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Urban Planning Student Activities

Fieldtrip to Omega Center

Graduate students from the Urban Planning and Sustainability Management programs visited the Omega Institute's Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) on November 12, 2011 in Rhinebeck, NY. They were taken on a tour of the facility, which was the first building to receive the designation of "living building" in America, a credential that surpasses LEED Platinum.

This facility collects and cleans the waste water of the 195-acre campus of Omega Institute using plantlife, bacteria and aerated lagoons. Heating and cooling for the building is provided by geothermal energy and photovoltaic energy from an impressive wall of solar panels.

Every bit of the building is made of salvaged, natural, and toxin-free materials. Some of the wood in the structure of the building was even salvaged from the platform on which President Obama gave his inaugural speech!

Omega Institute's Center for Sustainable Living (OSCL)

Student Bike Ride

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council's (NYMTC) Greenway Link Study is examining short term (1-5 year) and long term (5-10 year) solutions to connecting the greenway that runs up the west side of Manhattan with the existing greenway (the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail) in Yonkers.

The Columbia Planning Student Organization (PSO) tour, lead by Karyn Williams of Velo-City, and guided by Maria Garcia, who is an involved volunteer with Velo-City, but also manages the Greenway Link Study at NYMTC, convened at the 242nd Street/Van Cortland Park (1) Train station and headed north on Riverdale Avenue, the "existing interim link".
Our first stop was at the Metro North Ludlow Station, where we got our first taste of the opportunities and challenges presented by the study. Although the waterfront would be physically accessible via an access road just beyond the station, security issues would prevent the path from passing by the sewage treatment plant on the waterfront just south of the station. Our second stop, at the gateway to the Riverdale Yacht Club, we got another tantalizing view of the waterfront and even a short segment of an existing pedestrian path on the water's edge. Access here is, however blocked by the Yacht Club's private land ownership. From here, we took the Riverdale Park Path--an exhilarating, although slightly bumpy ride for those of us with thick enough tires!

Although the "preferred link" along the waterfront could take as much as 20 years to complete, Sunday's participants can tell you that there are bikable solutions closer on the horizon with a little paint and better signage. A few brave souls even ventured past the tour's endpoint, determined to find the "missing link" to the Manhattan greenway, and indeed we did!

PARK(ing) Day

On September 16, the Planning Student Organization occupied a PARK(ing) spot on Broadway and 114th Street for the second year in a row. PARK(ing) Day is an annual, worldwide event that invites citizens everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good.

This year students decorated their space to thematically focus on urban agriculture. The space was featured in Streetsblog.