The City Council took steps Tuesday to prop up the Environmental Committee, which is on the verge of collapse after five members either declined to apply for reappointment or resigned and no new applicants submitted applications.
No appointments to the depleted committee will be made for the next two months while a City Council subcommittee meets with former and soon-to-be former members to determine what has gone wrong and how it can be fixed — or if the committee should even be continued.
"One major problem is a lack of specific focus; it is insufficient to charge the committee with 'all things sustainable,' in the words of a former council member," said Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman. "With too general a charge, the committee fragments, with different members each pursuing their area of interest with the rest going along."
A memo from Grossman to the council triggered the formation of the subcommittee, to which he was appointed along with Mayor Pro Tem Jane Egly and Councilwoman Verna Rollinger. Egly dubbed it the "Sustainability of the Environmental Committee Committee."
Landscape architect Scott Sebastian has already resigned. The terms of four of the seven-member Environmental Committee, including Chairman Chris Prelitz, are due to expire on Oct. 31.
"I am stepping down because I'm spending so much time out of state," Prelitz said.
However, he volunteered to continue as interim chairman.
Committee members Sharael Kolberg and Gustavo Grad, whose terms are not due to expire, both said the committee plays an important role in the city and should be continued.
Greg O'Loughlin, a committee member for six years, said he announced two years ago that he would not reapply, but he does think the committee should continue on without him.
"Put the option to disband the committee on the back burner," he said.
Grossman said he thinks the committee serves a useful function, using the skills and expertise of a dedicated resident to help development a more sustainable community.
He also said he believes that committee members were frustrated when their recommendations were slowed by city processes with which they were not familiar.
The liaison committee is expected to report back to the council with recommendations.