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Peralta wants a greener boro

Earth Day 2008 may be behind us, but in Jackson Heights, the need to go green is increasing. So says state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights), who joined several other officials last Thursday to encourage residents to conserve energy and promote green space.

Peralta touted Assembly legislation that would require state infrastructure projects to use green principles and another bill that would forbid waste haulers from bringing recyclables to landfills.

He also said he was working with the Jackson Heights Beautification Group and Queens Community House to start multilingual community workshops to get more immigrants involved in green initiatives.

Daniel Dromm, Democratic district leader, said green space is another crucial issue for Jackson Heights, which has only Travis Park. Private co-op gardens do exist in some courtyards, he said, but many have fallen into disrepair.

Dorothy Phelan, another Democratic district leader who has helped refurbish Travis Park, said Jackson Heights ranks 50th out of 51 communities in the city in terms of park space. She said she was working on a grant to get new immigrants involved in the park's upkeep.

"Most people have great ideas and... tremendous skills if you give them an opportunity," she said.

Dromm said he wants to spearhead a City Council initiative to provide tax breaks for co-op boards that undertake garden renovations, which in some cases can cost as much as $1 million.

Peralta also pushed rooftop gardens as a way to cut down on home heating and cooling costs. He said a green roof is in the works for one building on 73rd Street.

But the carefully landscaped garden where the conference took place was on the ground at the Jackson Heights United Methodist Church. The Rev. Ronald Tompkins said the garden is open to the public and encouraged visitors to stop by.

"I scarcely know a rose from a lilac, but I do know that I want to be out here most of the time," he said. "There's something beautiful about creation and its effect on the human spirit.

Peralta warned of the effects of global warming.

"Storms are getting larger," he said. "Westchester County had its first tornado in 2006."

He also said the average global temperature has climbed 8 degrees between 1860 and 2000.

"Our children are going to pay the consequences because five generations did not act," he said.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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