Will Cloquet take steps to go green?
Danielle Lundeen and Jana Peterson firstname.lastname@example.org The Minnesota GreenStep Cities program found its way to the Cloquet City Council meeting Tuesday, when Bill Hilty, the Sustainability Program coordinator for Fond du Lac Tribal and Community...
Danielle Lundeen and Jana Peterson
The Minnesota GreenStep Cities program found its way to the Cloquet City Council meeting Tuesday, when Bill Hilty, the Sustainability Program coordinator for Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC), approached the city in support of the program asking that the city of Cloquet consider participating.
GreenStep Cities provides the framework for a city to build a sustainable profile and adequately address goals relating to quality of life. The program claims that it is a free, continuous improvement program and benefits include greater community resiliency, encouragement of new economic development, reduction in carbon footprint, green space improvement, and more.
FDLTCC is proposing to have an intern from the college manage and lead the city through the initial steps of the GreenStep Cities program. The position would be part of a work-study program, paid for by the college, possibly for up to one year.
According to www.MnGreenStep.org , the program “supports and recognizes implementation of 28 sustainable development best practices. The best practices focus is on cost savings and energy use reductions that lead cities beyond compliance and encourage a culture of innovation.”
Cities that complete a minimum number of best practices will be recognized on the GreenStep website for their accomplishments. Four steps of recognition currently exist.
Step One: Indicates which best practices the city initially plans to implement and describes already implemented best practices.
Step Two: Cities that have implemented 4-8 best practices, (depending on city category).
Step Three: Cities that have implemented 8-16 best practices.
Step Four: To be released by June 2015.
The best practices are organized into five categories: Buildings and Lighting, Land Use, Transportation, Environmental Management, and Economic and Community Development.
Council members asked for specifics. When Councilor David Bjerkness asked if the Council could wait until after its planning retreat in February, City Administrator Brian Fritsinger said probably not, after noting that Hilty was anxious to organize the internship with the start of school last month. "Fond du Lac is a very important institution in Cloquet," Mayor Bruce Ahlgren said. "They've helped us along before; it's important we help them along, too. It doesn't seem like the cost to us is significant."
Bjerkness pointed out that the cost of overseeing an intern isn't the problem, it's the cost of implementing the plan that could be expensive for the city.
"By agreeing, you agree to bring on an intern who would be charged to work with the community and identify critical areas of sustainability and environmental concerns that we, in theory, are going to implement," Fritsinger said.
During the discussion it was mentioned that implementation of the program is dependent upon community involvement and the program is unique for each city. Many of the 70 participating cities have previously held a proactive view on sustainability.
Duluth, Brainerd and Ely are among the 70 cities, each standing in Step One of the relatively new program. Virginia opted out, however, expressing that they’re already maintaining cost-saving environmental practices.
"I would like more time," said Bjerkness, noting he is familiar with the GreenStep program through work. "We need to go in with eyes open because it's a real commitment."
The Council and Mayor Ahlgren directed Fritsinger to ask Hilty and Bill Mittlefehldt from Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Team to come to the next City Council meeting (Oct. 7) for further discussion.