Hightstown Housing Authority honored by Watershed Association

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Keith LePrevost

The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association recently honored four local entities at its inaugural River-Friendly certification ceremony at the Watershed Center.
Executive Director Jim Waltman and Science Director Steve Tuorto, praised the four participants for their stories of inspiration, hard work, and passion for environmental stewardship.
The Sept. 26 ceremony honored TPC Jasna Polana golf course and Princeton Friends School, both in Princeton, as well as the Hightstown Housing Authority and The Pennington School.
“Bringing our certified participants together to share their experiences and milestones energizes others to protect water quality where they work,” said River-Friendly Coordinator Brittany Musolino.
Since 2004, the River-Friendly Program has provided tools and guidelines for schools, businesses, golf courses and residents on ways to improve local environmental health. While each program has different requirements, they all focus on the core concepts of water quality management, water conservation, wildlife habitat enhancement and outreach.
The Pennington School and Princeton Friends School each earned the highest level of River-Friendly certification by connecting students with local water bodies, ecosystems and issues impacting the natural environment. Students planted trees along the Stony Brook, enacted schoolwide composting and monitored water quality.
Speaking to an audience of about 30 people at the recent River-Friendly recognition ceremony at the Watershed, Patrick Lynch, a science teacher at PFS, spoke about the need to pull children away from screens and encourage outside play time. The Pennington School’s Margo Andrews, who teaches environmental science, said her 11th and 12th grade students thrive on hands-on learning out of doors.
Keith LePrevost, Executive Director of Hightstown Housing Authority (HHA), accepted an award for transforming the three-acre housing development for about 100 families into a demonstration site for stormwater management. The addition of rain gardens, drywells, porous underground piping and rain barrels have helped to capture and recharge over 50% of the site’s stormwater runoff. He also worked to upgrade laundry and bathroom fixtures, saving an estimated 1.5 million gallons of water annually.
Most recently, the housing authority switched to natural fertilizers. “We have 63 children under the age of 15 on our site, many of which love to play outside on the lawns,” he said. “That makes you think about what you’re putting on it.”
Tim Connolly, Superintendent of Princeton’s Jasna Polana golf club, dedicated more than two years to the program. He and his staff worked to re-certify the golf course with projects such as native wildflower meadows, non-irrigated grass plantings and several other water conservation techniques, making them a River-Friendly example for other courses in New Jersey.
Waltman said he was thrilled by these River-Friendly achievements.
“These four serve as an inspiration to other businesses, golf courses and schools in improving the environment as workplace stewards.”