Sustainability group looks at next steps

Friday, March 13, 2009

After more than three months of ideas and hard work, the Greencastle Sustainability Core Group made its official presentation to the Greencastle City Council at Thursday's regular council meeting.

"I'm a proud representative of a really remarkable group from this community -- 100 strong from all corners of this community and Putnam County," said Sustainability Chairman Steve Setchell.

Setchell presented each council member and Mayor Sue Murray with a 28-page report on the groups ideas for "environmental solutions to strengthen our community, economy, culture and quality of life."

He also made note of the diversity of ages and backgrounds represented by the group members. However, most were in the group for one of two reasons.

"There were basically two types of people. One group considered themselves environmentalists. There was another group who saw in sustainability issues some long-term solutions to some problems in this community," Setchell said.

While recognizing the facilitators for each of the five sustainability sub-groups, Setchell made special note of Xander Hazel, facilitator for the recycling sub-group. The GHS junior chose to take the lead in his group in spite of being one of the youngest participants in the effort.

"If there is one face of our group, it is Xander Hazel's. We do this for the young people of our community whose future will be impacted by these solutions," Setchell said.

Among the highlights of the group's work, Setchell especially highlighted his hope that the work will continue in trying to find solutions on carbon emissions, alternative fuels, new forms of recycling and expanding the local farmer's market, among many other goals.

"One of our greatest hopes is, of course, that this work will continue," Setchell said.

Mayor Murray then informed council there will be an ordinance on April's agenda for the creation of a permanent sustainability commission for the city.

Besides the possible creation of the commission, the council will also have Setchell back next month after they've had time to review the group's report.

As the city tries to save its own resources, Utilities Superintendent George Russell reported to the board of his department's ongoing efforts to curb the city's water loss.

"It's frustrating because we think every time we're gaining on it, the numbers go back up. We're still looking. I'm not going to give up," Russell said.

After finding a major leak last fall, they thought the biggest problem would be gone, but water is still being lost somewhere in the system.

Russell said they are trying a number of methods to better monitor the issue and find more solutions.

In other water-saving efforts, City Planner Shannon Norman announced that the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District has received a grant focusing on rain gardening. The SWCD office is currently selling rain collection barrels for $50.

Norman also introduced the board to Tim Martin. He is a Bonner Scholar at DePauw and is currently working with Norman and members of the sustainability group on researching community garden programs.

The city's new personnel policy was approved on second reading. Only a few small changes of wording were made from the first reading presented in February.

The council approved a noise ordinance waiver requested by Eric Wolfe. Wolfe will be getting married on May 30, and his reception will be on East College lawn.

Students will be gone and there are no single-family homes nearby, so the disturbance should be minimal. The waiver lasts until midnight.

The board also approved a request by Steve Gaebes of Chief's restaurant to block a portion of East Franklin Street on June 20. The restaurant will be celebrating its one-year anniversary, and will close the street for a street fair. The closure will be from Indiana Street to the west edge of the Old National drive-through and will last from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Gaebes is also looking into the possibility of hosting a beer garden on the sidewalk in front of his business on June 30. The council took the issue under advisement.

The Greencastle City Council meets regularly at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at city hall.

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  • I'm sorry you don't understand what sustainability is but it does make a huge impact to our environment....and you are apart of your surroundings. They are not telling you how to live but to be more conscientious about your selections and what you do on a daily basis.

    -- Posted by smartmom on Fri, Mar 13, 2009, at 11:08 AM
  • Commissions do not increase the size of the Government. My take is that the citizens comprising the group are all volunteers whose interest is improving the performance of Government at no cost. Therefore, it is a representational commission providing valuable feedback to a Government entity. Your best bet would be to get involved with it and have your voice heard, rather than complain about nothing being done. Maybe your input is exactly what they need to accomplish something.

    -- Posted by chp on Fri, Mar 13, 2009, at 1:54 PM
  • Example: In Greencastle right now there is no commercial recycling. All of the beer cans, bottles, cardboard boxes etc... are either thrown in dumpsters or hauled to employees homes to be left on the curb on their trash days to be recycled. It's rediculous. And yes, the Sustainability Commission is comprimised of volunteers. No money gong out. No money to be stolen. smaller_gov_now you can keep on living the way you want. There are people in this community that care about these things. Why can't you just let it be?

    -- Posted by townielove on Sun, Mar 15, 2009, at 10:52 AM
  • I wish people would stop being so small minded! I for one am glad to see someone trying to come up with new ideas to help our community. The same people who are crying about this new committee are the ones who complain about nothing new in Greencastle. Change can be a good thing, people!

    -- Posted by putcogirl on Sun, Mar 15, 2009, at 7:08 PM
  • The Sustainability work group, as you might already know, is made up of a multitude of men and women from all sorts of ages and occupations. Each is as willing as the next to participate in a greater good. This coming together of such different people with different backgrounds and lifestyles is completely unbelievable to me. It gives me great pleasure to watch these magnificent people from all of over the county working together to get something done, because in all honesty, that is what we are going to do... We ARE going to get something done, something that needs to be done. We will not only achieve a sustainable Greencastle, we will set the foundation to motivate the public to unify and become a whole to solve any other dilemmas that will arise in our futures. This committee is setting an example for the rest of the world.

    -- Posted by gc_student on Sun, Mar 15, 2009, at 9:18 PM
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