HANCOCK, NY — The Roscoe and Hancock area serves as a stopping point for travelers going from New York City to designations in the western part of the state. So said Shelly Johnson Bennett, …
HANCOCK, NY — The Roscoe and Hancock area serves as a stopping point for travelers going from New York City to designations in the western part of the state. So said Shelly Johnson Bennett, director of Delaware County’s planning department, speaking in the brisk mid-morning of January 31 outside the Hancock Town Hall.
Bennett joined Town of Hancock supervisor Jerry Vernold, lieutenant governor Antonio Delgado plus staff from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) on that day. They gathered there to cut the ribbon on a project that will cement Hancock’s place as a travel hub along the Route 17 corridor.
A pair of projects have been built behind the Hancock Town Hall: one is a fast-charging electric vehicle (EV) power station; the other is the Hancock Hounds Dog Park and (soon to be) a garden.
The two projects came together at about the same time, Vernold told the River Reporter.
The Hancock dog catcher came to the town board with the initial idea for a dog park. After ruling out the first sites considered, Vernold suggested putting it behind the town hall, he said.
The town began work with the county’s planning department on plans for the site. As that project got underway, Vernold learned that NYPA was looking at Hancock as a potential site for EV charging. The owners of the first plot of land NYPA considered put the agency in touch with the town, and together they realized they could put the charging station project with the dog park in the hitherto empty field behind the town hall.
“We are proud of the work that has been done over the last 18 months to ensure that we are always moving forward, not back,” Vernold told the crowd at the ribbon-cutting.
The charging station is part of NYPA’s EVolve NY initiative. That initiative envisions a network or public access charging stations across the state, and has 118 chargers at 31 sites so far.
EVolve NY is designed to solve for range anxiety, said Justin Driscoll, NYPA Acting President and CEO.
Electric cars make up a growing percentage of vehicles on New York’s roads. The percentage of new car registrations that were EVs rose from under one percent in 2016 to over five percent in 2022, according to numbers compiled by regional advocacy organization Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress. (Click here for more coverage from the River Reporter of that report.)
In September 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul directed the Department of Environmental Conservation to take major regulatory action, with the end goal that all new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs sold in New York State will be zero emissions by 2035. The direction implements the goals of the September 2021 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act by providing the infrastructure for electric vehicles.
Range anxiety—the worry that an electric car’s charge won’t last long enough to get you to your destination—hampers the state in pursuing that goal. Sixty-two percent of electric-vehicle owners said they “always” or “frequently” rearranged travel plans or experienced anxiety while driving because of their vehicle’s range, according to a June 2022 survey from Forbes Wheels. While improvements in battery technology can help, giving cars the ability to drive further on a single charge, at heart it’s an infrastructure issue. Gas stations are everywhere, giving owners of gas-powered cars the comfort to know that, wherever they drive, there will be fuel ready for them; it’s a sense of security that electric-car owners don’t have.
The EVolve NY program is the power authority’s attempt to help with the infrastructure problem, placing public-access charging stations in strategic locations along New York’s travel thoroughfares.
The Hancock site is EvolveNY’s second-biggest, just behind one at JFK airport. Through a partnership with Tesla, the site has 16 charging stations in total: half have Tesla’s proprietary charging ports, the others are a mix of combined charging system (CCS) connectors, an industry standard connector, and CHAdeMO connectors, a standard used for some Japanese EV models.
The goal is to get long-distance trippers’ cars charged and on their way as quickly as possible, said Driscoll.
And while they wait for their cars to charge, travelers can take advantage of the dog park to stretch their two legs and their canine friends’ four.
There are more people using the charging stations every time she visits the site, and many of those people have dogs, said Geraldine Walsh, local resident and dog park member. “I think we’re going in the right direction.”
“That is how you invest in our future,” said Delgado.
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