Nichols Hills Environment, Health, and Sustainability Commission

 

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

 

On August 12, 2008, the City Council for the City of Nichols Hills voted unanimously to amend Article I of Chapter 10 of the Nichols Hills City Code adding Section 10-23 to create and form the Environment, Health, and Sustainability Commission (EHSC). 

 

The EHSC has its roots in activities beginning in September 2006 when pioneering residents of Nichols Hills were asking elected officials about recycling for the City of Nichols Hills.  In the Spring of 2007, at the urging of Vice-Mayor Kathy Walker, an informal gathering of residents with an interest in recycling gathered at Town Hall and formed a recycling committee.  The efforts of the recycling committee allowed the City of Nichols Hills to participate in a successful November 2007 “America Recycles” event. 

 

With the success of the America Recycles event, the recycling committee decided to expand the efforts of the committee beyond recycling and created the City of Nichols Hills Environment Committee.  With input from Councilmember Peter Hoffman, the Environment Committee determined that its mission was "to establish Nichols Hills as a leading green community in Oklahoma."  The vision statement was "to work with city officials and citizens to raise awareness and create a model of community excellence that is interconnected with good management and civic responsibility."  The committee identified its areas of interest as:  Recycling, Community Awareness and Education, Private Landscaping, Recreational Hardscape, Alternative Fuel/Transportation, Green Construction, Noise Pollution, Air Quality, Energy and Power, and Water.

 

The Environmental Committee held a kickoff event to gather the support and interest of other residents with a daylong celebration of Earth Day, April 22, 2008, at Town Hall.  Students from area schools participated with artwork and essays.  There were displays of hybrid automobiles, bicycles suitable for commuting to work and demonstrations of alternative energy including wind power and solar. Oklahoma Gas & Electric handed out compact fluorescent light bulbs.  Trees were given away, wildlife exhibits showcased local species such as toads, rabbits and raptors and videos were presented during the day.  Residents who attended the event completed a recycling survey and a form that indicated interest in volunteering to research and recommend action in areas of concern that had been identified by the committee.

 

From this Earth Day 2008 event, the momentum of previous efforts combined with newly focused interest allowed the formation of a formal public body for the City of Nichols Hills, named the Environment, Health, and Sustainability Commission on August 12, 2008.

 

Springing from grass roots community interest, the EHSC was formally created to provide a body of deliberate thought focused on issues of environment, health and sustainability as this focus becomes more critical for the present and future economic efficiency of the City of Nichols Hills.  The focus of the EHSC is centered on sustainable design, which for the purposes of the EHSC, is defined as design that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs while ensuring continued economic success and informed consideration of social and environmental issues.

 

Consistent with Section 10-23, the EHSC will make recommendations to the City Council with respect to the intelligent, responsive, and systematic integration of sustainable design into the existing governance and management of the City of Nichols Hills.  Also, when requested by the City Council, the EHSC shall consider, investigate, report and recommend upon any special matter or question pertaining to environmental issues.  Finally, the EHSC will develop a Nichols Hills Municipal Sustainability Plan that will build on the existing municipal structure in partnership with the City officials, staff and citizens of Nichols Hills.

 

Ultimately, the members of the EHSC hope to identify, research and recommend sustainable visionary approaches to the City of Nichols Hills that might amend and possibly improve existing municipal systems and infrastructure.

 

The EHSC and its individual Commissioners are committed to focusing on all relevant areas, including areas of interest previously identified by the residents of the City of Nichols Hills.  These areas for future focus requested by the residents include: 

 

  • Community Awareness and Education
  • Recycling
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational Hardscape
  • Water
  • Air Quality and Noise Pollution
  • Sustainable Construction
  • Energy and Power
  • Wildlife and Habitat Conservation
  • Health

 Community Awareness and Education:

 

The first and most important immediate goal of the EHSC is to promote community awareness and education of the issues regarding which our citizen have expressed the most interest.  An example is recycling, where many citizens have expressed a sincere desire to recycle all municipal solid waste, and yet, the economics of recycling, our geographic location and realities such as municipal contracts are all relevant and significant issues that must be addressed in designing any specific recycling program that best fits the City of Nichols Hills.  This webpage is a project of the EHSC’s Community Awareness and Education focus area and will be one of the primary methods of efficiently providing a wealth of information available to all Nichols Hills citizens with the click of a mouse.  EHSC Community Awareness and Education projects also underway include America Recycles Day (November 2008), Earth Day (April 2009), public outreach efforts including distribution of promotional and educational materials, publication of articles and regular columns in the Nichols Hills News and The Friday Newspaper, and the development of a lending library and a quarterly speaker series, with national figures and experts in significant areas of interest listed below.

 

Landscaping:

 

Citizens have expressed interest in identifying Nichols Hills friendly, low intensity and sustainable landscaping including types of native trees, ground cover and native plants (known as “xeriscape) that would be most successful in the City of Nichols Hills.  Citizens are also interested in identifying more efficient approaches to management of yard waste, compost and mulch.

 

Recreational Hardscape:

 

The City of Nichols Hills enjoys beautiful parks with some walking paths.  Citizens have expressed interest in enhancing walking and biking connections and transportation options.  Specifically, the City of Nichols Hills lacks sidewalks and is in need of more pedestrian and bike trails safely insulated from heavy traffic.  Citizens have identified a need for safer bicycle and pedestrian routes for recreation, work and school by connecting the City of Nichols Hills with the City of Oklahoma City “Trails” system and, in the process, create for our citizens more recreational opportunities, safe ways that their children can walk to school, and alternative safe bike routes to work.

 

Water:

 

Citizens have recognized that water is a resource that may be limited in the future and have expressed interest in exploring an improved water conservation plan.  These citizens have expressed interest in enhancing existing water conservation measures such as low-flow appliances and irrigation methods.  Citizens have also expressed interest in water quality issues including drinking water purification, future viability of clean groundwater resources, integrity of municipal drinking water supply wells and infrastructure, effectiveness of drinking water sampling and analysis and proper management of wastewater and existing sewer and stormwater drain systems.  Interesting links regarding water conservation and drinking water include: 

 

Air Quality and Noise Pollution:

 

The City of Nichols Hills is surrounded by urban areas with intense motor vehicle traffic resulting in intermittent periods of negatively impacted air quality.  The days the City is severely impacted are called “Ozone Alert Days.”  The citizens of the City of Nichols Hills have expressed interest in reviewing methods of reducing impacts to air quality and minimizing nuisance noise, especially during hot summer months, such as fueling vehicles, use of lawn mowers and leaf blowers, ways to encourage car pooling and alternative means of transportation such as bicycling and notice procedures alerting citizens on those days when air quality is expected to be severely impacted.  Interesting links regarding air quality include:

 

Sustainable Construction:

 

Given that much of power use is directed towards heating, cooling and illuminating residential and commercial structures, many citizens have expressed interest in reviewing the Nichols Hills City Code to ensure that it properly contemplates future sustainable construction practices such as “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” or “LEED” construction, which can be utilized in a manner consistent with the historic aesthetics of the City.  These construction techniques and design principles are intended to conserve resources and are seen as ways to offset future high energy costs as well as to conserve water and natural gas and lower our overall carbon footprint.   Interesting links regarding sustainable construction include:

 

Energy and Power:

 

As an initial issue, the citizens of the City of Nichols Hills have experienced power interruptions and outages in the last few years in certain parts of the City that indicate unresolved issues in power distribution that must be addressed.  Beyond this issue, citizens are very interested in researching and utilizing where optimal alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind and geothermal, and approaches to energy and resource conservation, such as the Energy Star Program, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy which advocates use of Energy Star appliances.  Citizens are also interested in reviewing existing provisions of the Nichols Hills City Code to ensure that it properly contemplates future use of these alternative energies and conservation programs.  Interesting links regarding energy and power conservation include:

 

Wildlife and Habitat Conservation:

 

The citizens of the City of Nichols Hills have expressed interest in the preservation and conservation of natural resources that are currently enjoyed in the City.  These natural resources include a diversity of habitat sites, namely parklands and wetlands (anywhere weeping willows and cottonwoods grow).  Many parklands have older growth, specifically hardwood trees (remains of a forest), which have been preserved since Nichols Hills was developed in 1929.  While patches of parklands are important, the most valuable habitat site is Grand Boulevard Park.  The Grand Boulevard Park is a connecting corridor, greenway, and pathway in which wildlife are able to forage and live.  The channel, a tributary creek of the Deep Fork River, is an important element in the park.  Although amphibians have lost habitat in the concrete embankments in the channel, they have been observed in the south end of the creek.  There are also diverse bird communities in Nichols Hills, including the nesting of the highest concentration of Mississippi Kites in the State of Oklahoma.  Citizens want to ensure that this natural environment and wildlife habitat is conserved and enjoyed by Oklahomans now and in the future.

 

Health:

 

The citizens of the City Nichols Hills have expressed interest in gathering, analyzing and providing information and making recommendations on a variety of health issues including exercise, direct and passive cigarette smoking, drinking water contamination, weight control, elder care, mental illness, and other issues impacting our diverse citizenry.                     

 

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Dated this 10th day of October, 2008

Updated:  September 1, 2010



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