Letter: Let us move town forward

Editor, The Spotlight:

The town of Bethlehem faces a difficult budget situation. It would be irresponsible for a politician to claim that in the short run we can avoid a tax increase and still maintain the level of services to which residents are accustomed. However we can and should work together on innovative strategies to promote sustainable and clean economic development that would maintain our quality of life while reducing pressure on residential property taxes. I have discussed with the President of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce ideas for new ways to retain local startup businesses, like those at the Delmar Farmers Market, as they experience early stage growth and face the critical expansion decision to stay or leave town.

Bethlehem should develop a green, or sustainability, brand similar to the way companies like GE develop a brand for being sustainable in their business practices and the products they sell. A review of the town’s comprehensive plan with such a branding effort in mind could lead to making Bethlehem a destination for shoppers, thereby stimulating business for retailers, hospitality and other service providers. Such branding could also attract innovative green technology companies that want to be associated with a green community, as well as link to developments at the nearby College of Nanoscience. A first step of this branding effort is to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in our town operations, thereby saving taxpayers money. Focusing efforts on sustainability will also help meet the desires of citizens for open space and enhanced walkability and bike routes.

My experience working at two utilities, and 26 years of working at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority put me in a unique position to contribute to these goals. I managed and oversaw projects that enabled NYS companies and small businesses to thrive and create jobs through energy technology innovation and conservation. I also co-founded a non-profit energy group, the Capital Region Energy Forum. This group is comprised of both technical and non-technical citizens concerned about our challenging energy future.

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