GLENS FALLS — Gov. Kathy Hochul, in her first visit to Glens Falls as head of the state’s executive branch, on Saturday recognized the city’s ongoing efforts to combat climate change.
During a brief ceremony in City Park, Hochul announced that the city, following years of commitment, had met the requirements to be certified as a Climate Smart Community, a state program that supports local efforts to address economic, social and environmental challenges posed by climate change.
“We’re here to celebrate. We celebrate a milestone, something that you achieved,” Hochul said.
Hochul, who ascended to the top of state government in August following the resignation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid a sexual harassment scandal, made the announcement as part of the state’s Climate Week.
She went on to praise the city’s ongoing efforts to adopt climate-smart solutions, which can be traced to 2015 under then-Mayor Jack Diamond.
Efforts continued under Mayor Dan Hall, who credited local leaders, including members of the city’s Common Council and Warren County Board of Supervisors, for coming together to address the issue head-on.
“This is something we’ve been working on for quite some time,” Hall said. “Of course, with any achievement, this Climate Smart Community certification there was lot of people involved.”
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Queensbury was also awarded the certification for its ongoing efforts to combat climate change as well. The village and town of Lake George, along with Warren County, were certified under the program last year.
Just 81 communities across the state have been certified since the program was launched in 2009.
Hall praised Diamond for this leadership and credited Jeff Flagg, the city’s economic development director, with setting the city on its current path when it comes to addressing issues around climate change.
Prior to being appointed head of economic development, Flagg advised the city on issues relating to climate change, helping to secure funding needed to implement a number of green projects, including LED streetlights and electric-vehicle charging stations, among other things.
The city has also created designated bike lanes in recent years, which aim to reduce carbon emissions by curtailing vehicle use.
Flagg said he was not alone in his efforts and thanked regional partners in helping to address environmental concerns.
He also praised the city’s leadership, including the members of the sustainability committee — which consists of 2nd Ward Councilman Bill Collins, 3rd Ward Councilwoman Diana Palmer and 5th Ward Councilman Jim Clark — for being open to making change.
Flagg said the efforts to combat climate change are far from done, adding it’s imperative the community continues to do its part in preventing climate change to preserve the Adirondack Park and prevent future environmental disasters.
“We’re not done,” he said. “This is not a conclusion process. For better or worse … everyone here is going to be working through this in perpetuity. There is no end to dealing with this.”
Chad Arnold is a reporter for The Post-Star covering the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George and Washington County government. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGArnold.