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 Huntington Takes Step Toward 
Heckscher Park Green Zone

5/11/17 Town of Huntington, NY - News Details  

The Huntington Town Board, at its May 9 meeting, took a significant step toward establishing a demonstration program replacing gas-fueled landscaping equipment with battery-operated units at Heckscher Park and Town Hall, creating a “Green Zone” with reduced emissions and less noise.

The Board approved a resolution co-sponsored by Supervisor Frank P. Petrone and Councilwoman Susan A. Berland to retain the American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA) to conduct a study that will analyze the Town’s existing landscape practices, recommend the appropriate, cost-effective battery powered equipment and instruct Town personnel on the use, care and maintenance of the devices.

Headquartered in Studio City, California, AGZA is a leader in a nationwide effort to help communities address noise and air pollution issues. It provides certification and accreditation in zero-emission landscape maintenance strategies; educates individuals, property owners, and landscape maintenance professionals to reduce or eliminate the use of gasoline powered maintenance equipment in favor of cordless electric and manual equipment; and promotes those strategies through its Green Zone certification program that allows the owners of properties of any size to create, maintain, and promote their own zero-emission Green Zone. It is working with the town of Southampton on a similar project.

The resolution follows more than a year’s worth of discussions with Huntington CALM (Citizens Appeal for Leafblower Moderation), a citizen’s advisory and advocacy group with over 1,600 supporters whose goal is to limit the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers by commercial landscapers from May 15 through September 15, when residents spend more time outdoors. CALM representatives have appeared before the Town Board and met with Supervisor Petrone and Councilwoman Berland. The group also arranged a test of battery-powered equipment at Heckscher Park for Town officials.

“I appreciate Huntington CALM’s efforts to raise our consciousness about the environmental effects and health dangers of gas-powered landscaping equipment, including significant noise pollution,” Supervisor Petrone said. “Heckscher Park and Town Hall are perfect locations for a demonstration program to test the feasibility and efficiency of battery-powered equipment that reduces emissions and operates at significantly lower decibel levels than gas-powered equivalents. I look forward to seeing, and not hearing, the results.”

“This resolution is a great first step to protecting our environment and reducing air and noise pollution in our Town,” Councilwoman Berland said. “Many constituents have contacted me to restrict the use of Gas Powered Leaf Blowers to address their quality-of-life concerns. I encourage everyone to visit the Town’s website, watch my public service announcement and complete our leaf-blower survey. I look forward to working together with Huntington CALM and the American Green Zone Alliance to create a ‘Green Zone’ at Heckscher Park and Town Hall. Huntington has always been a beautiful place to live, work and raise a family. Let’s keep it that way.”


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Last month the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously resolution No. 1249-2017 to study the feasibility of using alternatives to gas powered maintenance equipment.  

Whooooo Hoooo!

Intro. Res. No. 1249-2017 Laid on Table 3/28/2017 Introduced by Presiding Officer, on request of the County Executive and Legislator Hahn, Anker, Fleming
RESOLUTION NO. 297 -2017, DIRECTING THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS TO STUDY THE FEASIBILITY OF USING ALTERNATIVES TO GAS POWERED MAINTENANCE EQUIPMENT
WHEREAS, the County of Suffolk has made environmental protection and water quality a top priority; and
WHEREAS, the County is always exploring opportunities to reduce nitrogen pollutants entering our ground water supply; and
WHEREAS, national organizations including the American Green Zone Alliance, as well as local organizations such as Huntington Citizens Appeal for Leaf-blower Moderation, identify gas-powered leaf-blowers as a concerning source of pollution; and
WHEREAS, South Pasadena, California, working with the American Green Zone Alliance, have completed a three-year conversion of their gas powered equipment to all low- noise, zero-emissions equipment; and
WHEREAS, locally, the Village of East Quogue has also begun studying the efficacy of such a conversion, as well as developing a pilot program; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Public Works is responsible for the maintenance of all grounds at County facilities; now, therefore be it
1st RESOLVED, that the County Department of Public Works is hereby authorized, empowered and directed to take such action as may be necessary to complete a Study for the Feasibility of Using Alternatives to Gas Powered Maintenance Equipment, pursuant to Section C8-2 (A) of the Suffolk County Charter; and be it further
2nd RESOLVED, that the Department of Public Works will report their findings and recommendations to the County Executive and the County Legislature, within 120 days of the effective date of this resolution; and be it further
3rd RESOLVED, that this Legislature, being the lead agency under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”), Environmental Conservation Law Article 8 and Chapter 450 of the Suffolk County Code, hereby finds and determines that this law constitutes a Type II action, pursuant to Section 617.5(c), (20), (21) and (27) of Title 6 of New York Code of Rules and Regulations (“NYCRR”), in that the action constitutes routine or continuing agency administration and management, not including new programs or major reordering of priorities that may affect the environment, by the gathering of information, including basic data collection and research, and preliminary planning processes necessary to formulate a proposal for an action, but does not commit the County to commence or approve an action; since this law is a Type II action, the Legislature has no further responsibilities under SEQRA. The Suffolk County Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is hereby directed to circulate any appropriate SEQRA notices of determination of non-applicability or non-significance in accordance with this resolution.
DATED: April 25, 2017 APPROVED BY:
/s/ Steven Bellone
County Executive of Suffolk County

Date: May 2, 2017 
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Ken Spaeth, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Hofstra School of Health Sciences

April 18, 2017

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing in support of proposals to restrict gasoline leaf blowers (GLBs).  As an internist and occupational medicine physician who is trained in public health, I recognize that gasoline-powered lawn equipment - particularly the leaf blower - is extremely harmful to health and to the environment. Many institutions and municipalities in New York and elsewhere have implemented restrictions on gasoline leaf blowers without any serious economic or other consequences. Some of the organizations which have already come out in support of such regulations include the Medical Society of the State of NY, the Long Island Chapter of the American Lung Assoc., American Cancer Society, Asthma Coalition, Breast Cancer Coalition, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Grass Roots Environmental, and others. 

Gasoline-powered leaf blowers (GLBs) pose multiple health and environmental hazards.  The use of leaf blowers for cleanup and routine landscape maintenance is exposing us all unnecessarily to pollutants and noise.  Gas leaf blowers are primarily 2-stroke engines which have no emissions controls, are inefficient at burning of fuel, and are highly polluting.   Americans spill 17 million gallons of gasoline each year filling lawn equipment. That’s more than the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.  Gas lawn equipment is poised soon to surpass cars as the worst air polluters in California, according to recent research.

There is good medical evidence implicating the emissions spewed forth and particulates blown up by the leaf blowers in increased risks of early death, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, some cancers, and other serious health conditions.  Children, seniors, those with chronic illness, and landscape workers are at greatest risk.

When compared to an average large car, one hour of GLB use emits 498 times as much hydrocarbons, 49 times as much particulate matter and 26 times as much carbon monoxide.

The major health and environmental hazards of gas leaf blowers are:
·       Exhaust pollution
·       Fine particulate pollution
·       Noise pollution
·       Environmental degradation, including water pollution and small animal habitat destruction  

*     Airborne pollutants released or churned up the GLBs include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) - Benzene, 1,3 butadiene,  acetaldehyde,  and formaldehyde. These are HAPS: Hazardous Air Pollutants (defined by the US EPA as pollutants that cause or may cause cancer or other serious health effects.)   Also released are nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, which are considered “Criteria Pollutants” (harmful to public health and the environment). Even low level exposures have been associated with respiratory and central nervous system effects. GLB pollutants such as hydrocarbon vapors, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide react in the presence of heat and sunlight to form ground-level ozone, the major component of smog, and a known respiratory irritant and risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  Also released is carbon dioxide which is a potent Greenhouse Gas.

*     Fine particulate matter (under 2.5 microns, which easily get into the lungs and even in to the blood stream) has been linked to all-cause premature death, heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, and lung disease – including asthma attacks - and can increase the severity of chronic lung disease in the elderly.  Two-stroke engines account for the vast majority of fine particulate pollution in landscape maintenance. This particulate matter remains suspended in the air for hours or even days and is too small to be visible. 

*     Noise from leaf blowers are orders of magnitude – since decibels are on a logarithmic scale - beyond those deemed safe by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Noise is more than just an annoyance; exposure to constant or high levels of noise can cause countless adverse health effects. These include stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity.  Studies have shown that excess noise in and around hospitals interferes with healing.  Other research demonstrates that children in classrooms abutting noisy outside areas do worse on standardized tests than similar children in classrooms in quieter areas. The EPA states that “noise degrades quality of life by impairing communication and social interaction; reducing the accuracy of work, particularly complex tasks; and creating stressful levels of frustration and aggravation that last even when the noise has ceased.”

*     Environmental degradation
o   The high velocity air jets of leaf blowers can destroy nests and small animal habitats; desiccate pollen, sap, and other natural plant substances; and injure or destroy birds, small mammals, and beneficial insects.
o   Leaf blowers damage plants, remove beneficial topsoil and mulch, desiccate and compact soil, diminish plant health and contribute to the spread of invasives. This increases the dependence on use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
o   Landscape workers or homeowners frequently blow debris into roads, where it can enter storm drains and end up polluting our waters.

Alternatives and Common Concerns
Alternatives include commercial grade lithium ion battery or other electrical equipment, or rakes and brooms.  Landscaping businesses have been shown not to suffer financially if they trade gas equipment for these other choices.  Newer commercial grade lithium-ion battery blowers contain less toxic metals than other types of batteries which may contain lead or cadmium, they are generally categorized as non-hazardous waste and can be recycled. Li-ion battery elements are considered safe for incinerators and landfills.

For all these public health reasons, I concur with all the health and environmental organizations which support restrictions or bans on the use of gasoline leaf blowers, and believe it is a win-win effort for all. 
Sincerely,
Ken Spaeth, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Hofstra School of Health Sciences


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Oyster Bay Town Hall is shown in this photo taken on Sunday, March 27, 2016.  (Credit: Anthony Lanzilote)

The use of gas-powered leaf blowers could be restricted in Oyster Bay to address problems with noise and air pollution, Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said Tuesday at the town board meeting. 
“We’re going to do something about this,” Saladino said. “You will clearly see changes to our code in a way that suits the needs of all.”
Saladino said he has reached out to Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano for information about that city’s ordinance which prohibits the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from June 1 to Sept. 30. 
Planning and Development Commissioner Elizabeth Maccarone said the gas-powered leaf blowers, as opposed to quieter and lower-powered electric blowers, cause problems for residents. 
“When you drive around you see the dust ball, the dirt, the fertilizer and all that is being thrown up into the air and the children are outside playing, people are trying use their back yards,” Maccarone said. “It’s the noise, it’s what being thrown up into the atmosphere.”
Plainview resident Greg Siragusa told the board on Tuesday that he’s concerned about the health and quality of life impact from “the invasion of leaf blowers into my neighborhood.”



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REAL ESTATE

On Banning Leaf Blowers

Monty Rakusen/Getty Images

New Yorkers who leave the city for the suburbs often do so for three reasons: schools, space and silence. The silence, it turns out, can be a problem.
Most suburban streets are certainly free of blaring horns, wailing sirens and, sometimes, even people. But come springtime, they vibrate with the hum of lawn mowers, edgers, trimmers and leaf blowers; the accompanying noise continues until the last leaves fall from the trees in early December.
In Maplewood, N.J., the desire to keep all that space manicured is on a collision course with a longing for quiet.
Disgruntled residents say that noise from lawn equipment rattles windows and eardrums, while the fumes pollute the air. Landscapers and other homeowners, meanwhile, insist that the equipment is necessary to maintain a town that looks as if it’s from a Norman Rockwell painting, with Tudor- and Queen Anne-style mansions framed by green lawns and leafy trees.
Now Maplewood is considering a ban on one of the noisiest and dirtiest tools in the landscaper’s arsenal: the leaf blower.
On March 21, the Township Committee will vote on an ordinance to prohibit commercial use of blowers from May 15 through Sept. 30. The rule would expand a pilot program enacted last spring, increasing the fine for violations to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for the second offense. Stricter limits would be set on the days and hours that professionals could use blowers the rest of the year. If it passes, Maplewood would join a growing number of communities that have curbed the use of leaf blowers.
The noise “is just something that gets into your bones and even when it stops, you’re still hearing that sound,” said Jamie Banks, the founder of Quiet Communities, a group that advocates quieter lawn maintenance equipment. “And it’s not just the noise. It’s the pollution.”
Lawns are a big deal in the suburbs, especially in a community where a four-bedroom house can cost over $1 million. Town council meetings attracted dozens of anxious landscapers and frustrated residents. On a local Facebook page, SOMa Lounge, residents complained that the pilot ban hamstrung their gardeners, leaving their yards looking unkempt, with grass suffocating beneath piles of clippings. Supporters of the rule cheered the silence.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought this leaf blower issue would have been so controversial,” said Nancy Adams, 59, the deputy mayor of Maplewood and a driving force behind the new rule.
Leaf blowers are beloved and reviled for the same reason: They are powerful. Strapped in a pack to a worker’s back, these blowers plow through leaves, grass clippings, debris and light snow, making it possible for a landscaper to quickly clear a property. A 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report lists leaf blowers as a common noise that can contribute to permanent hearing loss.
Most landscapers use leaf blowers with two-stroke engines, which are light enough to carry but produce significant exhaust and noise. The gas and oil mix together, and about a third of it does not combust. As a result, pollutants that have been linked to cancers, heart disease, asthma and other serious ailments escape into the air.
In 2011, Edmunds, the car reviewer, compared a two-stroke-engine leaf blower with a Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck, finding that a half-hour of yardwork produced the same amount of hydrocarbon emissions as a 3,887-mile drive in the truck. In other words: Blow leaves from your lawn, or drive from Maplewood to Juneau, Alaska. Your choice.
Landscapers say that the leaf blower is an essential tool and, when used properly, is not a nuisance. “If they’re used at half speed, which is significantly lower in noise volume, they’re much more efficient,” said Paul Mendelsohn, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals. As for the leaf blower bans: “I really don’t think they’re fair,” he said.
Two seemingly unrelated trends may also be contributing to the problem. The number of people working from home is growing and so too is the lawn care industry. Between 2002 and 2016, the number of professional ground maintenance workers, including supervisors, grew by 85 percent to 1.6 million, according to Quiet Communities.
What does it look like when those two forces collide? For that, I spoke with Susan Greeley, 48, a film programmer who works out of her three-bedroom house in Maplewood. She moved from Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, three years ago in search of quiet but has instead found this: Every Tuesday, the landscapers arrive at 8 a.m. For the next seven hours, they move from one house to the next, filling her home with cacophony.
At times, the noise is so loud she has to retreat to the basement to take work calls, and she is unable to watch the films she needs to review. “We were basically trapped in our home with this deafening noise and this disgusting smell,” she said. “It’s far beyond an annoyance.”
Last year’s ban, she said, “was fantastic,” reducing the intrusion substantially.
But landscaping troubles are not universal. After all, misery is relative. Erika Imranyi, 38, a book editor who moved from Jersey City to South Orange, next to Maplewood, in November finds her new neighborhood “eerily quiet,” although she has yet to experience a suburban summer.
“There was one car alarm in Jersey City that would go off constantly,” she recalled. “It would honk for a few minutes and then stop, and you’d have this moment of relief, and then suddenly it would start again and you’d think you were losing your mind. I’ll take a leaf blower any day.”
James Nathenson, 68, a retired banker who lives in Maplewood, said, “It’s never been to me an issue that is worthy of a lot of agitation.” Instead of passing new laws, Mr. Nathenson suggests that the town enforce existing rules that limit hours and decibels. “See how that works,” he said.
Indeed, enforcement can be a problem. Nearby Montclair has had a similar ban in place since 1994, and some landscapers flout it, arguing that it is unevenly enforced, partly because the town uses leaf blowers to maintain public property. “I don’t look at it as breaking the law, I look at it as I’m doing my job,” said Richard Galioto, an owner of King and I Landscaping in Bloomfield, which services Montclair. Mr. Galioto is a vocal critic of the policy, which he thinks is discriminatory. “I’ll do it 365 days a year if I have to,” he said.
So that leaves people like Fred Chichester, 79, of Montclair, to play the role of leaf blower police. When he hears the blowers roar, he gets into his 1998 Ford Escort wagon, one of his seven cars, and looks for the culprits, suing them in municipal court for violating the ban. He has taken landscapers to court about 20 times over the years.
“The local judge knows him well,” said his wife, Patricia C. Kenschaft, 77, a retired math professor who mows her lawn with a manual reel mower. “He usually wins.”
Ultimately, landscapers say that restrictions breed shabbier results. “The properties aren’t as pretty as we’d like them to be,” said Alan Bella Jr., a landscaper who services Maplewood. “It comes down to cosmetics.”
Cosmetics, though, are a matter of taste. Must a lawn be perfectly clean to be perfect?
More sustainable plantings, for example, require less maintenance. Leaving leaves and grass clippings to mulch in place would reduce the need for blowers, and add nutrients to the soil. And landscapers could invest in cleaner and quieter equipment. “There are other ways to do the job,” Dr. Banks, of Quiet Communities, said. “Landscaping used to be more than scorched earth cleanup.”

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Kathy and Pat Quirk, of East Moriches, take a stroll around the circular path at the East Quogue Village Green on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2016. East Quogue's village green has become the first municipal park in the eastern United States to become a Green Zone.  (Credit: Newsday / John Paraskervas)

lisa.irizarry@newsday.com


HIGHLIGHTS
Workers would use electric, emissions-free equipment for routine maintenance
Town would be first on East Coast to join American Green Zone Alliance

The sound of loud lawn mowers moving around a neighborhood park is set to soon become a thing of the past for some residents of Southampton Town.
Officials plan to turn the East Quogue Village Green into the first Green Zone in the eastern United States by next year. The designation is certified by the American Green Zone Alliance, which defines the zones as an area of land — such as a park, hospital or school campus — where routine maintenance is performed relatively quietly and emissions-free using electric equipment and manual techniques.
More than 25 Green Zones have been created on the West Coast by the Massachusetts-based alliance. Councilwoman Christine Scalera is behind the effort to have Southampton be the first municipality on the East Coast to join the group.
“I came up with it because we had gotten a lot of residents saying they were unhappy with the constant droning of leaf blowers,” Scalera said in an interview last week. “That led to discussions about how they were gas operated (therefore very loud) and how they were putting emissions into the environment.”
Scalera said she learned of the alliance’s efforts and thought Southampton would be perfect for a Green Zone.
 “We’ve been leading by example in Southampton, particularly when it comes to the environment,” Scalera said.
Dan Mabe, the alliance’s founder, president and CEO, said it has been proven on the West Coast that commercial-size properties can be maintained without gas-powered equipment at the same level of quality and at lower cost.
Scalera said representatives from the alliance have been visiting Southampton to determine how maintenance of the East Quogue Village Green can be changed. She said the site was chosen because of the varied numerous things that have to be done to maintain the property.
“We picked a place that uses leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, mowers — a full gamut of things,” Scalera said, adding that officials are considering replacing the town’s gas-powered equipment with electric counterparts.
Town workers had an opportunity to test some electric powered products and were enthusiastic about what they saw.
TownsTown of Southampton photos 
Mat Mordente, crew leader at the town’s parks department, said he looks forward to “exploring the use of mowers and handheld tools that would reduce or eliminate our exposure to the fumes produced by fossil-fuel powered equipment.”
Scalera said that once the full assessment is completed and the cost of implementing the program is determined, a proposal to purchase any new equipment would be considered for the 2017 budget.
Similar programs may come to other areas of Southampton if the changes work in East Quogue, Scalera said.

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Southampton Creating the First Green Zone® on the East Coast

From left to right:  Matt Mordente crew leader Parks Department; Kristen Doulos Town Parks Director; Dan Mabe, head of AGZA; John Erwin, Parks Maintenance Supervisor; Dr. Bonnie Sager, Co-founder Huntington CALM; Jamie Banks, Executive Director, Quiet Communities

  



August 10, 2016. Town of Southampton, NY.  With the unanimous approval of her fellow Town Board members, Councilwoman Christine Scalera initiated the eastern United States first municipal park in becoming a Green Zone®.  The Town of Southampton Green Zone will be located at the East Quogue Village Green in the hamlet of East Quogue. A Green Zone, certified by the American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA), is a defined area of land, such as a park, hospital, or school campus, where routine maintenance is performed quietly and emissions- free using electric equipment and manual techniques. More than twenty-five Green Zones have been created by AGZA on the West Coast.  Quiet Communities, a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization, is bringing the concept to the East Coast. 

According to Councilwoman Christine Scalera, “Creating Green Zones in our town’s municipal parks is an excellent way to demonstrate leadership in emission reduction and noise control.” Town workers had an opportunity to test some electric powered products and were enthusiastic about what they saw. Mat Mordente, crew leader at the town’s Parks Department, looks forward to ”exploring the use of mowers and hand held tools that would reduce or eliminate our exposure to the fumes produced by fossil-fuel powered equipment.” The project will be completed in Spring 2017.

The growing availability of commercial grade lithium battery powered equipment makes it possible to transition away from fossil fuel-based equipment.  “Going quiet and emissions-free is beneficial for our health, environment, quality of life, and even our pocketbooks” says Jamie Banks, Executive Director of Quiet Communities.  Although the upfront cost of commercial lithium battery equipment is higher, substantial savings from avoided fuel and maintenance will more than make up for it. Her colleague Dan Mabe, head of AGZA, agrees. “On the West Coast, we have proven that commercial sized properties can be maintained without gas-powered equipment at the same level of quality and at lower cost.” With Southampton as a leader, Quiet Communities’ New York Chapter head, Bonnie Sager believes that other towns will follow suit. “This is just the beginning of a movement on Long Island and New York State. We will reduce our carbon footprint and improve the health of our workers and our neighborhoods. We applaud Southampton town council for their foresight and leadership.” says Sager.




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The Medical Society of the State of New York recently passed, a landmark resolution addressing the negative health effects of the toxins and harmful noise created by gas leaf blowers. Suffolk County has received an "F" in air quality from the American Lung Association for the past 15 years. In one hour, one gas leaf blower produces as much smog as 17 cars. One half hour of one gas leaf blower's use is equal to one car driving 440miles. Gas leaf blowers utilize a highly polluting 2-stroke engine of which 30% of the blower's fuel is sent into our air. India, Indonesia, Malaysia and other developing countries are eliminating 2-stroke engines because of the high pollution and serious health effects they produce.
It is crazy, that we in our developed nation, actually pay landscapers weekly to deposit toxins, carcinogens and fine particulate matter from gas leaf blowers, even when there are no leaves, right to our front doors.
Tell your landscaper and town council to ban/restrict gas leaf blowers so we can all breathe easier.



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A reminder---
The Town of Huntington has posted a new, survey about Gas Leaf Blowers.   Filling out the survey is CRITICAL in order to  bring about the change we have asked for.   Click Here for Town of Huntington Survey   If you have questions or concerns you can contact us before  filling it out at huntingtoncalm@gmail.com

In conjunction with the survey, a Public Service Announcement has been filmed and is available for viewing on-line as well as on the town TV channel .  It educates about why residents should support  summertime restrictions.  Watch the  PSA by clicking here

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Huntington CALM goes on a field trip to the Long Island Horticultural Research Lab to see state of the art Lithium Ion commercial lawn equipment.


Riding mower with solar array that adds running time and qualifies for tax credit.