Toms River received the third-highest award in New Jersey from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Clean Communities program.
The township received a $232,912 – the highest grant award in the state behind only Newark and Jersey City – which will cover the salaries of two full-time Clean Communities employees and one part-time employee tasked with removing litter from public properties across Toms River. The fund will also cover equipment, educational programs and litter removal projects throughout the year, officials said.
“The residents of Toms River take a tremendous amount of pride in preserving and protecting our open space,” said Mayor Thomas Kelaher. “We are grateful for this grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and proud of the work we have done to remove litter from our streets and waterways, making Toms River a more beautiful place to live and work.”
The grant funding also helps the township organize several annual projects aimed at litter removal, including cleanups of storm-water systems that can disperse trash into waterways; volunteer cleanups of public properties; beach cleanups; public information and education programs; and purchases of litter collection equipment, litter receptacles, recycling bins, anti-litter signs and supplies to remove graffiti.
The department will also use a portion of the grant to expand on its educational outreach and safety training programs. The Public Works Department conducts tours at the township facility and provides educational programs with a focus on litter abatement. “Tom the Duck” performs an educational puppet show for over 1,500 first and second grade students in Toms River.
Between the township’s own employees and volunteers, the grant program helped facilitate the cleanup of over 55 tons of trash over the past year from roads and public land, said Lou Amoroso, director of Public Works.
“Simple initiatives such as litter control go a long way to making our town healthier and more sustainable,” said Kelaher. “By taking care of the environment around us, we encourage others to do the same in their own communities and build pride across the state.”