Montevallo sustainability report gives overview of city’s progress

Published 3:52 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2020

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MONTEVALLO – If Montevallo residents are curious about how the city’s sustainability efforts measure up, they can find the answers in the recently released 2019-2020 annual report.

Nearly a year since she was hired as Montevallo’s first sustainability coordinator, Olivia Barone compiled the report to provide a summary of the city’s sustainability programs, recycling center updates, grant funding, energy savings, walkability improvements and community partnerships.

“Our slogan has been ‘leading by example,’ and I want other cities to be inspired by our small but mighty town,” Barone said.

In the last year, the Montevallo Recycling Center has added programs including donation bins to the local thrift store, plastic film recycling and electronics recycling.

Montevallo donated 11,500 pounds to America’s Thrift Store in three months alone.

The city entered Trex’s plastic film recycling challenge, in which for every 500 pounds of plastic film collected in six months, Trex will exchange the plastic for an outdoor bench. Montevallo collected 500 pounds in fewer than six months.

In a partnership with Commute Smart Birmingham, three additional bike racks have been installed along the Main Street corridor.

Montevallo also boasts the oldest bike share program in the state.

Regarding energy savings, the public parks, fire department and city hall are equipped with LED and motion sensor lights.

“The city of Montevallo is incredibly proud of the mark we are making on the landscape of Alabama with respect to our sustainability initiatives,” Mayor Hollie Cost said. “Our new sustainability coordinator, Ms. Olivia Barone, literally hit the ground running when she arrived in town less than a year ago. Prior to her arrival, we were being recognized across the state as being progressive and forward-thinking based on our commitment to sustainability. This was largely in part due to our strong collaboration with the University of Montevallo.”

Cost said existing initiatives included a city-wide bike share, local recycling, a nationally recognized trail system and consistent monitoring of energy consumption.

“Since Olivia’s arrival, due to her enthusiasm, commitment and incredible knowledge base, the bar has been elevated,” Cost said. “We’ve significantly enhanced and streamlined our recycling, secured multiple grants to support our sustainability initiatives, completed an extensive audit and prioritization of our pedestrian and cycling infrastructure and are on the cusp of replacing all of our current street lights with LED. It is our desire to do all that we can to set the standard for sustainability within the state and strongly support other communities who strive for the same goal.”

Grants awarded include a $38,313 ADEM Recycling Fund Grant and a $29,544 AARP Communities Challenge Grant. Grants applied for include an Alabama Power Foundation Grant, an ADECA State Energy Program Grant and a VW Settlement Grant.

“In less than one year, she has secured grants at the recycling center, changed the way Montevallo citizens recycle and worked with Alabama Power Company to change out the street lights to LED lights,” incoming Mayor Rusty Nix said. “Looking for more great things down the road.”

In the community, Barone has worked with the University of Montevallo Sustainability Capstone Course, produced the first “Reuse It Book” with the University of Montevallo’s Trio Upward Bound Program and remains an active board member for the Alabama Environmental Council and Montevallo Main Street.

She awarded Diane Johnson the first Certificate of Recognition for her extraordinary volunteer work at the recycling center.

To see updates regarding Montevallo’s sustainability and recycling initiatives, follow @sustainablemontevallo on Facebook.