On Tuesday, October 29, 2020, Cocoa City Council unanimously approved Cocoa’s first ever Sustainability Action Plan. This plan, which was assembled by members of Cocoa’s Sustainability Board who volunteered over 800 hours for the last two years, will make Cocoa a more resilient and sustainable community and lead to a more prosperous future for Cocoa.
Safe, Clean, and Green: Cocoa’s Path to Prosperity, Cocoa’s Sustainability Action Plan 2020 will make Cocoa more storm and threat prepared, more competitive for grant funding, and more attractive for business development and investors. This plan improves the quality of life for residents and strengthens Cocoa as a community. It prioritizes equity and empowerment, maps out sensible, practical ways to increase citizen awareness and engagement, and pre-positions Cocoa for smart work in economic development.
The plan, which addresses Cocoa’s history and diversity as sources of resilient strength, outlines a number of projects, some of which have already begun. Some examples of projects outlined in the plan include:
- creating an ample supply of public green spaces
- creating a sustainable design scorecard for new residential and non-residential design
- providing civics education programs for youth and adults residents of the city
- improving bicycle and pedestrian amenities to create multimodal commuter pathways in the city
- encouraging residents and businesses to develop emergency preparedness kits and evacuation plans
- participating in habitat restoration programs on public lands to filter and improve the Indian River Lagoon water quality
- creating stormwater pond parks and bio-retention sidewalks and trails
- educating residents on solar energy costs and payback and increasing solar use in municipal buildings
Sustainability is a national movement as smart cities try to position themselves for a better future. It focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental, and social – also known as profits, planet and people. Municipalities, counties, and states across the nation are adopting sustainability plans. Over 30 similar plans have been established in Florida and in Brevard County, Satellite Beach, Melbourne Beach, Palm Bay and Cocoa Beach have already adopted similar plans.
“I’m very proud that Cocoa has become one of a number of cities on the Space Coast to adopt a Sustainability Plan,” boasts District 4 Councilwoman and Sustainability Committee Liaison Lorraine Koss. “Initially, we received resistance, as critics argued the City’s average income is too low to employ sustainability principles. The Sustainability Committee would not relent and have taken a “Cocoa Can-Do” attitude. They’ve developed a plan that actually prepositions Cocoa for prosperity by reducing the risk by natural disasters, lowering resource consumption, reducing pollution and increasing citizen awareness. Increased citizen engagement is important not because diversity is "nice" but because it makes our decisions stronger, more effective, and whole.”
The Sustainability Advisory Committee was established by resolution of the Cocoa City Council in December 2017 to advise and assist the City in establishing a written Sustainability and Resiliency Plan. Current and contributing members of the Sustainability Advisory Committee include Trina Gilliam, Linda Gombert, Susan Hushia, Paul Johnson, Council Liaison Lorraine Koss, Robert Musser, Giselle Nieman, Kaylyn Palmer, Jennifer Riggs, Angelique Rinaldi, Jo Shim, and Marlene Weiss. The committee will continue to meet regularly to update the plan when projects commence and update the community on the progress.
“Cocoa’s Sustainability Advisory Committee are to be commended,” said Koss. “Their vision, leadership, and enthusiasm are the definition of sustainable power: They have planted seeds to harness the natural inclination of citizens' goodness. The plan will nurture those seeds for the benefit of the entire community.”
For the latest information regarding Cocoa’s Sustainability Advisory Committee and to view a copy of the plan, please visit www.CocoaFL.org/sustainability.