Plans approved for environmental park

Voorhees Committee members unanimously approved the design and phasing plan for the Voorhees Environmental Park. Absent from the meeting was committee member Joseph Lovallo.

“This is another step in moving toward our Voorhees Environmental Park,” Mayor Michael Mignogna said.

The plans for the 37-acre landfill was presented and submitted by Rutgers’ Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability (CUES) during a meeting in August. The project includes the installation of solar panels, township administrator Larry Spellman said.

According to CUES’ presentation, the installation of the solar panels is a separate project from the other seven-phases.

The first phase of the design is creating an entrance, parking lot and installation of fences. Also in the first phase is the creation of a service route, paths and marks for growth areas.

Phase two and three include the installation of steps and a ramp down to the lake, a floating deck, floating islands to improve the water quality, and the installation of trees.

Various types of vegetation are included in the plan and are part of the remaining phases including a bird blind, gardens and a labyrinth.

The township has been working with Voorhees Environmental and Cultural Education Foundation (VECEF) and CUES to find ways to present a plan and find funding for the project, Deputy Mayor Harry Platt said.

The township is hoping the solar panels will help fund the project, as well as grants to avoid using tax dollars, Spellman and Platt said.

Platt said the passed resolution represents an “important benchmark” in the next developmental stage of the site.

“[The resolution] is very significant because it really establishes what is going to be done with the site. It also gives VECEF a way to go out and present a plan,” said Platt. “Part of the problem is we go out and give grant money and then say ‘let me see the plan.’”

He said since Rutgers already has a plan ready, it makes the process of moving forward with the project easier.

“This gives them a leg up on the next step,” he said.

“We are turning a brown field into a green field,” Mignogna said.

To finds out more information on the plans for the park, visit cues.rutgers.edu/voorhees-environmental-park.