DeKalb commission looks to keep the town clean

By Ali Combs

Chapter 50 of the city of DeKalb’s municipal code established a Citizen Environmental Commission and with the help of the commission, the city of DeKalb has worked to be more environmentally aware and sustainable in a variety of ways.

“We instituted a new ordinance allowing wind power in the community for electrical energy,” said Mayor Kris Povlsen. “We’ve always had community gardens, as well.”

Povlsen said the one thing that will probably have the most impact on DeKalb’s environmental future is the Citizen Environmental Commission, an eight-person volunteer group appointed by the mayor. The commission was put in place to raise awareness the environments around DeKalb affect the quality of life for local residents.

The commission is solely an advisory board, meaning it makes suggestions to the City Council but does not create any laws or regulations. The commission’s past suggestions include offering curbside recycling in DeKalb and the city-wide smoking ban put in place before the ban by the state of Illinois.

Along with obvious environmental gains, working for an eco-friendly future can lead to economic gains for a city, said Roger Hopkins, president of the economic development firm Hopkins Solutions LLC, 205 Greenwood Acres Drive.

“Environmental efforts often appeal more to higher income households, and generally that is one of the things you need to do to build a good population base for the city,” Hopkins said.

Though DeKalb has made many improvements to its environmental impact in the past, there is more that can be done to make the city more environmentally friendly, said Dan Kenney, member of the Citizen Environmental Commission.

The Citizen Environmental Commission is currently working on a sustainability plan which would help solidify environmental efforts in DeKalb and work as a reference in the future when decisions impacting DeKalb’s natural environment are to be made.

Kenney said he would like to see more municipal programs for composting and recycling. NIU’s residence halls could be a major contributor to composting in DeKalb, Kenney said.

“I’d like to see municipal composting where food scraps and things like that would be composted by residents and local restaurants,” Kenney said. “About 45 percent of what goes into landfills is compostable materials.”