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City Receives $48,500 Hoyt Foundation Grant Award to Create Green Stormwater and Landscaping

From the City of Binghamton:

The City of Binghamton announced a $48,500 grant award from the Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation to help homeowners and small business owners install green infrastructure and landscaping elements that will positively contribute to the City's stormwater management solutions.

The City implemented stronger stormwater and landscaping regulations for property owners in 2011, in response to state mandates and to help achieve the administration's goals of building a more flood-resistant community. Replacing impervious surfaces with green infrastructure or landscaping can help mitigate the impacts of storm events, and the administration wanted to roll-out programs to incentivize more property owners to comply with and exceed these new requirements.

This Hoyt Foundation award complements a $200,000 grant award the City has already secured from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to achieve similar goals, but on projects of differing sizes.

"Adding green infrastructure and landscaping elements in development projects creates a more attractive product, increases market values, and helps manage stormwater citywide, but we also recognize these higher standards may result in higher upfront costs for business owners and developers," said Tarik Abdelazim, Director of Planning, Housing and Community Development. "These awards from the Hoyt Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will allow us to launch new city programs to help offset these costs. We want to show good faith and partner with private property owners to create a better built environment that, in the end, will benefit all city residents."

Thanks to these foundation grants (totaling nearly $250,000), the City plans to develop and roll-out two programs in the spring of 2014 that will allow homeowners, small business owners, and large developers to receive matching funds to help cover the costs of green infrastructure and landscaping elements on private property.

The Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation's grant will be used specifically to establish the Green Stormwater and Landscaping Matching Fund, which will provide grants up to $5,000 to help homeowners and small business owners cover the costs of eligible installations. For instance, a homeowner that might want to replace an asphalt driveway with permeable pavers could be eligible for a grant to cover 50% of the project costs, capped at $5,000.

"It is very gratifying for us at the Hoyt Foundation to be part of this important initiative to protect residents from damage caused by flooding," said Aubrey Clark, Chair of the Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation. "We commend the City for encouraging us as citizens to plan for the future by taking recommended steps to mitigate the effects of floods. We are grateful for the opportunity to build awareness and support that helps prepare us for a better future."

This is the City's second grant in two years from the Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation to help implement the City's Energy and Climate Action Plan and related sustainable strategies. In the fall of 2012, the Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation awarded the City a $50,000 grant to help fund for a third and final year the Binghamton Energy Leadership Program, a community education program for city homeowners about state resources that can help fund home energy improvements. The Binghamton ELP helped the Southern Tier region achieve the highest number of home energy retrofits among all ten regions in the state over a two-year period (2012 - 2013).

"Across the country, local foundations are playing a stronger role in helping distressed communities carry out initiatives that create social, economic and environmental benefits," said Mayor Ryan. "The Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation has clearly taken the lead here in the Binghamton area. We thank them for their vision, investment, and trust, and hope more foundations in the Southern Tier region reach out to forward-thinking municipal leaders and explore similar opportunities to strengthen our communities."

The grant was unanimously approved by City Council on December 18th.
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