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Green Expo a success despite heat

A year ago, Green Expo was all but washed away with foul weather that discouraged many from attending to learn about efforts to protect the Island’s environment. So if Saturday was hot, keeping some on the beach instead of the Community Center grounds where they could learn what’s happening with many initiatives, others came out and brought questions to representatives of many Town committees.

The event, hosted by the Town’s Green Options Committee, focused in past years on vendors who wanted to interest Islanders in products. This year it gave preference to local committees, many of which are involved in water quantity and quality, plans for a septic system to serve several town buildings, and affordable housing.

Green Options Committee Chairman Tim Purtell said there was “a nice steady flow” of visitors to the tables and a lot of good questions. He showed a card designed by Councilwoman Meg Larsen that bears a QR code for easy accessibility to information about green initiatives being promoted by the committee. He noted Ms. Larsen wants to create similar cards for the other Town committees.

Committee member Steve Sanders spoke with visitors about the importance of responding to the threats posed by climate change. Acknowledging that there are those who believe climate change doesn’t exist, he said the answers will come one way or another from Mother Nature. He credited young people on the Island with bringing energy to issue of saving the environment.

Water Advisory Committee Chairman Peter Grand said there was a fair amount of traffic and time to respond to queries from people who wanted more information on the Center wastewater project, as well as a general concern about the quality and quantity of water on the Island.

Mr. Grand, who initiated the creation of the Fresh Pond Neighbors Association along with his fellow residents, recalled the period when complaints about water quality there were dismissed by many. The association took on the issue directly and have managed to get a study of pollutants in Fresh Pond and potential solutions to cleaning it.

The Town is exploring ways to find grant money to pay for a cleanup of the pond. Part of that money could come from the Town Water Quality Improvement Advisory Board (WQI), which is funded with up to 20% of revenues that result from the Community Preservation Fund transfer tax.

WQI Chairman James Eklund was on hand Saturday to talk with people about how his committee has provided grants to homeowners to upgrade their septic systems. The Island has many aged septic systems and there have been initiatives to get more people to replace them with the nitrogen-reducing I/A systems. Grants have also helped fund some larger projects around town, and it’s possible some money needed for the Center wastewater project could be on the way.

Ms. Larsen and Councilwoman BJ Ianfolla were present to speak about the Comprehensive Plan revision that is underway, and the Community Housing Fund vote coming up in November. Right or wrong, the two subjects have become linked to one another with a lot of confusion resulting.

Deer & Tick Committee members — Chairman Dr. James Bevilacqua and Education Subcommittee Chairwoman Julia Weisenberg — were at table to discuss ways Islanders and visitors could take steps to avoid tick-borne illnesses and understand why more areas for hunting is needed and the recruitment more hunters is required to decrease the deer herd.