By Harrison Cann
For The Diamondback
The College Park City Council revisited the city’s sustainability plan during its meeting Tuesday night, discussing the reduction of carbon emissions and highlighting future action.
In 2015, the council created the plan with four main areas of action, including solid waste and recycling, buildings and public areas, citywide policies and events and fleet and transportation. Sustainable Maryland certified College Park as a sustainable city in 2016, but Mayor Patrick Wojahn said city officials wanted to “quantify [their] efforts and set numerical goals.”
In the past two years, the city has made efforts to address issues in these various departments. Specifically for solid waste and recycling, the city is tracking the weekly amount of solid waste, bulk trash, recycling and green waste in an effort to subsidize sale of composting bins, as well as develop changes to waste and recycling policies.
District 4 Councilwoman Mary Cook said she hopes the city will discuss zero waste in the coming months. Sustainability efforts like these benefit the residents without extra cost, she added.
“On the surface it may look like residents are going to be paying more money,” Cook said. “But ultimately they’re not because we want to lower their taxes at the same time.”
The city is making investments in renewable energy, Wojahn said, as well as adding bike lanes and paths, which encourages community members to do less driving.
“We wanted to set goals for greenhouse gas emission reduction,” Wojahn said. “The community has embraced it. Many people want to see us do more towards sustainable practices and address greenhouse gas emissions.”
District 1 Councilwoman Christine Nagle said she’s looking forward to an increased connectivity and walkability in the city.
“It’s something that people can enjoy even when people aren’t as environmentally conscious,” she said.
Throughout the meeting, council members expressed their support for increased sustainability and investment in renewable energy.
College Park is on track to meet its goal of 20 percent renewable energy usage in 2019, according to the meeting’s agenda. There are plans to install solar panels at the Department of Public Works fleet garage later this year.
These panels, combined with those at the Youth and Family Services building, will bring the city’s renewable energy to nearly 12.5 percent, about doubling the current usage.
“While it’s a little more challenging with our small size [to pursue these goals], we’re doing everything we can,” Wojahn said.
The city is also working with leaders at the University of Maryland. Andrew Fellows, former College Park mayor, currently works with the university’s National Center for Smart Growth, which is working to address issues of chronic flooding in the city.
The NCSG and the city are working together on 10 projects, Fellows said, some of which address tree canopies and carbon emissions.