Waltham has achieved Green Community status, and I am working to bring municipal composting to our city, along with supporting other efforts to make us a more sustainable community.
Waltham is currently focusing our Green Community funds to make our older public buildings more energy-efficient; as a member of the Finance Committe, I have been responsible for oversight for these grants, and have approved steps to make Waltham more sustainable through investments in modern insulation, heating, and cooling systems. In addition, we are in the process of replacing our fleet of vehicles with more fuel-efficient models. I will continue to support these steps.
I am working to bring composting to Waltham for household and yard waste (1). Diverting compostable kitchen scraps and packaging away from the general trash stream can decrease greenhouse gas emissions from incineration and reduce landfill volumes, as well as providing material for home gardeners. Processesing more of our yard waste inside the city limits can decrease emissions from vehicles hauling our waste to other sites. I hope to implement a pilot program as soon as this fall.
The city of Waltham is working towards a municipal electrical contract that would set a baseline of plus 10% renewable energy over the state minimum for every enrolled household; those who wish can opt for a higher level of renewables. The council had multiple public input hearings (1) and has voted to move forward to secure state approval. Although the final price will not be contracted until the fall, I hope this program will also reduce electricity bills for many. I look forward to continuing to support this project.
Plastic Waste in Waltham
The city council is currently updating an ordinance to reduce consumption of single-use plastic bags, which I intend to support, but I think we should go further. Waltham should consider a plastic water bottle ban similar to that of Concord, MA. To compensate for the loss of convenient water availability, the city should install water bottle filling fountains as part of the ongoing public park refurbishments, and encourage local businesses to fill reusable water bottles for customers.
Waltham should incorporate sustainable transit options into all of our city planning and development. Bike lanes should be added during routine street maintenance, with curbed bike lanes preferred over painted lanes and “shadows.” Additionally, Waltham should work with the 128 Business Council and the MBTA to improve options connecting our commuter rail stations with our high-density business districts. Private shuttle routes already serve the 128 business district, but the city should work to make this into a more publicly accessible service, and require both participation and public access to the routes as part of approval of future special permits in the area.