April 28, 2005

NYC Enlists Cornell for Help With Olympic Bid

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New York City has enlisted Cornell’s Center for the Environment to design a global impact study if chosen to host the 2012 Olympic Games. The research team, comprised of experts from leading universities, would assess the economic, social and environmental consequences on New York and the greater global community before, during and after the Olympics for eleven years.

The research team’s organizer, Mark Bain, director of Cornell’s Center for the Environment, said in a press release, “This is a pioneering effort to look at the true consequences that the games would have on its host city. Thus, we formulated a plan that includes multiple institutions with interdisciplinary experts, not only to assess the influence of the Olympics on New York but also to create a comparable benchmark for all future games and to help bidding cities and future organizations identify potential legacies to maximize the Olympic Games’ benefits.”

Beginning with the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires that each city have a plan for a global impact study as part of its application process. The IOC hopes the study will help bidding cities in the future to determine the Olympics’ cost and benefits. NYC2012, dedicated to bringing the Olympics to New York City, has sought Cornell’s help with conducting this impact study, if chosen to host the games.

“Hosting the 2012 Olympic Games [would] be an exciting and unique experience for New York City,” stated Gretchen Ferenz, a member of the research team from Cornell’s Cooperative Extension Urban Environment Program, in an e-mail. “Cornell’s involvement in the Olympic Games Global Impact Study, measuring the global impact of the Olympics, is a great opportunity to contribute toward environmental sustainability for the 2012 Games and beyond.”

The impact team has determined 150 items to monitor seven years before the Olympics and four years after.

“There are a lot of pro and con arguments [that the study would adress],” Bain said. “Is the Olympics good for the economy or does it cost more than it generates? Is the traffic a nusisance or does everyone adapt?”

For example, Bain said New York City has argued that the positive environmental results of the Olympics would be the cleanup and renovation of former industrial sites. If conducted, the global impact study would determine how much land would actually be cleaned up and how much the air quality would be improved.

Linda Wagenet, development sociology, said she hopes the study would help citizens of New York City become involved with the decision-making . “Let’s not dump [the Olympics] on the people of New York, but get them involved in the very beginning as stakeholders in the process,” she said. “[New Yorkers should help] develop how the physical structure will go and not just leave it up to the Olympic Committee.”

Other participants in the study include Rolf Pendall, city and regional planning; James Shanahan, communication; Tammo Steenhuis, biological and environmental engineering; David Hsu, graduate school of public serivice, New York University; Upmanu Lall, Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, Columbia University; Mitchell Moss, graduate school of public service, New York University; Eleanor Sterling from the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation and John Waldmann from Queens College’s School of Earth and Environmental Science.

Besides New York City, London and Paris are also in contention for the games. The IOC will announce its decision July 6.

Archived article by Olivia Oran
Sun Staff Writer