As Huntsville continues to grow, City officials are focused on long-term successful gains for those who call the Rocket City “home.”
Leaders from the public and private sectors recently answered Mayor Tommy Battle’s call to form a committee that examines contributing factors to achieving environmental sustainability in metro Huntsville.
Working toward a sustainable future
The Huntsville Environmental Sustainability Committee (HESC) invited residents to provide input at a public meeting at Campus No. 805 on Tuesday, Oct. 11. More than 80 people joined the drop-in event to offer feedback about how Huntsville should prioritize environmental sustainability in the years to come.
“We have experts and industry leaders offering advice and consultation, but we feel it is very important to include the public in this discussion.” – Marie Bostick, HESC Chair
Marie Bostick, committee chair and executive director of the Land Trust of North Alabama, said HESC’s definition of environmental sustainability focuses on striking a balance between a healthy environment and thriving economy for present and future generations.
“Changes in our environment, whether from planned activities or natural processes, affect everyone,” she said. “We have experts and industry leaders offering advice and consultation, but we feel it is very important to include the public in this discussion.”
Public input critical for success
Through a series of interactive exercises, attendees identified areas they felt need the most attention for the City to have a sustainable future. To better examine such a broad topic, HESC broke down the subject into six sustainability sectors:
- Natural environment
- Built environment
- Food security
- Environmental justice
“It is very encouraging to see the public and committee members so passionate and engaged in supporting this initiative.” – Jim Bolte, HESC Co-Chair
Participants ranked their environmental priorities by putting color-coded dots on display boards for each sector. They also filled out comment cards that mirror the same questions asked in an online survey that is now available for everyone in the metro-Huntsville area to submit their feedback. HESC members were at the meeting to hear attendees’ concerns for discussion at the next committee meeting.
“We were delighted by the turnout of our first public forum at Campus 805,” said committee member and Executive Director of MidCity District Association Lindsey Pattillo Keane. “The committee looks forward to ongoing community input as we develop and refine our City’s green initiatives.”
Top priorities emerge
Preliminary results from the public input meeting, comment cards and online survey indicate three issues and corresponding actions the community deems as top priorities:
- Natural environment: Protecting natural resources, including air and water conservation
- Transportation: Increase transportation alternatives, such as public transit, electric vehicles and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure
- Built environment: Incentivize and practice green building and infrastructure
Public input will help the committee research and formulate recommendations for the sustainability sectors. Ultimately, HESC will present updated strategic recommendations to Mayor Battle and subsequent administrations for each sector.
“It is very encouraging to see the public and committee members so passionate and engaged in supporting this initiative,” said HESC co-chair and retired President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama Jim Bolte. “There are many opportunities ahead of us. Now we need to make an impactful plan that the City and residents can take pride in.”
For more information about HESC or to take the online environmental sustainability survey, visit https://huntsvilleal.gov/hesc.