The sound of loud lawn mowers moving around a neighborhood park is set to soon become a thing of the past for some residents of Southampton Town.
Officials plan to turn the East Quogue Village Green into the first Green Zone in the eastern United States by next year. The designation is certified by the American Green Zone Alliance, which defines the zones as an area of land — such as a park, hospital or school campus — where routine maintenance is performed relatively quietly and emissions-free using electric equipment and manual techniques.
More than 25 Green Zones have been created on the West Coast by the southern California-based alliance. Councilwoman Christine Scalera is behind the effort to have Southampton be the first municipality on the East Coast to join the group. The Massachusetts-based nonprofit Quiet Communities is the alliance's East Coast licensee and is responsible for establishing the Green Zone planned for the East Quogue Village Green in Southampton Town.
“I came up with it because we had gotten a lot of residents saying they were unhappy with the constant droning of leaf blowers,” Scalera said in an interview last week. “That led to discussions about how they were gas operated (therefore very loud) and how they were putting emissions into the environment.”
Scalera said she learned of the alliance’s efforts and thought Southampton would be perfect for a Green Zone.
“We’ve been leading by example in Southampton, particularly when it comes to the environment,” Scalera said.
Dan Mabe, the alliance’s founder, president and CEO, said it has been proven on the West Coast that commercial-size properties can be maintained without gas-powered equipment at the same level of quality and at lower cost.
Scalera said representatives from the alliance have been visiting Southampton to determine how maintenance of the East Quogue Village Green can be changed. She said the site was chosen because of the varied numerous things that have to be done to maintain the property.
“We picked a place that uses leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, mowers — a full gamut of things,” Scalera said, adding that officials are considering replacing the town’s gas-powered equipment with electric counterparts.
Town workers had an opportunity to test some electric powered products and were enthusiastic about what they saw.
Mat Mordente, crew leader at the town’s parks department, said he looks forward to “exploring the use of mowers and handheld tools that would reduce or eliminate our exposure to the fumes produced by fossil-fuel powered equipment.”
Scalera said that once the full assessment is completed and the cost of implementing the program is determined, a proposal to purchase any new equipment would be considered for the 2017 budget.
Similar programs may come to other areas of Southampton if the changes work in East Quogue, Scalera said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the location of the American Green Zone Alliance, which is based in southern California. The name of its founder is Dan Mabe. Massachusetts-based Quiet Communities will implement the Green Zone at the East Quogue Village Green in Southampton Town.