Town researching State’s Climate Smart Initiative

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – The Town Board is considering whether or not to become a “climate smart” community after hearing a presentation from Cheektowaga Town Planner Daniel Ulatowski at last week’s meeting.

If the Town Board passes a yet-to-be-drafted resolution on the matter, we would join five other Erie County communities and 191 others across New York State engaged in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving climate resilience.

The Climate Smart Communities initiative was born in 2009 out of an executive order by then Governor David A. Paterson. The order was to establish a statewide effort to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gases by 80% below those measured in 1990 by the year 2050.

The Town of Amherst adopted the 10-point plan in 2012.  Mike Delamere is the town’s Assistant Municipal Engineer and is one of the point people for the program.

After the easy step of adopting the resolution, the program became more and more time consuming. “We haven’t done any projects,” said Delamere.

“We do energy conservation things as we see to our advantage and equipment.  The stuff we have in town.  But, not through the Climate Smart Communities,” added Delamere.

Helping the town do research for the climate smart program is the eight member Amherst Conservation Advisory Council.  The all volunteer panel meets monthly.  Delamere said they found that doing the research and quantifying the data gathered became cumbersome and tough.

The Amherst Town Board decided that they would need to hire a dedicated full-time employee to perform the research work and make sure the recommendations were implemented.  Four years later – the money was never appropriated to create the position and the project has since died on the vine.

Here in Cheektowaga, the Town Board is still in the discovery phase of the program.

“The initial presentation shows merit to the concept, however without a careful and thoroughly thought out outline, plan and objective, I fear we could face the same problem that Amherst encountered. That being said I feel the initiative on first review does have enough benefits that the board should gather more information before deciding to proceed or decline to participate,” said Councilwoman Alice Magierski.

Supervisor Diane Benczkowski’s office says the next step will be to meet with a representative of the University at Buffalo Regional Institute to discuss this initiative and continue evaluating the program.

The Supervisor says any final decision will not only take into consideration the immediate fiscal impact on the Town, but also the long term cost savings and the possibility of future grant monies.

Cheektowaga has already taken steps to become “greener” aside from the Climate Smart Initiative.  Solar panels have been installed at some Town facilities and a study is underway to covert Town street lights to efficient LEDs.

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