Photo credit: Zichuan Han from Pexels

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, and Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition

I attended the virtual town hall meeting on August 18th that the New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Climate and Sustainability held in conjunction with the city’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board to address environmental issues within the context of social justice. New York City had been mandated by law to create the board to assure that the city would include environmental justice in its planning decisions. There were several presentations at this town hall meeting.

The Advisory Board had identified sixteen environmental issues such as green spaces, waste management, and air quality to focus on, and some of the issues were discussed by the participants at this August 18th meeting. After the presentations, participants were then asked to comment on how the city was addressing these environmental issues in their communities. With noise as one of the sixteen issues of concern, it was surprising that it had not been mentioned by the presenters. This omission was pointed out on the chat page by members of the Advisory Board who attended the meeting.

Tanya Bonner, who chairs WaHi-Inwood Task Force spoke of her community’s “uphill battle trying to increase awareness that excessive noise pollution is a public health issue.” And Cheryl Miller asked if the board could “please discuss noise pollution – loud illegal dirt bikes, ATV’s, loud music parties on the street every night.” There were then a few, brief words about noise from one of the presenters.

City residents should be pleased that environmental issues are being viewed from a social justice perspective and the Advisory Board has asked for comments to their draft report which can be seen online. The Advisory Board wants their report to reflect the concerns and experiences of New York City residents. Residents, I believe, will be looking forward to the final report which should, hopefully, contain recommendations that will result in greater access to healthy food, better air quality, greater access to green spaces, less garbage, and a reduction in noise pollution.