By City Councilman Costa Constantinides
Hello, you might remember me from my appearance in these pages several weeks ago. Though you might only recognize my eyes; I was celebrating my big victory on shutting down the city’s gas-fired power plants in the darkness.
I’ll admit, we had a good laugh about that in my office. You’re doing something right when you get your own editorial cartoon (although I wished the artist had caught my good side). But I’d like to make my own submission: a regular Queens homeowner sitting in an underwater living room saying, “Welp, Costa called this one.”
That’s what’s going to happen if we don’t stop treating climate change like just an environmental issue. Which is why New Yorkers — especially the good people of Queens — deserve a full-blown agency to act as conduit for addressing this phenomenon’s toll on infrastructure, parks, and the economy.
Back in February, I introduced a bill to create the Department of Sustainability — a first-of-its-kind agency with the mandate to protect New York City against climate change. DOS would merge the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability with the Office of Resiliency and Recovery to put our existing efforts under one roof.
And it couldn’t come at a more important time. Worsening tides from unprecedented sea level rise regularly flood Hamilton Beach and put more at risk of losing their homes. Five of the wettest 10 years in New York City have all come since 2003, which means more of a strain on the underserved infrastructure in Glendale. Erosion wasted away beaches in Far Rockaway so much that they stayed closed all of last summer.
Creating the Department of Sustainability will be a clear mandate that we’re addressing these challenges. A well-versed commissioner must come up with a strategy on how to protect neighborhoods from Bayside to Broad Channel, make them cleaner, and adapt to the demands of the 21st Century.
I’ve lived every day of my life in our amazing borough, and I want my son to have the same opportunity to make a future for himself right here in Queens. Donald Trump might not care about the future of his home borough, but New York City will pick up the slack where the White House is conceding defeat. By creating a Department of Sustainability, the people of Queens will get to keep the best place on Earth to grow up, raise a family, and hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach.