After hosting such initiatives as a month-long awareness campaign for mental health and substance use issues and multiple trail and wetland volunteer clean-up events, the Town of Mount Airy has been recognized once again by the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center as a sustainable municipality.
The town was honored alongside 10 other Maryland localities at the 2020 Sustainable Maryland Awards Ceremony, which took place during the Maryland Municipal League’s virtual fall conference on Oct. 9. Overall, 40 Maryland municipalities — or 25% of the state’s localities — have received sustainability certifications from the environmental center.
“We are very proud to be bestowed with the honor of being a sustainable community,” said Mount Airy Mayor Patrick Rockinberg in a news release. "The town is actively working with countless volunteers to build a more sustainable future.
In order to be certified, municipalities must organize a variety of local figures — including residents, community leaders and municipal staff and officials — into a “Green Team,” and complete a series of sustainability-related actions, which are listed out on the certification program’s website.
The menu is divided into eight categories, which range from health and wellness to planning and land use, and each action item is assigned a point value. To become certified, a municipality must acquire at least 150 points by completing two required action items and two of six priority action items.
Mount Airy first achieved certification in 2017 with 185 points, and was re-certified this year with 340 points.
The town was celebrated for its recent efforts to stimulate the local economy during the coronavirus pandemic, including the establishment of “pop up parks” near restaurants to offer outdoor seating. Mount Airy also hosted an 8-hour live broadcast during the pandemic to highlight local stores, restaurants and service-providers.
Additionally, the town was highlighted for hiring a consultant firm to draw up plans for the sustainable development of its downtown district. Mount Airy published details of the plan in a presentation last February.