BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | MonroeNow | Jul 24, 2018
MONROE – The township was one of many across the state that recently received a portion of $19.4 million from the Clean Communities grant program to help promote and support its anti-litter campaigns.
The $85,500 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Clean Communities program will fund a mini-grant award to local qualifying non-profits, equipment upgrades and other initiatives to support the township’s litter removal campaign.
“This funding is critical to our efforts to keep New Jersey clean,” said Sandy Huber, executive director of the New Jersey Clean Communities.
To receive the mini-grant, a non-profit must have a tax identification number, at least 15 participants and host a three- to four-hour cleanup that spans one mile.
“It’s a great way to get involved, to make a visible impact through community service and to impress upon our residents the severe consequences of littering,” Joe Slomian, a representative of Monroe Township’s Recycling Department, said.
At least $20,000 will be available in the mini-grant program for non-profits to apply for, said Public Works Director Wayne Horbatt. However, “this is a proposed number that’s contingent on a response rate from the public. The program has not garnered the amount of interest we had hoped for in the past.”
Horbatt said last year four non-profits applied and each received $500 for their cleanup efforts. The most grants awarded in a single year is 10, he said.
“By promoting the program through all the various channels … we’re hoping for an uptick in participation,” Horbatt said. Non-profits can contact Slomian at 732-656-4575 for information about applying for a mini-grant.
The remaining funds will support equipment upgrades, maintain the township’s two street sweepers, purchase items for litter removal such as garbage bags, litter survey and educational and prevention efforts.
“The township has and will continue to participate in the statewide visual litter survey with Clean Communities,” Horbatt said.
The litter survey requires participants, like Monroe, to assess areas that are problems and provide a plan to the state for solving the litter issue. In addition to other requirements, the survey is conducted during a state-designated timeframe. This year, surveys had to be conducted between March 1 and April 30.
The Recycling Department, Horbatt said, will also consider new signs, a single-use plastic deterrent campaign, an adopt-a-road program and sponsoring a Cleanup Monroe Day.
“We are very pleased with this grant funding and with the steps our Recycling Department and our Environmental Commission, which also routinely hosts cleanups, are taking to be proactive,” said Councilman Leonard Baskin, liaison to the township’s Environmental Commission. “It’s going to take strategy and a combined effort by our community to effectively tackle what amounts to a persistent littering problem.”