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Riverhead Town Board to vote on adopting climate pledge to cut greenhouse emissions

Riverhead Town Hall on Howell Avenue, as seen

Riverhead Town Hall on Howell Avenue, as seen in March 2011. Credit: Newsday/Erin Geismar

Riverhead is considering becoming the third East End town to be named a New York State Climate Smart Community, which some town officials said would help curb local greenhouse gas emissions and make the town eligible for future grants.

The town board will vote on a resolution at its Tuesday meeting to adopt the state's Climate Smart Communities Pledge, a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

East Hampton and Southampton towns have adopted similar pledges in recent years, as has the Village of Greenport, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Riverhead Councilwoman Catherine Kent said at the board’s July 11 work session that the town’s Environmental Advisory Committee — to which she is the board’s liaison — recently recommended the town adopt the climate pledge, as it would put Riverhead in a better position to receive state grants and benefits such as free technical assistance, which includes on-demand consulting services and guidance on funding opportunities.

“Right now, it would give us access to getting more advice, networking with other towns that do this, and it would give us an opportunity to apply for grants,” Kent said.

The town would also have to take other steps, including assessing town operations for opportunities to reduce energy use, do an energy audit evaluating town building structures, systems and equipment, and create a task force to identify and implement greenhouse gas-reducing actions, according to the DEC website.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she wanted more time to review the proposed measure because she had concerns about whether becoming a Climate Smart community would affect any new construction, such as “a small mom-and-pop that’s building a 1,500-square-foot building.”

Councilman Jim Wooten said that since the motion could place the town in a better position to receive other grant opportunities, they “would be kinda foolish” not to consider it.

Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said the measure could also help the town roll back its annual energy expenses.

“We spend an incredible amount of money on energy," she said. "To be able to decrease the cost of that would be good for everyone’s wallet.”

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