Town of Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and the Town Council approved several environmental resolutions at September's brief town board meeting, continuing their commitment to reducing emissions in the area.
Town officials approved Resolution B, a proposal for Wehran Energy Corporation to operate, monitor and maintain services for the MSF landfill gas flare, to ensure certain emissions at the landfill are within safe limits. The cost to the town will be $6,250 per month. The resolution also includes hardware installation costs that will be used for monitoring those emissions, a cost that will not exceed $22,100.
Resolution J, also approved, was for a proposal from Motorworks Clean Vehicles, Inc. to provide the town with a zero emission van for testing purposes at no cost to the Town.
"By using natural gas, it's huge, it burns cleaner than diesel fuel and it eliminates particulates," said Russell K. Barnett, Environmental Protection Director for the Town of Smithtown. "Here's the clincher - it's cheaper [so] you save money. By converting to natural gas, you can reduce your emissions by 25 percent."
Smithtown was the first municipality outside of California to mandate a 100 percent natural gas fueled garbage fleet. The Town and Barnett are committed to the elimination of particulates because they have are the possible causes for emphysema in the elderly and for the increased rate of pediatric asthma cases.
Barnett says the town has been converting the vehicles as their trucks age out and that Smithtown now has snow plows, street sweepers and town cars that run on completely on natural gas. Barnett works with the company Freightliner who make these medium-duty environmental friendly trucks.
"In fact, one of the first ones [natural gas vehicles] made by Freightliner was made for Smithtown," he said.
Smithtown's natural gas refuge fleet has attracted the attention of forward thinkers from around the country and Canada, according to Barnett. The national gas fleet has been referred to as the "Smithtown model" and town officials have been fielding questions and giving demonstrations of the fleet for communities in Philadelphia, Seattle, Quebec and Maryland.
The Town's latest environmental initiative is a 30 kilowatt solar electric project on the roof of the Town's recycling facility in Kings Park on Old Northport Road.
"We are currently out for bids to expand it by another 20 kiliwatts and then it might be the largest town solar project in Suffolk," Barnett said.
In addition to the natural gas resolutions and the solar energy initiative, Smithtown is in the process of designing a new wind generator to provide energy for the recycling facility.
"What's nice about wind power is that it complements the solar panels, when one resource decreases, the other increases," Barnett said.
During the public comment session of September's town board meeting, local resident Kathy Calderola took the podium to praise the Supervisor for his video tour of the Smithtown recycling facility, a program that airs on Public Access T.V.
"My personal passion happens to be recycling and I would like to request that it be linked to the town website [since] not everyone watches T.V.," Calderola said. Supervisor Vecchio said he would take that into consideration.
Smithtown officials have a history of supporting environment legislation. The private non-profit Save the Sound, whose sole purpose is the preservation of Long Island's waters, named Smithtown the number one town in New York State for protection and improvement of Long Island's environment.
Since 1985, the town has also operated a shellfish mariculture program at Stony Brook Harbor, which is considered the cleanest harbor on Long Island by environmental groups like Save the Sound.
"We grow hard clams and oysters in protective floating cages in Stony Brook Harbor and we seed them in the harbor," Barnett said. The mollusks are then transported to the Great South Bay to replenish dwindling stocks.
Smithtown has been named Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the last 26 years in a row for its establishment of a professional forestry program, in which a trained forester makes decisions about the town's tree population.
The next town board meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Senior Center.