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Bio-retention Systems Installed at Five West Orange Schools Thanks to 10K Sustainable Jersey Grant

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Thanks to a 10K grant from Sustainable Jersey, five bio-retention systems were installed at Washington Elementary, Redwood Elementary, Kelly Elementary, Liberty Middle, and Roosevelt Middle Schools on May 7. The planting was done by the West Orange Department of Public Works, parents, students, community volunteers, West Orange Environmental commissioners (WOEC), and Mayor Susan McCartney.

McCartney applied for the 10K Sustainable Jersey grant with a Green Infrastructure Plan prepared for the Township by the Passaic Valley Sewer Commission. The proposal was approved by then-Interim Superintendent Dr. Lauren Schoen and discussions were held with the principals of each school. The team putting together the proposal included McCartney, Chairperson of the WOEC Mike Brick along with commissioners, the West Orange High School Green Team, Supervisor of Technology and Engineering at WOHS Ryan del Guercio, WOHS Environmental Science teacher Pete Ficuciello, Chair of WO Open Space Joe McCartney, Lori Kapferer, resident and civil engineer and Dr. Amy Rowe from the County Agent's Office (Rutgers Agricultural Experiment Station).

Township Forester Walter Kipp explained that the systems would be developed in two stages. In the first stage, begun on May 7, several birch trees and perennial water-loving plants, including lilies, cardinal flowers, coneflowers, lavender, butterfly plants and grasses, were planted in specific areas of the five schools. The system will help to absorb run-off from rainstorms and beautify the area. Rock borders will be installed once all the planting is completed. In stage two, pervious (penetrable) pavers will be installed around the systems.

“I’d like to give a big thank you to all our volunteers today,” said McCartney as she traveled to the five locations.

“Thank you to our DPW, our forester Walter Kipp, and the WOEC for all their help and support. The Township and school district have worked in partnership for the betterment of our community for many years and this is another wonderful example of cooperation and support,” she concluded.


WOEC commissioners at Washington


Mayor Susan McCartney and councilperson Susan Scarpa at Washington


McCartney and commissioners with volunteers at Redwood


Trees planted at Kelly by volunteers


At Liberty Middle School with volunteers


Volunteers at Roosevelt Middle School


Cynthia Cumming
May 7, 2023