Shorewood officials take a peek into 'eco-muncipality' future

Committees present sustainability goals for consideration

May 8, 2012

Shorewood - The Village Board is looking to eventually shape itself into an "eco-municipality" by taking cues from the Conservation Committee's Village of Shorewood Sustainability Plan.

The plan is the result of three years of work on the part of the Conservation Committee and its Sustainability subcommittee. Lisa Noble, Jen Essak, and Kim Forbeck of the committee and Village Special Projects Coordinator Pete Cahill presented the plan to the Village Board Monday night.

"The sustainability plan is an action plan that provides a framework for staff and board decision making," Cahill said. "The plan is not binding, but it provides an important eco-friendly baseline."

The plan will need to be approved in the future to become policy, but the hard work of putting it together is out of the way, said Village Manager Chris Swartz.

"It's ready for recommendation when you're ready as a board," he said.

Short- and long-term goals

The sustainability plan is built around four overarching elements:

The reduction of energy consumption and a move toward local and alternative energy;

an emphasis on the purchase and use of sustainable products and environmentally friendly disposal methods;

sustainable street and sidewalk construction and maintenance, sustainable wastewater collection, sustainable transportation, and use of open space and recreation areas;

and, education and promotion of sustainable practices to the community, commercial entities, and staff members.

Each of the elements has a series of short-term actions (0-4 years) that could be implemented relatively quickly and cheaply, midterm actions (5-9 years) that would require more time and money, and long-term actions (10+ years) aimed toward building sustainability into Shorewood's infrastructure and overall policy goals.

"Because it's nonbinding, but a guideline, you can pick and choose," Noble said. "You can never do all of it right away."

Some of the actions in the plan will require the village to produce energy usage benchmarks and baselines. With that data, Shorewood can begin to "add that sustainability aspect to every day decisions," Trustee Michael Maher said.

Guide for commercial usage

The goals of the sustainability plan and the recommended actions are, for the most part, guidelines for what the village should do with its resources and opportunities. The plan doesn't outline codes for commercial development, although that could come in the future.

"We would love if the village could have ordinances throughout the business district," said Conservation Committee member Jen Essak, "but we're not there yet."

Trustee Ellen Eckman pointed out that, until Shorewood incorporates sustainability practices, it will have a hard time with enforcement.

"We can't tell other organizations to (use sustainability practices) without doing it ourselves," Eckman said.

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