Minutes: 2019-04-09


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

7pm • Acton Memorial Library Meeting Room

Present: Jim Snyder-Grant, Debby Andell, Danny Factor, Kim Kastens, Ginger Harris, Jane Moosbruker, Miles Fidelman, Heather Haines, Carolyn Platt, Sue Jick, Debra Simes, Norm Strahle

Facilitator: Sue J.
Timer: Debby
Scribe (minutes): Debra

Sue began by reviewing meeting protocols. (these are here)

Meeting logistics & Intros/Go-round

Co-Treasurers’ report

Little activity this month; deposited $1,000 NEGEF check, and $250 is to yet come for Ban the Bag from Acton Medical (for which GA is the fiscal agent)

Balances: checking: $3,699.19, savings: $5,407.16

MCAN conference ticket

One ticket is available to the MCAN Local Environmental Action conference (April 27 in Worcester). GA is a sponsor, funded by Sue J. and Miles F. Does anyone want the ticket? Terra knows Worcester State students who might want if no one else does.

Committee Reports:

• Admin: Sue J. has joined the committee; Reminder: Heather H. will be a nominee for co-treasurer at annual meeting in October

• Energy: met with Peregrine people + Asst. Town Manager on potential redesign of Acton Power Choice program; looking at 3 tiers: 100% renewable (for opt up), middle tier with as much renewable as rates allow (as default/auto-enrollment), and bottom tier same as Eversource Basic (for opt down). This consideration of a different program design was inspired by Newton, who managed to get a contract that allowed a default option that offers 60% Class I REC renewable sourcing! Also looking at next contract for term of perhaps 27 months or so; this allows better timing in relationship to Eversource summer vs. winter rates (ask Debra or Jim to explain if this is confusing); possibility of an “adder” is being discussed — a tiny surcharge per kWh, the funds from which can be used by the Town for related programming or staff (no hurry on this, though); Energy Committee is doing no more program promotion until the next contract begins (Sept. 2019)           

• Land Use: committee looks at land use issues from a bold sustainability lens; was very involved with Kelley’s Corner infrastructure project process
Next meeting: Tuesday, April 23, 7:30pm, Town Hall room 46 (ground floor). May be talking about possibility of a community space on one of the Kmart parcels; warrant article on land clearing limit will also be a subject of discussion.

• Plastics: Carolyn thanks all who helped get the Ban the Bag warrant article passed at Town Meeting (applause); next up: ordering and distributing free bags through the Council on Aging event in late April, food pantries, faith communities, Town Resource Coordinator (Laura Ducharme), Acton Housing Authority, et al. Acton Medical donated $250 to the Ban the Bag effort; the group is discussing the complex issues re: what kind of reusable bags to promote (i.e., what’s best); bottom line message: whatever you’re using, use it to death. Senator Eldridge expects that by the end of this Spring, @103 towns will have passed the ban; may be an event at the State House. Group is also meeting with Sheryl Ball, Acton Health Director, about contact with retailers and good communication about the transition to the ban; doing more education about bag use. Miles notes some people have used plastic bags to create (weave?) reusable bags.

• Water: there is a new water commissioner, Barry Rosen, whom Kim expects to be more proactive; at Acton Water District (AWD) Annual Meeting, a water treatment article passed for the treatment of manganese and iron, for which the district is borrowing $10 million from the state; some $ coming from WR Grace, as well. Committee has become involved in water conservation for the new elementary school; Lucy Kirshner attended a water conservation meeting with other school project stakeholders. Nagog Pond: Acton Area LWV and Concord Carlisle LWV are forming a water study group; someone from LWV will attend the next Water Committee meeting to apprise about LWV process; judge in Land Court denied motion to move the case to SJC, and denied AWD’s motion to intervene (b/c AWD didn’t exist at the time of the 19th c. statute); land court judge also said the Town of Acton would adequately represent the town’s litigation issues. WR Grace Superfund Site five-year review of the Record of Decision (RoD) is upcoming: GA’s been invited to participate in a conference call discussion (some time in the next week or so) with the EPA rep; Kim will participate, and others may join the call if they want, or may respond to the EPA’s questions in writing and submit to Kim.

Next water meeting: Sunday, April 14, 2:30–4:30, Acton Memorial Library Conference room

Repair Café

Repair Cafés are events in which those with skills in fixing stuff are available to guide others in fixing; this keeps materials out of landfills and in use; there are 19 in MA. Jane has info from friend in Bolton on how they work, and would like others who are interested to help make this happen in Acton; there are needs for insurance, space, publicity; Repair Café logo costs $50 (or it could just be called “Fixit Clinic”); contact Jane if interested in making this happen: Jamoos@earthlink.net or 1.978.263.7193; Sue proposes that this come back next month, after offline discussion and research, for consideration of how/whether Green Acton might want to support. Where would such a project belong in GA? Materials Committee!

Debby’s aside: Swap Shop needs volunteers! Contact her to help: debbyandell@gmail.com

Post-Town Meeting debrief: any implications of TM decisions that    need GA follow-up, or other thoughts?

• Carolyn: wants a “how to do a citizens’ warrant” for dummies; Carolyn & Terra may work on it

• Heather: appreciates the work GA did in preparation for TM

• Norm: what can do next time to get GA positions out more broadly?

• Miles: surprised by how not representative TM is, and how many folks don’t have time to attend; maybe time to rethink: remote digital/electronic voting?

• Jane: went to her first TM this time; liked moderator

• Ginger: impressed with how well prepared most speakers are; wondering what impacts of remote voting might be

• Kim: likes data and privacy of clickers; Water Committee spent lots of time on stormwater bylaws, which passed on consent; nevertheless, they developed a good working relationship with Town Engineer Paul Campbell, and have talked about the follow-on decisions that are important to enactment of the bylaw; committee is prepared to endorse those, based on its research; GA endorsed this process

• Terra: brought, via citizens’ petition, five land use–related articles to TM; good experience; glad for the discussions that have happened related to land use

• Debby: the guy with the 17-year bag was great; thinks TM should be an all-day Saturday affair, 9am ’til done

• Danny: GA has come a long way re: TM article consideration in the past few years; likes that GA is taking positions; not sure how best to handle the speaking of GA positions at TM; can we get a report on which of our stances were “successful”; maybe a separate “discussion of issues/articles” time pre-TM; how to make TM more diverse? Commission on Disability take: clickers are great

• Jim: notes the difference in response to Terra’s articles vs. those to the bag ban article; net: process mattered; if we do stuff at TM, let’s ensure we invest the time and energy for education and buy-in

• Sue: heard some folks say that Terra’s warrants came “out of the blue”; lessons learned: more distribution/education about them; Danny takes exception, noting that GA didn’t officially support Terra’s articles, and thinks there was value in their presentation

• Debra: if feasible, start GA evaluation process earlier (Jan/Feb) so the GA meeting right before TM isn’t such a hurried affair; would allow more thorough evaluation, by both committees and board

Shall GA fund ½ cost of 2019 Cleanup Week banner?

Jim presented banner options and costs for over-street banner publicizing Acton Cleanup Week (vinyl or HDPE, high-density polyethylene; latter is recyclable; see end of minutes for more info); group has some reluctance to purchase either because of the materials issues (vinyl or HDPE, both plastics); Jim’s re-do proposal: perhaps GA would fund the posters for 17 A-frames at half of $306; this is a one-year cost; group agrees to fund for this year; perhaps can make date patches for posters? [Debra adds later: that would depend largely on the design]

GA Budget committee & process: initial discussion   

Jim presented first draft of proposal he and Debra developed; Debra notes that this was done in the context of GA needing both “silos” addressed: dealing in a regularized way with typical expenses, as well as one-offs AND looking at how we generate funds, aka fundraising. Admin. Committee is hoping to get the budget piece in place in the next couple of months, with an analogous structure and process for fundraising after that. See draft document here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16etJhWQXrH9fDK7t5j4KJkg5_48whuYMi-go4d-yBzw/edit

• Danny: budget committee should evaluate income v. spending; reminding of fiscal transparency discussion

• Miles: input should come from committees and others; GA structure/process seems opaque; who approves a budget?

• Carolyn: check with comparable organizations to see what others doing re: budgets, and structure and process

• Terra: start with fixed expenses as basis of budget that comes back, with expected annual expenses; don’t want to invite to spend down $$; concerned about term “roughly”; should first budget spend interest only?

• Kim: clearer procedure for how to propose to spend money; some circling back re: what we’ve spent money on for accountability/product

Admin. will work on next draft to accommodate this input.

Committee and broad GA goals for 2020

Committees might want to establish annual goals, out of which any spending requests might come; committees encouraged to consider this over the next few months, for 2020; brainstorming of goals process to start in committees, and then inform broad GA goals, aiming for discussion and approval, perhaps at Oct. or Nov. GA meeting

GA Spring Social

Saturday, June 1, 6pm at the New View Common House; will go out to Announcements list; arts & crafts project: create/paint small cardboard tiles to be assembled into a huge image of a whale; most people are in favor of veggie repasts at the event; Sue & Jim will circulate a general food/drink sign-up

Checkout: what went well at the meeting, thoughts on improvements, or other reflective comments       

Green Acton / AACEA Acton Cleanup Week Banner Pricing

Overstreet banner size: 16′ x 3′ / double-sided / color / with grommets

BANNER        SHIPPING        COST X 1/2        GA SHARE

VINYL banner:    @ $240    +    @ $25 shipping  
=    $265 x 1/2    =  $132.50    in first yr.

VINYL date patch:@ $40 x 2    +    @ $20 shipping  
=    $100 x 1/2    =  $  50.00 in subsequent yrs.

HDPE banner:    @ $640    +    @ $25 shipping  
=    $665 x 1/2    =  $332.50    in first yr.

HDPE date patch:@ $125 x 2    +    @ $20 shipping  
=    $270 x 1/2    =  $135.00 in subsequent yrs.

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