Town establishes “Climate Smart Community Leadership Team”

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On Thursday, April 1, a dozen North Salem residents will come together to begin to establish the framework for a climate action plan for the town. Led by town board member Katherine Daniels, the committee will work to establish a plan of action that will enable the town to meet or exceed state standards around greenhouse gas emissions, as part of New York State’s Climate Smart Communities (CSC) Program.

In 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which requires New York to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and no less than 85 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. Daniels said the goal for the group is to work proactively, rather than reactively, to evolving standards.

“The state standards will increase over next few years. It makes sense to get ahead of that,” Daniels said.

Daniels explained that North Salem’s climate team could choose to either focus solely on greenhouse gas emissions or to broaden their efforts, considering issues such as infrastructure or stormwater management. Daniels will let the group decide how broad they want to go, noting that many of the members have interests that go beyond just greenhouse gas emissions.

To date, eleven community members have volunteered to join Daniels on the team: Chris Brockmeyer, Charlotte Harris, Janet Olshansky, Pam and Eric Pooley, Jocko McKean, John Roach, Susan Romanski, Amy Rosmarin, Emily Simoness, and Edris Scherer and Holly Thompson. Members volunteered or were asked to join based on their interest in or expertise with the issues likely to come up, Daniels said. 

“We really tried to get a diverse group of thinkers and people with different backgrounds,” said Daniels.

Team member Janet Olshansky, a North Salem resident and trustee of the North Salem Open Land Foundation, said that she sees the group’s role as being responsible for envisioning what the town should be doing in order to meet or exceed state standards, and then mapping out an executable strategy that all community members can participate in.

“I’m a good organizational person,” Olshansky said. “I’m good with research and execution – who has to be involved, where do we go, and then rolling it out.” Olshansky has already begun outreach to other towns and municipalities to understand what has worked in their communities and with their businesses. 

Team member Emily Simoness is the departing executive director of SPACE on Ryder Farm in Brewster. Simoness will bring her experience with farming and land management to the committee.

"I'm honored to be a member of the North Salem Leadership Committee,” Simoness said. “The climate crisis is one of many crises that we as citizens have a responsibility to address. Katherine's leadership on this shows a keen awareness of the challenges at hand. North Salem has an opportunity to be a leader on this issue. I'm thrilled to be plugging in - specifically looking at the town's farming footprint and what our local food system offers as well as deficits to address.”

While Olshansky said she has made a number of climate-minded changes in her own life over the past several years, she hopes that her work on the committee will help to provide simple, actionable steps that everyone in the community can begin to take.

“I hope people will be open to hearing what the committee recommends,” Olshansky said. “A lot of this is dependent on the community wanting to participate and to help make a difference.”

The Climate Leadership Committee will officially be appointed in mid-April. Any community member who is interested in participating can click here
to learn more and should contact Katherine Daniels at 914-886-8198 or kdaniels@northsalemny.org.

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