Montebello has won another grant: $50,000!

Montebello has been awarded $50,000 from the Community Development Block Grant Program.  We applied for, and received, money that will help pay for the development of the Gorman Ponds Park.  Phase 1 of this project will see the creation of a small parking lot and an environmentally friendly and handicapped accessible pathway.  County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef announced the grant on April 13th at the Bowline Park in Haverstraw.  This money is part of the federal “stimulus” program managed by HUD. Below is the article by the Journal News recognizing Montebello for it's commitment to the environment.

Small village makes big green strides

By Laura Incalcaterra

MONTEBELLO — New York's bigger cities often get the limelight when it comes to "going green," but one local community is showing that even small villages can become green giants.

The 4.8-square-mile village of Montebello, home to just 4,000 residents, is the first Rockland municipality to install solar panels on a government building. It was the first to be named a Tree City. And, now, it is the first to take the state's Climate Smart Communities Pledge."Although it's kind of nice we're the first in Rockland County, I don't want to be the last," Mayor Jeff Oppenheim said. Oppenheim spoke while giving a tour of the solar panels attached to a freestanding structure outside Montebello Village Hall on a day when the sun seemed far too hot for an early April afternoon.

He pointed to a spinning meter that showed the 6,000-watt solar electric system had already produced more than 17,400 kilowatt hours of power since being installed in November 2007."This is the proof that what we're doing is effective," Oppenheim said. The village has been able to reduce the amount of electricity it purchases, while selling excess back to the power grid, Oppenheim said. He estimated the village had netted about $3,000 in "returned" electricity. "Even to a skeptic who disagrees with the global warming issue, it's still going to save tax dollars," Oppenheim said. Montebello stepped up its green efforts with energy audits conducted through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which also awarded a grant to the village to help with the solar power project. Following the audit, Village Hall windows and ceilings were insulated and compact fluorescent light bulbs were installed. Such bulbs use at least 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs while providing the same amount of light and lasting up to 10 times longer, according to the federal Energy Star program.

Last year, the village became the only "Tree City" in Rockland. The tree-planting and tree-care program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation. Trees help reduce greenhouse gases.  In February, the village signed onto the state's Climate Smart Communities Pledge, which focuses on reducing greenhouse gases in as many ways as possible. A total of 76 communities, from villages and towns to counties and cities, have signed onto the program statewide, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. The pledge asks communities to curb their greenhouse gas emissions, which most scientists cite as the main cause of climate change, through a number of ways. They include having communities determine their emission sources, decrease their demand for energy, pursue renewable energy sourcesand practice smart land use. The state wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2025, and to improve resilience to climate change in local communities. The pledge also asks communities to serve as inspiration to get others involved in the effort, and Montebello's solar power projects have done so. Alex Silbergeld, a village resident who is active with the Montebello Elementary School PTA, said she noticed the panels while driving past Village Hall around the time she learned this year would mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. She has since reached out to other PTA members at her school and on the Ramapo Central School District level in hopes of being able to bring environmental awareness programs to students and staff. "I've always been passionate about the environment and community," Silbergeld said. "Once I saw that, I thought, 'Fantastic , maybe something can happen in this community.' … The big picture is to bring more community into the community." Last month, the village was awarded a $57,000 grant to help it pay for installing solar panels on its community center, a job Oppenheim said might be done in the summer. The money was part of $24 million awarded by the state for similar  green projects throughout New York. The funding is stimulus money that comes via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Also in the summer, the village hopes to construct a park on 25 acres off Senator Levy Drive using eco-friendly materials, including a small, porous parking area to allow water to seep into the ground rather than run off into storm drains. Seven ponds lie within Kathryn Gorman Ponds Park. Lori Severino, a spokeswoman for the DEC, said Montebello's efforts were an example of how all communities in New York could contribute to the overall effort to curb greenhouse gases. "If these smaller cities and smaller villages are taking that initiative , it shows it can be accomplished even when you have fewer means," Severino said.