Kathy and Ken Weiss, from Bellport, were charging up their new Audi SUV e-Tron in Patchogue Village’s parking lot on Good Friday, when Patchogue mayor Paul Pontieri and trustee Joseph Keyes wandered out.
“You’re doing a great job in Patchogue,” Ken Weiss said to Pontieri, while using his credit card at the charging station. Installed in January 2020 after the village adopted its Clean Fleet policy, the public has access to it.
Environmentally, the village gets an “A.”
The village’s first electric car, a Chevy Bolt EV from Eagle Chevrolet, parked a few feet away, came on board November 2020. The anticipated goal is eventually replacing the entire fleet of 15 sedans with electric. But also, this February, the village board accepted a contract with Johnson Controls after a detailed energy audit began last fall. A village wish list includes energy-saving items like duct sealing and more electric charging stations, roof reinforcement and rooftop solar panels at the pool beach club roof as well as other places, HVAC replacement at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts and also air-quality control.
“Now it’s in the engineering and planning phase,” said Pontieri. “Streetlights will be the first thing addressed and the Patchogue Theatre and their parking lot.”
The first biggest foray into environmental solutions began October 2014 with the plastic bag ban. “We were a trigger for others,” admitted Keyes, liaison for the Protecting the Environment in Patchogue Committee.
The ban wasn’t an easy sell, even initially, with the other board members.
“They thought I was nuts,” Keyes said. “So we needed further discussion.” That initiative entailed packed, lively board meetings including advocates from East Hampton Village, who had passed their law. Patchogue Village’s passed in 2015.
Looking back, “the banning of plastic bags and Styrofoam have been evident in our cleanups,” Pontieri said.
“But before that, we utilized 20 Fabco Industries Inc. filters for our catch basins that filter out sediment,” Keyes said. The village installed 18 filters that included Corey Creek and Swan River.
“And we also started using brine instead of salt on the roads before a storm,” he added.
The Green Fleet policy was also one of the most important commitments the
village made, Keyes said. Any vehicle that isn’t heavy-duty and needs replacement, like parking and code enforcement and building and housing cars, would qualify. “Any pickups or SUVs will be hybrid initially,” Pontieri added.
Pontieri said Lindenhurst Village’s contract with Johnson Controls was the impetus for the village signing on. “I contacted their mayor and asked him why they utilized the company,” Pontieri said. “Then I turned it over to Joe and Dennis Smith to research how important it would be for us.”
Business Improvement District executive director Dennis Smith spearheaded the project.
“We’d been exploring solar panels and LED lighting, and Johnson Controls answered all those aspects we were looking at,” said Keyes.
Pontieri and Keyes joked about the first time they drove the village electric car to Lindenhurst to meet with their mayor; it took them a half-hour to figure out the controls. (It gets 260 miles per charge.) But, “it had a lot of pep,” Pontieri said.
“We’re also researching training our mechanics so we can look at our electric cars if they have a problem and diagnose them before they get repaired, a big savings,” he added.