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Manalapan Environmental Commission reports 2021 achievements

MANALAPAN – Despite the coronavirus pandemic that caused the cancellation of many public activities and events during 2021, the volunteer members of the Manalapan Environmental Commission were able to complete many tasks that were aimed at improving the community.

The commission’s chairwoman, Jenine Tankoos, recently detailed the commission’s accomplishments during 2021. In a report she provided to the Township Committee and to the community, Tankoos said:

• Two new members were appointed to the Environmental Commission and 13 public meetings were held;

• 12 applications for development in Manalapan were reviewed at commission meetings. Comments and recommendations regarding those applications were provided to the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the applicants;

• A native plant sale was held on Sept. 18 at the Manalapan Recreation Center Eco Patio.
Several educational displays were set up to discuss topics related to  landscaping. The next native plant sale will be held June 4 at the Eco Patio and at the Dreyer Pavilion. The plant sale will be held rain or shine.

• At the Environmental Commission’s Eco Patio, commissioners and other volunteers from the community met several times to tend to the demonstration gardens;

• The commission collaborated with the Manalapan High School Environmental Club on plans to add additional murals to the Eco Patio site and to paint sidewalk games on the pavement.

• The Environmental Commission conducted research on the issue of balloon releases which have become a tradition to memorialize a loved one or in celebration of an event.

Unfortunately, there are negative consequences from this activity that are harmful to the environment and a safety hazard to the public. Balloons get entangled in power lines, causing power outages, and balloons fall down, becoming litter that harms animals and causes pollution.

The commission prepared a draft ordinance to ban the purposeful release of balloons using the language of similar ordinances in municipalities that have banned balloon releases. The draft ordinance was submitted to the Township Committee for consideration.

Tankoos said the commission appreciates that municipal officials responded by banning the release of balloons in Manalapan’s parks and at other municipal property, and looks forward to continuing a discussion of how other balloon releases can be reduced;

• A draft resolution was prepared and submitted to the Township Committee for its consideration to support bills S-2515 and A-4676, also known as the Recycled Content Bill, aimed at increasing the markets for recycling in New Jersey. The legislation became a state law on Jan. 18, 2022;

• The commission reviewed a proposed storm water management ordinance. Comments were provided to the Township Committee emphasizing the need to further enhance the ordinance in the future to help to reduce flooding, enhance water quality and reduce costs;

• The commission sponsored a summer college intern who created a geocaching game with an environmental theme for the Manalapan Recreation Center;

• The commission continued to supply an Environmental Tip of the Month, which is artistically designed and widely distributed to the community;

In regard to continuing education and being involved with the community of people working to protect the environment in New Jersey beyond Manalapan, the commission participated in the following activities:

• The Environmental Commission applied for a grant from the Monmouth County Audubon Society to increase bird habitat at the recreation center by planting additional native trees and installing bluebird houses. The commission is waiting to hear if the grant will be forthcoming.

• The Environmental Commission received a presentation on NJ-GeoWeb, a useful tool in
application review;

• The commissioners attended webinars related to infrastructure for electric vehicles in New Jersey and regarding a new plastics law in New Jersey.

Tankoos said the Environmental Commission is looking forward to another productive year in 2022 and appreciates the support it received in 2021 from the Township Committee,
the administrative staff, the Department of Public Works and the township forester.

On behalf of the commission, Tankoos thanked Committeeman Barry Jacobson, who serves as the Township Committee’s liaison to the Environmental Commission.

Individuals who are interested in volunteering to assist the Environmental Commission may send an email to mec@mtnj.org

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