A relatively new resident of Voorhees Township hopes to be able to create a safer and cleaner environment at Laurel Lake behind Vogelson Branch Library
Susan Festa is a relatively new resident of Voorhees Township. Having been born in the United States, she spent the past 20 years living in London before coming to Voorhees in August.
She lives near the Vogelson Branch Library, something she calls a great resource for those in the community, and visits it multiple times a week. Often, she enjoys walking to the library and using the path behind the library around Laurel Lake, as labeled by the township’s most recent zoning map, that wraps around the body of water.
She enjoys nature and cares for the safety and health of wildlife all over the world. Since moving to Voorhees, she’s been “disheartened” by the amount of trash and garbage around the lake she sees when she walks to the library.
Starting three months ago, Festa started an initiative to attempt to clean up the lake and its surrounding land, for the sake of the birds, fish and other animals.
“Every time I walk to the library, I make it a point to pick up trash,” Festa said. “There are so many plastic bags that I’ll usually just grab one [off the ground] and pick up trash along the trail.”
Festa says she will collect as much trash as she can on her walk and throw it out once she gets to the library, since there are no trash cans along the trail by the lake.
However, after months of fighting what is essentially a losing battle, she hopes for change to care for the lake and animals.
“There’s so much trash to be collected and recycled, it’s not possible for one person to do it,” Festa said.
With the constant turn of the seasons, there are layers of trash and garbage around the trees, buried by leaves from the fall. Plastic bags lay scattered among the surrounding body of water, with some blowing in the wind but caught by branches.
As for the water, masses of plastic bottles and cans converge as numerous points along the sides of the lake, having been discarded long ago, yet still remaining in the water.
It’s scenes like these that Festa hopes to stop with the help of others in the community and action from whoever owns the lake and surrounding land.
“It’s multilayers of rubbish on the ground … and all the plastic bags, plastic cups, the bottles floating around in the water,” Festa said.
Festa hopes to remind those in the community of the consequences of littering for the environment and animals in the ecosystem, and also “spur some cleanup efforts as well,” which can be in the form of a community cleanup and hopefully trash cans being placed around the lake next to benches already there.
Township Administrator Larry Spellman says Voorhees has previously received complaints regarding trash and litter buildup in and surrounding the lake.
However, Spellman said Voorhees Township does not own the lake;, rather its surrounding path and common areas are owned by the Echelon Common Facilities Association.
The Echelon Common Facilities Association is in turn managed by MAMCO Property Management. Spellman said that in the past, Voorhees Township has worked with Alan Tate of MAMCO regarding complaints of trash buildup. MAMCO, nor Tate, could be reached for comment.