SOMERSET, NJ – The Franklin Township Council recognized residents’ dedication to protecting the environment and Franklin’s natural resources last night. 

The Environmental Stewardship Awards are given out each year to one individual and one organization by the township Environmental Commission. Walter Andrews, chair of the commission and former environmental scientist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, presented the awards to a long-time committee member and the Franklin Township Task Force on Compressor Station 206 & NESE (Northeast Supply Enhancement project). 

“We are fortunate to live in a town where we have so many people that are involved in environmental issues,” said Deputy Mayor James Vassanella. 

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The council recognized David Triggs for his “outstanding efforts to protect and preserve the environment through 24 years of dedicated service to the Environmental Commission.”

Triggs, who works at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, began his work with the commission in 1995 and serves on the township Open Space Advisory Committee, which he joined in 2008. 

“It was my pleasure to serve the residents of Franklin, and to be honest, the best part about being on the commission is the incredible people that I’ve been able to work with,” he said. “And we accomplished a lot over the years but I think the one notable thing that we did was we created the open space tax fund, which was overwhelmingly passed by our citizens. Because of that, we are able to preserve not only open space but also our historic homes and marquee parks like Middlebush Park. I don’t think that would exist today without that tax.” 

Formally organized by the council in 2017, the Franklin Township Task Force on Compressor Station 206 & NESE has worked for more than three years to block Oklahoma-based Williams Transco from building a natural gas compressor station in Franklin and adding 26.8 miles of pipe through New Jersey to bring gas from Pennsylvania to customers in New York. 

Williams Transco withdrew three of its four permit applications for the project from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection last month, leaving the state agency to decide on its floodwater hazard area permit application on Nov. 28. The company resubmitted the withdrawn applications on Oct. 28, three days after removing them from DEP consideration. 

“It's a small miracle that would not have happened other than for the efforts of many people, especially the five people that we’re honoring here tonight,” Vassanella said. “We can't thank you enough for your efforts.”

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