By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
A few years ago, the city of Grove City established an environmental sustainability committee. This committee was tasked with creating a plan that covers energy, natural resources, economic development, sustainable neighborhoods, transportation, and waste reduction.
On July 12, this committee presented the Grove City sustainability plan to council during a special service committee meeting.
Grove City has already been leading the way when it comes to green efforts. In the early 1990s, the city established Keep Grove City Beautiful and chartered a tree commission. In 2010, the city installed rain gardens in several parks and started a city-wide recycling program. In 2014, the city replaced all traffic signals with LED lights and installed two electric vehicle charging stations. By 2018, all city facilities had switched to LED lighting.
Earlier this year, the city added a food-waste drop-off bin for residents to cut down on the waste diverted to the landfill.
According to Linda Rosine, the environmental supervisor for the city of Grove City and a committee member, more can be done to benefit the environment.
“If you’re going to talk-the-talk, you have to walk-the-walk,” she said.
To reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill, the plan suggests that the city continue to work with the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) to educate the public on recycling and its benefits. It also suggests increasing the community’s diversion rate from 28 percent to 40 percent by 2023 by providing more opportunities for residents to recycle. The plan recommends that all city facilities, as well as city and non-city events, be zero waste by 2025.
City leaders would like to reduce the use of plastic bags in the community. Councilman Ted Berry said he has climbed to the top of the SWACO landfill, located in Grove City, and saw that it is packed with plastic bags.
“Those things don’t break down,” said Berry.
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage suggested the city offer some type of reward for those who choose not to utilize plastic bags.
“We have to create a culture of sustainability,” said Stage.
The plan presented gives recommendations such as all new residential construction should be Energy Star certified. If adopted by council, the city’s development department would work with builders to become an Energy Star partner and the city would promote the contractors who are Energy Star certified. The plan also proposes that all new-build multi-family and senior living facilities provide recycling for its residents.
To protect and conserve natural resources, the plan suggests that the city encourage homeowners to manage their gardens and yards as backyard wildlife habitat. This can be accomplished by hosting workshops on how to create this habitat. The plan also said the city should conduct a tree canopy study and change commercial development landscape codes to advise using native plants, trees, and shrubs.
To support more sustainable energy practices, the plan recommends implementing an energy aggregation. In November 2020, voters approved an energy aggregation, which allows local governments to use its buying power on behalf of the residents and small business owners to purchase energy with the goal of obtaining better rates and more product options, such as wind and solar power. The city has sent out requests for proposals for the generation of clean renewable energy. Once a purchase agreement has been reached, eligible households or business would be notified of the offer to decide whether to participate.
These are just a few measures presented in the sustainability plan. To implement some of these initiatives, the plan suggests the city hire a sustainability coordinator.
To bring on a sustainability coordinator, the city would have to adopt the sustainability plan and budget for the new position.
Councilman Aaron Schlabach said he was open to hiring a coordinator but said the city coffers are not bottomless.
“I don’t want to green light everything that comes before us,” said Schlabach. “We need to dig in and look at the cost.”
Berry said the city’s administration and council will work to get the items on the agenda as soon as possible.