The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
CLEAR aims to minimize environmental disasters
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The Fredericksburg area can better prepare for economic growth, creating “green” jobs and mitigating natural disasters.
Those are a few of the objectives in a new regional planning effort spearheaded by the University of Mary Washington and a group of area businesses and community partners.
The Climate, Environment and Readiness—CLEAR—plan would create a framework to discuss and help resolve climate change-imposed risks on families, cultural sites, the economy, natural resources and green spaces.
“I see it as lasering in on a central set of issues, which have to do with resilience for the region” in meeting challenges ahead, Richard Finkelstein, UMW’s dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said in a recent interview.
“It’s something the university has been moving toward for a couple years,” Finkelstein said, prompted by discussions with Marstel–Day, the Fredericksburg-based environmental consulting firm.
“We wanted to bring Fredericksburg forward in terms of building an environmental readiness plan and to bring a diverse set of groups together to do that,” Finkelstein said. Along with local businesses, those include nonprofit organizations and regional public agencies.
The Fredericksburg-based university also has begun a related effort to foster regional cooperation on business and job growth through its Center for Economic Development in the city and four surrounding counties.
Among CLEAR’s goals:
-Diversify the regional economy with green jobs;
-Identify sustainable activities that save homeowners and businesses money;
-Protect private property by creating and coordinating plans for floods and severe-weather emergencies;
-Protect natural resources and open spaces;
-Build resilience through prevention and planning.
Along with a series of meetings in recent months to come up with those goals, UMW officials want to know what people in the area think about the concept.
A survey ad with the heading “The Choice is CLEAR,” has been running periodically in The Free Lance–Star. Respondents can clip it, fill it out and mail it in, or do it online. The online version is at: flaturl.com/7tK.
The survey deals with quality-of-life issues, such as green space, water quality, outdoor activities and recreation, transportation, and how well the area is prepared for natural disasters.
It “will really show what it is that people value here in Fredericksburg,” Finkelstein said.
Marstel–Day chief executive officer Rebecca Rubin came up with the concept for the CLEAR plan and worked with UMW to focus it.
“I give enormous credit to [Finkelstein],” she said. “This is what our company does, so there’s a natural inclination to share some of that knowledge with the community.”
Marstel–Day developed its own climate-action document and corporate responsibility report.
“Resilience” planning is a relatively new wrinkle in municipal-planning efforts around the country.
In an Op–Ed piece in Sunday’s Free Lance–Star, Finkelstein described resilience as “a community’s readiness to deal with the effects of climate change on the availability of resources we take for granted, including clean water, electricity, agricultural production, and even the rich cultural sites in our region.”
Some of the concepts used here were developed in California’s Bay Area, and in Philadelphia.
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431
WANT TO GO?
There’s a planning meeting on the CLEAR initiative on Nov. 13 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Jepson Alumni Executive Center. There will be speakers, break-out sessions, and results of a community survey will be discussed.
The meeting is open to the public, with an RSVP, to: email@example.com.