HAWTHORNE, NJ - Two grants totaling $21,500 will help develop the "Gateway to the Passaic River" project in southern Hawthorne near the parking lot of the Wagaraw Fields.  The Green Team and Environmental Commission will be undertaking the project to address environmental concerns in the area of Wagaraw along the Passaic River.  The funding came as a result of the hard work of a community coalition seeking to improve the location and address its flooding.

Environmental Commission Chairwoman Rayna Laiosa presented a PowerPoint to the council chamber, detailing the specifics of what the grants will be used to do.  "This project really builds upon all the other projects that we’ve done.  One being the rain garden at the library in 2013 that we built and also all our native plant projects that we’ve done over the last two years at borough-owned property, as well as the chamber of commerce businesses’," she said.  "So, putting that all together, we looked at this property and said this is an opportunity where we can address the storm water off of that parking lot leading into the wooded area.  There’s an existing walkway that goes to the Passaic River and we’re going to enhance that.  We’re going to do some river clean ups, going to install some nesting boxes on the property, we’re going to create a trail map and a trail sign."

The grants going toward this effort are $20,000 from the Sustainable Jersey Grant funded by the PSEG Foundation and $1,500 from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions 2018 Open Space Grant.  No matching funds were required from the borough, so the Passaic River Gateway Project will not place any burden on Hawthorne's taxpayers.

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"I do want to recognize that we have letters of support from Rutgers to do this project," Laiosa said.  "I think because of that and our partnerships is really he reason why were were able to get this [grant] package together. "

The storm water management initiative is designed to utilize the water which runs off the parking lot and feed it into a 160 square foot “rain garden” with native plants.  The vicinity will be cleared of decaying vegetation and debris.  Behind the rain garden, some trees will be removed and more native plants will replace them, taking advantage of an opened tree canopy.

“These are very small trees, we’ll be keeping the big trees, they’ll be the anchors of the rain garden,” Laiosa said.  “When we open this canopy, all of this area is going to open up."

Laiosa then explained that the confluence of the Passaic River and Stevenson Brook will be the site of the shoreline of the Gateway.  "This is going to enhance and promote the Hawthorne waterfront space.  We’re going to have opportunities for fishing, opportunities for recreation, kayaks, and boating, we’re going to utilize native plants, and we’re also going to promote the aesthetics of the Passaic River for us and for the future."

NJ Fish and Wildlife has been stocking the Passaic River with northern pike and channel catfish in Hawthorne, she said.  Hawthorne Environmental Commissioners met with NJ Fish and Wildlife officials recently to discuss fishing prospects.

ANJAC's check of $1,500.00 was presented to Mayor Goldberg amid applause from the council and audience.


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