ANCRAM—Could Ancram be greener?
Hard to imagine this Climate Smart Community could get any smarter, but Steve Olyha thinks he knows how.
Mr. Olyha, a member of the town’s Finance Committee and chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, came before the Town Board at its May 16 meeting to pitch his idea to equip the conference and meeting rooms at Town Hall with wireless projectors.
The projectors would allow the use of electronic devices to connect wirelessly or plug in to make presentations to cut down on the use of paper and save a lot of money.
He said, the reasons to do it are cost, sustainability, usage and reputation.
Pointing to the meeting table littered with paper, Mr. Olyha elaborated: Cost—his idea will allow the town to stop making hundreds of pages of copies and save money. Sustainability–there would be no need to print papers just to throw them away; Usage—the idea is an opportunity to use technology; Reputation—it will make the community more attractive, especially to young people, because it embraces technology instead of paper.
It will also be useful during the Ancram Kids Summer Camp program, on rainy days they could come to Town Hall and watch a movie.
Councilman David Boice suggested a “smart board” like they now use in schools, which is already online, might be more useful.
Mr. Olyha said even a small smart board can be expensive and he did not know if the amount of use it would get would justify the cost. He said a set of instructions could be posted at each projector and “it just won’t be that hard to figure out.”
Town Supervisor Art Bassin said, “We do have a projector but no one asks to use it.”
“Once people recognize it’s available and start to use it, then they will think of different ways to take advantage of it,” said Mr. Olyha.
Councilman Hugh Clark admitted that the zoning revision process goes through a lot of paper. At times he has pressed the town’s projector into service, but he also noted the value of being able to take a piece of paper home and ponder what it says.
The cost to install projectors in both the conference room and the meeting room was estimated at $10,000.
“We would not even be entertaining this idea if we were not so flush,” Mr. Clark pointed out, adding, “This is other people’s money and it was not in the capital plan.”
Observers of the Town Board would “see a bunch of old people sitting around talking but everybody everywhere else uses devices. You all may not be used to it, but it’s common sense. We don’t represent the balance of the population,” said Mr. Olyha, who was the only person in the room holding a laptop.
Town resident Bob Wilcox pointed out that under a prior administration, the Town Board meeting agenda was projected onto the screen behind the court bench. “It was a joke,” he said because it was unreadable. It’s not just the projector that needs improvement, but the lights in the meeting room, which take 20 minutes to come on. There are “a lot of other fixes that must be made to make the concept work,” Mr. Wilcox said.
Mr. Bassin questioned the purpose of the projector at a Town Board meeting. If it’s a discussion or dialogue, “I don’t see this technology contributing to a Town Board meeting.”
Councilwoman Bonnie Hundt said, “I can’t figure out why we need it. I like paper, I don’t like reading on a screen. Most people involved in government here are not young people… I do not see who’s going to use it.”
If the projector “was put in you’d be surprised at the uses for it that would come up,” said Councilman Boice.
Mr. Bassin said all town committees and boards should be consulted about how they might use this technology. He said it might fit in with a lighting system redesign and energy efficiency upgrade for the meeting room.
In other energy efficiency-related matters, Ancram’s Climate Smart Communities Task Force (CSCTF) has kicked off its “Bright Idea” project by distributing five free energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs to town residents.
“LED bulbs are about 80% more efficient than incandescent bulbs and they last about 20 years, so making the switch saves energy and dollars,” according to a press release from the CSCTF.
The task force distributed LED bulbs to 75 people (5 to each), for a total of 375 bulbs at the Ancramdale pig roast, May 26.
Residents can stop in at the Town Hall, 1416 County Route 7, Ancram, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays: June 15, June 29 and July 13 to pick up their bulbs.
“LED bulbs emit very little heat, unlike incandescent bulbs which release 90% of their energy as heat. Widespread use of LED lighting would have a huge impact on energy savings in the United States,” said the release.
Residents should replace “older-technology” bulbs with the new LEDs, and responsibly dispose of the old bulbs.
According to the release, standard incandescent bulbs can be disposed of in household waste. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) should be recycled, as they contain trace amounts of mercury.
In 2016, Ancram joined the New York State Climate Smart Communities program to help implement energy-saving measures. In 2018 the town was designated a Clean Energy Community by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The Bright Idea initiative is funded by a NYSERDA grant; additional funds from the agency will be used to assess energy use at Town Hall and the town garage, and to make improvements that save energy and dollars.
For more information visit the CSC Task Force website at ancramsbrightidea.org or contact the Task Force at moc.l1568567273iamg@1568567273aedit1568567273hgirb1568567273smarc1568567273na1568567273.
To contact Diane Valden email moc.r1568567273epapa1568567273ibmul1568567273oc@ne1568567273dlavd1568567273