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Gill submits its green grant wish list

GILL — With $139,000 in potential grant money to be spent, the town has submitted its energy project wish list.

On the list are a hybrid police vehicle, engine regulators for town vehicles and energy-efficiency improvements as yet to be determined at several town buildings.

The grant eligibility came with the town’s designation as a Green Community by the state Department of Energy Resources this summer, and the state money is intended for renewable power and energy-efficiency projects.

Claire Chang of the Gill Energy Commission said part of the application is for money to make up the difference, as yet unknown, between the cost of a standard and a hybrid police vehicle.

Town meeting in June approved $33,000 for a replacement cruiser after Chang asked voters to delay the decision to consider a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

Chang said the commission allocated about $4,000 for the car, but the difference will not be certain until the state releases the bid list for police cars this December.

Chang said she does not believe the list has ever included a hybrid vehicle but has heard that the Ford Fusion will be included this year.

Police Chief David Hastings opposed delaying the vote at the town meeting, citing space requirements among other points of opposition to a hybrid cruiser.

“The Ford Fusion and the Dodge Charger are very similar in size. The Police Department, I think, is coming around to the idea of the Ford Fusion hybrid and certainly the discussion among the Selectboard has been very favorable,” Chang said.

Also on the list are bicycle racks for five town buildings, 100 lawn signs for residents electing to participate in the Western Mass. Saves energy saving program and idle controls for six town vehicles.

The devices, destined for the Police, Highway and Fire departments, monitor battery power in vehicles and turn the engine on as needed, Chang said, rather than leaving them idling for long periods to power emergency lights.

Spending for these items represents a relatively small portion ­— about $20,000 — of the money available, and the rest is likely to be spent on weatherization and insulation of municipal buildings, pending the results of an energy audit of the Town Hall, Riverside Municipal Building and the Slate Memorial Library.

Chang said the list of possible grant requests has been in the works since the beginning of the year, and the commission is now waiting on approval at an unknown date.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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