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Cville Council Candidates Discuss Environmental Issues at Forum - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Cville Council Candidates Discuss Environmental Issues at Forum

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The city's environmental future was up for discussion by those running for Charlottesville City Council.

The Piedmont Group Sierra Club along with other environmentalists in the city hosted a forum to see how seven candidates feel about going green. Candidates have discussed a number of topics over the past couple of months but Wednesday night the environment took center stage.

Transportation in the city was one of the main talking points. Each had their own ideas about how to improve it and how to make it more environmentally beneficial.   

Democratic candidate Bob Fenwick says he has one low-cost solution.

"I would like the city to consider lowering the speed limit in the city limit to 25 miles an hour, across the city," Fenwick said.

He says this can be easily achieved especially since the speed limit was recently lowered from 35 to 30 on Jefferson Park Avenue.

Other candidates say there is a need to increase the use of bikes, starting by adding more bike lanes.

"We need more bike lanes. We need to encourage more bike ridership. Just building the lanes is not enough; we have to encourage that and have people that do that be our examples," said candidate Melvin Grady.

Candidate Wes Bellamy said, "Charlottesville is a city that is essentially 10 and a half square miles so in a town that's 10 and a half square miles we can encourage some of our patrons to ride bikes, you can walk."

One candidate says sidewalks and even bus routes need to have a path that makes more sense.

"We need to focus on transit sidewalks and bus routes between housing and job centers, particularly off road and out into the county," said candidate Kristin Szakos.

Charlottesville Area Transit was also addressed - from high-cost issues to the most basic.

"Charlottesville owns the public transit system, the bus system, and it's underutilized and as a result it is not achieving any of the environmental benefits that you get from having buses," said candidate Charles Weber.

"There is a very simple thing we can add to every single bus stop in the city and that's a garbage can and a recycling bin," said candidate Adam Lees.

Republican candidate Michael Farruggio says the focus shouldn't be completely on buses.

"Intermodal transportation means using other means as well. I think we all agree and support the idea of reducing single-occupancy vehicles," he said.

Candidates also answered questions from the audience, on topics including how economic development impacts the environment.

The primary election for the Democratic candidates is on June 11.

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