TARPON SPRINGS – After many months of discussions and meetings, planning and research, the Tarpon Springs Board of Commissioners selected its first citizen led sustainability advisory committee last month.

During the Aug. 27 City Commission meeting, five applicants were chosen as regular members while two were selected to be alternates. The applicants were chosen from a pool of candidates and had to meet certain criteria to be eligible, including “expertise, training, education, interest, or experience in fields related to sustainability,” according to the resolution creating the committee the City Commission unanimously approved in late May.

The first two full-time positions, which carry three-year terms, went to Dory Larsen and Paul Robinson. Denise Mannino and Taylor George Mandolou were also chosen as regular members and will serve two-year terms, while Karen Gallagher was selected to serve a one-year term. Robin Sanger, two years, and Judy Nelson, one year, were named alternate members.

After the committee was chosen, several commissioners praised Larsen, an electric vehicle program associate at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, for her dedication to the cause. Larsen helped found the Turn the Tide for Tarpon pro-sustainability group.

“I know there’s going to be some exciting discussions over the next few years pertaining to sustainability,” Commissioner Jacob Karr said.

Commissioner Connor Donovan noted the expertise of the members, stating: “We’ve got everything from a student of environmental science on through to a doctor to various environmental professionals. I mean the passion on that board is going to do our community really well.”

In a later email, Larsen also commented on the expertise of the committee members.

“I'm pleased that the city reached the threshold and had highly qualified candidates to select from to fill the sustainability committee and am excited to start the journey,” Larsen wrote. Several of the new board members have experience or formal education in scientific fields and it is my hope that the board will use a data-driven approach to problem-solving. It's my aim that the board will find creative ways to pull the community together to ensure Tarpon's cultural, environmental and economic vitality for generations to come.”

Mayor Chris Alahouzos said the sustainability committee was formed at a critical time for the city.

“I’m glad we had enough volunteers interested to serve on the committee and I’m looking forward to them providing us with their recommendations,” he said. “As everyone knows I’ve been very concerned with the issue of sea level rise for several years, and with that and other sustainability issues at the forefront of the community, it’s good that we’re going to get some good recommendations from some very knowledgeable people. I’m looking forward to getting started.”