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NOTE: In New Jersey, environmental commissions consider many issues, including open space preservation, wetlands and water resource protection, green infrastructure, recycling and litter, environmental cleanups, wildlife habitat, energy efficiency, smart growth, and transportation.

Hammonton — The Hammonton Environmental Commission held its monthly meeting at 7pm on June 10 through the use of Zoom videoconferencing software.

Water Quality

At the meeting, Chairperson Dan Bachalis gave updates regarding various issues surrounding Hammonton Lake.

“I’ve pretty much finished the application to Bass Pro Shops for funding for a lake vegetation study. I’m just waiting to get a couple of nods from committee members before sending it in,” Bachalis said.

Bachalis said that the Lakewater Quality Commission had a meeting with Emma Witt from Stockton University’s environmental science program. “This was about the possibility of getting a lake intern to do testing of the lake waters and also to do a mycoremediation project on Fowler’s Creek using mushroom mycelium. She was very interested in that. She said they have 60 to 70 students who have to get internships or senior projects in order to meet their graduation qualifications, and they haven’t been able to do that because the university is forbidding any person-to-person project work, so there’s a lot of pent-up potential there,” Bachalis said.

Bachalis noted that there were additional discussions regarding interns from Stockton University.

“We also discussed the idea of most of the lake testing and the mycoremediation having successive semesters of student groups following along to add to the database of these results that they get, and maybe doing deeper and deeper sources of potential pollution for the lake, or working on our tree management program, or other issues. We have other streams in the town that really need to be checked out,” Bachalis said.

Community Gardens

Later in the meeting, Commissioner Amy Menzel gave an update regarding the community garden.

“We still have some open beds if anybody is looking for a place to garden. We’re planting them up for donation as well,” Menzel said.

Bicycle & Pedestrian Planning

Bachalis later talked about a meeting with a bicycle and pedestrian planning assistance steering committee. “This is a completely free consultancy to the town. They’ll be developing, as a result of their work—looking at the data and getting public input, getting feedback from key informants, et cetera, et cetera—a bicycle and pedestrian element to the master plan.

In addition to the other two elements that we’ve brought to the town, we’re also getting a bicycle and pedestrian element thrown into the mix that the town doesn’t even have to work on,” Bachalis said. Bachalis said that the consulting firm, Sam Schwartz Engineering, would be in charge of the committee, which includes Bachalis, Com- missioner Alicia  Murphy—who is representing the Bicycle Advisory Committee— Public Works Manager Robert Vettese, Town Engineer Mark Herrmann, Hammonton Police Chief Kevin Friel, MainStreet Hammonton Executive  Director Cassie Iacovelli and Town Advocate Jim Donio, as well as individuals from Atlantic County Public Works and New Jersey Transit.

“They’re going to be posting things in The Gazette, on Channel 9, on the town website, to solicit public input. They have an interactive map that people will be able  to use. They’re going to be using a community survey that’ll be going out. And they hope to have all of this done by December,” Bachalis said.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Bachalis also talked about a grant opportunity through Volkswagen, which would potentially fund charging stations for electric vehicles.

“I was thinking about one. Bob (Vettese) was talking about the possibility of four locations around town, up and down Bellevue and 12th. With some further refinement from DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) and a couple of people from Atlantic City Electric, we’re back down to one,” Bachalis said.

Bachalis said that one of the chargers being discussed would be a fast charger.

“With the fast charger, you can get up to about 80 percent in 15 or 20 minutes. The last 20 percent takes a long time,” Menzel said.

Bachalis said that, after receiving further input, they were looking into placing a level two charger in the parking lot on Vine Street across from town hall. Bachalis said that would give a full charge between one and four hours.

“This would be ideal for having people come into town, park their car, charge it up, go to the Eagle Theatre, go to a restaurant, what have you, go to an event in town and then be charged up,” Bachalis said.

This story was produced in collaboration with CivicStory and the New Jersey Sustainability Reporting project. It was originally reported by Joseph F. Berenato for The Hammonton Gazette, and may be re-distributed through the Creative Commons License, with attribution.

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