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Shelter Island Reporter editorial: The greening of the Island

It was not so long ago that there were only a few voices trying to alert Islanders to the dangers of ignoring threats to the environment.

But in recent years, the Green Options Committee has emerged to lead the way, and gained important momentum. Initiatives that its members have focused on have inspired more residents and business owners to take actions.

The results to date are many, some undertaken by the Town and others by private citizens:

• Clean water initiatives, including a wastewater system to serve the Center as a top town priority.

• Local grants have been added to county grants for Islanders to replace aged septic systems with state-of-the-art systems to reduce nitrogen content reaching the aquifer.

• Electric vehicles have been purchased, with talk about establishing at least two more charging stations at sites on the Island for owners of e-vehicles.

• Plans for use of solar energy, by placing panels on the newly constructed roof at the Recycling Center, perhaps were inspired by businesses like Shelter Island Hardware, an early leader in solar energy on the Island.

• Avoiding intrusive and often dangerous plants is gaining favor, and choosing native plants that can thrive on the Island.

• Efforts being pushed by many — baymen, Green Options Committee and Water Advisory Committee members — to eliminate use of dangerous fertilizers and pesticides is gaining attention.

Most recently, Councilwoman BJ Ianfolla suggested a re-evaluation of a Town ban on geothermal energy that could replace fossil fuels for heating and cooling houses (see story).

The Water Advisory Committee has picked up on the suggestion and started a re-evaluation of the ban that was initiated in 2008.

The WAC started with a presentation from an expert in the field who has been installing geothermal systems for years, including in areas with similar fragile aquifers. It’s just a beginning, and the WAC said a lot more information is needed before it would advocate for lifting the ban.

But it certainly merits consideration.