Franklin Township Commission Supports $99K Community Garden Grant

The Franklin Township Environmental Commission held a meeting on March 4th, 2024, which resulted in the decision to support a grant application for the Pine Grove Manor community garden. The grant, amounting to approximately $99,000, is set to connect water from the school to the garden and provide essential gardening supplies. The funds are intended for a 501c3 organization that oversees the garden.

Moreover, the commission discussed the importance of facilitating the broader community’s interest in electric vehicles (EVs). A presentation at the library on charging stations for electric vehicles sparked interest and led to a discussion about the need for dedicated presentations on the topic. During public comments, concerns about the safety of electric vehicles and homeowners’ potential requirements to install charging stations were raised. This prompted a discussion about the need for standards and legislation to guide the community’s transition to EVs.

In addition to addressing the community’s interest in sustainable transportation, the commission deliberated on the logistics and challenges of organizing a successful farmers market. Considerations included the feasibility of holding the market on a weekday or during major holidays to increase attendance and visibility. The commission also reported ongoing initiatives such as the annual report, the Community Energy Plan, and the partnership with Sustainable Jersey for Energy Efficiency. There was debate about the level of involvement required from the commission in these initiatives and the logistics involved in the grant application process.

Another topic of significance was the commission’s discussion on the necessity for lawn signs to communicate environmental messages and the potential sources of funding for them. The commission considered utilizing the budget from clean communities and debated the logistics of distributing and collecting the signs. Concerns were also raised regarding the lack of response from the township council on anti-idling suggestions and the need to revisit tree ordinance amendments, which included definitions of trees and a 25% cap on land coverage.

The commission expressed frustration over the lack of progress on the preservation of an abandoned railway bed and the “Save the Mole” initiative, as well as the absence of a response from the township manager on an anti-idling ordinance. The members discussed the maintenance and watering of trees, questioning the effectiveness of the Department of Public Works’ efforts and suggesting the use of funds from the shade tree commission’s trust fund for planting and maintenance. The need for a professional tree maintenance program, including watering and the associated costs, was also raised.

Updates were provided on the green infrastructure project, which is central to the township’s efforts to implement environmentally-friendly solutions. However, the commission noted challenges in organizing the project. The meeting also covered the status of a proposed plan to use funds from the shade tree trust, which raised concerns about the plan’s maintenance timeline and the cost of geotags for each tree.

Additionally, the commission considered the possibility of holding virtual meetings. Opinions were divided, with some members highlighting the benefits for emergency situations while others expressed concerns about fairness and productivity. The lack of consensus on the issue illustrated the ongoing debate about the feasibility and desirability of virtual meetings within the commission.

The commission engaged with a member of the public from a nonprofit organization who called for collaboration with the council on environmental projects, citing previous community work and suggesting potential initiatives. The commission also addressed the issue of composting, with the idea of distributing compost bins to encourage organic gardening being suggested. Some members expressed interest in exploring this idea further.

Lastly, the discussion touched on organizing clean-up events in local parks, emphasizing the need to plan around the busy month of April due to Earth Day projects and beach clean-ups. The importance of getting waivers signed for the stream clean-up was mentioned, alongside the need for assistance with planting and digging for reforestation efforts. There was some debate about the use of lawn signs to communicate the decision not to mow lawns in the spring, with suggestions for biodegradable signs and concerns about the environmental impact of signs altogether.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Phillip Kramer
Environmental Commission Officials:
Paul Walitsky, Arnold Schmidt, Walter Andrews, Stanislav Jaracz, Jessica Johnson, Dr. Theodore Chase, Jr., Eusebio (EZ) Pires, Maria Santiago Valentin, Robin Suydam, Ed Potosnak, Tara Kenyon (Land Preservation and Management Consultant)

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