Old Lyme, New London to join sustainability initiative

Old Lyme and New London both voted Monday to join Sustainable CT, a program for municipalities to voluntarily take steps to become more sustainable.

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen and New London City Council on Monday each adopted a resolution supporting participation in the Sustainable CT Municipal Certification program.

The voluntary program was envisioned as a tool to provide towns with a “roadmap” of different actions to take to become more sustainable, allow towns to get credit for their actions and create a process in which towns can share new ideas each year, Samuel Gold, the executive director of the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, told the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen during a presentation last month.

Sustainable CT, which the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities announced last November, calls on participating cities and towns to accomplish at least one task from nine categories — including local economies, transportation, land and natural resources, planning and housing — to earn certification, according to the program's website. The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities is slated to hold an awards ceremony in November.

Municipalities can earn credit toward certification by providing support to local businesses, adopting an open space plan, promoting public transit, creating an inventory of historic resources, streamlining permitting for small solar projects and developing affordable-housing options, among other options outlined on the website.

Old Lyme already has taken steps toward sustainability, including the installation of energy-efficient streetlights and participation in Solarize Old Lyme, that town's First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said at Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting.

"We support those kinds of initiatives and want to encourage people to look at how they can make their lives, their households more sustainable, and I would love to be one of the towns that decides to take on this challenge," Reemsnyder said.

Similarly, New London has taken sustainable actions, including the installation of efficient street lights and the support of art and creative culture, according to a memo from City Planner Sybil Tetteh to Mayor Michael Passero.

Besides giving recognition to towns for sustainability efforts, the program also is a resource for towns to look to their peers for ideas and share best practices, Gold said. For example, another town could reach out to Old Lyme for information on how Old Lyme installed solar panels on its Town Hall.

The resolutions passed by Old Lyme and New London on Monday reference that the Sustainable CT program was "built by and for municipalities, with the vision that: Sustainable CT communities strive to be thriving, resilient, collaborative and forward-looking. They build community and local economy. They equitably promote the health and well-being of current and future residents. And they respect the finite capacity of the natural environment ..."

The certification program is intended to "boost local economies, help municipal operations become more efficient, reduce operating costs, and provide grants and additional support to municipalities," the resolutions state.

After towns pass a resolution to join the program, they then have 90 days to appoint a sustainability team.

More information on the program is available at sustainablect.org.

Day Staff Writer Greg Smith contributed to this report.

k.drelich@theday.com

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