Council discusses environment, clean energy

Xavier Smith • Jun 20, 2017 at 7:56 PM

The city of Lebanon’s current and future ecofriendly initiatives received attention from the Lebanon City Council during Tuesday’s meeting at Town Hall.

The council discussed the success of its gasification project, as well as the future of its recycling program.

Scott McRae, project manager of the gasification initiative, discussed the city’s recent awards. The city received the 2017 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship award, as well as the Environmental Leadership Top National Project award for its gasification initiative.

“[The environmental Stewardship award] was a very prestigious Tennessee award. One of the hardest and the most sought after to receive. We’re very proud for the gasification team,” said McRae, who also credited Aries Clean Energy, citizens and city leaders.

“It’s not just a waste energy project. It’s a shining star for our community because it’s the first of its kind and the largest of its kind. It’s bringing a lot of attention to our great community and a lot of opportunities for our community to grow.”

McRae said the Environmental Leadership award was a worthy national recognition.

“It puts us in a category unlike others. Folks that have received this award include Bridgestone, Dell, 3M and Dow Chemicals,” he said.

Councilor Rob Cesternino said he had a conversation with McRae about the potential future of the gasification plant, noting property and sales tax, along with licensing and fees were the city’s three primary sources for income.

“We know that sooner or later, we’re going to go through a time when the cash registers aren’t ringing and people aren’t pulling permits and we’re only to have one source of funding,” said Cesternino, who said he asked McRae to explore the possibility of converting biomedical waste at the plant.

“Then, we could essentially take medical facilities, doctors and hospitals and turn that biomedical waste and gasify it. That’s another revenue stream we could get for the city and it’s a creative way that doesn’t lock us in,” Cesternino said.

The council also received an update about its pilot recycling program. The group voted to extend the city’s recycling pilot program in March after it started the voluntary program in in May 2016 with about 143 previous customers of Green Monster, which stopped recycling services within the city. 

Jeff Baines, commissioner of public works, said the program now has about 338 customers and has operated on a positive cash flow for the last few months. However, Baines said for the program to continue to be sustainable in the long run, more citizens would need to sign up for the program.  He said if more people are added to the program, the city will have to hire a new employee or continue to pay current employees overtime.

Baines said other recycling companies have offered to handle the service, but would not commit to offering the service citywide.

“I would hate to see us turn our back on a program that I think has got long-term potential and pointing us in a right direction,” Councilor Chris Crowell said.

The group will hold a work session in the future to explore options and cost implications.

The council also approved funds to repair the Don Fox Park wading pool.

The pool, expected to open Memorial Day weekend, is still closed to the public after Jimmy Floyd Family Center director Tim Hill said a faulty pool liner caused the closure.

“It’s got a liner that was put there in 1994, and instead of plastering it, we decided to put a new liner in there, and it’s been about 12 years since we’ve done that,” Hill said last month. “The liner ripped in two or three places over the winter, and when we filled it up, the whole liner came up and floated on top.”

Hill also said they will dispose of the old liner and not put in a new one.

“We are actually doing the process of taking out all the old original plaster that has cracked and broke up into pieces and then putting in a new layer of plaster and a new 6” X 6” circle of tile – 60‘ diameter pool– in between the plaster and deck,” Hill said.


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