ACUSHNET – SouthCoast could soon get a little greener. Acushnet is looking to become just the second town in the region to achieve the state’s “Green Community” designation, having filed its application this week.
“Green Communities” is a state program that makes grants available to towns that meet five requirements toward being more sustainable. The requirements include taking measures like creating an expedited permitting process for siting alternative energy like wind turbines or solar farms; purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles; setting requirements to minimize energy costs for new construction projects; and developing a plan to reduce the town’s energy use by 20 percent within five years.
In SouthCoast, Lakeville is the only town that currently has the designation, and Acushnet is only the second town to apply, according to the state’s Director of Green Communities Division Meg Lusardi.
On Wednesday, Acushnet selectmen took the final vote necessary to send in their application. At their meeting, Chairman of the Selectmen Leslie Dakin explained the decision this way: “Acushnet is all about efficiency and accountability.”
Selectman Kevin Gaspar agreed, saying “It’s a great move for Acushnet.”
“It will give us grants and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time,” he said.
Lusardi said it’s “hard to say” why the program hasn’t caught on in this region, despite there being 110 “green communities” statewide. Her division has reached out to SouthCoast towns to let them know about the grant opportunities, she said.
“What we’ve seen is the best encouragement a town could have is to see its neighbors do it,” she said.
She noted that some towns are resistant to the requirement of an expedited permitting process for renewable energy sources.
That wasn’t an issue in Acushnet, where selectmen were mainly concerned about the requirement that they only purchase fuel-efficient vehicles for the town.
At Wednesday’s meeting Dakin said there had been some confusion about whether the town had to replace its vehicles immediately, which it does not.
“As far as I’m concerned, our concerns have been rectified,” he said.
Town Administrator Alan Coutinho said he was looking forward to obtaining the designation.
“If you look at the map, no one down here has it,” he said. “It just shows you we are a small town that really looks at everything.”
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