Sustainable Madison Committee Explores Host of Projects to Protect and Preserve Local Environment

Sustainable Madison Committee members meet, with Betsy Uhlman, center, as chair. Credits: Liz Keill
MADISON, NJ – Discussion ranged from anti-idling on school grounds to the community garden to composting when the Sustainable Madison Committee met on Wednesday, Sept. 12.
Chaired by Betsy Uhlman, the organization is taking steps to complete a detailed work plan. Uhlman suggested a Green Forum, to see what other groups in the area are doing. “I’m discovering how interconnected we all are,” she said.
Borough Engineer Robert Vogel said the Community Garden subcommittee has received a Walmart grant. “Every plot is rented,” he said, “and there’s a waiting list. It’s astounding how much participation they’ve gotten. People are out there constantly working.”
Efforts are also being made to develop safer right-of-ways for pedestrians, especially on streets with high traffic counts, in conjunction with the traffic calming committee. The committee agreed that it was important to develop safe routes to schools and other locations.  One member mentioned the walking school bus, a plan where parents accompany children to school in shifts.

Vogel said he  will also coordinate with former mayor Woody Kirkeslager, who had done a walk-ability study several years ago.  A bike rack plan is being implemented, with phase one completed, Vogel said. He noted information is available on the borough website.
Committee member Harriet Honigfeld is taking an inventory of conservation easements. When asked about maintenance obligations, Vogel said, “The original language is so undefined. Updated language would protect the town.” He added there is an easement on Glenwild Road.  
Carbon foot prints for businesses and residential areas were also discussed.  Asked about improvements on Ridgedale Avenue, Vogel said a state grant was approved. Mid-block signage is needed, he said, and should be in place by late spring. Other improvements to the street are also in the works, which can be seen on the borough’s website under engineering.
Sustainable Madison will participate in Bottle Hill Day on Oct. 6, sharing space with the Environmental Commission. Uhlman said one goal would be to attract more volunteers and to share the status of projects for the coming year.
A survey will be sent to Madison residents for input on other sustainable ideas. There was also discussion of meeting with the Downtown Development Commission to support Green Business Recognition, bicycle racks and other initiatives. Resident Maureen Burns noted that the DDC had installed energy efficient lighting at the train station.
The Sustainable Madison Committee will meet again on Nov. 14.

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