First JLP Sustainable Pelham Meeting

posted by on

As a follow-up to the 2022 Junior League Roundtable on Sustainability and Climate Resilience in the Pelhams, the Junior League of Pelham hosted a Working Meeting on May 8, 2023 to identify priority actions to make Pelham as a community more resilient and sustainable, and the lives of its residents healthier and more environmentally-friendly. Participants included community members as well as municipal and state government representatives and leaders of community organizations within Pelham. Participants worked in small groups focused on healthy land and waste management, sustainable consumption, sustainable transport and safe streets, and disaster resilience to review work already being done in Pelham related to the topic and discuss priority actions to move toward a more sustainable Pelham. 

The recent and on-going flooding damages homes and businesses was a large concern, and participants discussed the need for green infrastructure as an approach to water management that protects, restores, and catches water where it falls, to the extent possible, so it can be absorbed slowly into the soil. A two-prong approach to build storm resilience was suggested, focusing on advocacy for improved systems with local municipality, New York State and the Federal government to get funding to update our systems (pursuing grant funds; legislation/ code changes requiring flood mitigation measures in the event of public and private renovations/ changes; coordination with county and state for watershed-level solutions) while also supporting community outreach, communication and action/projects. The latter priority focuses on the need to widely communicate the extent of the problem for homeowners as well as businesses run from home in the Pelhams, as well as support an understanding of solutions for homeowners. In addition to continued community-building and information-sharing within the Flooded Pelham Facebook Group, participants suggested the creation of a website as a hub for storm-affected residents that would have information on what local municipalities have done and what they are planning to help residents.

Participants discussed promising sustainable initiatives already underway in Pelham schools, such as student-led group Pelham Eliminates Plastics’ (PEP) work with the school district to clean-up Wolfs Lane park and to ensure compostable items end up in the right place to be composted correctly. The PEP pledge to reduce single use plastics can be more widely adopted across the community and will be incorporated into a Sustainable Events Checklist that JLP and partners are developing. Participants prioritized partnering with school PTAs to implement the 4Rs (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) in schools, classrooms and cafeterias and discussed the importance of the development of a sustainability strategy for the Pelham school district.

Another priority highlighted at the meeting is to increase engagement with the Pelham Chamber of Commerce to encourage sustainable business practices and potentially honor green businesses in Pelham. Likewise, there are several sustainable drives and groups already active in Pelham, such as the Pelham Children’s Center’s book drive and swap in the Fall, the Pelham Cleat and Sports gear exchange in the Spring and Fall, and the Buy Nothing Pelham Facebook Group, which can be more widely shared across the community, including newcomers. Participants prioritized the creation of a Pelhams Sustainability Passport to make sustainable actions clear, practical and fun.

Meeting participants discussed the need for residents to talk with local government representatives about their support for safer streets to enable safe walking and biking in Pelham, including for students and families. This includes ensuring crosswalks have good signage; advocating for a bike lane on wide and frequently biked routes, such as Pelhamdale Blvd, and bump outs for busy crosswalks near schools and downtown; supporting Pelham bike and walk days at schools, at the Pelham Farmer’s Market and other community events like the Toonerville Music festival; and ensuring there are enough bike racks at schools and other locations in the Pelhams, especially near public parks. In terms of sustainable transport, Pelham can learn from more advanced efforts in neighboring towns, such as New Rochelle’s CircuitNR,” a complimentary, on-demand electric shuttle service that transports riders along several routes in the downtown and would be useful for train-related transportation in Pelham.

JLP plans to organize another Sustainable Pelhams meeting in the Fall of 2023. 

Stay Tuned!