Hobart, known as the “friendly city,” took major strides on Tuesday in being relabeled as the “eco-friendly city.”
Hobart’s officials say the city is leading the way in environmentally-friendly tech with the unveiling of its new compressed natural gas fueling pumps and eco-friendly maintenance garage located at the Public Works facility.
“It shows that independent to what the federal government decides, we are in this to the finish line to provide clean air in our community by making eco-friendly investments,” City of Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor said. “We feel it’s something we owe to our residents and businesses.”
Making the switch from diesel vehicles to compressed natural gas will reduce greenhouse gases by 25 percent, will produce 95 percent less nitrogen oxide and will create 98 percent less particulate matter in the air.
Many Northwest Indiana leaders gathered for the unveiling, seeing how they can apply similar eco-friendly measures in their communities.
The $600,000 natural gas pumps were constructed and fueled by Ozinga Energy, the company who inspired this green transition. There are 12 pumps now at the Public Works facility, and currently three compressed natural gas compatible vehicles, with more on the horizon.
“Back maybe six years ago it was more of a dream, to see it come to completion is wonderful for the city,” Snedecor said. “It’s a big day, it’s a mile stone for us to be at the point we are at now.”
The city made more than a $2 million investment in the project, along with major grant contributions from the Federal Highway Administration administered by the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, which provided 80 percent of the funding. South Shore Clean Cities and Greg Martz of GM Development Co. also helped champion the funding to make this vision possible for Hobart.
Snedecor said that the project’s return on investment has already been shown to be a beneficial trade-off, with lower vehicle mileage and avoiding paying rising gas and diesel costs as a result.
During the unveiling, the city in conjunction with South Shore Clean Cities and New Concept Video Sports, premiered a video to spotlight Hobart’s evolution into a city who protects its future by preserving its environment. With the city’s first natural gas-powered garbage truck and its recycling programs, it's well on its way.
John Dubach, director of public works in Hobart, has been working with the city since 1976 and said the city has made major progress in the last decade.
“We’re the leader municipally,” Dubach said. “We’ll try anything. Unfortunately, you see the federal government stepping away from eco-friendly things like these, but that’s not what we’re doing here in Hobart.”
While Tuesday’s reveal was a big step in the right direction, Dubach sees much more progress ahead for Hobart on the green front.
“In the future we are looking to convert the whole fleet such as the police department, the fire department is a little trickier because they keep their vehicles for longer, but we’d like to see all of our vehicles converted,” Dubach said. “It’s financially good for the city, and more than anything it’s good for the environment.”
The new maintenance garage, a $1.45 million investment, also provides a safe, warm, clean and eco-friendly work space for city employees and accommodations for Hobart’s fleet of natural gas vehicles. The garage previously used for vehicle maintenance was a fraction of the size of the new garage, had poor infrastructure and as Snedecor pointed out, when it rained a stream of water would flow through the garage.
All in all, the city is seeing some major momentum in its vision for a greener city, and the mayor attributes that to its eco-minded residents.
“It goes to the community to see these things happen here,” Snedecor said. “Hobart has been very vocal in wanting to be a progressive leader in the area.”
Rich DeBoer, Ozinga Energy executive vice-president, said the benefits of this project will continue for years to come.
“The federal government doesn’t have an energy program policy,” DeBoer said. “Hobart does. That’s fantastic. Ozinga Energy was privledged to win the bid for this project. This station meets all of the needs for Hobart right now, today, and for many years in the future they can add to this as time goes on. But this station didn’t magically appear here, the mayor and public works department has spent years attending meetings, educating themselves on the benefits of compressed natural gas… This natural gas fueling station will not only benefit the City of Hobart today, but 10, 20, 30, 40 years into the future.”
Hobart, IN 46342
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