Joint Environmental, Open Space, and Parks and Recreation Commissions Meeting

Morris County (New Jersey) in 1853Image via WikipediaMonday July 11th, the first ever joint meeting between the Pequannock Environmental Commission, Open Space Committee, and Parks and Recreation was held at the Senior House at 7:30pm.

The purpose of the meeting was increase awareness among the diverse groups of the missions of each as well as key projects that the groups might be able to pool resources to achieve, thus not only acting with greater cohesion and vision, but also reducing costs for the taxpayer through increased efficiency.

The meeting was public and subject to NJ public meetings regulations, however it was agreed that due to issues of length, public comment would be better handled at the individual commission meetings.

Tom Andrea, a former Town Council candidate, member of both Environmental Commission and Parks and Recreation, and strong proponent for PV Park, spoke on behalf of Parks and Recreation.  Andrea stated that the mission of Parks and Recreation is to enhance and improve the quality of life in town for all residents, largely through overseeing the township parks system and the planning of recreational events for citizens.  Up and coming plans for Parks and Recreation include an increased number of pocket parks (small green spaces maintained within neighborhoods) and the possible creation of a community center in the future.

Tom Newman, Chairman of the Environmental Commission, spoke on behalf of that group, stating that their mission is to act in an advisory fashion to the Town Council on environmental issues, especially Development Letters of Interpretation and quite often queries which are brought to the Council by residents.

Newman also discussed the public outreach activities of the Commission which include, but are not limited to:

  1. Nature hikes.
  2. The Ho Down.
  3. Presentations by Commission members.
  4. Guest speakers.
  5. Public education about recycling and septic system maintenance.  

The Commission also conducts frequent rolling inspections of town waterways (known as blue line inspections) and submits an annual report of achievements to the Township Council.  A large work in progress spearheaded and maintained by the Pequannock Environmental Commission is the Pequannock ERI (Environmental Resources Inventory), what is essentially an enumeration of all items of environmental significance in town.

Frank Spizziri spoke on behalf of the Open Space Committee stating that the current projects of the Committee include, but are not limited to:

  1. Purchase of 22 homes within the flood way with the use of FEMA funds.
  2. Establishment of the Pequannock River Walk (a maintained path which will follow along the Pequannock River from Harrison Rd to North Pequannock Ave).
  3. Reconstruction of a bridge between Harrison Rd and Riverside Dr in Riverdale to connect the green spaces between the two towns.
  4. Establishment of better physical access to Aquatic Park.
  5. Creation of ball-fields on Harrison Rd.
  6. Continued work to establish a bike path as spearheaded by Morris County.

An informal survey was conducted by Councilperson Cathy Winterfield at the close of the meeting:

  • Nearly all present considered the meeting a great success.
  • Many would repeat the joint meeting once a year.
  • Several would repeat the joint meeting 2 or 3 times a year.
  • One would repeat the joint meeting more than 3 times a year.

Deputy Mayor Melissa Florance Lynch was also present at the meeting, Mayor Richard Phelan excused himself with regrets in order to comply with NJ open public meetings regulations.

Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock Environmental and Historic District Commissions as well as the author of  "Torrent," a book about flooding in the region.  Lotito's personal mission is to reduce new taxes, drastically reduce flooding, and preserve more green spaces for our children.  Christopher Lotito Profile

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