Residents and businesses in the Village are making some good progress with regard to the Village’s overall sustainability. On the “Local Food” or “slow food” front, much is being done to transform the Village from being outwardly reliant on fresh produce to becoming slightly more self-reliant on local produce. Much of America’s fresh produce travels at least 1,500 miles before reaching your plate; think of all that diesel or gas! Of course the first step for any village, town, or city in becoming more economically and ecologically sustainable (from a food perspective) is to implement an active community gardening network, which is what the Village has recently begun to do.
The new community garden, located just south of Haverstraw Middle School and Babe Ruth Field, is a shining example of small-scale agriculture. The plot (about 1/2 acre or 6000 square feet) is split up into many smaller plots that are managed by local residents. The garden has access to fresh water and a small tool shed. Thanks to the Concklin Orchard (nearby, past the “rock-cut” off Route 9W) and an upstate horse farm, fresh topsoil and horse manure was brought in to bolster this new harvest. The Village’s community garden regulations can be found here: http://www.voh-ny.com/CCgarden/Haverstraw_Community_Garden_Guidelines.pdf . For those of you who are interested in obtaining a plot at the garden, you must remember that this community garden is strictly pesticide-, herbicide-, and completely chemical-free. Organic Only, Please! To obtain a plot, visit: http://www.voh-ny.com/CCgarden/HaverstrawGardenPromoFlyerforSchoolBackpacks.pdf or call Marion Breland-Oswald or Peggy Koval of the Haverstraw Center at 845-429-5731.
The Village’s greenway trail, which runs from the entrance of Bowline Point Park in “Little Italy” or Warren Court to Broad Street, has recently undergone a modest face lift with added amenities such as benches and picnic tables. The Greenway hooks around the actual site of the infamous 1906 Haverstraw Landslide in which dozens lost their lives and four blocks of the Village slid into the Company Clay Hole, now Bowline Pond. The Greenway is also home to the New York American Patriot Garden Project 9/11 Memorial, which was installed by myself and the North Rockland High School N.Y.S. Science Honor Society.
I must mention Haverstraw’s unique connection to various bike paths, walking and hiking trails, including the Nyack-Haverstraw path that begins in Dutchtown and extends all the way to Nyack Beach State Park. This is the site of the famed treason by Benedict Arnold and Major John And re; the sloop-of-war Vulture dropped off Major Andre here to rendezvous with Arnold at the Joshua Hett Smith house on Route 9W, on September 20, 1780. Other hiking or walking/running options include the Long Path and High Tor Mountain, Rockland Lake, Pecks Pond and Haverstraw Bay County Park, and finally the esplanade at the Harbors at Haverstraw neighborhood, which will eventually link up with the Village Greenway. Of course, Haverstraw is the gateway to the Hudson River Valley. There’s no limit to enjoying the Hudson River, whether by kayaking, sculling, swimming, sailing, or captaining a cabin cruiser (although this option is a little less than desirable when we are considering our sustainability efforts)!
The Union Restaurant on New Main Street has recently installed a vegetative or green roof and roof deck off the rear of the restaurant and above the Patio Metapan (back courtyard dining area). The green roof, actually the brain child of yours truly and the product of BOCES student ingenuity, is comprised of raised beds, an automatic drip watering system, and a deck for viewing and gardener access. The two BOCES students responsible for installing the project are Daniel Goswick and Josh Intrator. The green roof has been planted with various vegetables and quite an assortment of herbs, and is already supplying the restaurant with fresh produce, spices and herb cuttings. This is a groundbreaking and exciting addition to the Village, as this project is a model for other rooftops in Haverstraw. Benefits of vegetative roofs are reduced polluting runoff into the Hudson River, reduced Urban Heat Island Effect (the tendency of black roofs and blacktop to absorb the stifling summer sun), reduced air particulates and pollution, and increased biodiversity within an urban area. Please, read more about the science and application of green roofs here. Check out a brief video of Patio Metapan, the Roof Deck, and the green roof:
I must not forget about Haverstraw’s access to mass/public transportation, which is fairly advanced for a west-of-Hudson rivertown. The TOR (Transit of Rockland) and CoachUSA buses regularly stop at various points in Haverstraw, and offer trips to New York City, other locations in Rockland County such as the Palisades Mall or Spring Valley, and points north to Newburgh. The Rockland County Department of Transportation (which operates TOR) has been switching much of its bus fleet over to clean hybrids, which release less particulates into the air and are generally quieter. There is a noticeable difference between these hybrid buses and the older, regular diesel buses that are known to spew black smoke. The Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry offers commuters and weekday travelers a one-seat ride over to Ossining (Sing-Sing) in Westchester, with connections to the Westchester BeeLine Bus System and MetroNorth Railroad (north to Poughkeepsie or south to Tarrytown, Yonkers, and Grand Central in Manhattan). I have kept my own hopes alive for the reactivation of the West Shore Railroad, which ended direct service from Haverstraw north to Newburgh/Albany and south to Hoboken Terminal/New York Pennsylvania Station in 1955. The revitalization of the West Shore, Hudson River Railroad (once owned by the New York Central Railroad), would advance the revitalization of the Village as a whole. Unfortunately, the New York State government is focusing on the East-West I-287 Corridor alone at the moment, as part of the overall corridor and Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. However, a passenger rail line running through West Nyack (at the Palisades Mall) would offer the possibility of connecting the West Shore Line to the Hudson Line in Westchester. Anything is possible in the future.
Even with the progress that the Village is making toward Sustainability, there is much more to do. We need a more vibrant, diversified downtown, where all shopping needs can be met, including a grocery store and produce market, shoe and clothing stores, more restaurants, a bakery, a butcher, maybe even a downtown brewery. There’s no reason the Village can’t be supplied with fresh eggs from a nearby chicken coop or milk and cheese from local goats, these animals require very little space to be happy. The Haverstraw Farmer’s Market must grow in popularity this season; pass the word on to your neighbor that this Farmer’s Market is a unique and smart way to get your week’s worth of fresh produce. None of the produce or products at the Farmer’s Market comes from more than 100 miles away – remember the long distances your food normally travels?
There is a lot you can do to add to the Village’s overall economic, social, and environmental sustainability. It’s exciting to think of new projects that can be implemented in Haverstraw. Imagine a hydroponics/aquaponics greenhouse that supplies the downtown with fresh food and maybe even Tilapia fish all year round. Solar heating and electricity has a lot of potential in Haverstraw in order to reduce our natural gas demand. Could you imagine a downtown steam plant, which provides heat to all homes and businesses off Broadway and Main Street for a fraction of the cost of in-building furnaces and boilers? After all, Haverstraw once had a gas plant that supplied coal-derived gas for gaslights in homes and streetlights on Main Street and Broadway! Dreaming is great, but action makes it happen. . .