Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 41
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
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Environmental Commission Covers Recycling, Fuel Cost, Questions Synthetic Turf

Dilshanie Perera

The Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC) acknowledged at last Wednesday’s meeting the need for more information involving how recycling operates in both Princeton municipalities, as well as the environmental impact of the synthetic turf field that the Recreation Department is proposing to install at Barbara Smoyer Park.

Township Shade Tree Commission Vice Chair, Lindy Eiref, expressed skepticism regarding the need for synthetic turf, saying, “to see the park have any of its charm taken away would be a very sad thing.”

Noting that she does not “feel qualified” to contradict the favorable recommendation of Recreation Director Jack Roberts regarding installing a synthetic turf field “on a factual or scientific level,” PEC Chair Wendy Kaczerski added, “as an individual, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”

Speaking about the potential for synthetic turf-related injuries, and the possible toxicity of materials out of which such surfaces are made, PEC members agreed that they need more information about the turf before making an assessment.

Commission member Stephen Hiltner added that synthetic turf is a “moving target” in that it “evolves from year to year.” “We have to be looking at what it is now,” he said.

A conversation on fall leaf management and collection spurred questions about recycling. Borough Council member Barbara Trelsted said that leaves getting into storm water runoff pathways and decomposing is environmentally problematic. PEC’s fall leaf management brochure, which lists alternative ways to use leaves can be found at:

Noting that people in general tend to put out less trash since the recycling program was implemented, Ms. Trelsted wondered whether the garbage trucks were full when they leave the Borough twice a week. She suggested that garbage pickup once a week may be sufficient for residents.

In response, Commission member Matthew Wasserman agreed that further discussion is necessary, adding “when gas costs four dollars a gallon, everything’s back on the table,” including the frequency of trash collection.

“I think there could be savings in the Borough,” noted Ms. Trelsted of her jurisdiction, and Mr. Wasserman and others agreed that a greater understanding of garbage and recycling management is needed to better inform the public and to assess its effectiveness.

During the rest of the meeting, PEC members reported on recent environmentally-related happenings.

Mr. Hiltner said that as part of a community bonding activity, 100 ninth-graders from Princeton Day School came to Petronello Gardens to clear invasive plants and shrubs. “The students were spirited, and they persevered and worked well together,” he remarked, while noting that the event had a “particularly low carbon footprint” since the freshmen walked from their school to the gardens and used hand tools.

Site Plan Review Advisory Board liaison Anne Neumann announced that PEC would be receiving an award from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions for its Green Home and Garden Tour. This year’s tour is scheduled for Saturday, November 15.

The Environmental Commission is still accepting comments on the second draft of its Environmental Resource Inventory, which can be found at the public library, or at

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