NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - PLHOA
Piermont Landing Homeowners' Association, Piermont, New York
The Piermont Landing Homeowners' Association (PLHOA) was established in 1990. It is the umbrella organization for the residential section of a mixed-use development on the Piermont pier, a man-made promontory that juts out into the Hudson River three miles south of the Tappan Zee Bridge. The development is adjacent to the Piermont Marsh, a protected National Estuarine Research Reserve wetland. The Piermont pier is particularly notable for its richness and diversity of birds, making it a prime birding area for the Rockland Audubon Society. The PLHOA's membership consists of 227 residential units. The first residents moved into Phase I in 1993. Phases II and III were completed in 1999 and 2001.
Methodologies and Procedures
In the fall of 1993, the PLHOA adopted a policy of natural organic landscape maintenance. This policy completely eliminated the use of synthetically compounded pesticides and fertilizers for aesthetic purposes. This was in response to a campaign of education by one of the residents about the dangers of pesticide use and strong protests by residents of both the development and the surrounding village against the use of these chemicals,
The PLHOA's Natural Organic Landscape Maintenance Specifications, formulated in the fall of 1993, called for high-quality natural organic fertilizers and mineral supplements, soil tests at the beginning of every season, the use of endophyte enhanced mixtures of rye and fescue when re-seeding turf, mowing high and frequently, restrained watering practices and a reliance on natural organic methods for dealing with pest problems (primarily biological controls, such as Milky Spore Powder and Beneficial Nematodes).
Assistance in selecting appropriate pest and disease-resistant plantings was obtained from the local Cornell Cooperative Commercial Horticultural Educator. Also, the Landscaping Committee formed by some of the residents published yearly newsletters which often included an educational component about the natural organic policy.
From 1994 to 2001, the PLHOA used a landscaping contractor that practices exclusively natural organic landscaping. In the course of two bidding processes held in 1996 and 1999, the maintenance service (which included all labor and fertilizations) proved to be highly cost competitive, even in comparison to conventional landscapers.
Had the original landscapers hired in 1993 continued with their chemical program, over the course of the past eight years, an estimated 18,315 pounds of granular or powder form pesticides and 38.5 gallons of liquid pesticides would have been used. Under the natural organic landscape maintenance policy, all of these chemicals were entirely eliminated.
The elimination of synthetic pesticides from the property means that children can safely play on the grass, pet owners need have no concerns about exposure of their pets to dangerous chemicals and wildlife are spared the risks of chemical exposure and ingestion. Any risk of drift to neighboring village residents' properties was eliminated, making for a more harmonious relationship with the surrounding community.
Synthetic water-soluble fertilizers are also linked to nitrogen and phosphorous run-off, which cause destructive algae plumes and eutrification. The elimination of synthetic pesticides made run-off from the property less hazardous to the fragile and already stressed ecosystems of the Hudson River and the Piermont Marsh.
All of this was accomplished by using a service that proved to be highly competitive with conventional landscaping services. Additionally, over the past eight years, property values in the development have risen dramatically and at a much higher rate than those in the surrounding area, disproving the contention that the presence of other plant species such as clover and dandelion in turf is detrimental to property values. Indeed, some new residents, particularly those with young children and/or dogs, have indicated that the natural organic program was a positive factor in their decision to purchase their homes.
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