Preserving our Environment to Meet the Needs of the Future
As Framingham’s next Mayor, I will lead with urgency, our city’s efforts to create an environment in better balance with the natural world by:
- Making expansive, significant, and measurable improvements in the way we use resources as a municipality;
- Promoting environmental justice so that all people have access to a healthy environment and ensuring that we use available political and economic power to include all voices when advocating for policies and programs, including the young and the elderly, disabled people, low income people and historically disenfranchised people; and,
- Working collaboratively to create meaningful, positive environmental impacts with sustaining partnerships among diverse stakeholders, including political leaders, educators, scientists, nonprofits, businesses, and Framingham residents of all ages.
My environmental platform is based on the three core pillars noted above as well as the belief that: the challenges presented by climate change require bold and innovative responses from government at all levels (local, regional, state and national); environmental justice must be a critical component of any plan to achieve social equity goals that will allow all community members to participate in civic affairs, prosper, and reach their full potential.
On efforts to combat climate change:
We must – and will – achieve a Net Zero footprint in our community, realizing a balance between the greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere and those taken out. Achieving “Net zero” is the best way to tackle climate change by reducing global warming. Our actions in the next decade to limit emissions will be critical to the future, which is why every country, sector, industry and municipality must work together to find ways to cut the carbon we produce. As Mayor, I will lead this effort by focusing on our municipal emissions as well as implementing city-wide policies on commercial and residential carbon emissions as well.
We start by committing to citywide carbon neutrality by 2040, 100 percent renewable electricity use by 2030, and a net-zero municipal footprint by 2025. Net-zero emissions means first reducing carbon emissions from buildings, transportation, and our energy supply. Through widespread adoption of solar usage and heat pump technology, by incentivizing through creative tax assessment and reward programs energy efficiency measures, and, by adopting and mandating city-wide greener building standards (such as the Passive House Building Standard, LEED and Green Globes certifications) for all new development, we can take major steps to achieving these critical goals. In addition, I will work closely with our state legislators and other surrounding communities’ municipal leaders to encourage adoption of these same measures on a regional and state level. I will also utilize these relationships and partnerships to facilitate funding for more regional and greener public transit options that will help alleviate our transportation-based carbon footprint and also help mitigate ongoing traffic and pollution burdens.
Finally, as a critical first step to meeting the above goals, I will work with our City Council to have Framingham opt-in to Mass Development’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program which provides financing to fund energy improvements on commercial and industrial buildings, multifamily properties with five or more units, and buildings owned by nonprofits. PACE covers up-front costs, and then the building owners pay the amount back over many years through a “betterment assessment” on their property tax bill. Massachusetts passed PACE enabling legislation in 2016, and program guidelines and financing will be available this year, so Framingham could be among the first cities to allow PACE. This program can help fund not just the clean energy installations, but also underlying structural improvements to make buildings ready for solar or efficiency measures.
On environmental justice initiatives:
The environmental justice areas have long been neglected and a top priority under my administration will be to resolve these outstanding issues. I will ensure that we find the appropriate resources for the cleanup of Mary Dennison Park and continue to work with the State to finalize the cleanup and complete the construction of new fields and a playground.
General Chemical cleanup is another area that deserves the full attention from the City. I will insist that the Board of Health and Health Department put General Chemical back on their agenda to get the agencies involved with the cleanup to expedite their work. Inaction will not be acceptable while I am Mayor.
I will reestablish the Code Enforcement Task Force in the environmental justice neighborhoods to protect and respect the residents living in these areas. We need to establish open lines of communication with owners of residential buildings in these neighborhoods to make them aware of energy efficient programs and incentives that they can take advantage of to improve the dwelling units for their tenants.
New School with recreational amenities at Bethany Hill Place –
I will fast track the purchase of a property south of Route 9 for a long discussed PreK-5 Early Education Center to finally help address long bus rides for our youngest residents, equity, and help improve the challenges of school choice. Currently, while two-thirds of the students live south of Route 9, only one-third of the elementary schools in the district are located on the Southside of our City. Improving school accessibility would also reduce transportation costs as the majority of the students would be able to walk to this school and therefore would no longer require busing across the district. The Bethany Hill site would also provide access for pre-Kindergarten education which has been proven to yield long-term success for students. The residents in this part of the city deserve a top-notch school that would also provide athletic fields, playgrounds, and additional open space amenities for the benefit of the greater community. As a member and first Chairman of the Fuller Middle School Building Committee, I know what it takes to bring together the dozens of aspects and partnerships necessary to secure funding and a plan for a new school. As Mayor, I will bring my experience to support this next new school project in our city immediately.
On Open Space:
I will undertake a master plan for trails throughout the city, with passive and active recreational resources, along with an emphasis on completing the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail all for the well-being of our community. Framingham has the potential to be a Trail Hub connecting neighboring municipalities. There is an overwhelming need to preserve, protect and expand green spaces, and I will oversee the respective departments so that we won’t miss out on opportunities that further this cause.
Farm Pond is another stunning resource with the potential for recreational opportunities to make Framingham a welcoming destination for residents and visitors. I will dust off the Farm Pond study and create a plan for a boat launch site to provide for boat rentals, (kayak, canoe, and sailboats) and provide the resources to support the Framingham High School crew team. Additionally, we can enhance the existing connection through the railroad tracks to allow greater accessibility to the Harmony Grove site from Farm Pond and tie in with trails around the pond including the proposed Chris Walsh Trail and the Upper Charles Trail. The opportunities are endless, and the desire and support of the community is strong to make all of this happen under my leadership.