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My First Encounter with the EAC

By Anthony Mercando
Government Analyst

Greenville’s Environmental Advisory Commission meets the first Thursday of every month, and had an aspiring member who happens to be a friend of mine not been planning to go, I would not have known. Three of us took seats in council chambers, the only witnesses to the proceedings. There are twenty other city commissions and boards, all of which work with city council to create policy. Their power and the issues they address shape the council’s agenda.

The members of the EAC, whose city council liaison is McLean Godley, all seem to be motivated residents hopeful for good governance and a better way forward for Greenville. The slew of programs and funds and grants they ran through in the course of the hour-long session made my head spin. Here are the items that stood out most for me.

Ann Maxwell brought up a number of ideas; the most interesting to me was the merging of the three bus lines in Greenville into one. Having the bus lines from Vidant, Greatbus, and ECU all work together to provide better transit to citizens and students certainly seems a step in the right direction.

When it comes down to it, though, public transit is not a sexy item. Greenville is not friendly to those without their own means of transportation, and while every effort made to make it easier for people to get where they need to go is commendable, I doubt many realize these efforts are being made in the first place. Soon bidding for the contract on the GTAC building will begin, hopefully providing the city with a high-quality facility to anchor the transit system. A full merger of the bus lines may be the simplest solution to plugging holes in coverage radius, however.



Maxwell also brought up the lapsing of Adopt-A-Street efforts. She estimated that many adoptees don’t even know they’re responsible for the streets they agreed to care for any longer, meaning that a large campaign of volunteerism may be in the works if things go well. If you’ve adopted a street and you’re reading this, get out there and start grabbing empties out of the gutter please.

When I heard “plastic bag ordinance” I got a little excited (which made me feel like a nerd). It wasn’t raised until after adjournment. Maxwell had begun talking with Godley. Our small trio injected itself into the discussion and pressed the issue further. It would seem the councilor is fine with ignoring the myriad reasons why a ban or movement to minimize single-use plastic bags in the city would benefit not only the consumer, but the environment and the very businesses using them.

Having to continuously pluck fragmenting sun-bleached plastic bags from the weeds and grass at the community garden along the greenway is one thing, but to mitigate their spread is another. It is simply smarter, cheaper, less wasteful, and more proactive to push for a switch to reusable paper or tote bags. Godley seems opposed to any measure at any level to address the issue.

I would urge anyone with an interest in that issue or any other touching on environmental concerns to attend the next EAC meeting, on June 2nd at 5:30 p.m., in city council chambers on the third floor of city hall.

Anthony Mercando’s work is what happens when a next-generation activist who is also a finely tuned cynic writes about what the government is up to.

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