On August 12, 2008, the City Council for the City of Nichols Hills voted unanimously to amend Article I of Chapter 10 of the Nichols Hills City Code adding Section 10-23 to create and form the Environment, Health and Sustainability Commission (EHSC).
The EHSC has its roots in activities beginning in September 2006 when pioneering residents of Nichols Hills were asking elected officials about recycling for the City of Nichols Hills.
In the Spring of 2007, at the urging of Vice-Mayor Kathy Walker, an informal gathering of residents with an interest in recycling gathered at Town Hall and formed a recycling committee. The efforts of the recycling committee allowed the City of Nichols Hills to participate in a successful November 2007 “America Recycles” event.
With the success of the America Recycles event, the recycling committee decided to expand the efforts of the committee beyond recycling and created the City of Nichols Hills Environmental Committee.
With input from Councilmember Peter Hoffman, the Environmental Committee determined that its mission was "to establish Nichols Hills as a leading green community in Oklahoma." The vision statement was "to work with city officials and citizens to raise awareness and create a model of community excellence that is interconnected with good management and civic responsibility."
The committee identified its areas of interest as: Recycling, Community Awareness and Education, Private Landscaping, Recreational Hardscape, Alternative Fuel/Transportation, Green Construction, Noise Pollution, Air Quality, Energy and Power, and Water.
The Environmental Committee held a kickoff event to gather the support and interest of other residents with a daylong celebration of Earth Day, April 22, 2008, at Town Hall. Students from area schools participated with artwork and essays.
There were displays of hybrid automobiles, bicycles suitable for commuting to work and demonstrations of alternative energy including wind power and solar. Oklahoma Gas & Electric handed out compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Trees were given away, wildlife exhibits showcased local species such as toads, rabbits and raptors and videos were presented during the day. Residents who attended the event completed a recycling survey and a form that indicated interest in volunteering to research and recommend action in areas of concern that had been identified by the committee.
From this Earth Day 2008 event, the momentum of previous efforts combined with newly focused interest allowed the formation of a formal public body for the City of Nichols Hills, named the Environment, Health, and Sustainability Commission on August 12, 2008.
Springing from grass roots community interest, the EHSC was formally created to provide a body of deliberate thought focused on issues of environment, health and sustainability as this focus becomes more critical for the present and future economic efficiency of the City of Nichols Hills.
The focus of the EHSC is centered on sustainable design, which for the purposes of the EHSC, is defined as design that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs while ensuring continued economic success and informed consideration of social and environmental issues.
Consistent with Section 10-23, the EHSC will make recommendations to the City Council with respect to the intelligent, responsive, and systematic integration of sustainable design into the existing governance and management of the City of Nichols Hills. Also, when requested by the City Council, the EHSC shall consider, investigate, report and recommend upon any special matter or question pertaining to environmental issues. Finally, the EHSC will develop a Nichols Hills Municipal Sustainability Plan that will build on the existing municipal structure in partnership with the City officials, staff and citizens of Nichols Hills.
Ultimately, the members of the EHSC hope to identify, research and recommend sustainable visionary approaches to the City of Nichols Hills that might amend and possibly improve existing municipal systems and infrastructure.
On September 2, the City of Nichols Hills received the Oklahoma Municipal League’s Innovation Award for establishing the Environment, Health and Sustainability Commission. Mayor Kathryn Walker accepted the award.
On September 21, the board of directors of the Oklahoma Creativity Project voted to give a Great Inspirations Recognition award to the City of Nichols Hills for addressing community environmental concerns through the newly established EHS Commission. Creative Oklahoma anticipates that EHS could be a model that other Oklahoma municipalities could emulate.
On October 1, the City of Nichols Hills submitted a grant request for biking and pedestrian trails to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. The trails would connect the community to Oklahoma City at Greystone and at 63rd Street. The grant requires a twenty percent funding match. Final plans will be submitted to ODOT in January, 2009. Grant recipients will be announced in April, 2009.
On October 14, the City Council officially activated the focus areas proposed by the EHS Commission. Interested citizens can sign up for one or more focus areas (as described above) by filling out a form at Town Hall or by contacting any EHS commissioner.