October 25, 2015, Wilton, Connecticut
We at Wilton Go Green compiled a list of environmental questions for the two candidates for the First Selectman of Wilton, Lynn Vanderslice [LV] and Deb McFadden [DM]. WGG requires and relies on the support of the board of selectman for many of our initiatives and we hope to have a strong ally in our new First Selectman!
- Many cities have banned plastic bags or imposed a cost on them. A few years ago the Wilton Board of Selectmen supported an educational program to encourage citizens to use reusable bags rather than plastic or paper. This effort had moderate success. Do you think Wilton should impose a ban on plastic bags or impose a cost for using them? LV: Any decision about whether to impose a ban on plastic bags or impose a cost for them should be decided by the residents. In the meantime, we need a refresher educational program. DM: I support Wilton moving to reduce the one-time use of plastic bags. This should be done incrementally with the involvement of stakeholders such as the retail community and Chamber of Commerce, along with advocates like Wilton Go Green. This needs to be a collaborative effort which, as First Selectman, I will be happy to lead.
Nearly 21 percent of Wilton homeowners have had a Home Energy Solutions energy audit of their residences under the Energize CT program. Are you familiar with this program? Would you be willing to take a lead to promote this energy conservation program? LV: I am familiar with the Home Energy Solutions energy audit. I am happy to promote energy conservation. As a child, I was raised in a household that conserved both for financial reasons and because my father worked for the local electric company. I practice conservation in my daily life and I have made continual improvements to my home to improve energy efficiency such as new windows, updated thermostats and installation of a more efficient heating system. DM: I am an avid supporter of the Home Energy Solutions audit program. I had my audit done years ago and have implemented many of the recommendations. We should actively promote the program. I would lobby for the creation of a second step after the audit– with opportunities for discounts or rebates for energy work completed for those who have already had an audit. The HES program results in a more environmentally friendly home and long-term cost savings. Everyone wins.
What is your opinion about climate change? What do you think the role of the Wilton municipality should be in addressing this challenge? LV: As a town we must continue to do to our part to reduce the causes of climate change by continuing our efforts to make the town and the greater community more energy efficient. This includes improvements to our buildings where appropriate and encouraging greater energy efficiency by Wilton residents through education and programs like home audits and Solarize Wilton. DM: The scientific findings are overwhelming: climate change is real. It is caused by mankind and it needs to be addressed at the global, federal, state and local level. I think Wilton should continue to address energy conservation issues which can reduce carbon emissions and also save Wilton taxpayers money. The Schools have been a leader in this since they use so much of the energy in Town, but there are more savings to be had. Wilton can lead by example and encourage our citizens to reduce and be smart about energy consumption.
- The Wilton Board of Selectman recently signed a No Idling Resolution. This resolution stops short of enforcing the DEEP No Idling Law # 22a-174-18. How do you feel about Wilton taking an even stronger stance by empowering our police force to issue tickets to violators as some other towns have done? LV: The educational aspect of this program is just beginning so we should wait and see the results. Empowering the police force comes at a financial cost, so we would need a better understanding of the cost benefit. DM: I voted for the No Idling Resolution. The Wilton resolution is enforced by the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). As First Selectman, I would be open to exploring what other communities have done and determine appropriate enforcement in Wilton. As a community we need to involve many organizations to assist with education on this important issue.
- What steps do you think can be taken to reduce our Town’s energy usage? LV: The town’s Energy Commission has been very active in making recommendations to the BOS for initiatives to reduce our energy usage and I would look to them for additional recommendations. As previously noted, they will be bringing forward a recommendation to participate in Solarize Wilton, which I think makes sense. Massachusetts has been ahead of CT in solar. I’ve seen that evidenced first hand in the Massachusetts town were I grew up. I feel it deserves a closer look. DM: The Energy Commission has done an extraordinary job under Bruce Hampson’s leadership in reducing Wilton’s energy usage with bench marking and targeting less efficient buildings. Wilton has a new Facility Manager and he needs to be focused on identifying new initiatives to conserve energy, reduce the town’s carbon footprint and help provide Wilton’s residents and businesses with a safe and healthy environment to live and work. I am confident that with the Energy Commission and our Facility Manager’s joint efforts Wilton will be even more energy efficient, environmentally friendly and save more tax payer money.
Wilton town properties do not currently have any options for town residents to recycle.Wilton Go Green is exploring the idea of placing recycling containers at all activity and playing fields and at Merwin Meadows. There would be a cost for the town to empty these on a regular basis, as is currently done for trash. Would you support this initiative? LV: Of course I would want to understand the cost, but I agree with the concept. DM: I respectfully disagree that there are no options for Wiltonians to recycle. Our transfer station accepts recycling (in fact it generates money by selling the recycled items). Many residents take recycling to our transfer station already. As First Selectman, I will support initiatives that increase recycling rate in Wilton. As perspective, the Town of Wilton did try recycling at our public parks. It was not successful for a variety of reasons including the public contaminating the recycling with garbage. There is a real cost to this program. The Parks and Rec department already has a five man crew doing garbage. As First Selectman, I will commit to revisiting this topic and working with Wilton Go Green and Parks and Rec to explore our options such as a public/private initiative perhaps combined with a Carry-in/Carry-out program. It should be noted that there was a pilot program of Carry-in/Carry-out done at the Miller-Driscoll school.
- Wilton Go Green has a vision for the town. Wilton will be the most environmentally friendly town in the State of CT. Do you think this is an important vision? How would you support it? LV: I think this is an admirable goal and I am happy to support appropriate means of reaching that goal. DM: My vision for Wilton is broader than simply being environmentally friendly. We need to be known for being friendly in many areas, not just the environment. As First Selectman, I will proactively work with local groups and interested citizens on environmental topics that need to be addressed; and together explore possible solutions before jointly deciding on a plan of action. As First Selectman I will be a regional leader in advocating for environmental issues. I look forward to collaborating with Wilton Go Green to help make Wilton the most environmentally friendly town in CT.