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Officials Looking to a More Sustainable West Hartford

Verogy Co-Founder and COO Seven DeNino (left) speaks at a celebration of the new solar installation on the roof of Town Hall in October 2019, while Mayor Shari Cantor (center) and Energy Specialist Catherine Diviney look on. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-Ha.com file photo)

Volunteers are invited to join the Sustainability Advisory Group which has just been authorized by the West Hartford Town Council.

By Kristina Vakhman

West Hartford already has an award-winning reputation as being environmentally conscious, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t aiming to do even better. Officials are now looking for volunteers for the town’s new Sustainability Advisory Group to continue toward a more equitably sustainable future.

“West Hartford is a very diverse community, so we’re hoping to attract a wide variety of people to represent different interests and voices across our community,” said Catherine Diviney, the town’s energy specialist.

Created by resolution in February, Diviney said community volunteers on the Sustainability Advisory Group will allow for broader input when assessing future sustainability efforts. Around 20 residents will serve on the group over a 10-12 month period. Members will meet monthly, as well as potentially have additional subcommittee meeting assignments.

West Hartford already has equitable and sustainable initiatives like the Solar Virtual Net Metering program. However, the town is looking to improve on not only the environment, but also economic development, arts and cultural subjects, public health, planning, energy, materials management and transportation.

The goal is to have representation of all facets of West Hartford, as well as to encourage better communication among the town’s existing commissions, explained Diviney, who also serves on the Clean Energy Commission.

“You see a lot of the same faces at the table when it comes to Town Council meetings and representation on commissions,” she said.

On a larger scale, the primary purpose of the group will be to help West Hartford earn toward the Silver Level certification, which is an honor awarded through the voluntary Sustainable CT program to municipalities who complete sustainable actions that rack up 400 or more points. Currently, 19 municipalities are Silver Level.

Diviney said West Hartford is on track to earn the Silver Level certification by the August deadline, but that there are always areas where the town can do better. The Advisory Group will shed light on communities that are underserved or entirely neglected in sustainability efforts.

But that means getting the voices of volunteers from those communities to the table. The Advisory Group is open to anyone ages 14 or older – youth representation is something Diviney said she and Mayor Shari Cantor are very excited about – with a willingness to contribute to West Hartford’s sustainability work.

Those wanting to participate should send a letter of one to two pages to the Town Clerk with their general background and how they believe they can contribute to the sustainability initiative. The letter can be emailed to Town Clerk Essie Labrot at [email protected] or mailed to Town Clerk, Town of West Hartford, 50 South Main Street, West Hartford, CT 06107. The deadline is March 31.

“I would encourage anyone who hasn’t participated yet or has a real interest or passion or opinion on sustainability in West Hartford to apply,” Diviney said.

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