|By Courtney Llewellyn|
Reminder Assistant Editor
EAST LONGMEADOW The newly formed Green Committee of East Longmeadow hosted their inaugural meeting on Sept. 9, and according to Board of Selectmen chair and committee member Jim Driscoll, the meeting was a success.
The Green Committee, the formation of which was approved by the selectmen in June, has a mission of exploring all alternative energy sources and resources available to the community that could positively impact its economic and environmental status and continue to be a regional and statewide leader for environmental responsibility.
East Longmeadow was recently recognized as the town with the third highest recycling rate in the state, with 63 percent of the town participating in the recycling program, according to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
"We want to take our town from number three to number one," Driscoll said at the start of the first meeting.
The committee is made up of two at-large citizens, one representative from the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board, the Board of Public Works, the School Committee and the Capital Planning Committee each, the Building Commissioner and the Town Accountant.
Two non-voting positions were also created for interested students from the town. One is attending LaSalle University and the other, Marcella Maki, is currently a member of the high school's Environmental Club.
The meeting opened with those in attendance introducing themselves and stating what they want to achieve as members of the Green Committee. Town Accountant Tom Caliento said, "There's a lot of money out there [in environmental grants], and that's a world of opportunity for us."
An example of this is the Clean Energy Choice Grant, through which matching grants for communities can receive up to one dollar in funding for each dollar residents spend on clean energy projects. Towns can use this money to fund clean energy projects within their communities, with funds provided by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
As of June 30, 14 households (only .27 percent of the 5,248 occupied households) in East Longmeadow were Clean Energy Choice participants.
To learn more about the Clean Energy Choice program, visit www.masstech.org/CleanEnergyOrg.
"The first place we need to start is education, for the youth and the town," building inspector Dan Hellyer said. "The biggest savings come from individual households."
Hellyer also noted that the height restriction bylaw in town may need to be adjusted if homeowners are interested in installing solar panels on their roofs.
The committee briefly discussed the possibility of using solar power in municipal and school buildings in town.
Citizen member Tim Seeley said he thought the committee should "look as globally as we can" and make sure the group actually accomplishes things.
Members of the committee were divided up into groups before adjournment to research various forms of clean energy, including solar power, fuel cell vehicles and more, before their next meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. in the Hearing Room of Town Hall.