BY DINA PESENSON
My name is Dina Pesenson, I’m currently serving on the Environmental Sustainability Board. I saw Mr. Skolnik’s letter to the editor bringing up that this Tuesday March 7th you might vote on a motion to allow exemptions for glyphosate use on certain locations on county property and do see it on your agenda.
Knowing how long in advance items have to be brought up to be put on the council agenda, I’m writing to express my extreme disappointment in the fact that this item being on the council agenda this week was not brought to ESB’s attention barely two weeks ago when Mr. Styron presented his Glyphosate update there and this exact exemption potential was asked about. ESB is the advisory board to the council that was tasked with gathering community input on this subject and was one of the boards that voted to recommend council to stop use of glyphosate on county owned land. It is very disappointing to find out about this agenda item and potential vote mere hours before the meeting from an open letter to the editor. I’m writing to request that you please consider taking this discussion to ESB to let them work out the best path forward with staff before you consider voting on it.
I have been communicating with the county council since 2016 providing information via emails and presentations of rapidly accumulating scientific evidence of the dangers of glyphosate to humans and the environment as well as legal and financial ramifications to manufacturers and employers whose employees get exposed to it as part of their job.
All that provided information is part of public record and many of you were on those original emails and were present during those presentations and subsequent discussions. My presentation, summarizing the safety data, highlighting particular health and environmental concerns, financial impacts and more in the fall of 2021, resulted in two different advisory boards to the council voting to recommend council vote to stop glyphosate use on county owned land. In December 2021, Council considered recommendations brought to them by ESB and Parks and Recreation Board by reviewing my presentation as well as presentation from Mr. Styron. After a long and thoughtful discussion, Council voted unanimously to stop glyphosate use on county owned land.
Council did a great job representing the community with that decision as there were over 60 letters to boards and council from community members and more public comments in support of this decision. There was also national attention on our town through BeyondPesticides.orgas they sent our county offers to provide free guidance and training to county staff to allow our county to make that change sustainably and avoid switching to potentially worse chemicals. Those offers were forwarded to council and CSD staff. CSD staff responded with “we have enough expertise in-house to handle this task”.
Now, 14 months later, after multiple updates on this effort, including the one to ESB just over 2 weeks ago it is quite clear that we in fact do not have enough ‘in-house expertise’ to make this work. Nothing in the updates indicates that this is new information. This was clear last summer and fall and should’ve been brought up then as a need for new direction to make progress on a solution. Now we are facing another spring with no solution and using this timing urgency to reverse a unanimous council decision that was supported by two advisory boards and a huge part of our community.
Let’s not undo years of citizen’s efforts, your work and work of your volunteer advisory boards. Please consider tasking ESB and staff to work together to find a solution that moves us all forward.
Thank you for your time and consideration,