Facility Advances Understanding of Impacts of Climate Change
Part of Landmark Project to Reduce Flooding, Improve Water Quality Along Mill River Corridor
Provides Space to Foster Positive Engagement Between Police and Local Youth
Renovation of Tennis Court Complex Complete
During Climate Week, Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the opening of the $8.3 million Environmental Education and Resiliency Center at Hempstead Lake State Park in Nassau County. The 8,000-square-foot center offers hands-on learning on the topics of storm resiliency and environmental management; provides space for community outreach; and serves as an emergency coordination center during disaster response. The center is part of a $35 million parkwide project to reduce flood risk, improve water quality and enhance recreational access along the Mill River corridor as part of Rebuild by Design—Living with the Bay, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“The Hempstead Environmental Education and Resiliency Center is an example of New York State’s innovative work to protect the environment in this era of climate change and expand access to healthy outdoor recreation,” Governor Hochul said. “Long Islanders know firsthand how the devastating effects of extreme weather are impacting our communities. This Center will equip visitors with knowledge they need to join the fight against climate change, protect our environment for future generations, and encourage people to get out and enjoy this wonderful park.”
Each year during Climate Week, New York State raises awareness about the impacts of climate change in conjunction with local, national, and international partners. Climate Week offers the opportunity for the State to continue its leadership on actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve infrastructure resiliency to extreme weather.
The Environmental Education and Resiliency Center is located near the western entrance of Hempstead Lake State Park, close to Lakeview and the Village of Hempstead, two historically underserved and ethnically diverse communities. The Center will serve as a focal point of the park’s improved trail connections to the waterfront, as well as direct access to the lake and ponds with kayak launches and fishing piers. The Center features exhibits and information explaining climate change impacts, community resiliency processes, and environmental stewardship, and includes a deck overlooking Hempstead Lake. Additional year-round education programming will enhance the community’s understanding of and relationship to the Mill River Watershed.
The Center includes community space for environmental education, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and community organizations. The Nassau County Law Enforcement Explorer Program, run by the Nassau County Police Department, plans to use the Center for local community outreach, combatting gang violence positively engaging young people through mentoring and education.
The facility can also serve as a storm response “Command Post” for local disaster response coordination for first responders, as well as an area for utility companies coordinate equipment staging, enhancing their emergency response to restore critical utilities.
The Center was constructed to reduce environmental impacts with the following key features:
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The Center will provide insightful education about our changing climate and help visitors be active, hands on stewards of the environment, while serving as a gateway for the community to explore the Park. I am tremendously grateful to Governor Hochul, and all of our partners for helping bring a much-needed modern educational facility to the community.”
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “As we battle the effects of climate change, the deeper our knowledge about the challenges we face, the better we can address them safely, sensibly, and effectively. As part of the $125 million Living with the Bay initiative, the state-of-the-art Environmental Education and Resiliency Center is an important investment in disaster response, but also an investment to promote personal resilience, safety, and awareness. Governor Hochul and our partners in state and local government have once again demonstrated that as we strengthen our physical infrastructure to keep communities like Hempstead safe, we can also focus on improving peoples’ quality of life.”
Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery Deputy Executive Director for Housing, Buyouts and Acquisition Paul Lozito said, “The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery is excited to celebrate the completion of the new Education and Resiliency Center at Hempstead Lake State Park with the residents of Lakeview, Hempstead, and all of Nassau County. We look forward to our continued partnership with New York State Parks as we work together to enhance this vital community resource for years to come and implement the Living with the Bay goals of improving resiliency, environment, and community.”
“The Hempstead Environmental Education and Resiliency Center is an example of New York State’s innovative work to protect the environment in this era of climate change and expand access to healthy outdoor recreation”
The project is part of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery’s $125 million Living with the Bay initiative to increase the resiliency of communities along the Mill River and around the South Shore’s bays by mitigating damage from storm surges; managing stormwater to mitigate damages from common rain events; improving habitat and water quality; and increasing access to the Mill River through both educational and increased recreational opportunities. Additional improvements at Hempstead Lake Park now underway include: upgrading the only high hazard dam on Long Island—the Hempstead Lake Dam; Northwest Pond spillway repair; installing floatable catchers in the Northern Ponds to manage floating debris and trash entering the system from the surrounding highly urbanized areas; installing stormwater and water quality improvements in the Northern Ponds; habitat restoration; development of Greenway trails with pedestrian bridges to improve public access to the waterfront; enhancing the trail system through the Park for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
Tennis Court Complex Improvements
The Center opening coincides with completion of a multi-phase project to refurbish and upgrade the park’s Tennis Court Complex. The $1 million project reconstructed deteriorated clay and all-weather asphalt tennis courts, created six new pickle ball courts, renovated the basketball courts, and refurbished bathroom facilities.
New York State’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches, which were visited by a record 78 million people in 2020. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit parks.ny.gov, connect on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. The free New York State Parks Explorer mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices. To download, visit: Google Play Store, NY State Parks Explorer App or Apple Store, NY State Parks Explorer App
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said, “In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I fought hard to secure billions of dollars in federal investment for green, resilient infrastructure throughout New York, including $125 million dedicated to Mill River Watershed flood prevention efforts. This Environmental Education and Resiliency Center is just one of many critical projects this money has funded not just in Hempstead Lake State Park but across southwest Nassau County to protect against storm surge, improve water quality, restore natural habitats, and better our understanding of the challenges our communities face in a changing climate.”
U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice said, “I’m very excited for the opening of the Environmental Education and Resiliency Center at Hempstead Lake State Park, which will serve as a space for local outreach and educational programs, as well as an emergency coordination center during storms and other natural disasters. Minority communities are too often ignored in the climate change discussion, and I’m hopeful this new center will help change that. As we continue to see stronger storms, flooding, and other consequences of climate change here on Long Island, I will keep fighting for federal funding in Congress to improve our resiliency and disaster response capabilities.”
Senator Kevin Thomas said, “Environmental education keeps our natural world healthy, our economy productive, and our communities vibrant. The new Environmental Education and Resiliency Center at Hempstead Lake State Park will foster environmental understanding, appreciation, and engagement in the community for generations to come. I want to thank the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery for their ongoing efforts to protect our valuable natural resources, and to improve residents’ quality of life.”
Assemblymember Taylor Darling said, “I am elated that the Environmental Education and Resiliency Center at Hempstead Lake State Park is opening!!! This is phenomenal news. This center will bring so many learning opportunities to our children of all ages and eventually reduce flooding and improve the water quality along Mill River Corridor. This is an incredible answer to our enormous environmental needs. Hempstead Lake State Park continues to be a refuge to wildlife and a serene setting for our relaxation and/or physical activity. The community is so excited about the renovation to the tennis court complex. These enormous improvements will encourage even better adventures for years to come. I would like to thank everyone who made these advancements possible, especially our Parks Department (you all rock!). This is a great accomplishment for all involved!!”
Assemblymember Judy Griffin said, “With the recent storm surges, we have all witnessed the detrimental impact of climate change on Long Island. Therefore it is vital that New York State continue leading the way in taking decisive action in a multi-pronged approach. This new Environmental Education and Resiliency Center at Hempstead Lake State is a huge step forward in teaching our community about storm resiliency and the impacts of climate change and I am proud to have this in the center of our district. I applaud Governor Hochul for seeing this major environmental project to fruition as it is extremely beneficial to our area.”
County Executive Laura Curran said, “It’s a great day for Nassau County. In addition to the new resiliency, water quality and habitat improvements ongoing at Hempstead Lake State Park, this new facility will serve as an educational community hub that Nassau County PD will utilize for outreach and mentorship programs for young people from under-served neighborhoods. Nassau County will continue to work in partnership with the State to engage local communities regarding environmental protection and ensure Long Island remains safe, beautiful, and habitable for generations to come.”
New York State’s Nation-Leading Climate Plan
New York State’s nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York’s unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $21 billion in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2019, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. With the Climate Act as its guide, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.
Facility Advances Understanding of Impacts of Climate Change