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Millvale honored at state level for sustainability

| Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Fences surround a Bennett Station Town Square building on Grant Street in Millvale on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016.

Millvale is the first borough in Pennsylvania to attain the highest level in a program that recognizes achievement in sustainability.

The Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification program recently awarded its “Platinum Certification” to Millvale – the fourth municipality in the state to earn the highest certification.

To achieve this level, Millvale had to complete a checklist that tracks 131 policies and practices that define a sustainable community, Included are a balanced taxation approach, working with neighboring communities, maintaining an active community garden — like the Gardens of Millvale — and creating shared roadways for bicyclists.

Officials said the certification shows that Millvale can be a leader in sustainability and hope it inspires other municipalities to follow suit.

“Beyond saving tax dollars and making sure our municipality is running more efficiently, this is a recognition that a small town like Millvale can work hard and be a leader in the state,” said Millvale sustainability coordinator Zaheen Hussain. “You don't have to be a rich suburb that has a lot of resources at its disposal. If you believe in sustainability and have the right leadership in place, you can be a leader in sustainable development in the whole state.”

Other certification requirements include demonstrable accomplishments in governance and community engagement, healthy communities, diversity, equity and inclusion, education, energy use, conservation and green construction, environmental stewardship, housing, land use, transportation and local economy.

Before the certification is awarded, Hussain said the borough must list the actions being taken and back them up with links that show the projects are taking place.

The actions are audited and reviewed “to see if we're doing what we say we're doing,” Hussain said.

“Millvale has a long history of commitment to saving taxpayer dollars, using resources efficiently and applying best practices in municipal government and community development,” said Millvale council President Jim Machajewski. “We are pleased to be recognized and be part of the regional community of good government.”

The Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification is administered by the Pennsylvania Municipal League in partnership with Sustainable Pittsburgh. Originally a regional program run by Sustainable Pittsburgh, it went statewide to recognize municipalities statewide.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, only Millvale and Cranberry Township in Butler County are platinum communities.

There are more than 60 municipalities at associate, bronze, silver, gold and platinum levels of the certification. Millvale first entered the program in 2012 when it earned the Bronze Certification.

Rachel Farkas is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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