It’s Not Easy Being Green

Over the course of the past three years on Rochester City Council, I have been blessed to have participated in (and to a large degree instigated) a whole bunch of “change” in Rochester.  Our elected officials, board and commission members, and the city administration which serves us so well on a 24/7 basis, have been reinvigorated with new faces.  They are strongly focused on promoting what Mayor Cuthbertson referred to back in 2008 as “Rochester 2.0” – the rebirth of Rochester for the 21st Century – celebrating what is uniquely Rochester and augmenting it with cutting edge 21st century marketing and business acumen.  Simply put: create a thriving environment where businesses want to locate and where people want to live, shop and enjoy all that is Rochester.  This is easy to say in words of course, but as they say, the proof is in the pudding.

There are a lot of great things happening in the City of Rochester, even during this time of economic challenge.  The City of Rochester is financially stable and our wise, yet responsible investments in services, promotion, and most of all attention to detail is paying off.  Our residents demand it.  While others may be envious of our financial stability and uniqueness, it is ours to share and we do so unconditionally.

With most of the heavy lifting over the past three years largely complete, I finally get to focus on some “fun” things I’ve been wanting to address.  One such “fun thing” I’ve had on my radar screen is expanding and reinvigorating the City of Rochester’s commitment to the “green” way of life.   

Did you know that 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of curbside recycling in the City of Rochester?  The City of Rochester was green long before being “green” was fashionable.  As you may know, the City of Rochester is well known for its outstanding city services – one of which is fall leaf collection.  Until 2008, we had composting in the City wherein leaves that were gathered by the DPW were placed on site and composted, providing residents with as much homegrown “Rochester” compost as they wanted.  For a variety of reasons, that policy was changed in 2008.   Many residents were amazed we’d stopped the practice (although we do have some trucked in and available now but it isn’t “homegrown”).

Things on my hit list for 2011 include getting us back to some form of on-site DPW open windrow composting (done correctly of course), getting the City of Rochester to join SOCRRA, further greening of our public works and establishing a cutting edge true Community Garden in the City of Rochester (the latter moving ahead as I write).

There are a number of other initiatives in the City of Rochester such as the DDA’s Green Committee which drives responsible environmental stewardship in the central business district.  We’re also in the process of installing solar panels at the Rochester Fire Station, which is planned to actually provide power back to the grid!  They should be up and running in a matter of weeks.  

You may have heard about other large scale “green” projects occurring in surrounding cities.  Unfortunately due to our size, and being financially stable, we do not qualify for most federal and state government “stimulus” handouts being granted to the larger municipalities around us.  That’s ok.  Rochester was founded on hard work and pride in doing things ourselves.  Being small and nimble allows us to respond quickly to any opportunity…and in this case, we certainly love a challenge!

To be sure, for a variety of reasons there will be folks against investing in responsible environmental stewardship.  Luckily, most of the things I speak of do not require vast sums of money.  Truth be told, many are virtually free…simply a change in mindset is the only price of admission.  But to my mind, if we are to be truly committed to being “green” and further cement our position as a regional leader in what it means to be truly “green,” we as a community need to embrace responsible stewardship, which means “tread lightly.” 

Working with so many great organizations that we are blessed to have in the city like Dinosaur Hill, the newly reconstituted City Beautiful Commission, and so many other interested parties, this becomes a labor of love – love for a really fantastic little city that I am so proud to call my home.

Ben Giovanelli

City of Rochester City Council

About Tom and Ann Gendich

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