Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour has developed plans to better the local environment, including many ideas to bring beauty back into the community.
Ridenour discussed his plans March 22 for establishing pollinator fields throughout the city. Butterflies, flowers, other wildlife and insects will be able to populate in these natural spaces without being mown over. City employees are currently looking for five-acre plots for these fields.
“Our purpose there is to help that population, primarily the butterflies,” Ridenour said. “We’re continuing to look for sites inside the city.”
As an educational effort, Ridenour plans to explain the purposes of these fields and how they are different from grass fields on Facebook Live every Tuesday and Friday, in addition to social media posts. There will also be signs put up in these spaces, once they are dedicated as pollinator fields, to help explain their purpose.
Ridenour also instituted a plan to plant 1,000 trees within parks, Muncie neighborhoods and along highways. The first planting was March 19 in Heekin Park. There will be eight trees total planted in this location of three different species.
“Outside of the environmental aspect, they’re beautiful,” Ridenour said. “The trees serve a purpose and they’re positive for our environment.”
The impact of planting trees along highways will not only bring beauty to these spaces, but also reduce carbon emissions along the freeway, which Ridenour said he wants to help mitigate. He said he hopes, after he’s out of office, future administrations will continue the tree-planting agenda.
One of Ridenour’s last items on his green agenda is making progress with the solar panels in the old General Motors lot on 8th Street.
American Electric Power will buy most of the electricity these solar panels make. The City of Muncie is also setting up panels at other companies that use a lot of electricity, including the Muncie Sanitary District. The top of the Muncie Indiana Transit System (MITS) bus station will also have some solar panels to help cut the business’ electricity costs, Ridenour said.
“We’re putting in enough [at the Sanitary District] that it’ll pay about 30 to 40 percent of their electric bill,” Ridenour said. “That just puts money back into the budget of the Sanitary District, and then they’re not as likely to raise rates and such.”
Ridenour stressed the importance of the support and help he’s received from others for his ideas, from people both inside and outside the administration.
He said, “I’m just thankful that they’ve been there and have been so supportive.”