NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Up against a tight deadline to apply for a grant from PSE&G, the City Council decided not to move forward with the grant application at a recent meeting.
The decision means that the New Brunswick Environmental Commission and the city’s Green Team will likely have to wait another year to secure funding that would allow for the accounting of the city’s environmental resources.
“[We] are disappointed that Council did not pass a resolution to support our grant proposal to Sustainable Jersey for an Environmental Resource Inventory,” said Heather Fenyk, a member of both organizations.
An Environmental Resource Inventory, or ERI, is a survey conducted by an outside firm that would take stock of the city’s ecological assets and current conditions.
An ERI for New Brunswick would focus on the Lower Raritan Watershed area and would contain vital information of the flood impact of the area as well as native and invasive species which compete for resources.
“We feel our presentation to Council at the January 21 session was a good first step toward putting the need for an ERI on the municipal radar,” said Fenyk.
According to a summation of the grant made by Director of Planning, Community & Economic Development Glenn Patterson, the grant would allow the city to deal with its natural resource inventory.
Though the director believed the grant was initially a good idea, he also stated there were too many questions left unanswered.
“The application that was submitted looks like it’s calling for a city contribution, just as municipal budget and it’s not clear where that’s coming from,” he said during the meeting.
“It’s not in anyone’s particular department so we didn’t know where that was supposed to be charged to,” said Patterson.
Issues pertaining as to whom would be in charge of the project were among several reasons why Council President Kevin Egan and the rest of the Council decided to hold off on approval of the grant application, said Jennifer Bradshaw, New Brunswick’s Public Information Officer.
However, talks on the matter did not resume in time for the grant’s February 1 deadline.
Although the grants deadline has passed, Fenyk hopes this will help build stronger lines of communication between her groups and the city.
“Our groups recognize that we need to improve communication with City Council and the City’s Department of Planning regarding environmental goals so that we are better positioned to take advantage of grants and other funding when opportunities arise,” she wrote.
North Brunswick recently have completed an ERI funded by the state Association of Environmental Commissions (ANJEC).
The survey provides “objective and reliable data in one document so that township officials can make informed decisions to protect the township’s natural resources and the overall healthof the community.”
North Brunswick received a $7,500 grant in 2012, and adopted it into the township’s master plan in September.
The survey will act as a “living document” that intends to guide the decisions made by local legislators and their constituents who authorize the continued expansion of high-density, high-impact development projects.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.