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Reducing the city's footprint

In a move widely supported by Ashland environmentalists, the Ashland City Council approved the second and final reading Tuesday of an ordinance inspired by the Climate Energy and Action Plan developed by a citizens committee over an 18-month period.

The CEAP was initiated as a way for the municipality to deal with and mitigate climate change locally.

After numerous public hearings and council discussion, the council had already voted to hire a CEAP administrator, but the unanimous passage of the CEAP ordinance on Tuesday was the capping action of the council on the plan to date.

Councilor Rich Rosenthal said he was pleased with the amount of rigor and participation. “In two years time I think we made great progress,” he said.

“It needs to be followed up by action," Councilor Greg Lemhouse cautioned. "Make sure you stay on it, otherwise it doesn’t mean much,” he said, directing his remarks to a large audience that turned out for the vote, especially young people who came in support of the ordinance.

Councilor Stefani Seffinger spoke also to the assembled crowd, saying that she is pleased to be able to deliver an approved ordinance. “I hope this gives the young people in our community hope. I really thank all of you. I love to be able to talk to the younger people in our community about this.”

The ordinance calls for the following:

1) To reduce Ashland’s contribution to global carbon pollution by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with city, residential, commercial and industrial activities, with a goal to:

• Reduce total community greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent on average annually through 2050; and

• Attain carbon neutrality in city operations by 2030, and reduce fossil fuel consumption by 50 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

2) Prepare the city’s communities, systems and resources to be more resilient to climate change impacts.

The ordinance, which advocates noted is more binding than a resolution, states that the 8 percent is a “relatively new method for setting emission reduction targets,” according to city staff.

Despite admonitions from the mayor not to clap or shout out, the crowd broke out into applause at the vote.

Councilors also unanimously passed a resolution calling for the county to change the name of “Dead Indian Memorial Road” to something more appropriate which honors Native Americans’ contributions to the area. The letter requests commissioners consider renaming it at their meeting on Oct. 11. It’s a county road outside city limits, so the city cannot change it, but can request that the county consider it.

Dave Pine, radio host at KSKQ, radio testified before councilors. “I’ve been working on it for a year. I’ve gotten to realize it’s important. It’s important to a large group of people not very well represented in our history.”

Mayor John Stromberg also read a city proclamation calling for Ashland to become a part of the International Day of Peace today, Sept. 21. In March, the city of Ashland declared its support for “all citizens to create an emerging, evolving, living model for thriving together as fellow citizens.” The proclamation finalizes it. The mayor pointed out it is the second year of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission which is behind the proclamation. “It has panned out very well and my compliments to everyone who is involved with the Peace Commission,” the mayor said.

—Email Ashland freelance writer Julie Akins at julieanneakins@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/@julieakins.