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To the Editor:
The Mayor’s State of the Town address on Jan. 28 was packed with positive and encouraging news about living and working in West Hartford. This is a town with many hardworking and dedicated town employees and residents, for whom we can be deeply grateful and proud. Our town has a great sense of our history, as was noted in the presentation, and it informs and guides our town’s future. With our commitment to sustainability, our town’s leaders and residents are set to carry on the legacy of those who came before us.
Consider that in 2018, West Hartford joined a growing list of towns committed to the Sustainable CT program. During her speech, the mayor highlighted the town’s efforts to make West Hartford both more energy efficient and greener. Most notably, Mayor Cantor selected achievements by the Plant and Facilities Department: a 20% reduction in energy consumption; continuing installation of solar arrays wherever possible, including the recent installation at Town Hall and the upcoming and largest installation at King Philip School; and progress toward sourcing all municipal electricity from renewable sources by the end of 2020. In these ways, West Hartford does indeed lead by example.
Additionally, West Hartford has worked to incorporate a lighter environmental footprint through the diversion of food waste to composting facilities. This simple act reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and also reduces methane emissions caused by the breakdown of food waste. Rockledge Grille, which is owned by the town, diverted more than 7,000 pounds of food scraps last year, with another 29 tons diverted from the school district – enough to offset the emissions from 1,657 gallons of gasoline. These actions and accomplishments are all good news and provide a solid foundation upon which West Hartford can build a robust future. As Mayor Cantor said, “It is true that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.”
At the beginning of this crucial decade, it’s time to aim high and expand the excellent actions of the town government to the community as a whole. On the issue of climate change, the science is clear that we all must reduce the use of fossil fuels and transition to clean and renewable energy. Now is the time for West Hartford to commit to 100% clean and renewable energy targets across our municipal, residential, and business communities: municipal electricity; residential and business electricity; municipal heating and transportation; and residential heating and transportation. Over 100 towns, cities, and states across the United States have already made this commitment.
In planning for these goals, the entire community should be engaged wherever and whenever possible to ensure that the policies are beneficial to as many stakeholder groups as possible. Residents of all ages, races, ethnicities, income levels; homeowners and renters; large and small business owners; large and small commercial property owners, and any other individuals and groups that have a stake in the future of West Hartford should be included in the conversation.
If we put our best efforts toward these goals, we’ll be set up for the next several decades to manage climate risk, and we will be poised to attract new opportunities for our residents. Investing in these measures now will set us on track to “lead by example,” and we will surely be amazed and delighted by what we accomplish for West Hartford in this decade and beyond.