new trees, 10 school and community gardens and educational programs for 10,000 people.

The second round of grants, distributed on March 15, totaled $2.034 million. “In the next year the program will grow exponentially. We expect to build or renovate 10 additional gardens, plant hundreds of trees, and provide over 10,000 youth and adults with green job training and environmental education,” said Hugh Hogan, executive director of North Star Fund. Grantee projects include:

  • Recycle a Bicycle will launch a green job training and bicycle repair initiative, promoting biking as an energy conserving and environmentally sound transportation alternative in Western Queens.
  • The Queens Library Foundation will continue transforming their libraries into multi-lingual environmental resource centers, called “Greening Libraries,” and retrofit several libraries to create signature green spaces.
  • City Parks Foundation will continue its large-scale multi-year tree planting and stewardship program with hundreds of local residents. Queens will gain 850 trees as a result.

“Western Queens is becoming greener and healthier because the entire community is working together to make this program successful. From new immigrants to longtime business owners and from school kids to senior citizens, more than 10,000 people have participated in planning, planting and learning over the past year,” said Hogan. Over the final two years of the initiative, the Greening Western Queens Fund will devote additional resources to build community support for long term care and maintenance of new green spaces.

To select the grantees, North Star Fund brought together an advisory board that included both community members and experts in green infrastructure and urban forestry. A full list of advisory board members and descriptions of grantees is available at http://www.northstarfund.org/greenqueens.

The Greening Western Queens program is supported by an $8 million fund from the New York State
Public Service Commission. North Star was selected to be the distributor of funds because the foundation is skilled at working in partnership with diverse New York City communities.

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