Most environmental organizations are primarily interested in undisturbed landscapes and waters, naturally occurring flora and fauna, and other non-urban natural resources. Proskauer has long been involved with an exceptional group called  GrowNYC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the environmental quality of New York City.

Founded in 1970 after the first Earth Day by Mayor John V. Lindsay, it was initially called the Mayor’s Council on the Environment (formed the same year as the Federal Council on Environmental Quality). GrowNYC, as it is now called, has grown to become a leading driver of environmental programs aimed at New York City residents and visitors.

I have been involved with GrowNYC off and on since its beginning, I was appointed to the Mayor’s Council by Mayor Lindsay and again later by Mayor Guiliani.  Most recently I have served as the Chair of GrowNYC, appointed by Mayor Bloomberg and again by Mayor DiBlasio. While my own involvement has involved some lawyering, as Chair and as a director before that, I have had the great pleasure of guiding the organization’s staff in the direct delivery of services to many neighborhoods, participating in volunteer activities such as building a school garden, developing policies to preserve regional farmlands where fresh fruits and vegetables are grown for delivery in underserved areas of the City, and teaching kids where real food comes from and how to prepare it for eating. And through the zero waste program, we provide education and training to apartment managers and residents about New York City’s curbside recycling program. We also address energy conservation, noise reduction and other quality of life issues.

In addition to my years of service, many Proskauer lawyers have assisted GrowNYC with advice on matters ranging from nonprofit governance and tax issues to intellectual property and real estate issues, and from contractual relationships with City agencies to insurance, employment, and environmental law.

In 2016, GrowNYC opened its Farmhouse facility near its flagship Greenmarket in Union Square in Manhattan. We helped with leasing and construction law matters in connection with the development of this environmental education center and sustainability event space.

For the past few years, we have enjoyed taking Proskauer volunteers to Governor’s Island where GrowNYC has an urban farm used for teaching children about a host of environmental issues immediately relevant to their urban surroundings.

Now we are assisting in the development of a 75,000 square foot wholesale marketplace for local farmers in Hunts Point in the Bronx. This facility will increase the farmers’ ability to provide access to fresh healthy foods in underserviced New York communities, help the farmers get a better price for produce without using middlemen, and consumers will have a lower cost. The scale will allow for products that reflect local growing conditions and are not manipulated to meet standardization required for commodity markets.

While there are not many undisturbed landscapes left in New York City, preserving the City’s environment is a meaningful form of public service. It is an honor personally, and on behalf of the Firm, to support GrowNYC in its work.

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Photo of Bob Kafin Bob Kafin

Robert J. Kafin currently serves as chair of the Times Square Alliance, the business improvement district for the Times Square neighborhood in Manhattan. In addition, by appointment of the NYC Mayor, he is chair of GrowNYC, the operator of 54 Greenmarkets and other…

Robert J. Kafin currently serves as chair of the Times Square Alliance, the business improvement district for the Times Square neighborhood in Manhattan. In addition, by appointment of the NYC Mayor, he is chair of GrowNYC, the operator of 54 Greenmarkets and other environmental conservation programs in New York City. He is also Chair of the Adirondack Council a nonprofit which works to preserve the ecological integrity and wild character of the six million acre Adirondack Park. He devotes most of his time to not-for-profit civic and environmental organizations, while continuing as an optional service partner at the firm, where he remains available to advise its clients. He is the founder and a member of the firm’s Environmental Practice Group.

From 1991 to 2009, Bob was a member of the senior management of the firm, serving as its Chief Operating Partner for 15 years and also as its General Counsel.

Bob has concentrated his outside client service in the area of environmental law since 1971. As such, he has handled complex problems arising under the entire spectrum of environmental issues which face businesses and has a sophisticated understanding of their legal, political, regulatory, scientific and transactional aspects and regulatory schemes under the major federal environmental laws and state analogues, including the Clean Air Act, Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know Act, Federal Water Pollution Control Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Oil Pollution Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Superfund, and Toxic Substances Control Act.

In addition, Bob has reviewed and evaluated environmental compliance and liabilities in major transactions involving almost every type of industry. He also has assisted clients with “Brownfields” projects in working their way through the regulatory and financing maze created by new statutes and regulations setting up voluntary clean-up and liability protection programs.

Land use regulation and environmental impact analysis has been another branch of Bob’s environmental law practice. He has worked extensively on the environmental impact and zoning problems of major real estate developments and industrial facilities, including the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, for which he supervised the preparation of environmental impact statements and obtained permits for the major sports facilities.

In addition to his positions at The Times Square Alliance, GrowNYC and the Adirondack Council, Bob is a director of the Preservation League of New York State and Parks and Trails New York.