Mark Pensiero, president and chair of Save the Environment of Moorestown (STEM), spoke to the Recreation Advisory Committee at a meeting on Oct. 5 about a project that concerns 75 acres of land across the Swedes Run Dog Park on Westfield Road.
According to Pensiero, the township last year expressed an interest in doing something different with the land. By connecting with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pensiero learned about the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, which is designed to work with landowners interested in enhancements to their properties that benefit wildlife.
“I thought this property would fit into that,” Pensiero said of the dog park land. “U. S. Fish and Wildlife representatives came up, reviewed the property and they were very interested. There’s a lot of very neat things about that property that they felt fit in with what they’re trying to accomplish.”
According to its official website, STEM completed in June the installation of a 4,500- square-foot native pollinator garden at Swede Run Field, adjacent to the dog park. More than 1,200 plants made up of 10 native species were placed in the garden, which surrounds the Swede Run Barn. Another garden is planned.
“Through this partner’s program, what’s really interesting is each of the partners — STEM, the fish and wildlife service and the township of Moorestown — brings something different and makes commitments both in time and financial resources and energy,” Pensiero said.
Moorestown is committing resources to the garden project and the fish and wildlife service will provide the seeds to be planted.
“We’re going to be planting a mix of grasses, and everything we’re planting is native, native grasses and flowers as well,” Pensiero explained. “It’s really going to be pretty spectacular when it’s all completed.”
STEM will also buy pollinator seed and plant a separate 30-foot-wide stretch of flowers along the entire width of Westfield Road.
Later in the recreation advisory committee’s meeting, members updated reports and members Diane Doherty and Dan Posternock spoke about the recent start of Challenger Baseball, for special needs kids.
“It’s heartwarming to not only see how much the kids enjoy it, but if you look around, it’s really heartwarming to see how much the parents and the guardians are enjoying watching their children having so much fun,” said Posternock.
Member Tamara Johns revealed that she has been trying to identify whether the committee is challenged with having diverse populations in Moorestown who participate in recreation department programming.
“My own personal observation was that we could probably be a little bit more inclusive and have more people in the community participating,” she noted.
Johns said she has had two meetings since summer with members of Better Together Moorestown, a task force composed of township residents focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. She plans to work with a member of the task force to compose a survey specifically for people of color.
Johns also has been working with members of the parent organization Moorestown Alliance for Diversity and Equity (MADE) and members of the community.
“The parents are really who I’m trying to target to understand about what their perceptions are, what their thoughts are, what their kids’ participation has been in the programming in the community,” Johns said.
“I feel like I’m making inroads and it won’t feel so overwhelming,” she added. “I feel like I have a path to getting better information, and then I can act on that and bring it back to you all.”