HAMILTON, NJ --  Hamilton Township Mayor Jeff Martin met virtually with green-minded members of the community for a town hall meeting Thursday to discuss his plans for protecting local open space and parks and environmentally-friendly forward. Hosted by the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, Martin spoke about the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the impact that is has had on local activities and services.

Martin said he was happy to report that the Township has consistently lower cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks – down from 30 new cases a day in April to 30 new cases per week. 

“As we’ve settled down in dealing with the coronavirus in recent weeks, we’ve been able to refocus on other Township matters,” said Martin. “We are now in the planning process for outdoor clean up events that will be led by Township employees.”

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During the spring months, annual environmental events typically held around Earth Day such as stream clean up and the Bromley had to be canceled due to stay-at-home orders issued by Governor Phil Murphy.

“While there are some budget cuts caused by COVID, in the long run they won’t have an impact on our parks, and we have been able to put plans in place for the future,” said Martin who highlighted the conversion of park tennis courts into pickle ball courts which is a growing sport to keep active outside. 

Hamilton-native Joe Hendershot moderated the forum that covered the importance of the Abbott Marshlands, Duck Island, and a recent Clean Communities Grant received by the Township. 

The ninth largest town in the state, Hamilton received the fourth largest Clean Communities Grant.

Martin pointed out that the Township’s ecological facility helps process materials that otherwise would have been taken to the dump and the brush and leaf collection program is turned into mulch that is given away to residents for free if they pick it up. 

The mayor also said that he will be announcing a plan in coming months to utilize the Tree Trust Fund which currently has more than $1 million in it. The monies as a result of a local regulation requiring developers to either replace every tree they cut down or pay into the fund.

The Fund hasn’t been drawn down on the account in years according to Martin.

“We are putting together a three-year plan to replace trees around the township on properties, streets, parks to make Hamilton more environmentally friendly and green,” said Martin.  “We will be creative in finding ways to make Hamilton make environmentally friendly and more beautiful and it doesn’t impact our taxpayers because that money is sitting there anyway and put it toward the intended use.”

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