A SUNY-CUNY partnership for the win
The selection of Stony Brook University as the anchor institution for a climate solutions center on Governors Island wasn’t only about Stony Brook, though the university’s research proposal and track record were key.
Also important: Stony Brook’s partners, including three academic institutions based in New York City — Pace University, the Pratt Institute, and the City University of New York.
Stony Brook had previously worked with CUNY on other projects and university officials even spoke with CUNY leaders about partnering on the Governors Island effort more than two years ago, in the competition’s earlier stages, according to Kevin Reed, Stony Brook’s associate dean for research and an associate professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.
At the time, as Stony Brook was evaluating potential partners, its representatives spoke with nearly every university in New York City, Reed said.
CUNY, however, put together its own bid, in collaboration with The New School.
In December 2021, New York City officials and the Trust for Governors Island announced four semifinalists — Stony Brook, Northeastern University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and CUNY. By October 2022, that was whittled down to three — Stony Brook, Northeastern and CUNY.
With victory tantalizingly close, Stony Brook and CUNY officials renewed their discussion about a potential partnership.
“As opportunities arose, we had conversations and made decisions about whether a potential partner was the right fit,” Reed told The Point. “The same thing happened with CUNY, in part because we had conversations going back two years and also because we have had a lot of collaborations with them. It was a natural conversation to have.”
Eventually, CUNY became a partner within the Stony Brook proposal — leaving Northeastern as their only competitor in the process.
The involvement of New York City institutions — and especially CUNY — is significant to Stony Brook’s overall plans and improved its proposal, Reed said.
“CUNY has dozens of campuses, colleges throughout all five boroughs,” Reed said. “That provides access to the communities that we’re trying to engage as we start to develop climate solutions. It’s critical for the broader partnership.”
And involving New York City’s public university system certainly didn’t hurt Stony Brook’s chances to win a competition decided by New York City officials.
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
Way to go
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Environmentalists' chance for a solid win
Even as state budget negotiations continue to hog attention in Albany, advocates and lawmakers are working on bills whose passage or failure will define the rest of this year’s session.
One of the longest-running dramas has involved an environmental concept known as “extended producer responsibility,” or EPR, which addresses the problem of solid waste disposal by making companies that produce packaging and paper take responsibility for the product through its life cycle. Getting rid of garbage is a big problem for municipalities; finding ways to encourage producers to make less packaging and pay for expensive recycling processes would be enormously helpful.
The concept has been an Albany topic for eight years, and various plans have been aggressively negotiated for four years.
But this year, environmentalists see their best chance yet for a win — a feeling confirmed by attendees at Tuesday’s Clean and Healthy New York lobbying day in the state capital. Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito led a solid waste and land management team through myriad meetings with State Senate and Assembly members where EPR — now rebranded as the easier-to-understand Waste Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act — was a major topic.
“New York City, a coalition of towns, a coalition of counties, all levels of government are supporting it because it will reduce the cost of waste disposal which means saving taxpayers money,” Esposito told The Point.
Esposito said both chambers are supportive of the bill, as is Gov. Kathy Hochul. “I think there’s room for a three-way agreement,” Esposito said.
Alluding to past environmental infighting, Esposito appealed to the bromide of not making the perfect the enemy of the good.
But as she and colleagues know well, the process here isn’t all that rare for Albany. Other well-supported legislation over the years has taken multiple annual tries.
“We’ve discussed everything that needs to be discussed,” Esposito said. “Now we need to pass a bill and if we need to make adjustments in 3-to-5 years, we can do that.”
— Michael Dobie @mwdobie