Lawrence Township Environmental Resources and Green Advisory Committee
The Lawrence Township Environmental Resources and Green Advisory Committee (ERGAC) consists of ten members appointed by the Lawrence township council. Each member serves a term of four years. The ERGAC was reorganized in 2013 to merge the former Environmental Resource Committee and the Sustainability/Green Team.
- Advise and consult with the council and the manager with respect to the environmental needs of the township.
- Review and make recommendations with respect to township acquisition and administration of open space and other conservation areas and projects.
- Study and develop proposals for the conservation and preservation of natural features, including landscaping of the township and make recommendations with respect thereto to the council and manager.
- Review and make recommendations to the zoning board of adjustment and the planning boards on all site plans and subdivisions submitted to the board.
Members and Liaisons
- Annette Loveless, Chair (Through 12/31/21)
- Katharine Anne Schumacher, Vice Chair (Through 12/31/23)
- Teresita Bastides-Heron (Through 12/31/21)
- Dana Irlbacher (Through 12/31/21)
- Ed Frankel, (Through 12/31/21)
- Donald Little (Through 12/31/21)
- Pamela Mount, (Through 12/31/24)
- Carolyn Peucher (Through 12/31/21)
- Tahirih Smith (Through 12/31/23)
- Noemi de la Puente (Through 12/31/24)
Chris Bobbit, Councilman, Township Council Liaison
Generally, the Committee meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 7:30 PM in the Manager’s Conference Room in the Municipal Building.
Projects and Activities
Site Plan Review
At monthly meetings, ERSGA members continue to review site plans presented to the Planning Board, and the Zoning Board. Comments written by the Site Plan Review Subcommittee and approved by ERSGA, are sent to the appropriate board.
Membership in ANJEC
The ERSGA renewed its membership in the Association of NJ Environmental Commissions. Several new members have attended training sessions working with Mercer County Sustainable Coalition.
Some ERSGA members are active members of the Mercer County Sustainability Coalition. The Coalition meets monthly and at least three Lawrence members attend. The Coalition works jointly on four large public projects and have information and educational programs throughout the year. They also help publicize and share activities and workshops hosted by town Green Teams. Thus helping each other and providing more services for the residents of Mercer County without duplicating services. In 2016 they planned and hosted the Local Living Expo at Rider University on March 19th.
Environmental Education and Outreach
Members of the Lawrence ERSGA were instrumental in organizing the Living Local Expo on March 19, 2016. Attendance at the Expo increased from previous years and was a huge success. Version of the GreenFest are in it’s 14th year. For 2021 the Lawrence team is coordinating a virtual and community wide event with the Mercer County Sustainability Coalition.
In previous years, vendors, Wild Eyes Zoo, arts and crafts, farmers markets, electric vehicle enthusiasts and educational speakers have participated. Over the years, thousands of people have enjoyed these educational opportunities to learn about sustainable practices with their friends and families. Rider University – a sustainable campus, with Rider students helping all day have also been integral to the success of the event. With so much success, plans are underway for the 2021 event that will help in partnership with MCSC.
Nature Center – Joint Program
The Lawrence Nature Center is located in Drexel Woods, a town park of 35 acres. The ERGAC, in collaboration with the Friends of Nature Center – host trail walks, park and garden maintenance, speakers, family night activities all summer, educational programs and workshops. Now with a grant from NRCS we were able to develop a stewardship plan with consultant Bill Brash, former director of Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation. Suggested actions will protect the forest, meadow and streams, build wildlife habitats and enhance our educational activities. The plan will be a model for other parks in town. We are applying for another round of NRCS grants to implement the plan along with recruiting many new volunteers through an invitation letter and an open house.
The Mother Nature Festival
The Mother Nature Festival is a town-wide event at the Drexel Woods Park, Lawrence Nature Center. Highlight is a visit from the Philadelphia Zoo as well as exhibits, trail hikes and 20 vendors and 10 speakers. It is free and open to the public. Held yearly, the first Saturday in May – it is a great educational, fun family event.
Sustainable Jersey Certification Program
ERGAC received a “silver certification” from Sustainable Jersey at the League of Municipalities convention in Atlantic City. Lawrence is one of 45 towns in the state to earn this distinction. At this time 441 towns are registered at the bronze and silver levels. Students from Rider University worked with ERSGA to submit our completed Sustainable Jersey action certification application to reach “silver” certification after being certified bronze level in 2009, 2010 and 2014. Rider Professor Dr. Brooke Hunter and her capstar seminar students spent the 2016 spring semester studying our local sustainability efforts and interviewing local leaders. They then analyzed Sustainable Jersey requirements and wrote reports to prove how Lawrence fulfilled Sustainable Jersey actions.
“Sustainable Jersey is a certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, control costs and save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term.” The members of the ERGAC have been working throughout the year on activities that would be counted towards the renewed certification from Bronze Certification issued to the Township in 2010 to Silver. The Sustainable Jersey program has been an ongoing item on the ERGAC agenda.
Organic Waste Recycling
The ERGAC assisted the Township in organizing an Organic Food Waste Collection Program. This program picks up organic wastes from homeowners and transports it to a composting facility. The ERGAC, along with Township officials, have signed up 200 residents to participate in the program. This process will continue in 2016-17. In 2015, we received a $20,000 grant from Sustainable Jersey to help facilitate getting residents to participate by lowering the additional price for the program. We used $10,000 of the grant to lower the cost for participants and increase participation. A new member of Sustainable Lawrence is the director of Rutgers EcoComplex Alternative Energy Innovation Center and has been helpful keeping us up to date with food waste recycling practices. The committee continues to be supportive of the food waste recycling program and hopes to help expand the program in 2017.
Environmental Resource Inventory
The ERGAC has worked for a year on updating our Environmental Resource Inventory with support from a grant and support from DVRPC. The ERI “serves as an index of natural resources and is a compilation of text and visual information about the natural resource characteristics and environmental features of an area”. In 2016 we updated, rewrote and remapped. The community was very helpful with ground truthing the information in the inventory.
The inventory is completed and should be presented to the town council and planning board in spring 2017 to be included in the town’s master plan.
ERSGA supported the town clean communities clean up date, collection trash from the Colonial Lake area. An annual event emphasizing our efforts at litter abatement with the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association.
The ERGAC tries to promote health and wellness throughout Lawrence. In 2016 we organized and ran a bike ride around the neighborhoods in the southern part of our town promoting neighborhood biking as a healthy and accessible exercise for all ages.
Farm to Table
Hosting the fourth annual Farm to Table dinner at Terhune Orchards on July 21, 2016. The ERGAC helps with organizing and publicity as well as volunteering on event day. Over 200 people enjoyed a locally sourced, unique dinner prepared by the chefs of the Terra Momo Restaurant Group. Funds raised by the event go to the MCSC – for our joint county-wide efforts.
The Lawrence ERGAC continues to be very active in 2021. Our volunteers have put in many hours and helped bring sustainability and resilience to the residents and governing body of Lawrence.