Long Branch — Four mayors told attendees at the 12th annual New Jersey Clean Communities Conference that cleaning litter is a never-ending job, requiring constant vigilance.
Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider noted the city does a tremendous job cleaning up after its annual car show, but litter quickly returns. Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry noted the township is proud of its clean streets, but it is a constant battle with motorists discarding cigarette butts. Asbury Park Mayor John Moor said the beach is his city’s greatest asset, but it is a never-ending battle to remain clean.
“I don’t know how many years it will take to finally keep all the trash off state highways and waterways, and for people to stop littering and blighting our communities,” said Buena Vista Mayor Chuck Chiarello. “But it is an endless task that will take years to accomplish. And that is why education is so important.”
The mayors spoke about a number of initiatives underway in their towns, such as environmental fairs and heightened police enforcement, but noted that more state funding could make a significant difference in the ongoing battle. Ingenuity is needed, such as the Old Bridge program to pay $500 to local government to engage scout groups, youth leagues and others to conduct three-hour litter cleanups.
And strong support from the mayor’s office is also important, as Old Bridge Mayor Henry has his own “clean team” to pick up litter and is active with the New Jersey Clean Communities Council.
“This has always been a ‘throw away’ society in our landfills, but when did we become a ‘throw out the window’ society?” Henry asked. “Mayors need groups like Clean Communities to help municipalities become clean and stay clean. The fact that 1,500 students are here at this conference is a step in the right direction.”
More than 1,700 students, teachers, volunteers and others statewide were estimated to have attended the 12th annual New Jersey Clean Communities Council conference in Long Branch last week, from May 20-22. In addition to the mayors’ conference, and other presentations, there were events at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, the Great Lawn and McLoone’s Pier House. These included an eco-fair, awards, a sand castle design expo and a massive beach party.
The County Park staff arranged for hands-on coastal activities to help the elementary, middle and high school participants explore beach erosion, seining, marine organisms, endangered shore birds and seashells.