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Sustainable Wellesley Forum and Q&A

Click here to watch Sustainable Wellesley's candidate forum.

The following questions were posed to all candidates. Read Colette's responses below. Visit Sustainable Wellesley's website to read all candidate responses.

1. What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?

Like many people, I have become more and more concerned about the environment and want to take concrete steps in my own life to live more sustainably. Luckily, I met the leaders of Sustainable Wellesley very early in the formation of the organization and have been supporting their efforts ever since. In 2018 I became the treasurer for Sustainable Wellesley and still hold that position today. As treasurer of Sprague PTO (2010-12), I helped build budgets supporting many green schools initiatives including the purchase of coffee mugs for use at PTO meetings to reduce waste, the establishment of the Sprague Garden, the installation of permanent playground shade structure and tree planting. While treasurer of the Central Council of PTOs (2011-2015), I helped get the word out through all PTO treasurers in town to participate in the incredibly successful “Power to Choose” campaign. As co-president at WHS PTSO (2018-19) I encouraged committees to use sustainable resources available fromWellesley Green Schools including reusable banquet supplies. This spring I was involved in the working group to raise funds for and install a bike pump and rack station in partnership with Wellesley Police Department. In July 2019 I worked closely with Sustainable Wellesley leadership to help build a new website for the organization. At the most recent Annual Town Meeting I supported and spoke in favor of the Voluntary Renewable Energy Program motion. 

The choices my family and I make in the daily management of our lives include a focus on sustainability. We chose to live in a central location in town so we could walk to our everyday activities. I walked or cycled to elementary school with my children. My son continues to walk to school almost every day and my daughter took public transportation to her middle/high school in Boston until graduating. We walk into town for the shops, the library, restaurants - everything. I mostly walk to the grocery store with my reusable bags! When we renovated our house in 2003, we took down one invasive tree and planted 50 arborvitaes even though our lot is very small (.06 acre). I have an arborist inspect our two large shade trees every year, our landscaper was happy to stop using a blower and to leave grass clippings on our lawn. We do not use pesticides or fertilizers on our lawn. I use soap nuts for a good deal of our laundry and woolen balls in our dryer. My political campaign uses biodegradable lawn signs. We have a hybrid vehicle and I recently downsized my minivan to a mini. We conducted a home energy audit several years ago, replaced old windows with more energy efficient ones, were evaluated for solar energy, signed up for the food waste program the day it was launched and, more recently, the “Shave the Peak” program. We have programmable thermostats set at levels recommended for sustainable living. We have reduced our meat consumption and increased vegetarian meals. 

In our family life, the outdoors holds a very special place for us. Hiking is a favorite family activity, starting with weekend walks around lake Waban when our children were very young and continuing to this day. We have walked or run every town trail together and make hiking and walking a centerpiece of every vacation we take together. My son is an avid catch and release fisher, my husband and daughter are committed runners and frequent cyclists, I walk on town trails several times a week. 

2. How do you see sustainability and the climate crisis as factors in the development of policy for the Town of Wellesley?

The Board Of Selectmen (BOS) is the Town’s executive body and sets policy and strategic direction for the community. The Town can and should consider sustainability and the climate in every policy decision. Within our town government, the BOS can partner with the Sustainable Energy Committee and the Natural Resources Commission among other boards, in developing policies that include climate considerations. Wellesley is fortunate to have a real depth of community organizations interested in the environment and sustainability who join together and meet regularly through the Green Collaborative. The collaborative and its member organizations are a very effective way for the BOS to reach out to and get feedback from the community at large in developing policies. 

3. What specific initiatives related to the environment and sustainability should the Board of Selectmen undertake in the upcoming 6 month term?

The Town, through the Sustainable Energy Committee (SEC), has been working toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The SEC uses a multi-pronged approach to achieve this goal, working in the building, waste, and transport sectors. The SEC has applied for a large grant to fund the development of a Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP), and should hear in the fall whether or not the application has been successful. In this plan the Town will set new goals aligning with the State’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The BOS has a significant role in supporting the work of the SEC in developing and implementing the CARP, including facilitation of discussions among boards, building consensus, and communicating to our community at large. 

The BOS, working in partnership with the Board of Health, Planning Board, Natural Resources Commission, and Wetlands Protection Committee, completed the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program in order to be able to apply for MVP grants to help the Town plan for climate change. Wellesley has already received a grant through this program to complete a planning process and has identified and prioritized action steps to improve resiliency. Again the BOS has a significant role in supporting this work, in particular action point no 1: “Develop and implement an emergency preparedness campaign with a robust communication plan” which will be championed by the Selectmen's communications staff. 

The BOS has been working to build consensus on a resolution encouraging all town boards to consider the impact of climate change a priority in decision making. This resolution would lay the groundwork for the Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP) mentioned above. Bringing this resolution to Town Meeting in the fall gives the Town Meeting Members an opportunity to discuss the resolution and ask Town Boards to focus attention on this as a priority. 

4. The Town has a number of major capital projects planned for the next few years. How do you envision sustainability playing a role in these projects as they move forward?

Sustainability is a critical element of capital projects and has been given a high profile in the feasibility studies of both Hunnewell and the Hardy/Upham MSBA project. The most recent School Building Committee meeting focused almost exclusively on sustainability factors including Energy Use Intensity (EUI), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, impact to natural habitat and more. Both new elementary schools will be “Net Zero Ready”. This reflects a desire by town leadership and residents to integrate sustainability into capital development now and on an ongoing basis. The major school building projects, including systems renovations at the middle school, will significantly reduce our energy use and will contribute towards the Town's goal of reducing our carbon footprint. 

With the financial implications of COVID 19, building of a town hall annex is on hold for now, but I would support the same commitment to incorporating sustainability into building an annex should that come to pass in the future. 

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