Go Green Westville!

Welcome to The Westville Environmental Commission’s blog!

The Environmental Commission of the Borough of Westville, Gloucester County, New Jersey, promotes conservation and development of the Borough’s natural resources, study and provides educational leadership in all areas of environmental concern, instill community pride by creating awareness, understanding and appreciation of the environment through education and participation, and make recommendations to the various governing bodies.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Adding Beauty and Art to Natural Preservation

Make a Difference Day town wide clean up on October 25, 2008 co-sponsored with Wheelabrator Resource Recovery Facility and the Gloucester Improvement Authority warmed up the community for the productive year the Westville Environmental Commission had in store.  One hundred volunteers collected approximately .5 tons of recyclables and 2 tons of trash.  Wheelabrator also waived the tipping fees for disposal which made the project even more cost effective for the town, a double benefit.  Success was attributed to providing Lunch and Recycle bracelets to the volunteers. 

An ANJEC storm water presentation at the Eco Center in Bordentown inspired an eco-concept that mushroomed into a multi-faceted project for the Environmental Commission and the Borough of Westville.  Sandwiched between the Delaware River and Big Timber Creek, Westville is an established waterfront community plagued by storm water runoff, soil erosion and sporadic flooding. 

In the fall of 2008 (November 3-7), the Borough lowered the depth of the pond in Thomas West Park.  That action sparked an opportunity to demonstrate alternative ways to control stormwater runoff on the pond bank and provide native habitats for honey bees and monarch butterflies.  Activity in the pond also brought to light the lack of respite areas for the resident turtles.  The park was also plagued by ridged runoffs on the upper side adjacent to the flat roofed Parkview Elementary School.  Integrating the School into a remedial ground project could offer educational opportunities with potential involvement by the children fostering future environmental interest.  The final concept included the following elements:                               
    • Turtle Ramp Basking Deck
    • New Jersey Council on Arts Grant
    •  Rutgers Rain Garden Assistance Grant
    • Pond Side Butterfly Garden


The pond has a large turtle population of assorted sizes that cling to any object in the pond for their daily solar rejuvenation.  Some of their places for sunning had been removed in the process of the pond lowering. 

The remaining rocks and shoreline were their primary basking points though not the safest.

The Commission submitted plans for a 3ft. x 5ft. cedar Turtle Ramp Basking Deck and Borough Public Works provided the materials to Boy Scout Troop 40 who constructed the project.  It was installed in the pond on June 19, 2009. 

The Commission submitted an application to the Gloucester County Cultural & Heritage Commission for a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Grant.  A Community Public Art Project grant was awarded on November 25, 2008 for completion in 2009 as an elementary school mural project.  We asked the children to describe the wildlife they observed at the pond and they had a rather creative interpretation of our local flora and fauna.  Then artist Karen Stone designed two large wooden freestanding, double-sided vignettes for the students to paint that would stand as focal points of entry for a Butterfly Garden.  An environmental lecture to the students preceded the completion of the eco-mural event at Parkview Elementary School during the week of June 9th to 13th under the expert guidance of Karen Stone, an environmental muralist.  

The owner of a local auto body shop volunteered to clear coat the murals to protect the student’s efforts.  Public Works employees installed them during the week following July 4, 2009.  

Commission members attended a “How to” Rain Garden Seminar on October 25, 2008 followed by hands-on training sessions on February 19 and March 19, 2009.  Successful installation of two rain gardens at the “Dream Park” in Logan Township validated the commission as Certified Rain Garden Installers.

To secure a Rain Garden Assistance Grant, three sites in Thomas West Park were tested for soil type, slope analysis and infiltration with results submitted to Rutgers on May 11, 2009.   The preferred location was beside Parkview School between the Atrium and the Tennis Courts.  The site had dense clay soil and severe erosion caused by storm water runoff from the Atrium roof.  Required approvals were received from the Board of Education, Borough Council and Rutgers.  

The excavation of 20 inches of clay soil and insertion of 10 cubic yards of compost donated by a local developer on June 24, 2009.

The 11 x 22 (242 sq. ft.) area contains sixteen native plant species and is watered by two downspouts from the Atrium roof.   Plants were donated by Rutgers and members of their Master Gardeners Program.

The Rain Garden was completed on June 25th through the efforts of Master Gardeners, local citizens, commissioners and Public Works employees who spent two days excavating and planting. 

The garden provides a natural habitat for birds, butterflies and bees, reduces storm water runoff and soil erosion, and provides an educational opportunity for residents of all ages.  A series of lectures on storm water management and rain gardens will be conducted at a later date.  It is our hope that eventually Parkview’s Environmental Club will share garden maintenance with the commission.

All We Need is Rain!!

The previously mentioned Pond lowering left the west bank of the pond barren and stump-laden, not a very welcoming sight for passersby.  

On November 17, 2008, the Commission met with Mike Hogan, a naturalist with the South Jersey Land & Water Trust.  Mr. Hogan provided recommendations for replanting the pond shore line and adjoining stream to control runoff and soil erosion.  Alan Koch, a Landscape Architect, volunteered to design the garden.  Public Works employees prepared the land and as afore mentioned, mounted the Eco-murals to denote the entrance points.  

On July 16, 2009 Commission members started measuring out and staking the four foot wide path that wanders through the 20 ft. x 100 ft. Butterfly Garden.  Weed pulling and the planting of shrubs and perennials followed all the way through August. 

Locating the 32 native plant species was tedious, causing the planting season to be elongated and the final plants were added on September 7, 2009.  The Commission secured the plant purchases at 50% of the original cost estimate and involved a local industry to fund those purchases.  The Commission is still seeking benefactors for additions of pavers and fencing to protect the perimeter boundaries.

The initial hope of this project was to provide habitat for Honey Bees, all butterfly species especially Monarchs, and Humming Birds.  Caterpillars currently occupy the fennel plants, bees and butterflies circle and land on the plants and the on-lookers are amazed.  As we tend the gardens we are flooded with volunteers from the very young on up and we are rewarded by experiences such as the accolade by an older fisherman, “Thank you for making things beautiful, it is appreciated.”; and the nodding head of an elderly woman as she walks past.

October 14, 2009

These pictures represent the current status of Butterfly Garden in Thomas West Park, Westville, N.J.

Pond and Stream Stabilization Project

In 2009, the Environmental Commission began a multi-year project to stabilize the eroded banks of the pond and stream at Thomas West Park and to create a viable wetland habitat. 

This ongoing project involved installing coir logs, creating a "no-mow zone" and introducing native plants. 

We invite you to visit the pond and stream at Thomas West Park to see our project as it evolves!!

Be sure to browse through the installation photos below!

For more information, take a look at the attached "Companion Book".