‘Green New Deal’ for NYC is unveiled, but will its price tag prevent it from becoming reality?

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NEW YORK — If it were to become reality, a proposal unveiled Tuesday would transform some of the city’s poorest and most polluted neighborhoods into environmentally healthy communities, and create more than 100,000 green jobs in the process.

However, in order for the proposal to be be realized, it will take a lot of funding, at a time when New York City’s, and New York State’s, budgets are deep in the red.

Read More: Environmental racism in the Bronx: Why the asthma rate is so high in the borough

The proposal, titled “An Equitable Recovery for NYC,” seeks to help the city emerge from the current economic crisis by creating green opportunities in communities hardest hit economically, and environmentally. Some of its creators on Tuesday called it a Green New Deal for the city.

The 40-page proposal details a variety of changes, including:

  • Public housing being retrofitted to be more environmentally friendly
  • Other city-owned buildings would be retrofitted to be solar powered
  • Bike lanes, which have expanded in recent years, would be increased to form a “bicycle arterial” web around the city
  • The city’s shoreline would be the site of climate projects to deal with rising seas
  • Ports would get renewable electricity sources, so that ships won’t have to burn fossil fuels while in New York Harbor

It would have a price tag of $16.2 billion, over three years, even though New York City is right now at least $9 billion in debt.

However, some developers of the plan said at a Zoom news conference on Tuesday afternoon that by creating jobs, “An Equitable Recovery for NYC” can help reduce the city’s debt.

Eddie Bautista is the executive director of the Environmental Justice Alliance, which contributed to the report.

“You can build your way out of a crisis,” Bautista said. “This report absolutely reinforces that premise.”

Still, some New York City residents who might stand to benefit from the proposal expressed cautious optimism.

St. Jonah Philogene lives on the Lower East Side.

“If they make it happen, it could become reality,” he said, but added that the price tag makes the plan less likely to happen.

Another resident, Alisia Antonetti also said that she was tempering her optimism.

“I’m not sure,” she told PIX11 News. “I have good thoughts for New York and hopefully it does [become reality].”

The environmental and community activist group ALIGN led the proposal. Its executive director, Maritza Silva-Farrell, said that the cost of the plan can be covered.

“The money’s there,” Silva-Farrell said. “We just have to prioritize and really think of where we need to be putting our money.”

ALIGN brought labor unions and about one-fifth of the New York City Council together on the proposal, unveiled Tuesday.

At the Zoom news conference, Councilmember Carlina Rivera assessed the proposal in this way: “We have a long way to go, and this report is a road map to help us get there.”

Rivera added that far more financial resources than city government has right now will be needed to get the plan off the ground.

“We also need the state to step up,” Rivera said, “and pass revenue-generating bills, like a wealth tax, pied-a-terre tax, increased gas tax, stock transfer tax. There are options.”

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