Last week the Westfield Town Council passed a resolution on idling. Unfortunately, it was long on rhetoric but required no action be taken by the town. It laid out good reasons for trying to encourage people to limit idling.  However, after passing the resolution the town has no plans to act on any of the items the resolution says we support. The council was informed instead that this and several coming resolutions are in support of our application to be declared a sustainable community by the Sustainable Jersey program.  Sustainable Jersey is a certification program for municipalities formed jointly by the league of Municipalities, the State DEP and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward communities as they pursue sustainability programs.

The resolution admirably laid out the reasons for limiting idling.  “Emissions from ...vehicles contribute significantly to air pollution, including greenhouse gasses, ozone formation, fine particulates and ... can trigger an asthma attack and other ailments” (young children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to fine particulate emissions).   “Idling …wears engine parts … for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and emits more pollution than turning a warm engine on and off.”

I am once again suggesting that an environmental commission or ad-hoc mayoral committee run a public education campaign on idling as one of several green initiatives I’ve proposed. I also feel that putting no-idling signs up in several locations where idling is common is important. When I suggested this a few years ago, one sign was put up in one location on one street.

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The resolution makes it appear that the town is ready to act. I was told that our “established” idle-free zones are a few loading zones downtown and the areas around the schools. Only a couple of these zones are marked. What makes something an idle-free zone if it isn’t marked? What use is a resolution that provides only virtual support and not any actions? A minimum would have been to try and educate residents by reading the resolution from the dias before it was passed.

The town should post signs indicating where our idle-free zones are. The Green Team should recruit volunteers to run an educational program about this issue, much as Summit’s environmental commission did resulting in a flyer to residents and a youtube video. If the town doesn’t take any action then this resolution is nothing more than a piece of paper.