Author Archives: quincycan

Ward 4 Councillor candidates on climate change

Councillor Brian Palmucci resigned as Ward Four City Councillor after accepting a nomination to become an associate justice of the district court. This vacancy means the city will hold a special election to fill this seat for the rest of the unexpired term. Because more than two people have returned papers, there will be a preliminary special election Tuesday, Jan. 17. The election to pick a new councilor will take place Tuesday, Feb. 7.

QCAN would like to know, and would like voters in Ward 4 to know, how these candidates plan to help fight climate change in our city. We posed the following question to the four candidates:

“If elected to finish out this term, what would you like to do with your time on city council to fight climate change?”

As of January 3rd we received responses from Joel Buenaventura, Matthew Lyons, and James Devine.

Joel Buenaventura  (via email):

I am a proponent of “Think Globally, Act Locally.” We know climate change is real and Quincy, a coastal city in an urban environment, is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution and rising sea levels. 

For the remainder of the Ward 4 Councilor’s Term in 2023, I will continue the conversation with the Administration:

  • Food waste collection at QPS and curbside food waste pick-up.
  • Forestry Division in the development of the urban canopy. Ward 4 hosts the largest concentration of trees in the City. I want to make sure trees and tree health is maintained.
  • To inquire on Pine Hill Cemetery Expansion and environmental impacts.
  • To promote participation in the 34th Annual Cleaner, Greener Quincy in the spring of 2023 with my Ward 4 neighbors.

I hope that the above bullet points are just a start to our conversation. As Councilor, I would also like to expand on (1) sustainability, (2) net zero emissions, (3) climate resilient infrastructure and operations. I look forward to attending your meetings and hearing from your members about your most pressing concerns. 

Matthew Lyons (answered via facebook comment):

Coastal resiliency, ensuring city infrastructure is being planned in a way that accounts for sea level rise and climate change. Ensuring that city building codes are progressive without raising costs for working families.

Devine for Ward 4 (answered via facebook comment):

I believe we still need to work on the opt-in stretch code, if so I would like to see more. Another item is the compost task force, reclaiming organic waste. This hits two levels one we have less weight in trash pick up which saves money on our budget and second we can produce our own soil, saving tax payers money twice. I apologize for the brief comments. This is a fast pace to prove my worth to be a Councillor for Ward 4, and many more items to answer and conquer.

City to begin food waste collection in schools

Plans are nearly complete for a new food waste collection program in the Quincy Public Schools. The program will begin as a pilot at one school this fall, expand to a second school in the spring, and continue to expand into more schools. The next step in the process is to hire a part-time K-12 Food Waste Diversion/Compost Program Manager, who will be tasked with managing the operation, conducting waste audits, and creating educational programs for students and staff. Applicants should apply online.

QCAN has encouraged the implementation of food waste collection for years. Several QCAN members served on the mayor’s task force created in 2018 to research curbside food waste pickup. The task force engaged in many fact-finding activities, including conducting interviews and onsite visits to learn how other food waste collection programs function. The results of their extensive research were compiled in a report that was submitted to the mayor’s office this spring and is tentatively scheduled for presentation to the City Council on November 21. Their report supports collecting food waste not only in the schools, but city-wide, as is done in Cambridge and several other towns and cities in the commonwealth.  

Why collect food waste separately? Quincy’s trash is sent to an incinerator and burned as waste for energy. However, due to the high water content of food waste, burning it uses more energy than it creates — and that moisture also makes it heavy, adding extra expense to the city’s trash bill. Collecting and composting food scraps instead of throwing them out is a better alternative that benefits everyone, including the planet. It not only reduces how much the city will pay for trash removal, it puts the food waste to work, reinvesting those nutrients into our increasingly depleted topsoil. Food scraps can be made into compost that feeds our gardens so we can grow more food. How cool is that?

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Quincy Community Electricity stuck at the DPU

QCAN has long advocated for Quincy to adopt municipal aggregation, in which community residents and businesses pool their buying power to purchase electricity in bulk, often securing lower and stable prices and often including a higher percentage of renewables in the mix. (In our 2018 and 2020 letters to the Quincy Sun, we specifically pushed for Green Municipal Aggregation, whereby the default electricity supply includes more Class I renewable content than is required by the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard and Clean Energy Standard.)

Thanks in part to QCAN’s advocacy, the city created a draft plan for Quincy Community Electricity, opened the plan for public comment and hearing, and submitted it to the state Department of Public Utilities (DPU) in January 2021. Only after the plan is approved by the DPU can Quincy put out a competitive bid for an energy supplier and get cheaper, greener electricity flowing.

Unfortunately, Quincy has been stuck too long waiting for the DPU to approve our aggregation plans. And it turns out we are not alone: On October 16, the Boston Globe reported that 32 Massachusetts cities have been waiting for at least a year and a half for the DPU to review their plans – while New Hampshire and Rhode Island process applications within 60 days.

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QCAN says, “Yes on 1”

While QCAN normally focuses on local climate action and does not endorse political candidates, we were moved to officially put our support behind the Fair Share Amendment that will be on the ballot as Question #1 in the upcoming Massachusetts election. That’s because, if this amendment passes, it will create money to help support our public transportation system and electrify our city buses. And if more people utilized public transportation – if our transit system was better funded and more reliable so more people could and would use it more often – there would be fewer cars on the road, less fossil fuels burning, less air pollution from combustion engines. Good for the environment, good for slowing down climate change, good for our overall health. 

So what is the Fair Share Amendment, exactly?

The Fair Share Amendment “would create a 4% tax on the portion of a person’s annual income above $1 million and require – in the state constitution – that the funds be spent only on transportation and public education.” This would generate an estimated $2 billion in additional revenue each year to invest in better public schools and universities, safer bridges, and more reliable public transportation. To ensure that this additional tax continues to apply only to the commonwealth’s highest-income taxpayers, the $1 millon income threshold will be adjusted annually to reflect any increases in the cost of living.

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Saving Forbes Hill Park: Don’t pave paradise for a parking lot!

On any given day, during all seasons, Quincy residents enjoy Forbes Hill Park, located adjacent to the Furnace Brook Golf Course at 20 Reservoir Road. The park includes a large, open, grassy field that was once the site of a rectilinear reservoir carved out of the hilltop. Adjacent to the reservoir, a granite-clad water tower, called a “standpipe,” once served as a drinking water reserve for the City of Quincy. The facility was in operation until the mid-1950s, when the reservoir was filled in, the water tower was closed, and the site was deeded to the City of Quincy for park and recreational use. In 1990, the water tower was placed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its historic significance and beauty.

Over the last 65 years, city residents have used the park continuously for a variety of unscheduled and passive recreational activities, including baseball, tennis, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, tai chi, picnicking, dog walking, pick-up games, and more. Dubbed “Princess Park” by neighborhood families, it is well-loved for its expanse of open green space and the beauty of its thick buffer of tall trees, many of which are a century old. It is the primary neighborhood park within walking distance for  residents in the Wollaston Hill and Forbes Hill neighborhoods, who consider it a much-needed respite from the increasingly congested streets of Quincy.

And yet, the park’s condition has suffered from years of neglect. The popular tennis and basketball courts are in need of maintenance. The urban forest that buffers the park’s perimeter is in decline, and the trees are being choked by invasive weeds and vines. Remnants of the concrete liner from the reservoir were left buried under the open field surface, causing poor storm water drainage of the fields impacting the neighbors to the north and south of the hill. The fields are often muddy due to poor drainage. The park is in desperate need of restoration to bring it back to its natural beauty. 

In early March 2022, the city put forth conceptual plans to renovate the Furnace Brook Golf Course adjacent to Forbes Hill Park. The proposed changes included expanding the surface golf course parking lot into the park, displacing 10,000 square feet of open space, and the removal of over 50 century-old trees on the park’s southern border.

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QCAN’s 10th anniversary

QCAN was started 10 years ago by concerned citizens who recognized that we could not wait for others to fight bad climate policies and practices in Quincy. The climate emergency is global, but many of the solutions are local. Over the years, our all-volunteer organization has:

  • convinced the city to hire a qualified energy manager, resulting in substantial reductions of energy use;
  • successfully lobbied the city to install two megawatts of solar panels on 14 city-owned buildings;
  • helped the city secure several Solarize Mass grants and provided most of the volunteer hours to get more than 600 kilowatts of solar energy under contract;
  • successfully lobbied the city to apply for green municipal aggregation, which will likely reduce residents’ electricity costs even as it increases the share of renewable energy in our grid; 
  • advocated for and participated in the mayor’s task force on curbside food waste pickup;
  • organized the first Quincy Environmental Fair with regional partner organizations and participated in numerous other community events;
  • partnered with the library to host dozens of film screenings and presentations on composting, heat pumps, fracking, and other subjects.

For our 10-year anniversary, we were honored to receive a proclamation from Quincy’s City Council on September 19. Councillor Mahoney, who always answers QCAN’s call when we need the ear of our city’s leadership, gave a moving speech that reminded those present of the various initiatives we have worked on over the years. It was a wonderful moment for QCAN.

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Summertime with QCAN

This summer, QCAN was involved in a number of summer events: Cleaner, Greener Quincy, QPride Day, and the August Moon Festival.

At Cleaner, Greener, QCAN members helped clean up trash in the salt marsh along Fenno Street and near Beechwood Knoll Elementary School. 

At both QPride Day and August Moon, QCAN shared a table with our good friends from the Quincy Tree Alliance. We talked to Quincy residents at these events about climate change issues in our city, gave away our newly designed, eco-friendly bookmarks (soy-based ink on 100% recycled paper), and raffled off tickets for a three-month gift card to Black Earth Composting, a curbside composting service. Our winner was Quincy resident Joanna Post. Congratulations, Joanna!