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High School Students Tackle Challenges Of Land Use

Eighth annual Rockland-PLUS brings students and development professionals together

 

Rockland County high school students get the chance to present their ideas for future land use at the Eighth Annual Rockland-PLUS (Planning Land Use with Students) program on Friday. About 60 students will share their visions and receive feedback from 25 planning, engineering, farming, environmental science, and conservation professionals and government officials during the daylong program at Rockland Community College.

Students from Clarkstown South, Nanuet, Tappan Zee, and Spring Valley high schools have been delving into challenging development questions during the past few weeks in their classrooms. Keep Rockland Beautiful Executive Director Sonia Cairo said she and Margie Turrin, education coordinator with Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, have been working with Environmental Science classes at Nanuet and Spring Valley high schools. The participating students from Clarkstown South are enrolled in an International Baccalaureate Environmental Science course and the Tappan Zee students come from a variety of classes and have been working on the projects after school.

All the students have been creating plans for redevelopment of a site in their local community. Clarkstown South's class has been evaluating the Hamlet Green area in West Nyack and Spring Valley's students have been assessing the former drive-in property on Route 59.  In Nanuet, the students considered several locations including the Outdoor Education Center and Shop and property along Middletown Road while their Tappan Zee counterparts focused on the Mason Hall on Western Highway in Tappan. 

These are some of the issues they have been addressing. How can we plan for communities that provide for all ages and stages of life?  Should we provide more places for recreation, employment, or affordable housing? How can we include features that save water and energy, prevent flooding, and preserve nature?  How do we balance our economic, social, and environmental needs to ensure a healthy, sustainable future?

Each group will present their plan and get recommendations from mentors about the project’s economic, environmental and social benefits and impacts. Then the students will form mixed groups from each of the participating high schools and work on mapping out a plan for the redevelopment of the Rockland Psychiatric Center in Orangetown. The mixed groups will present highlights from their Rockland Psych planning projects and receive guidance from the mentors.

Andy Stewart, Orangetown Town supervisor and one of the founding partners of R-PLUS, has invited the students to bring their ideas to a January public hearing on the future of the Rockland Psychiatric property at Town Hall.

Stewart said, “I encourage these kids, along with their parents and teachers, to join us in Town Hall as we envision a great mix of open space, commercial and residential development on the Town’s 350 acres of former state land.”

Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Keep Rockland, Rockland, Rockland County AmeriCorps and SUNY Rockland Community College collaborate to present Rockland-PLUS.  It is supported by Frank & Joanne Gumper, HSBC Bank U.S.A., N.A., and First Niagara Bank Foundation. 

Community mentors & facilitators include:

  • Paul Adler - Rand Commercial Services
  • Nancy Antonucci -Blauvelt Action Group
  • Naomi Camilleri -Rockland Farm Alliance
  • Harriet Cornell -Rockland County Legislature
  • Ray Cywinski -United Water
  • Jan Degenshein -Degenshein Architects
  • Ira Emanuel -Emanuel Law Office
  • Chuck Frankel - Rockland Municipal Planning Federation
  • Mary Hegarty -Rockland County Division of Environmental Resources
  • Susan Hereth -Scenic Hudson
  • George Hoehmann -Town of Clarkstown
  • Helen Kenny Burrows - Rockland County Department of Planning
  • Thom Kleiner - NYS Department of Labor and former Orangetown Supervisor
  • Arlene Miller - Rockland County Department of Planning
  • Phyllis Morena - Rockland County Youth Bureau
  • George Potanovic, Jr. -S.P.A.C.E. (Stony Point Action Committee for the Environment)
  • Shannon Purdy - U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Cathy Quinn - Rockland County Department of Health
  • Betsy Rodman - Rockland County AmeriCorps
  • Andy Stewart -Town of Orangetown
  • Sarah Tucker - First Niagara Bank
  • Christopher Travela, Ph.D. - Rockland Psychiatric Center                                    
  • Don Wanamaker - Environmental Management Limited
  • Emily Vail - Hudson River Estuary Program
  • Geoff Welch -Ramapo River Watershed Keeper

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