Results Vary From “Catching-Up” to Clearly Impressive
- Do you know the Town of Mamaroneck has what is believed to be the first garbage truck in the U.S. fueled by reused vegetable oil?
- Do you know that the hair from barbershops and hairdressing salons should be saved? It is an essential ingredient in containing oil spills.
- Have you figured out that not using your car to get to the train station is the most practical way of avoiding the frustration of trying to find limited train station parking? Land is too valuable and in too short supply for a silver-bullet solution.
These tidbits were lofted in a spirited program, “Tri-Municipal Update on Environmental Action in Our Community,” sponsored by the Local Summit organization at the Nautilus Diner on Tuesday, April 21.
The above comments came, respectively, from Mamaroneck Town Councilwoman Nancy Seligson, Gisele Hair Salon operator Gisele Guerrero and Larchmont Trustee Marlene Kolbert. Ms. Kolbert put the program together and moderated the presentations.
Control Zoning and Land Use for Environmental Benefit
Ms. Seligson traced recent and present environmental progress in Mamaroneck Town. One of the most important, with continuing benefits, was the re-zoning of golf courses into a recreational zone in 1998, preserving open land. The Town also has employed land use and other regulation to assure environment-friendly development in freshwater and tidal wetland areas and to provide soil and erosion control.
One of the Town’s present emphases is to reduce carbon emissions by 5% by 2012, which Ms. Seligson said is a “modest target.” This will be accomplished by such means as:
- Converting another garbage truck, in three weeks, to run on used vegetable oil. Combined with the first truck, this will save approximately $9,000 a year and “almost completely eliminate harmful gases and particulate matter from the exhaust.”
- Heating the Town Center and other municipal oil-heated buildings with a 20% mix of biofuel, reducing pollution.
- Using new, small, four-cylinder cars for field inspection and buying new six-cylinder police cars (rather than eight cylinder models), reducing emission and fuel expense.
- Lighting all Town buildings with T8 CFC low-energy light bulbs, saving 40% in lighting cost ($26 a year per fixture). Street lights use efficient high-pressure sodium vapor bulbs. Photo cells turn them on and off.
Compost More Refuse to Reduce Waste
Carol Casazza Herman said the Larchmont Committee on the Environment, which she chairs, has been active in areas of carbon emissions, energy reduction, recycling, pesticides minimization, vehicle idling, composting and deconstruction. Deconstruction, she explained, is finding new uses for many products and materials that are commonly carted away during home and commercial renovation, including tiles, tubs, sinks, and lumber.
She noted that Larchmont ‘s Village Board wants to reduce carbon emission by 20% by the year 2015 from its 2005 baseline. To move in this direction the committee has helped upgrade the Larchmont Library’s heating and air conditioning system and installed new more efficient thermostats. It has installed new solar panels in the Village Yard. The Village has purchased a new electric plug-in vehicle that will draw its energy from the solar panels in the Village Yard. The Village has also installed new lighting in the north tunnel at the railroad station and has put up additional bike racks around town to encourage biking.
Jennifer Jensen, a member of Larchmont’s environmental committee, said two-thirds of the country’s waste that goes into landfills is organic material that could be composted. Her group is looking into the most feasible ways of composting in this area.
Reduction in the use of pesticides is another important goal. The use of treflan in Larchmont has been banned. No pesticides are allowed on playing fields and in parks. A “minimal use” policy is the rule for managing invasive plants in the Flint Park conservation area.
Playing Catch-up in Mamaroneck Village
Mamaroneck Village Mayor Kathy Savolt said that her current board, which has been in office for 16 months, and the new Village manager, who has been aboard for only a month, are “playing a catch-up game” in environmental matters.
She said the Village’s previous environmental efforts dealt primarily with recycling and harbor pollution remediation. This effort is continuing and is being enhanced.
For example, she said, “fifty-two percent of the Village’s waste stream is now recycled, as against 23% only a few years ago.”
A new environmental priority is to come up with a sound legal framework for building codes and land use, such as the first ever regulations for preserving waterways in the Village, including the three rivers that flow through it. The board has already attacked the McMansion problem, for example, by setting a limit on a building’s bulk and footprint. It is looking now into how to provide proper permeability rules to minimize water run-off at each building site.
Green Week Ceremony: At 9:30 a.m. on April 25th the Mamaroneck Village Board will hold a ceremony at Columbus Park planting a special tree by the river. Three Mamaroneck Village fire chiefs will be presented with the Village’s first annual environmental awards. Later, board members, and a growing cadre of local environmentalists, will help with cleaning up the Village’s rivers.
More Initiatives and Ideas?
Larchmont Summit’s president ,Mary Lee Berridge, asked how we can reduce the number of paper and plastic cups that find their way onto streets and sidewalks. Ms. Kolbert said degradable containers are still quite expensive, but prices will go down in time. She noted that Foley’s Hardware and other such stores have a green products section that will help consumers be green. In the big picture, the object is to “reduce the whole waste stream,” she added.
Judy Myers, Westchester County legislator, said that soon all plastics will be recyclable and that the County is “on the cusp of passing a law restricting the use of phosphate fertilizers on healthy lawns and restricting the use of nitrogen products within 20 feet of a body of water.”
Mariana Boneo, recently retired executive director of the Hispanic Resource Center, asked officials to be sure to have environmental literature translated into Spanish for the area’s new residents and the local Hispanic work force.
Jeremy Ingpen, executive director of the Washingtonville Housing Alliance, told the audience of his belief that the use of commercially bottled water as against high quality local tap water is an ecological and financial waste. He also suggested that a hygienic benefit from bottled water is questionable.
Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld and Mamaroneck Town Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe, who were both on the panel, have long advocated that area municipalities, schools and other institutions work together to improve the environment.
Harold Wolfson is on the board of the Local Summit, which hosted the environmental program. The Summit is an informal community council that seeks to make the tri-municipal area a better place to live for everyone. It holds regular public meetings at 7:45 a.m.on the third Tuesday of the month at the Nautilus diner.