Green Acton Minutes:

Green Acton Monthly Meeting
December 8, 2014
Acton Memorial Library Conference Room, 7:00–8:30

Topics: SMaRT/PAYT, Composting, ACES, Kinder-Morgan Pipeline, Website(s)/Facebook and Announcements (MWCOC award, Green Party, and EPA Hearing on Nuclear Metals site)

Karen Herther, Stephanie Shinas, Debbie Andell, Danny Factor, Debra Simes, Jim Snyder-Grant, Joe Campo

Announcements:

Karen H. announced that the Middlesex West Chamber of Commerce has a volunteer service award, and that Jim Snyder-Grant will be the winner this year. Merriment & congratulations. The ceremony is Jan 29. Karen won this award two years ago, and nominated Jim for it this year.

The Green Rainbow Party is now an official party in MA again, because Danny F. and the other statewide candidates got enough votes. So, the local Green Rainbow Party chapter (Assabet River Valley) will work on forming Town Committees. Anyone currently registered as Green/Rainbow in Acton is eligible to be on the Acton Green/Rainbow Town Committee (or anyone willing to change registration.)

Jane Ceraso is preparing for an EPA hearing on the Starmet Superfund remediation plan. There may be talking points for a hearing arriving in our email boxes soon, in preparation for  this meeting. Starmet is a hazardous waste site near the Acton/ Concord border. The site is also known as Nuclear Metals, Inc.: it processed a lot of depleted uranium, so there are serious water quality challenges, only partially overlapping with the sort of issues presented by the WR Grace Superfund site. Jane C. is a member of ACES, and was the former environmental manager for the Acton Water District. She is becoming part of Green Acton as we prepare to join forces organizationally. She and Debra Simes have volunteered to be the first co-presidents of a combined organization.

Stephanie S. is new to Green Acton. A student of sustainability at Lesley University, she recently moved back to Acton.

SMART (Save Money and Reduce Trash) / PAYT (Pay As You Throw) update

The ZeroWaste group is meeting with the Finance Committee Dec 23 @ 7:30pm, Rm. 204 in Town Hall. We will briefly update them on our Zero Waste initiatives, as well as introduce the SMART PAYT initiative, and elicit feedback & questions esp. about Pay As You Throw. Sue Cudmore and Jim S-G will present.

Jim S-G wrote an article about PAYT for the Acton Forum, because some negative publicity had appeared there: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/jimsnydergrant/save-money-and-reduce-trash

The publisher, Allen Nitschelm, is considering doing a survey, so we will plan to have an ongoing engagement with the Acton Forum.

Talking points are just about ready for any SMART / PAYT promotional material. Almost ready to go to Corey York, Town Engineer, and Carolyn Dann, DEP contact. So, we are almost ready to create  a plan for publicity; first item is a handout for transfer station & elsewhere.  Municipal Quarterly blurb has been written, has been reviewed by Town Manager Steve Ledoux, and is scheduled to be in the next  Municipal Quarterly (sent with the next RE tax bills).

Debra will put out a Doodle poll for the next Zerowaste meeting

FYI: BFI will let you pay less for a smaller barrel, and offers unlimited recycling.  Other private haulers may do the same.

Qs for Q&A purposes:

Q: What about how PAYT requires plastic bags, when some of us use scavenged paper bags now? What about a reusable bin instead? Well, it turns out the bags are VERY light and thin, and thus don’t use much material.  Bins are thick and heavy and use a LOT of material. Also, production of bags (from at least one vendor) is from recycled plastic.

Some questions asked about how to handle really large things to be thrown away. Currently there are separate fees for large objects: these may need to be extended, or other systems devised.

Review: yes, PAYT comes with unlimited recycling and the annual sticker is much lower.

Send other questions to zerowaste@greenacton.org

Composting Issue before Board of Health

Danny described the situation: A small space outside their Briarbrook apartment; a small compost pile (3′ X 4′), hidden behind flowers; have had for 4 years;  tarp over it; it’s watered; produced beautiful compost. When condo staff was fixing terrace above, noted the compost & called Health Department. Violation written up by HD staff. Appealed to BoH. No fine, because hearing was called. Compost was removed by condo staff (without permission of the homeowner). Because there is no compost there right now, they aren’t in violation now, and no fine was removed.

In this particular case, condo rules & regulations are also interfering with creating a compost pile.

The bigger issue of what constitutes a legal compost pile in Acton, remains unaddressed by the BoH decision. The Health Director has written that: “Composting is legal when done properly” but having “properly” more defined (and defined broadly) would help lend certainty to all the backyard composters in Acton, and would encourage more, which is key to trash reduction. No one at the meeting had the slack to take this on right now. Perhaps some on the Zero Waste team can work on this after Town Meeting, or perhaps some people reading these minutes will step forward.

Acton Citizens for Environmental Safety

Jim & Jane are working on ACES back filings. Articles of Incorporation & Bylaws are being worked on by Jane & Debra.

Kinder-Morgan pipeline

They’ve announced a change in location, more through NH. A NH crew was at the anti-pipeline summit in November, so organizing against the pipeline has continuity.

Website / facebook update

The new website, temporarily at http://greenacton.org until content, functionality, and design are more complete and it is ready to replace greenacton.org.

Facebook page continues to grow in ‘likes.’ If you’d like to add content there in the name of Green Acton, let Jim know. Green Acton posts also go out on our twitter feed. Karen suggests using #actonma in FB posts so they are tagged this way in Twitter.

The new website will also have the ability to post website content to facebook, so we will have a single place to source new material for social media.

There’s also a website under development for the public-facing side of the PAYT campaign: http://actontrash.info is mostly ready, but needs completion of content and review of content and design before it gets publicized.

A fine check-out ensued. Meeting ended 8:30 PM.

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