BELMAR, NJ — In a town known for its deep blue ocean and sandy beige beaches, Belmar is looking to become a bit more green — and not just at its traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The borough council has taken two important steps to regain its Sustainable Jersey certification, which would open the door to a host of grants to fund environmentally focused initiatives.
At its September 5 meeting, the governing body passed resolutions to undertake the application process to rejoin the Sustainable Jersey program and to establish a Green Team — an advisory committee of borough employees and community members that is required to earn certification as a Sustainable Jersey municipality.
“The Belmar Environmental Commission has been working very hard to get our Sustainable Jersey designation back,” said Borough Councilman Thomas Brennan, commission liaison. (The certification) will make us eligible for grants for what we want to do in town. It makes a lot of sense.”
Sustainable Jersey is a nonprofit organization that helps municipalities develop “sustainability” programs that reduce waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve environmental equity in the community. Most importantly, Sustainable Jersey-registered towns get special priority access and notification of incentives and grants from the public and private sector, and are eligible for Sustainable Jersey Small Grants — a program that has awarded more than $2.2 million to towns for community-based projects to improve quality of life in New Jersey.
Belmar joins nearly 450 municipalities in New Jersey with Green Teams, which earn points by taking certain actions to become more green and sustainable in order to achieve either bronze or silver Sustainable Jersey certification — a designation currently held by nearly 200 communities.
With the borough council’s latest action, Belmar is on its way to gaining bronze certification, according to Brennan, who is part of the Green Team, along with Business Administrator Colleen Connolly, Environmental Commission member Janis Keown Blackburn and Public Works Superintendent Michael Campbell, as well as Francis Hines of Belmar First Aid, Rebecca Szabo of the Belmar Arts Council and Brian Katz, owner of 10th Avenue Burrito Company.
The team's first task is to review municipal facilities and operations, including an evaluation of fleet vehicles. In its mission to make Belmar “greener,” it will explore solar power options, changes to fleet purchasing and maintenance, water quality improvements and overall operational changes.
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