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McIver/My Turn: He's behind a different environment in Greenfield

I am writing this My Turn in support of Mark Wisnewski for Greenfield town councilor at large.

An important change that Mark initiated has made a big difference in the accessibility of the Town Council meetings to the public. He changed the previous policy that didn’t allow the public to speak on issues until the end of the meeting when their input was no longer relevant. Now there is a public forum at the start of each meeting and citizens get to air their concerns and have their input considered before issues are voted on. Mark clearly feels it is important for citizens to become involved. As a result of this change, there has been more citizen involvement, which is a good thing.

This has also been apparent in the increase in citizens bringing forth ordinances to the Ordinances and Appointments Committee (some of which have been quite controversial) on matters they considered important enough for the committee to consider passing on to the full council for a vote. That there have been so many speaks to the fact that people are feeling the present Town Council is open to hearing what is important to them. There is an opportunity for those of all persuasions to speak to these issues at the public hearings in an environment that is respectful of all opinions.

Mark is concerned about our environment and quality of living and worked on the development of a comprehensive solar ordinance, was active in getting the successful Just Roots Town Farm approved so it could move forward, and has been involved in initiating a biomass ordinance that will protect our air quality and our health. We already suffer from poor air quality many days of the year and this ordinance will ensure that our most vulnerable citizens are protected from even more toxins in our air.

Mark has been very involved in the town’s Sustainable Master Plan and is working to put a plan together that will enable the council to start implementing the short term goals in the next year which will then allow Greenfield to start work on the long term complex initiatives in a timely manner. He is committed to Greenfield living up to its designation as a “Green Community.” His opponent Isaac Mass has stated that he supports “some of the master plan” but what does this mean? The master plan encompasses many areas of sustainability and all are important to implement over time.

With the dire predictions of climate change and the unstable weather conditions we are seeing now all over the globe, it is important we take this mandate seriously and Mark will make sure this is a priority so that our community will be in a better position to face these challenges and changes.

Just recently, Mark took time from his busy schedule to spend a morning working on the new park on Deerfield Street, which is the home of the “Brookie” sculpture installed last fall as part of the town’s beautification project. This park will welcome all those entering Greenfield via this route and be a place for neighbors and community members to enjoy. An enthusiastic group of folks gathered to dig holes and begin planting over 50 native trees, bushes and other plants. Mark helped dig holes and hauled many buckets of water up the steep hill from the river to water the plants.

Mark is concerned about our economy and in spite of how he is portrayed in the media, he is not anti-growth but pro-sustainable growth, and has worked to bring businesses to our area that pay a living wage and do not pollute our environment. We have excellent programs at GCC in the green energy field and agriculture and farming, and are in a better position than many areas of the country to create even more locally and regionally owned businesses and cooperatives that will provide for our needs.

We are looking at creating more public transportation options to connect people to work sites in our region and bring people from surrounding towns to Greenfield for events, and we will soon have passenger trains coming though town again that will allow for longer commutes and excursions and bring in tourists from other areas. Increased transportation options will attract more businesses. There are many exciting things in the works and they will take time and energy and commitment from our town government to bring to fruition.

I have chosen to focus on the sustainability issues Mark has been involved in, but he has contributed in many other ways in his years in office and our town is in a better place because of his service. He is a dedicated public servant and cares deeply about the community in which he has chosen to raise his family. I hope you will vote for Mark on June 10 for councilor at large.

Dorothy McIver lives in Greenfield.

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