City Notes: New Albany's focus on sustainability dates back to original master plan

JENNIFER CHRYSLER
Jennifer Chrysler

As a master-planned community with an agrarian heritage, New Albany is committed to promoting a greener, more sustainable community and protecting our environment for the long term.

From our first strategic plan in 1998 to our current Engage New Albany strategic-plan update, sustainability has been a priority in protecting the character and assets of the community while allowing it grow and thrive.

Connectivity and natural features

Many of these measures are apparent.

Promoting connectivity by encouraging multiple means of transportation and reducing traffic were key considerations in our Village Center District plan.

More than 53 miles of leisure trails connect the Village Center, New Albany International Business Park, neighborhoods and regional trail networks to promote walking and cycling.

The new Rose Run Park transformed an overgrown creek bed into a central park that preserves the area's natural features. What you don't see is that 100% of storm water is maintained on site, capturing run-off pollutants.

Our green-street policy has led to the construction of three "green" brick streets -- Third Street, the Second Street extension and the Miller Avenue extension -- to provide sustainable stormwater management.

Our zoning code mandates that new subdivisions include 20% open space and parkland and requires trees to be retained when feasible.

Green building practices

We also employ sustainable design principles and green policies in our economic-development efforts.

Land-use plans for the business park designate areas for preserved green space, conservation and wetland mitigation.

Tax-abatement benchmarks for manufacturing facilities are linked to green building practices. The city provides financial incentives for new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified buildings that use 25% less energy.

SmartRide New Albany, the New Albany and COTA transit program, paved the way for alternative transportation in the business park. A recent grant will provide an electric bus for the fleet.

Sustainability in city services

Sustainability is reflected in city operations and services, as well.

Recycling programs are employed at all facilities and public events.

Leaf collection, totaling 1.1 million pounds last year, is composted and converted into topsoil. Branches and trunks are shredded into mulch.

Recycled asphalt paves many rural roads, and natural beet juice melts snow, reducing chemical use.

It's not just the right thing to do -- it also is more cost-effective. The conversion to LED street lights is expected to save the city $1.1 million in labor, equipment and energy costs, and commercial fans in the service-department garage are reducing heating costs.

The service department also added its first energy-efficient electric vehicle to its fleet in 2018, and the police department is exploring a pilot project to test a hybrid cruiser.

As the city finalizes its strategic-plan update, we continue to hear from the community that sustainability is a priority.

Our draft plan promotes biodiversity and water and air quality, encourages alternative energy sources, reduces waste, tracks our progress and educates the public.

As a community committed to founding pillars that revolve around lifelong learning, arts and culture, health and wellness and environmental sustainability, we are dedicated to building a better, greener and smarter community.

It's in our DNA.

Jennifer Chrysler is New Albany's community-development director.