Sustainable Arlington - Aug 15th, 2019

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Tonight's meeting is off our usual schedule. Future meetings will be held on the fourth Wednesday of each month.

Kelly Lynema provides an update from the Department of Planning and Community Development. The work on Wellington Park is nearly complete; it's an example of municipal vulnerability planning to mitigate flood risk in the Mill Brook area. Wellington park is on Grove Street, across of the DPW yard. Spy pond will have pervious paving installed next week. During town day, the Planning Department will distribute information about the town's net zero plan, and hopes to get people interested in that effort. Ken Pruitt is working with MAPC to collect materials related to sustainability. There are still open positions for the complete count working group. Every resident not counted in the 2020 census will cost the town approximately $2400/year in lost state and federal aid.

A working group member asks if the town has a list of approved contractors who do paving work (they do). He suggests noting which contractors do projects with pervious pavement, just to get people thinking about it for town projects.

Gina Sonder gives a short presentation on the upcoming youth climate strike. Ms. Sonder participates in a climate stand-out every Friday near the Alewife T station. They're trying to reach people interested in climate change and encourage them to take whatever action they can. The youth climate strike will take place in Boston on September 20th. See http://bit.ly/boston-climate-strike. There aren't a lot of details yet, though. Mothers out front is planning an art build for the demonstration. The groups will try to spread awareness of this event during town day.

In the past, Envision Arlington has had three tents at town day: one for each of the major subcommittees. We'll need volunteers to man our tent, and ideas for programming. Town day starts at 9:30am. Volunteers for setup should plan to arrive at 8:00.

MassSave will have their own booth at Town Day.

Gas Leaks are the next topic of discussion. A fellow named Bob Ackley recently spoke to the town's Gas Leak Task Force. Mr. Ackley has spent years working on infrastructure repairs for gas utilities, and currently works as a consultant. He's worked up and down the east coast, and is quite familiar with Arlington. He's offered to drive all 120 miles of Arlington public roadways with a spectrometer, and map all of the leaks it detects. Arlington has mostly low pressure lines, and approximately 300 known gas leaks.

Gas leaks are a big problem for trees, and our Tree Warden has started to file claims against National Grid for trees that have been killed by gas. We have hundreds of tree that are dead or dying as a result of gas leaks. The tree committee has a representative on the gas leak task force, and they may do a presentation on gas leaks during town day.

A number of street trees in front of town hall were killed by gas leaks. They cannot be replanted, as long as the leaks remain active. Steve Revilak asks if leak repair can be incorporates into the Mass Ave Phase II project, since that may involve excavation and reconfiguration of the street.

Dozens of people attended July's fixit clinic, and we're planning to hold another one on November third. Medford will have a fixit clinic on Oct 26th. The group is hoping to see more towns interested in having fixit clinics.

July's Potluck gathering was canceled due to a heat warning. There wasn't much enthusiasm for trying to reschedule it during the fall. So, we'll try again next summer.

Sustainable Arlington is doing another event with True Story Theater. The theme is "Standing up to Climate Change: a Story of Environmental Activists". The event will be held on September 21, from 7:30 -- 9:15pm at the Arlington Center for the Arts.

One of the group members is leading a course at Tuft's Adult Learning Program. It's called "Climate Change is real and yes, you can do something about it". One of the group assignments will be "find out what's going on in your community" and she asks for examples of what's going on in Arlington. There's quite a lot, including: recycling programs, bike sharing, bicycle infrastructure, bus rapid transit, stormwater management, municipal vulnerability planning, tree planting, a net zero plan, transportation demand management, and a list of other things.

A member asks if any groups are starting to treat suburban sprawl as an environmental risk. Kelly Lynema says that's largely what smart growth planning is all about: doing development near transit, where infrastructure already exists. A few members express disappointment that the last town meeting rejected accessory dwelling units, but there's hope the issue will come back again. Other members wonder if we could require electric vehicle charging stations in new housing developments, or if the town could opt up to 100% renewable electricity from our Community Choice Aggregation agreement.

Other Business. Winchester is having a climate week from Sept 23rd to Sep 30th, and they have a number of events planned. 350 Mass is planning a series of event called "Charlie's Climate Tour". Charlie refers to our governor, Charlie Baker, who hasn't proactively addressed climate issues. EcoFest 2020 will take place on March 21, 2020. Arlington Continuing Education's fall 2020 catalog includes two courses on climate. There's also an internal debate going on within the Democratic Party as to whether to make climate change a topic during primary debates.

Next Meeting: September 25.