Fitchburg City Council accepts grants for recycling, health inspections

By Anna Burgess,

UPDATED:   01/12/2016 06:32:32 AM EST

FITCHBURG -- The City Council last week accepted more than $65,000 in grant funds to help make the city a safer, more environmentally responsible place.

At their first meeting of the new year, councilors approved the expenditure of two separate grants totaling $65,370. They heard descriptions of both grants from Health Director Stephen Curry.

The first grant is $40,670 from the state Department of Environmental Protection to create a districtwide school recycling program as part of the DEP Sustainable Materials Recovery Program.

About $19,000 of the grant is for "time spent educating and providing for what our needs are," Curry said, and $21,000 is to purchase the recycling equipment necessary to achieve school goals.

Asked by council Vice President Amy Green what "recycling equipment" might mean, Curry said, "We're going to identify exactly where the biggest problem is in our schools and purchase whatever is needed to address that problem."

That could mean buying recycling bins for every classroom, he said, but will likely involve alternatives to Styrofoam in the school cafeterias, because school staff already know that is a problem.

Curry added that an official school recycling policy, required as part of the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, will be established in the coming weeks.

The second grant is $24,700 from ReImagine North of Main Street for the city health inspectors.

"The purpose of the gift is to install ViewInspect and ViewNforce on inspectors' tablets, to allow electronic housing inspections in the field," Curry said, "which hopefully will eliminate the need to come back to the office and write extensive reports, and hopefully get inspectors out in the field a little bit more."

Previously, health inspectors only had a program for field inspections related to food safety, and had no workable program for housing inspections.

Curry said they look forward to using the new programs, even if they don't work exactly as expected.

"It's not a huge gamble (on the technology), because it's not city money," he said.

Finance Committee Chairman Marcus DiNatale was particularly grateful for the funding.

"I want to thank ReImagine for this generous gift," he said. "Considering that it's a capital asset purchase, it's much appreciated from my chair. It's one less capital need we have in the city."

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