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WINSTED — Despite reservations by Mayor Candy Perez, The Board of Selectmen approved the town joining the Sustainable CT program at its meeting on Monday, July 19.
The vote for the town to join the program was 5-1 with Mayor Perez abstaining from the vote.
Selectman Todd Arcelaschi was not present at the July 19 meeting.
According to its website at sustainablect.org, Sustainable CT is a voluntary certification program that was formed “to recognize thriving and resilient Connecticut municipalities. Sustainable CT is a voluntary certification program to recognize thriving and resilient Connecticut municipalities. An independently funded, grassroots, municipal effort, Sustainable CT provides a wide-ranging menu of best practices. Municipalities choose Sustainable CT actions, implement them, and earn points toward certification.”
The program also offers opportunities for grant funding “to help communities promote economic well-being and enhance equity, all while respecting the finite capacity of the natural environment.”
At the July 19 meeting, Town Manager Josh Kelly brought a resolution to the board and asked the selectmen to approve it in order to join the program.
“I have been part of the administration of two different towns that have been part of the Sustainable CT program,” Kelly said. “This will provide us a roadmap in sustainability and success in municipal operations. Sustainable CT is focused on a wide range of sustainability, not just conservation and putting in electric vehicle stations. It makes sure that we are looking at sustainability on the whole when it comes to our culture.”
Kelly said that 122 out of the 169 municipalities in the state are taking part in the program.
The board decided to assign the completion of tasks in the Sustainable CT program to the town’s Conservation Commission.
However, Mayor Perez said she was skeptical of the program because of the broadness of the program’s goals, which include goals relating to the environment, but also goals relating to economic development.
“If you read through the materials [from Sustainable CT], you have all of these topics that talk about economic development,” Mayor Perez said. “I think it needs to be formalized in the town’s economic or strategic plan going forward. [The program] includes goals relating to blight housing, plan purchasing, and all of these things. I know these goals are good, but I am trying to figure out in my mind how this is all going to fit together. How is this all going to fit together if it is just the Conservation Commission working on it? Some of these goals touch upon planning and zoning, wetlands, and some other stuff.”
“This list is so extensive,” Selectman Candace Bouchard added. “First you have to identify what areas you want the town to be involved in. I have no issues with this, but it’s a very long list and you have to identify what issues the town should be involved in.”
Town Manager Kelly said that the town’s participation in the program would succeed with both volunteer and staff efforts.
Despite this, Mayor Perez said she was still skeptical of the program.
“If you look through some of the goals that are in here, some of these can be very formal issues for town management and staff to do,” Perez said. “[Town Manager Kelly] already has a lot of things on his plate already.”

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