MIDDLETOWN, NJ – A Rain Garden will be added to the eco-friendly features of Poricy Park, thanks to a grant from the 2013 New Jersey American Water Environmental Grant program.

The $10,000 grant will fund the construction and planting of a Rain Garden at the Poricy Park Conservancy, to accept rain water run-off from nearby buildings, allow the run-off to flow back into the ground and reduce the loading of nutrients and pollutants in the run-off. The rain garden will also serve as a teaching tool for park visitors on how rain gardens can be employed to improve the environment and help recharge the groundwater table, said Assistant Public Works Director Vic Wymbs.

The Poricy Park Rain Garden is a collaboration between the Middletown Public Works Department, Planning Department, Green Team Action Committee and the Poricy Park Conservancy. The garden will be a landscaped shallow depression planted with native wet-tolerant plantings to serve as a stormwater management system by collecting rainwater from specific rooftops and adjacent lawn areas to trap, remove and filter non-point source pollutions while increasing groundwater recharge.

“This is another great collaborative project through which the township will reap many environmental and educational benefits,” said Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger. “I’m looking forward to visiting the garden when it’s complete.”

Representatives from New Jersey American Water presented the Township with the grant check during a presentation at the July Township Committee meeting. NJAM Environmental Manager Gary A. Matthews and Communications and External Affairs Director Peter A. Eschbach presented the check to Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenbeger, Township Public Works Director Ted Maloney, Assistant Public Works Director Vic Wymbs, and Poricy Park Conservancy Director Joyce Ferejohn. 

The garden will be approximately 450 square feet in size and incorporate various native trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials and grasses.  Literature will be available for distribution to the public addressing the importance of protecting our watersheds and how a rain garden can be instrumental in that mission.

“Rain gardens like this are a great demonstration of what people can do to conserve water and protect our water supply from the contamination of storm runoff,” said Anthony Matarazzo, the company’s senior director of water quality and environmental management. “The selection of the Middletown rain garden proposal was made by a panel of our employees based on its goals, impact, innovation, design, collaboration, sustainability, and community engagement. We are impressed with the project.”

The project expands upon an existing native plant garden that was created with funding from a Sustainable New Jersey grant received in 2010. The township, in partnership with the Poricy Park Conservancy, created a diverse garden of native trees, shrubs and groundcover near the park entrance. The project also involved removing some of the invasive and destructive species that threaten the health of the native woodland preserve and of the mammals, insects and birds that call it home.

Approximately 5,550 children between the ages of 3 and 12 visit the Poricy Park Conservancy annually for elementary and pre-school environmental programs. Approximately 675 youth visit the park for environmental science programs each month.

New Jersey American Water’s Environmental Grant Program provides funding to organizations engaged in activities that improve a community’s water supply or improve, restore or protect watersheds, or promote water conservation. Such projects may include wildlife habitat improvement, storm water management, wellhead protection initiatives, watershed cleanups, rain garden projects, and water conservation or reforestation efforts. Since it began in 2009, New Jersey American Water’s Environmental Grant Program has now provided nearly $110,000 in grants to notable green projects.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...