BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Continuing on their quest to clean up and beautify their town, Berkeley Heights residents gathered litter found in and around two waters basins in Cinnamon Ridge, one adjacent to Grassman Lane and the other adjacent to Pinnel Court, on Saturday, April 7 as well as in Snyder Park on Thursday, April 12. Both efforts resulted in over 150 pounds of recyclables and trash being collected.
These two events were the fourth and fifth times, respectively, this year that residents participated in clean-up efforts that were part of New Jersey’s state-wide Adopt-A-Beach program, a joint effort between the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Clean Communities Council. The program promotes environmental stewardship through grassroots clean up efforts of local citizens in and around streams, rivers, and other water bodies in their community.
The fifth and most recent clean up at Snyder Park was a collaboration between the Berkeley Heights Downtown Beautification Committee, the Environmental Commission, and the Recreation Commission. This event marked the first of many joint clean up events and other efforts these groups plan to co-sponsor together in the future. In addition to members of these three groups, Town Council President Jeanne Kingsley, Recreation Department Director Tom Barton, and others donned gloves, grabbed bags, and participated in this event.
“We will continue to partner with the Recreation Commission and the Environmental Commission to keep our parks clean and beautiful,” said Julie Lloyd of the Downtown Beautification Committee. “Taking just a little bit of time to keep our treasured spaces clean is something everyone can do. We hope that this initiative raises awareness and encourages all families using our parks to pick up and throw away any trash that they see.”
Snyder Park, located off of Snyder Avenue in the heart of Berkeley Heights, contains a turf field with bleachers, a baseball field with bleachers, a playground for younger children, and a short, circular trail through the woods. The woods themselves are adjacent to the land surrounding a stream tributary to the Passaic River. The group endeavored to clean all of these areas, collecting 3 bags of recyclables and 6 bags of trash.
A few days earlier, members of Val’s Valiants – a group formed in 2017 for the exclusive purpose of cleaning up litter through the Adopt-A-Beach program – picked up litter in and around the Grassman water basin. The group also conducted a clean up of the small water basin adjacent to Pinnel Court, near the intersection of Pinnel and Swenson Circle. In what is now the second year of its existence, Val’s Valiants received the support and backing of the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission for its clean up efforts. During this fourth Val’s Valiants clean up event this year, 124 pounds of trash were gathered. For the Grassman water basin, most of the trash consisted of beer bottles, beer cans, plastic cups, and sports drink bottles found in the woods in the basin’s back perimeter. Many of the items found were located in “clusters” in large garbage bags that had been completely buried under leaves and underground. Some items had been there so long that small tree roots had started to grow over them. For the Pinnel water basin, most of the trash – primarily consisting of beer cans and plastic cups – was located in the basin’s center, in and next to the water drainage area.
At Snyder Park, the most unusual items collected were found near the turf field, including a blade from a pair of scissors, a used sanitary napkin, and several dryer-activated fabric softener sheets. A large piece of wire fencing was also found, buried in the leaves next to the wooded area. In contrast, the most unusual items collected during the Grassman water basin clean up included a number of plastic motor oil cans, stain remover spray bottles with square sections cut out of their bottom side panels, spray paint cans, and spray bug killer cans. The most unusual things found in the Pinnel water basin were three small knit gloves and a knit hat.
Resident Karin Sicoli said in regard to the Snyder Park clean up, “As part of the Berkeley Heights community, and with boys who regularly practice and play at Snyder, I was happy to join with other moms to pick up the trash at Snyder Park. It feels good to get out in the fresh air and clean up our parks! We should come together to keep our streets, parks, and fields tidy.”
The Adopt-A-Beach program runs for approximately 10 weeks, beginning on March 1 and ending on April 30. The Environmental Commission and the Beautification Committee invite everyone who is interested to come out and participate in “Clean Up Weekend” in which two clean up events that will be held during the last weekend of this program – one on Saturday, April 28 (BH Walks Clean Up at 10 a.m.; meet at the Berkeley Heights train station) and the other on Sunday, April 29 (Val’s Valiants Clean Up at 1 p.m. along Locust Avenue, between Timber Drive and Snyder Avenue; park on the street near the YMCA pool). Further information regarding each of these events will be forthcoming.
Removing litter from areas in and around waterways helps prevent contaminants from discarded materials from seeping into the ground, finding their way into the ground water, and entering into our water systems. Reducing the amount of litter helps to promote a healthier environment for humans, wildlife, and plant life. For further information about how you can participate in the Adopt-A-Beach program, visit www.njclean.org.