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Medford seeks new approach to conservation

At City Hall, energy costs have been cut and gas use reduced in recent years to help conserve and control expenses.

The Medford Police Department has been changing over its patrol cars from eight-cylinder Crown Victorias, which get 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, to six-cylinder Dodge Chargers, which get 19 mpg and 27 mpg respectively, Police Chief Randy Schoen reported to the City Council during a study session Thursday.

Officers also have been making more phone calls and fewer in-person visits on cases when appropriate to help reduce gas consumption, Schoen said.

Mark Burns, the Medford Fire Department's deputy chief of operations, said engines used to refuel at the city's service center on Columbus Avenue and McAndrews Road, an 11-mile round trip from one fire station.

Now two of the station's engines gas up at a Chevron station, a four-mile round trip, saving $6 for every visit to fill the tank.

Burns said the city may add a fueling station to the other side of town so the entire city fleet doesn't have to drive to west Medford to gas up.

Public Works Director Cory Crebbin said the city is looking for more intersections to convert to roundabouts because they save on fuel by reducing starts and stops for everyone.

"Those four-way stops, they're the worst because you have to stop even if there's not another vehicle there," he said.

City Councilman Al Densmore asked if the planning department and its commissions could provide incentives for developers to use energy-saving landscaping and building materials.

Bianca Petrou, acting planning director, said when reviewing plans, the Site Plan and Architectural Commission looks for ways to make a project more green and tries to find incentives for the developer. The commission can regulate the site design and landscaping and can promote alternatives to auto transportation.

Most departments reported significant reduction in paper use as they rely more on computers and e-mail. Lights in buildings and traffic signals have been upgraded to energy-efficient models citywide.

City Manager Mike Dyal said a committee has recently formed to look for energy-saving incentives to use throughout the community.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail mlanders@mailtribune.com.