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Dedham on Track for "Green Community" Designation

The state program would open up possible grant funding for the town.

The Dedham Sustainability Advisory Committee met Monday evening to discuss a "roadmap to becoming a green community." The committee discussed a timeline, which included a tentative Dec. 1 date to submit a grant that could fetch the town up to $150,000.

Environmental coordinator Virginia LeClair discussed the "Roadmap" with the committee for the first time. It explained qualifications and aspects of the Green Community Criteria that includes:

  • Aas of right siting
  • Expediting permitting
  • Energy use baseline and reduction plan
  • Fuel efficient vehicle policy
  • Life cycle costs in energy construction.

LeClair said that there had been talks about what the grant money would go toward, but nothing had been officially decided.

"As of right siting" was completed on May 17, along with "life cycle costs in energy construction." Others are in progress with many of the steps completed. LeClair said that the packet was the first draft and that ideally the committee should turn in a complete draft by Oct. 15.

This will be turned into the Department of Energy Revenue, or DOER, to designate Dedham as a "green community." Tentatively, the committee set Nov. 19 as a date to submit a final designation and Dec. 1 to submit a grant. LeClair said that between November and December, the town should get the news of approval or disapproval.

In August of 2009, Dedham submitted an application to the DOER for planning assistance to become part of the Massachusetts Green Communities Program.

Since then, a planning assistance team has supported the town through a series of group activities and direct assistance. This includes a site visit, zoning and permit regulations review, and assistance with the fuel efficient vehicle policy. According to the packet, the majority of the planning assistance focused on energy baseline, energy reduction plan and vehicle inventory.

One large aspect of the "energy use baseline and energy reduction plan" is a climate action plan. The town has worked on a greenhouse gas inventory and will use the information to guide the development of the plan. The inventory is nearly finalized, with the town waiting for data from one facility.

LeClair said that he plan is structured after other towns like Brookline and Cambridge. Police have already given feedback with no issues, and the committee will have feedback of their own by Sept. 27.

"This is something we didn't wake up yesterday with and be like, 'Oh, we want to be green," said committee chair Liz O'Donnell. "We have spent a lot of time on this."

The committee also discussed an anti-idling campaign, which involves someone leaving a car engine running. Members agreed that this is an environmental issue that is not getting any better. Committee member Carol Hills asked if there had been any local studies done relating to the issue.

"It's not good," said O'Donnell in response. "People actually park in front of the signs and idle."

While there are some signs already, O'Donnell said that the idea is to get people to realize how harmful it is. However, she said that the town doesn't seem to be in the mood for any more signage.

The committee discussed alternate forms of providing awareness, like having handouts at the schools and asking local news publications and blogs to get the message to sink in. The board agreed that it would be beneficial to get student groups involved by doing a skit or something else creative.

"A little social theater would be great," committee member Jonathon Briggs said.

Committee member Carmen DelloIaconno was asked to see if the football team could get involved, and he said that he may be able to make that work if they could use it as community service. DelloIaconno added that with the football season ending in a month and a half, he would check into whether he could bring in the Dedham basketball team to help.  

The Dedham Sustainability Advisory Committee will hold its next meeting on Monday, Oct. 18.

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