In August, the Stevens Point City Council voted to join the Legacy Communities Green Tier Charter.
This charter is a collaborative effort among Wisconsin communities, the Department of Natural Resources and organizations such as 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities to enable communities to become more sustainable.
After assessing Stevens Point’s past sustainability efforts, Alderperson Mary McComb felt that joining the Green Tier program would be a valuable step for the city. She feels that the charter will be particularly useful because it allows the city to exchange ideas and collaborate with communities who share the same objectives throughout the state.
The program also provides the DNR as a resource, giving the city better access to grants, and assistance in grant writing. McComb said that the Green Tier provides a framework for assessing sustainability progress which makes efforts much more feasible and streamlined.
Since passing the charter, McComb and Alderperson David Shorr have been working to rate the city’s present sustainability. The city will then use this initial assessment to develop a plan which will focus on areas that need the most improvement. As a member of the charter, the city will not only develop a sustainability plan but also submit a yearly report documenting its progress.
The charter published by the DNR defines sustainability as including, “a broad framework of interrelated issues that includes environmental stewardship, economic growth, public health and social equity.” The sustainability scorecard that the charter offers looks at a diverse range of issues including transportation, city zoning and community design to encourage healthy living.
Tori Jennings, Alderperson and professor of anthropology at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, said there are also real economic benefits to being a part of the charter.
“Not only is it good in its own right, but communities are basically in competition to show their desirability, and people want to live and a move to communities that offer green space, walk-ability and bike-ability. So, by getting in this program and being on this website, it also sort of indirectly advertises the city as a place to be,” said Jennings.
McComb agrees that working towards sustainability will boost the Stevens Point economy. By working towards sustainability, she said you get, “indirect and very real economic benefits, because we are thinking of not just getting business in, but making the kind of city that people want to live in and that will attract business and entrepreneurs.”
Both McComb and Jennings emphasized that making Stevens Point more sustainable would attract people to the city, specifically the younger generation like UWSP graduates.