On Earth Day, Vanessa L. Gibson Lays Out Plan for A Sustainable Future for the Bronx

April. 22, 2021

Bronx, NY – On the 51st Earth Day, Council Member and Bronx Borough President candidate Vanessa L. Gibson laid out her plans for A Sustainable Future for the Bronx. As Borough President, Gibson will advocate for gardening at every Bronx elementary and middle school so students can learn about the environment and healthy food options; additional miles of dedicated bus lanes to improve bus commutes; expansion of community gardens, farming, urban agriculture, Health Bucks, healthy bodegas and farmers markets; investing in existing parks and creating new parkland and open space to encourage health, wellness, and outdoor exercise; and prioritizing sustainable and renewable construction in the borough.

“A Sustainable Future for the Bronx will improve Bronxites’ health and quality of life, while doing our part to address climate change,” said Vanessa L. Gibson, Council Member and Bronx Borough President candidate. “This Earth Day, let’s remember that going green isn’t just good for the planet; it’s an opportunity for equity and justice for our borough. We can give our children access to quality education, universal healthy food options, and create sustainable jobs and opportunities. Together, we can end our unfortunate distinction as the least healthy county in New York State. It’s time for A Sustainable Future for the Bronx.”

As Borough President, Gibson’s A Sustainable Future for the Bronx plan would include:

Buildings & Businesses
Gibson will use her official power in the City’s ULURP process to ensure any new construction requiring ULURP approval is sustainable; this includes any project requiring rezoning. Gibson will also invest in solar power for NYCHA and other city-owned buildings so that they comply with the requirements that city-owned buildings go green by 2050.

While ensuring that new construction is sustainably built, Gibson will work with property owners to make sustainability a priority for aging buildings. By forming partnerships with building owners and sharing information on new regulations through education and outreach, Gibson will ensure that environmentally friendly options are maximized and buildings will reach the new standards beginning in 2024.
Gibson will be a champion for the green economy, developing a working group with educational institutions, businesses, advocates, and other stakeholders to identify and create opportunities for green jobs in construction, renewable energy, and coastline resilience. As a Member of the City Council, Gibson supported legislation authorizing the installation of small wind turbines; as Borough President, she will work to see these options, along with solar panels, implemented throughout the Bronx. She will fight for a Green New Deal to bring green investment to the borough.

Education
Gibson will work with the DOE so every Bronx elementary and middle school has an indoor, outdoor, or rooftop garden where students can grow food and learn about agriculture and healthy eating. Gardening programs should be modeled after the health and science center at CS 55 in School District 9, along with the Green Bronx Machine program that has introduced students across the Bronx to gardening. Other programs, like the Bronx Botanical Gardens Edible Academy and GrowNYC school gardens, should be expanded to give students more opportunities to learn about the importance of healthy foods.

Gibson is committed to working with the DOE and the School Construction Authority on capital infrastructure projects such as the installation of green roofs for our public schools similar to the Highbridge Green School that opened in 2013 in School District 9.

To keep students healthy, Gibson will advocate for health and wellness coordinators in our DOE schools to provide food and nutrition programming and integrate wellness within academic subjects. Gibson is further committed to expanding the school-based health center model, which has helped students have greater access to necessary health services.

Food
In the Council, Gibson introduced legislation that led to the creation of the City’s first-ever 10-year Food Policy Plan. This plan, “Food Forward NYC,” will ensure that all New Yorkers have access to healthy and affordable food options and that the city identifies sustainable ways to produce, transport, and dispose of food. Gibson will work with the necessary partners across the food industry to make sure that the city reaches the 10-year goal.

As Borough President, Gibson will advocate to make farmers markets and Greenmarkets year round rather than seasonal, and ensure that all residents have access to healthy food options. She will work with community organizations to advertise and increase usage of Health Bucks, which can be used to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at Greenmarkets.

Gibson has called for an expansion of the Healthy Bodega Initiative that will give Bronxites greater opportunities to purchase healthy food in their neighborhood, not requiring them to travel to Westchester or another borough. Expansion of the “Don’t Stress/Eat Fresh” program will further help bodegas deliver more healthy food options to residents. Additional programs, like the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s “Shop Healthy NYC!” initiative that increases healthy food access in areas with high obesity rates, would be further expanded to additional neighborhoods across the Bronx under Gibson’s plan.

Gibson will also work with the city’s Economic Development Corporation & Small Business Services to bring more worker-owned cooperatives to the Bronx, including urban agriculture and grocery store cooperatives. This proposal will serve to enhance access and opportunities to improve Bronxites’ health and support economic development. In further partnership with EDC, Gibson is committed to expanding the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program which will help small businesses open retail space and renovate existing stores that provide residents with healthy and affordable food.

These steps will improve food access and health, and support green businesses.

Parks
Gibson will protect, preserve, improve, and expand the Bronx’s parkland. Gibson will invest capital dollars in safety and maintenance upgrades to parks across the Bronx, and increase gardening and outdoor exercise programs. Gibson will also work with the community to identify outdoor spaces that can better serve the public, particularly in areas with little green space. Gibson will fight for greater investment from the state, building on the $100 million investment to renovate Roberto Clemente State Park, the only state park in the Bronx. When The High Bridge, the oldest standing walking bridge, was reopened in 2015 after 45 years of being closed to the public, a vast amount of open space was made available to Bronxites. Gibson is committed to finding new, innovative ways to create new parks and increase green spaces for Bronxites, such as capping the Cross Bronx Expressway to create a greenway.

To further increase recreational opportunities for Bronxites, Gibson proposes increasing access to Bronx waterfronts through the creation of new parks and partnerships with property owners. Using models like the New York Restoration Project, Gibson additionally proposes further creation of green spaces by utilizing vacant areas as community gardens and small parks. Parks initiatives like NYC Parks GreenThumb should be further expanded to achieve the goal of creating more small green spaces across the borough.

Like the investments in education and food, these steps will support a healthier Bronx as well as Bronxites’ connection to the environment.

Transportation
Gibson will bring additional miles of dedicated bus lanes to the Bronx to repair the local transportation system. Per passenger, buses release 33 percent lower carbon emissions than individual cars. Dedicated bus lanes reduce commute times, encouraging more people to use the bus rather than an individual car.

For example, an analysis of the 14th Street Busway in Manhattan shows that creation of a dedicated bus lane increased ridership 24 percent. Bringing new dedicated bus lanes to the Bronx will do right by working people who rely on the bus and also reduce the borough’s carbon footprint. Gibson supports the Grand Concourse redesign plan for dedicated bike and bus lanes, similar to the recent project on Edward L. Grant Highway.

Safety for cyclists must continue to be a priority as bike share programs like CitiBike expands to more Community Boards throughout the Bronx. Protected bike lanes will help keep cars and cyclists separated on busy streets and ensure a safe way to get around the borough. The CitiBike program and the new e-bike and e-scooter initiative must be made available to all Bronxites, and not just limited to a few small communities.

As changes are made to streets, there must be upgrades to protect pedestrians. Gibson will work with DOT to install new pedestrian plazas, countdown clocks, and curb extensions to make streets safer. These upgrades will further help the Bronx become a more accessible borough, and by making all public transit stations ADA-compliant those with disabilities will have more options to travel.

The Bronx must also adapt to changing modes of transportation. As city vehicles and privately owned cars turn to more sustainable electric models, Gibson will work to expand charging stations across the Bronx. To further improve public transit options, Gibson will work with the MTA to ensure the success of the new Metro-North Stations across the East Bronx while improving existing services.

To provide more opportunities for Bronxites to get outside and spend time with one another, Gibson is committed to expanding open streets, play streets, and events like Boogie on the Boulevard, often known as Car Free Sunday, that allow residents access to streets for recreational activities throughout the year.

Gibson’s A Sustainable Future for the Bronx initiative will make significant investments in our infrastructure and improve the quality of life in the Bronx for generations to come.

In her campaign for Borough President, Gibson is focused on recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing new jobs and opportunities to the borough, and ending the distinction of being the least healthy county in New York State. She has been endorsed by Congressman Ritchie J. Torres; Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Speaker Corey Johnson; Senator José M. Serrano; Assembly Member Latoya Joyner; Council Members Diana Ayala, Laurie Cumbo, Mark Treyger, Adrienne Adams, Carlina Rivera, Daniel Dromm, Farah Louis, and Karen Koslowitz; former Council Member James Vacca; former Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields; District Leaders Lanita Jones, Gene Edwards, Norma Saunders, Shirley Saunders; the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club; NYC Pride & Power; 1199 SEIU; DC37; 32BJ; UFT; CSA; Local 372; Local 371; and the 504 Democratic Club.

Gibson was first elected to the State Assembly in 2009 and City Council in 2013, where she currently serves. While in office, she has made affordable housing, criminal justice reform and education her priorities. More information can be found on her website: www.gibsonbp2021.com