Can North Branford Achieve Certification as a Sustainable Community? Yes!
The statewide initiative, created by towns for towns, includes a detailed menu of sustainability best practices, tools and resources, peer learning, and recognition. North Branford town officials and project volunteers recently planted a pollinator pathway as one action taken toward certification, with help from four youthful assistants. Shown here are Town Planner Carey Duques, Bonnie Symansky, Economic Development Coordinator Roger Salway, Economic Development Commission member Daniel Armin, Meir Caruso, and Chad Duques.)
Volunteers Meir Caruso plants seeds in the pollinator pathway with a young volunteer and assistance from Kelly Webster and Dan Armin. (Photo courtesy Bonnie Symansky)
June 16, 2020: The Town of North Branford has registered to join a growing number of communities across the state participating in Sustainable CT, an exciting program to support Connecticut's cities and towns. The statewide initiative, created by towns for towns, includes a detailed menu of sustainability best practices, tools and resources, peer learning, and recognition.
"I am very excited to have this resolution passed unanimously by the Town Council," said Town Manager Mike Paulhus. "I look forward to a partnership with Sustainable CT to make North Branford an even more desirable community to live and raise a family. This is a step in the right direction."
More than 50 percent of Connecticut's municipalities are now registered to participate in Sustainable CT. The second cohort of certified communities was announced in October 2019. Collectively, 27 percent of the state's cities and towns have achieved certification.
The Sustainable CT platform supports a broad range of actions, such as improving the education and management of our Farm River watershed. Volunteers are needed to help educate our community on the importance of our watershed and to monitor and report on the watershed's health. Other initiatives support arts and culture, improve recycling programs, assess climate vulnerability, support local businesses, and provide housing options. We will be using the Pollinator Pathway /Sunflower Project to complete one of our actions.
"Just last year the Town updated its Plan of Conservation and Development [POCD] through an engaging and productive public outreach program," said Carey Duques, Town Planner. "The updated POCD looks at goals for the Town over the next 10 years that cover a wide variety of areas including preservation of agricultural lands, conservation of open space, economic development, transportation, housing choices, and many other topics. Having a current POCD is evidence that North Branford is participating in talks and activities involving sustainability."
There have been some happy surprises. We have been tracking municipal energy use with United Illuminating (UI) to identify energy use with the goal of reducing our energy consumption and exploring renewable energy for municipal buildings. Roger Salway, North Branford's Economic Development Coordinator has been cultivating relationships with the Town and business community.
"I was looking at our energy use and began discussions with Citrine Power," said Salway. "They presented a solar energy generation project to our Economic Development Commission which has been approved by UI. The project, a solar farm, would sell solar energy back to UI, and deliver rebates to the municipality and some local farms. The projected annual Town savings are in the range of $70,000 to $90,000 and there would be no cost to the Town. Working on the Sustainable Actions has made us aware of how we can be a more sustainable community."
There is no cost to participate and communities voluntarily select actions that meet their unique local character and long-term vision. After successful implementation of a variety of actions, municipalities are eligible for Sustainable CT certification.
The initiative was developed under the leadership of the Institute of Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University in partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Three Connecticut philanthropies—The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, The Smart Seed Fund, and the Common Sense Fund—have supported the program's development and launch.
Bonnie Symansky, a member of the North Branford Land Conservation Trust, has volunteered to work with the Town to achieve Bronze Certification, a major challenge during the pandemic. We hope to complete enough actions for August certification.
Sustainable CT has given a fellow (student volunteer) to South Central CT participating towns to help them to succeed. If you are interested in volunteering for the steering committee, contact Symansky at BSymansky323@gmail.com.
For more information, visit www.sustainablect.org