May 2020 TCCOG Report

Tompkins County Council of Governments (TCCOG) Report

For the Enfield Town Board

May 13, 2020

By:  Robert Lynch, Enfield TCCOG Representative

The Tompkins County Council of Governments (TCCOG) met virtually April 23rd.  Our featured topic was the New York Stretch Code, a higher-standard building code which municipalities could either adopt or encourage, one that would achieve additional energy-saving objectives as well as plan for the Green-energy opportunities of the future.

Presenters were Terry Carroll, of Cooperative Extension’s Clean Energy Communities Program and Lou Vogel, Vice President of Tatem Engineering.

Think of the Stretch Code as a platinum building code, one reaching much farther than New York State’s New Building Code being implemented this year.  The Stretch Code is generally voluntary, though we were told that New York City has adopted it as its standard.  The City of Ithaca has incorporated parts of Stretch within its own Green Building Code.  However, Vogel said no rural towns have yet adopted it.

Its main effort is to reduce energy consumption, in both new residential and commercial buildings.  Presenters referenced a predicted 11 per cent savings on energy.

Elements of the Stretch Code include more efficient lighting, shorter hot water plumbing, and making a new home “solar-ready,” that is, laying underground conduits during construction to accommodate solar panels at a later date.

On other topics, member presentations at TCCOG included a brief discussion of watershed protection and emergency services.

Ithaca City Alderperson George McGonigal raised the possibility of an intermunicipal partnership to oversee the Cayuga Lake Watershed.  The idea didn’t go much farther since other members quickly cautioned that the financial constraints of coping with COVID-19 would limit the opportunity for new costly intermunicipal initiatives, at least in the short-term.

Trumansburg Mayor Rordan Hart talked about the challenge facing Trumansburg’s Ambulance Corps, which is run as a separate department within his village’s government.  T-Burg’s service area extends far beyond village lines.  Trumansburg abandoned its volunteer EMS program 10-11 years ago, since it couldn’t find sufficient volunteers.  Contracting with Bangs Ambulance, said Hart, would have eaten up the village’s entire budget.  So it set up a paid system within its fire department.

Hart talked about the need for a “new funding stream,” preferably through the State, to fund ambulance corps like his, one perhaps modeled after the CHIPS program for town highways.  Hart said the CHIPS-style funding stream probably could be applied only to EMS services, but not to fire departments.