Belleville awarded nearly $62K in Cleaner Communities grant

Washington Avenue in Belleville Google Street View

The Township of Belleville Township has been awarded $61,470 in Clean Communities grant money from the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Solid Waste Division, Mayor Michael Melham said.

Clean Communities grants are intended to help municipalities and counties across New Jersey promote volunteer and paid clean-up events, purchase equipment, support enforcement activities and educational opportunities.

At the heart of Belleville’s efforts be cleaner and greener are the staff who work in the Department of Public Works (DPW).

Led by Director Robert Welter, the department remains ever vigilant as there always seems to be some discarded bags of trash to pick up here or abandoned tires to haul away there. For instance, DPW personnel walk down Washington Avenue each day, picking up trash. They also maintain the planters on Washington, watering the flowers that beautify the town.

Realizing it takes a village to create a clean community, the DPW also engages the public on two annual cleanup projects and partners with the schools on other events.

Welter said the grant from the NJDEP will help the department do even more.

“We typically put the grant money toward hiring some help for the summer to help clean up the parks and around places like Washington Avenue,” Welter said. “We also use the money to replace equipment that helps us keep Belleville looking good — equipment like weed whackers and leaf blowers.”

The work done by Welter and the DPW dovetails into the efforts by Belleville’s Green Team, which seeks to identify and implement projects that will benefit the community and encourage the town, home and business owners to invest in sustainable practices.

“The Green Team couldn’t find a better partnership than with the DPW,” the Green Team’s Gabrielle Bennett-Meany said. “Together we have expanded on community outreach and educational programs for our community to participate in.”

Over the past year, the Green Team has hosted community cleanups, recycling and waste reduction programs such as NJ’s BAG UP campaign and other beautification projects.

“When we work together to keep Belleville a clean community, it brings out the pride we all share in this great town,” Melham said. “We are grateful for the state funding and we will put it to good use making the town cleaner and greener.”

Through the grant, the NJDEP awarded nearly $19.1 million to eligible municipalities and $2.3 million to counties across the state, basing its allocations on statistical reports that outline the number of housing units and municipally owned roadway mileage in a respective area.

Grants are funded by a legislated user-fee on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors that produce litter-generating products.

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