CHESHIRE — With municipalities looking for ways to become environmentally friendly without breaking the budget, many are looking for a financially-feasible way forward.
A new initiative in the state is offering a possible solution and a group of residents in town is pushing to ensure that Cheshire takes advantage.
Sustainable CT was developed in 2016 through cooperation between municipal leaders, businesses, non-profits, and residents as a way to “equitably promote the health and well-being of current and future residents,” according to the group’s website. Sustainability CT aims to “provide municipalities with a menu of coordinated, voluntary actions, to continually become more sustainable; to provide resources and tools to assist municipalities in implementing sustainability actions and advancing their programs for the benefit of all residents...”
Over 90 towns in Connecticut have registered with Sustainable CT.
The group Coalition for Sustainable Cheshire was founded recently by residents who believe in the mission of Sustainable CT and would like to see Cheshire added to the list of cooperating towns.
“I knew I wanted to get involved with Sustainable CT when I went to a presentation,” said A. Fiona Pearson, a member of the Coalition for Sustainable Cheshire. “I started to bring up the idea to friends of mine or people I thought would want to get involved, and it grew from there.”
Pearson, who ran unsuccessfully for Town Council last year, managed to recruit several community members.
“As the Executive Director of Bike Cheshire, I was planning to participate in Sustainable CT anyway,” said Jim Jinks, who is serving his first term on the Town Council. “It’s a great way for nonprofits to access grant funds without some of the typical hurdles and uncertainty associated with other grant programs.
“But before I started the process of pursuing Sustainable CT funding, Fiona [Pearson] approached me with her Coalition idea and told me about the other nonprofits she was aiming to get involved,” he added.
On Feb. 11, a representative of Sustainable CT, Alyssa Norwood, was invited by the coalition to speak at the Town Council meeting.
“We’ve had about 98 towns register with Sustainable CT, with Waterbury just registering yesterday,” she said. “In order to join Sustainable CT, the town would have to establish a sustainability team and then establish a website where they can begin to take action on some of the tasks and projects recommended by Sustainable CT.”
Norwood went on to explain that Sustainable CT has a list of various projects, such as the installation of solar panels, planting gardens, and instilling stormwater education in school. These projects help towns score “points” that are then tallied and correspond with different certification levels — either bronze or silver. At the Town Council meeting, Jinks pointed out that Cheshire may already qualify for one of these levels.
“Based on the inventory of things we’ve already accomplished as a town, I believe we are already at the bronze level,” he said. “Sustainable CT will allow for the council and the town to apply for grant funds at no cost...”
While Cheshire has yet to decide whether to officially join the Sustainable CT program, the Coalition for Sustainable Cheshire is actively looking for support from local businesses and individuals. Those interested can visit https://sustainablect.org/ for more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.