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Ithaca is region’s only winner in NY’s Climate Smart grant program: How will $851K be spent?

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  • Staff Report 

The state announced New York’s Climate Smart Communities Grant program winners, which awarded $11.6 million to 25 municipalities to help projects that will save tax dollars over the long-term and move toward eliminating greenhouse gases.

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’s draft criteria.

“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 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.”

In the Finger Lakes and Central New York – Ithaca was the only local winner. While Monroe County and City of Rochester won nearly $1.5 million – it was for initiatives that won’t have an impact outside its own footprint.

However, the City of Ithaca will receive $851,450 to expand the GO ITHACA transportation demand management (TDM) program beyond downtown to service East Ithaca, South Hill, Northwest Ithaca, West Hill, The Flats, Lansing, Cayuga Heights, and Northeast Ithaca.

TDM is the application of strategies, policies, and user benefits to shift travel behavior from single occupancy vehicles to public and active modes of transportation, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.

These grants are part of New York’s interagency Climate Smart Communities Program to support community engagement in local climate action. There are currently 369 registered Climate Smart Communities, representing more than 9.4 million New Yorkers. To be designated a registered community, municipalities make a commitment to act on climate change by passing a formal resolution that includes a 10-point pledge. Since 2014, 100 municipalities have completed the rigorous review process to be designated as certified Climate Smart Communities.