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West Milford is on the way to becoming a NJ Sustainable Jersey Certified community
"The last piece to the puzzle was the township energy audit, which we finally completed," said Sustainability Subcommittee Chair Renee Allessio.
"I am thrilled to report that according to Township Administrator Kevin Boyle, we are implementing all the recommendations. All municipal-owned buildings were included in the energy audit. We should realize tangible energy and financial savings when this is completed. We are now waiting to hear back from Sustainable Jersey.
"I am confident that we will be accepted this year," said Allessio in an e-mail to Aim West Milford. "Sustainable Jersey will work with us if we need further documentation to back up our information. West Milford is a wonderful place to live, and we have accomplished so much to be proud of. We have much to do. Sustainability is a work in progress."
On July 7, 2010, the Township Council adopted a resolution of support authorizing a request for a $25,000 Sustainable Jersey grant funded by Walmart. The plan included a proposal for a 12-by-16 office and operations building for the West Milford Recycling Center. The effort was not successful but Allessio said there is an opportunity to try again this year for a grant from the company.
"A sustainable community seeks to optimize quality of life for its residents by ensuing that its environmental, economic, and social objectives are balanced and mutually supportive," said the earlier resolution. "The township strives to save tax dollars; assure clean land, air and water; improve working and living environments, and is participating in the Sustainable Jersey Program.
"This proposal includes numerous green components that will contribute to occupant safety and comfort, minimize energy consumption, and provide renewable energy," said the application filed by the township. "We have included radiant heating with solar thermal collectors, structural insulated panel system shell and photovoltaic collectors in this proposal. All work will be as specified (in the application) and completed in a timely organized manner with emphasis placed on not interrupting operations and maintaining a safe work environment throughout the duration of work performed."
Allessio expected to hear at least by this month if the township application had been successful. "If we do get certified, I'll be yelling from the top of Bearfort Mountain, The township has really worked hard. I hope we gain this certification."
Documented actions submitted by West Milford to Sustainable Jersey to become Sustainable Jersey Certified include creation of a Green Team that by resolution is the West Milford Environmental Commission with a Sustainability Subcommittee. In a community education and outreach effort, the township's various programs include once-a-month educational programs with invited guest lecturers, a film series, garden education, and a herbal medicine series. There is an information table at the weekly farmers' market, Green Fest, website, and monthly newsletter.
The West Milford High School Green Team has involvement in various programs including engaging in recycling, participating in cleanup day, and testing water quality on Belcher's Creek. Team members visit schools with energy programs and plant gardens and trees. The Highlands Greenfest was held annually for three years.
There are community gardens at Apple Acres on Union Valley Road, a medicinal garden at Upper Greenwood Lake, and a West Milford High School garden. The Environmental Commission has existed for decades. With a natural resource inventory in place for years, there was a recent update with a new township Master Plan.
In addition, residents have long been in favor of open space objectives on referendums.
"Taxpayers currently pay a minimal open space tax," said Allessio. "State and county grant money, combined with town open-space funds, has helped save many acres of land from development, protecting our natural resources.
"Environmental Assessment Ordinances passed have included a fertilizer ordinance and a septic ordinance," continued Allessio. "There is a tree protection ordinance. West Milford has a very active recycling and compose center. The township is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Waste Partner and active member for years."
In order to become NJ Sustainable Jersey certified, she said the township needs 150 points for bronze certification and 195 points were submitted.
"Among the latest highlights of certification efforts are the establishment of a Time Bank," explained Allessio. "This involves donating time by doing something for someone in the community and banking that time in the Community Time Bank so that one's banked time can be used to have someone spend time doing something for you."
Sustainable West Milford and Ample Harvest were invited to attend a Passaic County Green Fair last month.
"The council has spoken about solar panels in West Milford," said Allessio. "Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) has them on poles in other towns."
Committee members expressed the desire to work with the West Milford Chamber of Commerce to encourage shoppers to buy local and also to promote West Milford tourism. There will be an effort to involve more senior citizens in the sustainable community effort as well, Allessio reported.
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