Sparta receives second largest DEP Clean Communities grant in county

Vernon, Wantage among other top recipients


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BY ERIKA NORTON

Sparta Township is receiving over $45,000 in grant money — the second largest grant among Sussex County — for litter cleanup activities and other beautification programs.

These grants, called Clean Communities Grants, are awarded each year by The Department of Environmental Protection to assist municipalities with litter cleanup projects and other programs so that trash does not end up in the waterways or along the roadside. The DEP announced last week that $19.4 million is being distributed throughout the state.

“This funding is critical to our efforts to keep New Jersey clean,” said Sandy Huber, executive director of New Jersey Clean Communities. “Municipalities and counties will use Clean Communities grant funding to pay for programs such as volunteer and paid cleanups, equipment purchases, enforcement activities and public education.”

Grant in SpartaSparta Township Engineer Eric Powell said that grant allows a lot of different local groups to participate in a roadside, public park, or waterway clean up where the groups collect trash and recyclables.

These groups include Cub Scouts, rotary clubs, school groups and local residents.

“Each group is eligible for $250 for a roadside or park cleanup and they must submit an application to my office for review and approval,” Powell said. “The cleanup area must be on publicly owned property… not private property.

“Once the activity is approved, my office provides the safety equipment — gloves and safety vests — as well as the plastic bags to collect the materials in to the group.”

In order for the group to qualify, Powell said the group must spend two hours performing the cleanup and have a minimum of 10 participants. Once the materials are collected, the Township DPW retrieves the bags from the roadside or a designated drop off point.

Another component of the Clean Communities Grant is education.

In Sparta each year, Sparta Clean Communities sponsors and pays for an educational series that is presented in the elementary schools located within Sparta, according to Powell. The presenter is approved by New Jersey Clean Communities and coordinates their programs with each individual school, both public and private.

“The goal of these programs is to impart on the children the proper handling of trash and the impact it can have on the environment if it is not properly handled,” he said. “These programs over the years have ranged from magic shows to using reptiles to using music to deliver the message.”

Sparta Clean Communities has also sponsored a program that was presented at the New Jersey State Fair at the Sussex County fairgrounds during fair week, but has since stopped as the presenters have retired. Powell said he is currently looking into other programs that Sparta could sponsor at the Fair.

Other recipientsVernon Township received the largest Clean Communities Grant in Sussex County of $52,000.

Mayor Harry Shortway said the annual grant is used for a variety of activities in the town. Some of the money is used to have nonprofits clean up the roads and graffitti.

Other activities funded by the grant in Vernon include the street sweeping operations, Bulky Waste Day, where residents can dispose of items like tires and furniture, and EarthFest.

In total, over $390,000 is being distributed among Sussex County municipalities. Sussex County itself is also receiving over $101,000 in Clean Communities Grant money for county projects.

More information can be found at njclean.org.



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