City to discuss climate action plan in the future

Linda Albee, We the People Action Network member, discusses climate change with the Manistee City Council at a regular meeting on Monday. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

Linda Albee, We the People Action Network member, discusses climate change with the Manistee City Council at a regular meeting on Monday. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — With climate change at the forefront of the environmental action movement, many national and local groups have taken the lead to start a conversation around the issue.

With that in mind, the local group “We the People Action Network of Northwestern Michigan, Manistee” requested on Monday that Manistee City Council consider a resolution to support the Paris Climate Agreement.

Group members asked council to create a Climate Action Plan, highlighting goals to reach in the future.

In a letter to council, the Action Network wrote: “We urge you to take action to adopt this resolution, putting the City of Manistee on record, along with hundreds of other cities and corporations, in support of the Paris Climate Agreement’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

On Monday, council member Erin Pontiac made a motion on the item; however, no support was given.

After plenty of discussion, council decided to revisit the issue of climate change and environmental action at a future work session, after the city budget sessions are completed in April.

“I wanted to make that motion so we can discuss it more,” said Pontiac. “I don’t think it’s a Republican or Democratic issue alone; we put that aside for everyone, and we owe it to our children to think about climate. I believe we should be able to discuss it, and not just make an instant decision.”

During the meeting on Monday, many comments were made by residents on the issue.

Linda Albee, We the People Action Network member, stated several goals the city should consider in the process of making a Climate Action Plan, including improvements for city recycling, educational programs and solar energy.

“We urge you to be proactive and embrace a green economy, by developing and implementing a meaningful environmental plan of action that would help to protect that of what makes our region so unique,” said Albee.

Mary Paine, We the People Action Network member, said many local communities are already following a Climate Action Plan, or are involved with the issue in some type of way.

“Our Lake Michigan coastal neighbors such as Traverse City, Holland and Muskegon — just to name a few — already have adopted Climate Action Plans of their own,” said Paine. “If nothing is done, the environmental impact of climate change will keep growing.”

Richard Albee, of Manistee, said without a set plan, he does not foresee avid change taking place.

“I think we are only going to get more people in Manistee if we are interested and show an interest in (maintaining) our environment,” he said. “Without a plan, I don’t think we can do that.”

Many council members expressed a desire for more discussion around the issue in the future, during the meeting.

“I am open to listening to any ideas,” said mayor pro-tem Roger Zielinski. “I would like to see it on a work session so that we can discuss it, like what are the expectations and how are we going to reach these goals — those types of things.”

Mayor Jim Smith commented on the short amount of time council had to review the agenda item, and noted that many sustainable initiatives are already in place and take time to get results.

Smith said when residents noticed the “Paris Climate Agreement” item on the agenda, he received mixed feedback. Many residents were supportive of environmental action, he said, but were not in favor of a resolution to support the Paris Climate Agreement, in particular.

“We are non-partisan; we are elected under a non-partisan platform,” said Smith. “We can sit down and talk about what kind of things we want to work toward — it would be an amiable thing to do. I’ll fully support a work session once we finish the budget in April.”

Further discussion will take place in May at a city council work session; a date has yet to be scheduled.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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