By Tamas Mondovics
In hopes of learning more about the County’s plans and its promised commitment to environmental, economic and social sustainability, more than three dozen residents attended a recent meeting hosted by Hillsborough County Commissioner Patricia “Pat” Kemp, (District 6 Countywide).
Appropriately called “Green Hillsborough” the meeting was held at the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library, 1906 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico, in early May, and was the second in a series of community conversations Kemp has planned to host throughout the county.
“I have been pleased to learn about the investment of Hillsborough County in sustainable programs and practices,” Kemp said. “There is a strong foundation to build upon, and I intend to fast-track the ‘greening’ of county government during my time as a Commissioner.”
To ensure that departments essential to Kemp’s goals were represented, the 6-member panel discussion highlighted some of the County’s sustainability programs including cooling systems, LED lighting, bio-solids composting, electric vehicle charging stations, solar panel systems, the cooking oil recycling effort (CORE).
Kemp said that her goal is to show residents how the County is working on moving to a 100 percent sustainable future in Hillsborough County, while saving taxpayer dollars and creating green jobs.
The panel included Assistant County Administrator Tom Fass, who was joined by Energy Manager Randy Klindworth, Environmental Protection Commission Sustainability Coordinator Michelle Jenkins, County Public Utilities Program Manager Joe Squitier, Public Works (Solid Waste) Project Manager Ron Wiesman, Public Works (Solid Waste) Recycling Manager Travis Barnes and County Extension Director Stephen Gran.
After a brief introduction the panel attempted to bring those present up to par with past, current and future projects within their own departments.
According to officials the County saves more than $3.4 million annually by reducing its energy use and costs, thanks to its efforts of using recycled materials in building construction, the use of solar panels on County facilities as well as the installation of LED traffic signals, just to name a few.
Some of the County’s most recent accomplishments include: motion sensitive lighting, water efficient plumbing as well as the installation of seven electric car charging stations in 2011 throughout the County.
Reportedly, the County has eliminated 120,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions since 2003.
The question and answer portion of the Kemp’s discussion, however, shed some light on what was really on the minds of area residents, including concerns about local traffic and transportation, issues related to schools and safety along with growth management, or lack of, on the part of local government officials.
Kemp was elected to the County Commission in 2016. She currently also serves on the Juvenile Justice Board and the Public Safety Coordinating Council, which was led by former County Commissioner Kevin Beckner.
For more information about Kemp and Green Hillsborough, please visit www.HCFLGOV.net.