FRAMINGHAM – Sustainability is one of the most discussed issues of the past decade around the world. With the rise of support to prevent climate change, many organizations, whether nonprofit, business, or governmental, have tried to find ways to be able help contribute to the climate change movement.
Framingham has a history involving the environment, ranging from open space use to environmental justice issues such as Mary Dennison Park and Cedar Woods.
In 2020, two proposals have been submitted to the 11-member City Council to create a platform to address sustainability issues.
In April 2020, District 8 City Councilor John Stefanini submitted an ordinance to the Council calling for the creation of a Sustainability Commission and a Sustainable Framingham Implementation Committee.
The City Council, in a unanimous vote on May 19, sent the Stefanini proposal to the Council’s Environmental subcommittee.
It was very briefly discussed at the June meeting, but no recommendation on the proposal was made.
The Stefanini Sustainability proposal was not on the June subcommittee agenda, which was the first meeting of that subcommittee since the proposal.
The proposed Stefanini ordinance calls for a Sustainability Commission to establish sustainability goals for the Sustainable Framingham Implementation Committee to enact in the community and meet, at a minimum, once a year. The Commission would consist of 15 members who represent a variety of backgrounds. The Commission would be compromised of the following members or the respective designee:
- Superintendent of Schools
- Executive Director of the Framingham Housing Authority
- Chair of Framingham Business Association
- Director of MWRTA
- President of Framingham State University
- Executive Director of South Middlesex Opportunity Council
- Chair of the Planning Board
- Chair of the City Council Environmental and Sustainability Subcommittee
- A Member of the Sustainable Framingham Committee
- Head of the Interfaith Council,
- Chair of the Council on Aging
- Two residents appointed by the mayor, including a resident for whom English is not their primary language, with professional expertise in the climate change area.
The Mayor would serve as the chair of the Commission with voting rights in the case of a tie-vote.
As proposed by the ordinance, the Sustainable Framingham Implementation Committee is designed to implement the goals of the Sustainability Commission. The Committee would meet at least once a month. The Committee would be comprised of the following individuals:
- Director of Public Works
- Sustainability Coordinator
- Director of Community and Economic Development
- Chair of the City Council Environment and Sustainability Subcommittee
- Chair of the School Committee Climate Change, Environment, and Sustainability Subcommittee
- Chair of a Mayoral Sustainability Committee
- Member of the Student Advisory Committee
- Chair of the Youth Council
- Chair of the Planning Board
- Chair of the Conservation Commission
- Three (3) residents appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Council. At least one of these members shall have experience in the clean energy sector or sustainability fields. At least one of these members shall be from each of Framingham’s residential zip codes, 01701 and 01702.
After the Stefanini ordinance was submitted, Mayor Yvonne Spicer submitted a proposal to the City Council to create a Sustainability Commission. Mayor Spicer in her May 21 memo to the City Council said her administration had been working on this proposal since June 2019.
Spicer’s proposal would create a Sustainability Committee that would be responsible for creating new programs and policies and engaging in public engagement and outreach.
The Committee would help to advise the Mayor on Framingham’s environmental issues and problems. The Committee would also serve as a resource to municipal departments when sustainability issues arise in the city.
The Committee would be comprised of 9 members appointed by the Mayor. The members’ terms would be for three years, with staggered terms. Members are also encouraged to have experience in environmental subjects such as renewable energy, land use planning, and environmental law.
The Mayor’s proposal leaves out the business, senior citizen, and youth voices, included in the Stefanini proposal.
The world’s youths have been one of the strongest voices for environmental change, including Greta Thunberg, a 17-year-old Swedish environmental activist who became Time Magazine‘s Person of the Year for her work.
Mayor Spicer’s Sustainability Committee is on the June 30 agenda for the Framingham City Council.
Below is the full proposal submitted by the Mayor to the City Council:
SECTION 1. Add the following new section to Article II of the General Bylaws/Ordinances:
Section X. Sustainability Committee
X.1 The Framingham Sustainability Committee (FSC) is hereby established. The FSC will strive to make Framingham a more sustainable community through the consideration of practical new programs and policies as well as public engagement and outreach activities that seek to address environmental, resource, and energy challenges.
The Committee is expected to engage citizens in understanding sustainability principles and their role in building a more sustainable city, utilizing outreach and engagement programs to support to residents, businesses, and other organizations. In addition, the Committee will act as a resource to the City, providing information and assistance on opportunities to enhance
the sustainability and resiliency of municipal operations and promote environmental justice.
The Committee shall provide recommendations to the Mayor as far in advance of the end of the calendar year as possible to allow for the timely consideration of new programs and policies in the annual budget.
Sustainability – the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs (derived from the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development).
Resilience – the capacity of a community, business, or natural environment to
prevent, withstand, respond to, and recover from a disruption (U.S. Climate
Climate Change – a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere. These phenomena include the increased temperature trends described by global warming, but also encompass changes such as sea level rise; ice mass loss in Greenland, Antarctica, the Arctic and mountain glaciers worldwide; shifts in flower/plant blooming; and extreme weather events (NASA).
Environmental Justice – the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies (EPA).
Renewable Energy – often referred to as clean energy, comes from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished (NRDC).
X.3 Composition, Membership, and Terms
X3.1 The Committee is to be comprised of nine voting members appointed by the Mayor.
The term of office shall be for three years, with initial appointments of one, two, and three years so that the terms of members shall be staggered.
X3.2 Terms. FSC member terms shall coincide with the fiscal year (effective July 1st) and expire on June 30th. At the start of each fiscal year, the committee shall conduct an organizational meeting to elect from its members a Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary. The Committee will receive staff support from the Sustainability Coordinator. The Committee shall meet quarterly, or more frequently as warranted.
X3.3 In addition to having passion for sustainability and the environment, members of the FSC are preferred, but not required, to have demonstrable experience in areas such as environmental law, environmental education, corporate responsibility, environmental science, energy management, renewable energy, environmental health and safety, marketing and communications, green building, land use planning, water conservation, stormwater management, waste reduction, climate resiliency planning,
economics, or other related fields.
X.4 Duties. The FSC shall have the following responsibilities.
X.4.1 Advising the Mayor on Framingham’s environmental impacts, challenges, and opportunities as well as providing recommendations on municipal programs and policies to promote greater sustainability and/or resiliency;
X.4.2 Promoting the adoption of and advocating the benefits of sustainability across all sectors of the community including residents, businesses, and other organizations;
X.4.3 Serving as a resource for municipal departments, boards, commissions, and other committees regarding sustainability and resiliency challenges and
X.4.4 Supporting municipal sustainability and resiliency projects, programs, and initiatives such as waste reduction or energy efficiency efforts;
X.4.5 Such other responsibilities as may be assigned to the Committee by the
SECTION 2. Article I, Section 1.3.2 of the General Bylaws/Ordinances shall be amended by adding the Sustainability Committee to the list of appointed multiple-member bodies with information on the composition, duration of office, appointing authority and number appointed per year consistent with the terms of Section 1, above
Editor’s Note: Isabella Petroni is a summer 2020 intern with SOURCE. In full transparency, she is the founder and the chair of the Framingham Youth Council. Petroni is a dual-degree sophomore at the University of New England studying environmental studies and marine affairs.
Graphics courtesy of the federal government