Town of DeWitt makes strides in sustainability

The town of DeWitt Sustainability Committee walks the walk.

Formed less than a year ago, some major goals associated with town-run buildings have already been achieved.

Lighting was upgraded, room sensors installed, rain gardens built and employees now bring in their own mugs instead of using paper cups.

The lighting project, which switched out and reduced the number of old bulbs for new, energy-efficient ones, was completed just in time to compare last year's June bill to this year's.

"We saved $700 in that one month," said Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Mike Morocco, who works in concert with the committee of which Town Councilor Vicki Baker is chair.

Overall, the town will save an estimated $15,000 per year in utility bills just from this cost-saving measure, he said. The upgrade included four structures: the DeWitt Town Hall, the parks maintenance building, the highway department garage and the Jamesville train station.

Other objectives to reduce the town's carbon footprint include retro-fitting police cars for more efficient idling and initiating a study on the timing of town traffic lights.

"The big project that we're finalizing now is putting solar panels on our roof," Morocco said.

These would be obtained with the help of grant monies and a rebate program through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The process for safe pedestrian walkways and bike paths is just beginning.

"If we can widen roads and put in safe lanes for bikes from north to south, we can connect our neighborhoods," Morocco said.

These initiatives would cut down on driving and encourage more people to walk and bike nature trails, explore the parks and visit business districts. The town has already begun to widen streets, like Kinne Road, to create safe bike lanes. Targeted roads will be upgraded as they come up for repaving.

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