MADISON – Hopes are high that a cross-section of the community will join in a special forum this month to brainstorm about how Madison can “go green” to save the environment – and save dollars.
The “Green Forum,” a community round table event, is described as “ground-breaking opportunity” for residents, businesses, Mayor Robert Conley, the Borough Council and the borough administration to discuss how Madison’s natural spaces, transportation, homes and businesses could become more “green.”
The event, sponsored by the Sustainable Madison Advisory Committee, the Open Space, Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, the Shade Tree Management Board, the Madison Environmental Commission and the Parks Advisory Committee, will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at the Ehinger Center on the campus of Drew University, 36 Madison Ave. Residents and students are especially encouraged to attend.
Survey Key To Forum
Betsy Uhlman, who chairs the Sustainable Madison Advisory Committee, said the “Green Forum” grows out of a survey conducted by the committee at Madison’s “Bottle Hill Day” downtown street fair last Oct. 6.
Uhlman reported that more than 100 residents identified “greening” homes and businesses, transportation issues and natural spaces as the key areas for improving Madison’s resource conservation and protection.
She said the “Green Forum” will offer a deeper discussion of Madison’s opportunities and hurdles in these areas over the next five to 10 years, with the Borough Council and administration listening.
Mayor Conley will kick off the evening, with Michael Kopas, chairman of the Shade Tree Management Board and Melissa Honohan, chairwoman of the Open Space, Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.
“Every person will have the chance to be part of the discussion of the three topics: ‘Green Spaces,’ ‘Getting Around Madison’ and ‘Greening Homes and Businesses’,” Honohan explained. “We’ll divide the group into three parts and each will circulate through the roundtable discussions. Each discussion will be 15 to 20 minutes long, with a moderator and expert at each table.” The forum will end with each moderator summarizing the conversations.
Uhlman added, “Madisonians care about our environment because we all work to make the town so vibrant. This is an unprecedented chance for Madison residents to bring forward strategic issues and help to set the direction for our borough’s resources. We hope over 50 residents will come out on a winter night to offer their vision for Madison.”
Pointing to one example, Uhlman said the “Greening Homes and Businesses” discussion may touch on energy efficiency, sustainable lawns and landscaping, “green” cleaning, “green” construction and solar and alternative energy. She said experts on those topics will be on hand to address questions that arise.
For information about the “Green Forum,” residents and business people are being directed to the “Sustainable Madison” page on Madison’s community website at www.rosenet.org. From the website’s homepage, click “Departments A-Z,” then click “Sustainable Madison Committee,” and look for the “Events” listing at the right side of the page.
The email contact for the program is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mapping Out Actions
Uhlman noted that Madison is seeking silver certification by Sustainable Jersey in June 2013, after achieving bronze certification in November 2010. Sustainable Jersey is a statewide certification program for municipalities that want to “go green,” save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term and the program awards grants to municipalities to implement “green” initiatives. Sustainable Jersey’s partners include the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the N.J. Board of Public Utilities (BPU). The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation is among the program’s sponsors.
Uhlman said the “Green Forum” will advance Madison’s “Community Mapping” and “Community Vision” actions, and set the stage for future programs in education and outreach.
The Ehinger Center at Drew University provides an appropriately “green” venue for the forum, following a year-long, $12 million renovation of the former University Center in accordance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles. Drew University, courtesy of Executive Director of Facilities Michael Kopas, is donating the use of the space for the forum.
Uhlman emphasized that the Sustainable Madison Advisory Committee, formed in May 2012 by the mayor and council, welcomes new volunteers, and information about Madison’s projects is available on the Sustainable Madison page at www.rosenet.org. She also advised that information on the statewide Sustainable Jersey program and additional project ideas can be found at www.sustainablejersey.org.