SOUTHWICK – The town is inching toward becoming a Green Community.
Once designated a Green Community, the town could utilize numerous grants, technical assistance and support from a regional coordinator from the Green Communities Division of the Department of Energy Resources.
Coordinators Mark Rabinsky and Brian Sullivan of the Green Communities Division encouraged Southwick to join the 271 designated Green Communities in the Commonwealth and offered a presentation last summer on the benefits to the town.
The program helps municipalities reduce energy use and costs by implementing clean energy projects in municipal buildings, facilities, and schools.
To be designated a Green Community, a town must adopt as-of-right siting for renewable and advanced energy generation, research and development or manufacturing; adopt an expedited permitting process; create an energy reduction plan; adopt a fuel efficient vehicle purchase policy; and adopt the construction Stretch Code.
During its meeting Nov. 16, the Southwick Select Board agreed to move toward designation, which has become easier because of code changes.
“When we first looked at this years ago we looked at new structures and the impact it would have but the stretch code has changed . . . and we looked at our cars – police and fire – and their useful life,” said Selectman Russ Fox. “I think that we should now look at the process of getting into this program.”
Fox said he believes more funds will be available and called it “a good opportunity.”
Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart said Green Community funds could assist the town with several projects, including converting the 58 decorative street lights along College Highway to LEDs and HVAC needs at the fire station and library, among others.
Fox agreed to work with Stinehart, Sullivan and Rabinsky on next steps and report back around the first of the year.