By Margie Plunkett
Imagine stopping by an automated stand to rent a bicycle and being able to drop it off at a station in another part of town. The board formerly known as the Green Task Force has this on the roster of projects it wants to make reality.
The Green Task Force presented icon projects including the public bicycle system as part of its status update to Delray Beach commissioners during a special meeting/workshop in March, as well as noting it would like to use Earth Day on April 22 as a springboard event.
The panel first, however, sought to change its name to the Delray Beach Green Implementation Advancement Board because it had progressed from its initial purpose of reviewing the city’s sustainability practices to implementing proposed changes.
To date, 70 of 122 of the board’s recommendations have been completed or are ongoing, everything from using green cleaning supplies to securing a green grant worth $638,500, the board’s chairman, Yalmaz Siddiqui, said. The list also includes an aggressive pilot recycling program, a tiered water rate structure, support of organic community gardens and work toward an electronic police citation system, he said.
The chairman, who proposed building awareness of the board’s achievements among Delray Beach residents, said the role of the board is now to advance green initiatives by engaging key stakeholders and working together to put proposals into practice.
Part of the communication plans includes collecting measurements to illustrate progress made by various programs. Metrics could include annual reclaimed water usage, average daily water usage per capita, annual kilowatts of electricity used in city facilities and the carbon footprint from city facilities and operations. The latter is already in the works: Florida Atlantic University is working on Delray Beach’s carbon footprint for free at the Green board’s request, he said.
“Having metrics publicly aggregated and disclosed will help the city save money and potential energy wastes,” Siddiqui said.
Commissioner Gary Eliopoulos agreed. “Measurements are going to be the key for us.”
The green board was seeking overall comments from commissioners on five proposals, including the public bike system, to get support or guidance on what’s next, Siddiqui said.
The public bike system improves the use of energy-saving, pollution-free transportation for both tourists and residents, according to Siddiqui. The board proposal would investigate a pilot program for Delray Beach and move forward if it is deemed “fiscally responsible,” he said. The bike system could help alleviate traffic congestion as well as provide a revenue stream to the city, according to the presentation.
Other short-term projects include community gardens, a trolley system with eco features and environmental training opportunities. Request for bids on the trolley project were due March 15.
One longer-term project was to create an Eco District, an overlay district in Delray Beach designated in an attempt to attract green business, Siddiqui said. The city could provide incentives and adjust zoning to attract business in an innovative way and differentiate the region.