Safe Harbors Green: Environmental, Economic, Social Impact Summary
written by Anna Beeman
One Nature’s project Safe Harbors Green in Newburgh, NY has many positive environmental, economic, and social impacts to the immediate area after finishing its construction in September 2016. This three month study was conducted by gathering data from various green infrastructure tools and reports, as well as through interviews and observations. For more information about specific data and statistics, please contact email@example.com.
Although the carbon dioxide emissions produced to construct the park exceeds the current rate of carbon sequestration, the long term impact of the park including the maturation of 27 trees and shrubs planted in the park will help neutralize the carbon emissions produced within 10 to 22 years.
In terms of biodiversity, the construction of the park has added over 50 different types of native plants and trees to the space. Out of the herbaceous plants, the New England Aster is particularly of high value for its high capacity to retain water, as well as the ability to attract native honeybees. In the long term, the 27 planted trees and shrubs will host animals and insects that the herbaceous plants cannot support, and thus the park will be able to host a wider range of biodiversity in the future compared to the present.
The hydrological impact of the park is significant due to the rain garden and infiltration system installed within the landscape of the park. Based on the Center for Neighborhood Technology methodology, the raingardens of Safe Harbors Green will be able to capture 26,888 gallons of rainwater annually. If the rainwater captured by rain gardens is thought of as an avoided cost to the City of Newburgh, the average cost avoided for the city to treat the stormwater is $41,676.68 annually. In the long term by incorporating 27 fully grown trees and shrubs, the amount of runoff reduced would be even higher due to the ability of the trees to reduce runoff.
The New England Aster and the Sandbar Willow are two species in Safe Harbors Green that possess the highest capacity to uptake nutrients and pollutants, including organic compounds and heavy metals. The presence of these two species will significantly help with soil remediation and helping filter stormwater before entering the drain.
The social impacts of Safe Harbors Green are also significant. The amenities that Safe Harbors Green offers such as benches and areas of recreation attracts diverse human use, including exercise, business lunches, or a place for parents to take their children. It is estimated that between 15 and 25 people use the park daily, and approximately 2,300 people have used the park for events within the first year. Green spaces are known to improve physical and mental health, as well as decrease toxins in the air, and therefore reduce the rate of air pollutant induced diseases such as asthma.
The economic impacts of Safe Harbors Green on the surrounding area are apparent, even within the first year. For example, in September 2017, the realtor selling a small lot of compacted lawn across the street from Safe Harbors Green has priced the lot at $239,000, while the projected sale based on Zillow’s algorithm is at $178,000. The lot description highlights the proximity to Safe Harbors Green, and therefore is a contributing factor to the realtor’s perception of higher property value. Economic impacts locally also include direct investment into surrounding businesses with the increasing number of visitors.
About the Author: Anna Beeman is a Research Intern at One Nature for the 2017 fall semester. She is a senior Environmental Studies major at Vassar College, focusing her studies on environmental science and economics. She is also studying sustainable urban development and green infrastructure, as well as their application in the Hudson Valley.