2009-01-14 / Front Page

Mayor sees advantages to town 'going green'

Marlboro signs up for Sustainable Jersey effort

MARLBORO — The administration is taking steps to make Marlboro a bit greener and to save a bit of green.

Municipal officials recently announced the township's participation in various programs with a focus on the environment. "Green" is a term used to describe having positive environmental attributes or objectives.

Mayor Jonathan Hornik said he is committed to seeing Marlboro go green during his tenure as mayor. He is completing the first year of a four-year term.

Marlboro has signed on to participate in the Sustainable Jersey certification program. According to its Internet Web site, Sustainable Jersey is a program for New Jersey municipalities that want to go green, control costs and save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life for the long term.

The Sustainable Jersey program provides guidance and the tools to make those goals a reality, while providing access to grants and identifying new and existing incentives to make progress toward those goals.

As a part of this program Hornik will be assembling a "green team" comprised of residents. The team will identify concrete actions that can be implemented on the path to becoming a sustainable community. A press release distributed by the township states that participation in this program would open access to grants of between $10,000 and $25,000 for information, education and implementation.

Marlboro has also signed onto the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, an initiative created by Mayor Greg Nickels of Seattle, Wash. Launched in February 2005, the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement is designed to support the Kyoto Protocol, an international law that addresses climate disruption.

The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 141 countries and U.S. municipalities are active partners in this global effort. The U.S. Conference of Mayors launched the Mayors Climate Protection center to help advance the agreement on the local level.

Under the mayors agreement, municipalities will commit to strive to meet or exceed the Kyoto Protocol targets through actions ranging from anti-sprawl land-use policies to urban forest restoration projects to public information campaigns; urge state governments and the federal government to enact policies and programs to meet or exceed the greenhouse gas emission reduction target suggested for the United States in the Kyoto Protocol - 7 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2012; and urge the U.S. Congress to pass the bipartisan greenhouse gas reduction legislation, which would establish a national emission trading system.

By endorsing the climate protection agreement, Marlboro has been recognized as a Cool City by the Sierra Club. During the Dec. 4 Township Council meeting, Nancy Post of the Sierra Club presented the mayor with a certificate designating Marlboro a Cool City.

The Cool Cities campaign began in 2005 and is designed to empower local leaders and community groups to work together and build a cleaner, safer future. Cool Cities not only conveys comprehensive guidance for municipalities to follow, it also showcases meaningful remedies for all to model. Cool Cities builds leadership to ensure implementation at state levels and nation-wide.

Post said that for Marlboro to be recognized "is just a fabulous occurrence for this town."

She noted that Marlboro is the 10th Monmouth County municipality to be named a Cool City.

Hornik said his focus is for Marlboro to be more efficient and to save money while doing so. Through contacts with other towns, Hornik said he has seen opportunities to save money and go green.

The mayor credited Councilman Frank LaRocca for his work on making Marlboro a part of these green programs.

LaRocca attended environmental seminars at the recent League of Municipalities conference, but he told the News Transcript that his interest in the environment heightened during his days in law school. He said he wants to explore the options that are available to Marlboro.

"I met with several neighboring towns and explored a solar (power) program. I also attended a Cool Cities seminar and I began reading about the U.S. Mayors Climate Control Agreement and the Cool Cities program," LaRocca said.

Through the seminars held at the League of Municipalities conference, LaRocca became aware of the Sustainable Jersey program. He said that program will help Marlboro and other municipalities answer the most important question in these tough economic times, "How are we going to pay for it?" He explained that the program will allow Marlboro access to grants from Wal- Mart, and partnerships with Rutgers University and environmental agencies.

"While my environmental roots and concerns are paramount to my personal desire to begin this process, green is also good for the town because we will end up saving substantial money which will help us with the town's tax burden," LaRocca said.

Plans for the anticipated grant money include community education and outreach programs. Officials have plans to start early by involving elementary school and middle school children in a slogan and logo contest. Marlboro's high school students and the township's Teen Advisory Committee will also be called upon to work with the green team in implementing cooperative programs with other municipalities, businesses and faith based organizations, according to a press release from the township.

Marlboro will begin working immediately with New Jersey's Clean Energy Program to obtain a full municipal energy audit. With the assistance of the Township Council, planning and zoning boards, building department, recreation department, public works, the Economic Development Committee and residents, the administration hopes Marlboro will advance and implement concrete and achievable goals toward a sustainable future.

Members of Marlboro's green team will explore the feasibility of initiatives such as smart lighting, renewable energy, energy efficiency, green fleets, clean transportation, green building and greening the community. The green team will have to meet five goals set by the Cool Cities campaign in order to remain a recognized Cool City.

The goals set by Cool Cities include establishing a Cool Cities campaign, engaging the community, having the municipality sign on to the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, implementing initial solution steps and implementing advanced smart energy solutions. Municipal officials were happy to announce that two of the five goals have already been completed with a third soon to be completed.

Contact Rebecca Morton at marlboro@gmnews.com

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