The Mansfield Town Council passed a motion by a vote of 7-1 during their meeting Monday to join the Sustainable CT Community Resolution to further the town’s attempts to be environmentally sustainable.
The Community Resolution, an action-oriented voluntary certification program to create sustainable economies, is meant to “boost local economies, help municipal operations become more efficient, reduce operating costs and provide grants and additional support to municipalities,” according to the resolution document. The resolution encourages towns to implement their choice of practices recommended by the organization to earn points toward a certification of sustainability.
The certification represents the town’s efforts to create an environmentally and economically sustainable model for current and future residents, according to their website. The program was created in 2016 by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) and was launched Nov. 28, 2017, during the CCM Convention.
Since the launch 11 towns across Connecticut have registered on the program’s website, making Mansfield the twelfth to join.
CCM Honorary Board Member, and former Mansfield Mayor, Betsy Paterson said the goal, as a member of the taskforce that created the program, was to “make sure that this program would be appealing and available to all cities and towns, no matter what their size.”
“Mansfield has been connected to this project since the very beginning,” Paterson said. “The town [Mansfield] was featured prominently in the first booklet that came out because of their sustainability efforts in this town.”
Those efforts included the Mansfield Tomorrow, Storrs Center and school composting projects, according to Paterson.
Lynn Stoddard, Director of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, said the program could be tailored to each town due to the loose definition of sustainability.
“Towns pick and choose what they want to do on the list. As they implement actions, they’re eligible for receiving points towards recognition and certification,” Stoddard said. “There are technical support tools and funding to help towns implement the actions as well.”
Republican Town Council Member David Freudmann said he has concerns about the program’s associated costs to the town and feels that “today’s voluntary guidelines become tomorrow’s unfunded mandates.”
“This seems like a lot of duplication of effort that could potentially put the town in a position where it has to do something in order to maintain a certain certification without which it might not be able to qualify for grants,” Freudmann said. “And it is not without financial impact on the town in the intermediate and long term.”
Democratic Town Council Member Peter Kochenburger said he was not dissuaded by the program’s potential costs.
“There are costs to not doing this,” Kochenburger said, “and there are also benefits—some financial and, simply, livability—that come with it.”
Storrs resident Susan Brome said she was glad the resolution passed and is looking forward to the exploration of alternative sources of energy for the town. Brome said there was an attempt to use joint solar panels at one point, but it never got enough support to make an impact.
Brome said she hopes University of Connecticut students will help the town with its sustainability efforts as well.
“This is important for all towns,” Brome said. “I want students to be among the volunteers (for the sustainability efforts).”
Shelby Haydu is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.