A mayor for the Earth

Borough resident honored for environmental work

Naugatuck 2014 Earth Day Mayor of the Day Felipe Flores speaks to residents, students and officials during a ceremony April 25 in front of Town Hall. –LUKE MARSHALL

Naugatuck 2014 Earth Day Mayor of the Day Felipe Flores speaks to residents, students and officials during a ceremony April 25 in front of Town Hall. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — For the borough’s 2014 Earth Day Mayor of the Day, taking care of the environment is about community and future generations.

“It’s not us, it’s the people who come after us; it’s our children and grandchildren, the ones that will suffer if there are more changes in the climate,” said Naugatuck resident Felipe Flores, who was honored April 25 during a ceremony at Town Hall.

Flores, who emigrated from his home country of Mexico in 1989, has a degree in physics from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and a master’s degree in education from the University of Bridgeport. Flores settled in Naugatuck with his wife Suzanne; where he raised his two children Julia and Sean.

Flores first became active with environmental issues in the borough in the mid-1990s. He was an early supporter and advocate of preserving the Gunntown property as passive open space.

Flores wanted to help preserve the land not just for environmental reasons, but to ensure the community had a place it could be proud of.

“You don’t want to come many years later and find a McDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts instead of a place that really represented the town,” Flores said.

The Gunntown Passive Park and Nature Preserve was opened in 2010.

The Earth Day Mayor of the Day ceremony caps off numerous events around the borough throughout April in celebration of Earth Day.

“One thing that everyone can share in common is their connection to this earth,” Mayor Robert Mezzo said.

Mezzo said Flores was chosen for the honor because of his commitment to the environment.

“It’s a pleasure and an honor to recognize Mr. Flores. He’s being recognized for all his commitment, dedication, and tireless work to supporting our community and protecting the environment,” Mezzo said.

Borough resident and prominent environmentalist Len Yannielli said Flores has been involved with numerous activities to benefit the environment and the community, from leading Thai Chi classes at Gunntown to obtaining a grant to produce a play in the community.

“It doesn’t stop there because, again, Felipe’s concept of community is broad,” Yannielli said.

Mezzo said Flores is the type of person who should be emulated.

“If you’re looking for role models, especially for the younger folks here, there are lots of celebrities and lots of sports stars, but most of the heroes in our community are people like Filipe who dedicate their life not only to their family and their friends, but also to the causes they believe in and the communities that they serve,” Mezzo said.

Flores said he was honored to be named the Earth Day Mayor of the Day, but he does not believe it is just for him.

“It’s an award for those who have been working on [the environment] for so many years here in Naugatuck, too,” Flores said.

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