“Going Green…” We probably hear this phrase every day. We might even hear it so much that the message it carries doesn’t register. But in Secaucus, it’s high time that we all stop and consider just how important these two words are and what they really mean for us today, for our children when we are gone, and for generations beyond that. A green future – a sustainable future – is made up of many components. Many of them are activities, practices, and patterns of behavior that aren’t too difficult to embrace if we just stop to gain a little insight on the matter. For this reason, the Town of Secaucus is hosting its first ever Green Summer Festival at Mill Creek Point Park, starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20 and continuing until 2 p.m. The event marks another big step for the town in undertaking actions focused on conservation, preservation, and sustainability.
One of the steps on this path to a more sustainable future is altering our energy consumption. In the past two years, this administration has upgraded its fleet of vehicles to include eight hybrids, with two more to be purchased in the near future. Each of these vehicles saves taxpayers roughly $300 per month, which works out to about 75 gallons of fuel. Very soon the entire fleet, altogether, will be saving the town an estimated $36,000 per year and reducing fuel consumption by about 9,000 gallons annually. In addition to saving money and reducing fuel consumption, these vehicles also reduce emissions that damage the environment. Another endeavor that has led to reduced costs, energy consumption, and environmental impact is the replacement of light bulbs, fixtures, and heating units at the Department of Public Works Garage, Municipal Ice Rink, and Animal Shelter. These upgrades were recently completed and are projected to save over $30,000 in electricity costs in the first year of operation alone. As with fuel, when we reduce our consumption of electricity, we lessen the toll that producing the energy takes on the environment. We were very fortunate to get grant funding for this first phase of upgrades, and we expect another even larger grant to come through in the very near future that will allow us to continue this important work.
Along these same lines, we have also initiated a number of solar projects that will produce clean energy at our schools, Town Hall, the Public Library, and the DPW Garage. We are working in collaboration with the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, the county, and the school district, and within the next year, a handful of these projects should be up and running. None of them will cost our residents a dime. In fact, all will have the added benefit of creating significant savings in energy costs while lessening our negative impact on the environment. Even some of our corporate neighbors have gotten on board – notably, Xchange at Secaucus Junction has installed a large solar field that powers 100 percent of the common areas in all of their residential facilities. This is the kind of commitment that a community needs in order to truly go green.
A number of our other municipal practices and policies are geared towards a green future. Possibly the most well-known is our recycling program. In addition to the standard tin, glass, plastic, aluminum, and paper, we’ve just added plastic bags, computers and electronics to the list of materials to be recycled. We also do motor oil, antifreeze, and car batteries. On top of all this, we recently installed new garbage & recycling receptacles throughout the town in hopes of improving upon one of the highest municipal recycling rates in the state. Another of our essential practices is the maintenance of the municipal tree population. Over the last two years we have planted over 250 trees, an action that leads to the reduction of harmful gasses, noise pollution, erosion, and runoff. Our trees also shade buildings, streets, and homes, resulting in cooler temperatures and lower energy costs during the hot summer months.
While the administration has made considerable progress with green initiatives, we aren’t experts by any stretch of the imagination – that’s why we have created two important groups to ensure that we continue to move in the right direction. After a long hiatus, we have brought back the Secaucus Environmental Committee; additionally, we formed the Secaucus Green Team. Both are headed by Amanda Nesheiwat, a young dynamic leader armed with significant knowledge and resources on all matters environmental. Ms. Nesheiwat is currently planning an energy outreach initiative aimed at the youth of Secaucus, and she is also the organizer of our first ever Green Summer Festival, an educational event that I know will be a lot of fun for the whole family. We have arranged for exhibitions and demonstrations from the Turtle Back Zoo, Liberty Science Center, and Home Depot. We’ll also get a special show with live endangered animals presented by the Tenafly Nature Center. You can come early and enjoy Tai Chi or yoga, or stop by at any time after 10 a.m. and take a canoe ride, visit the green vendors, appreciate some local art, and enjoy the food and live music. If you bring the kids, they’ll get a kick out of the puppet shows, rides, and games, and they can learn a thing or two at the archaeological digging zone presented by Jerseysaurus. We’re even bringing in Kidsville News to cover the event at a level that will be perfect for our young children.
Unlike so many phrases that have come and gone over the years, or fads that have been popular for an era and then faded away, “going green” is something that is here to stay. The Green Festival is a chance for everyone to learn a little bit more about how residents can all play a role in helping to make Secaucus a green town. When it comes to creating a sustainable future, every individual is essential, not only for this town, but for the whole world. I’m excited about this event and urge everyone to come out to Mill Creek Point Park on Saturday, Aug. 20 to take part in the festivities. For more details, call Town Hall at (201) 330-2000 or visit our web site: www.secaucusnj.org. See you there.