Environmental Commission Member Gets Fond Farewell

Longtime Manchester Environmental Commission member Peggy Middaugh receives a certificate of appreciation from Mayor Robert Hudak for her years of service to that board, during a recent Commission meeting. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  MANCHESTER – Peggy Middaugh embodied the spirit of the township’s Environmental Commission during the years she has served on that panel, according to Mayor Robert Hudak and her fellow commissioners and they commented that it was a sad occasion to see her depart.

  Middaugh received some kind words regarding her work and thanks during the most recent Commission meeting which served as her last.

  A certificate of appreciation was presented to her by Mayor Hudak during the session. He described her as “a passionate and dedicated volunteer of the Environmental Commission of six plus years serving as chairperson for four and half of those years and currently serving as vice chair. We appreciate all you have done. Before Peggy joined the Commission it was only meeting quarterly but after being elected as chair in 2017, she brought the Commission back to life with monthly meetings and began focusing on community outreach and reviewing and providing commentary on major applications for development of the planning and zoning boards.”

  The mayor noted the many educational programs that the EC brought about to inform residents “and assisting the township in creating a natural resource inventory. As a result, the Environmental Commission has had a bigger following in the community and has created a good working relationship with organizations such as Save Barnegat Bay and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.”

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  Environmental Commission Secretary Lauren Frazee said, “Peggy has proven to be an invaluable member to the EC over the last six years. She will be greatly missed.”

  “Although I have only known Peggy a short time, her knowledge and passion for our community has been invaluable and I will miss having her by my side and being my cheerleader,” Commission Chairperson Gabrielle Fox said.

  Commission member Karen Argenti added, “she is very knowledgeable and will be greatly missed but we hope to see her at our meetings.”

  Middaugh’s term in office was set to expire on December 31, 2024 but she said in taking stock of her many volunteer activities, she realized she needed to lighten her load.

   “I just took on too much and need to be able to breathe and hike sometimes. I’m currently a trustee on the NJ Tree Foundation, volunteer with Great Bay Boulevard Terrapin Project that protects terrapins in Little Egg Harbor, treasurer of my Unitarian Universalist congregation in Ocean County, and co-chair the UU Faith Action Environmental Justice Task Force which is a statewide organization that works to pass environmental legislation,” she added.

  She told The Manchester Times, “something had to go, and at least in Manchester I can keep up by attending meetings from time to time.”

  The Commission includes Bill Foor who is the Planning Board representative, members Genevieve Stavalo, Karen Argenti and alternate member # 1 Dina Newbert. There is currently one vacant alternate member.

  The goals and objectives of the Commission include working with the Manchester Green Team to achieve Sustainable Jersey Bronze or Silver Certification; participating in the “Green Day” event and continuing to provide timely recommendations to the Planning Board on Development applications and areas in need of redevelopment.

  Additional goals include improving communication and developing a relationship with the Zoning Board of Adjustment and to continue to hold regular educational presentations.

  The Commission also promotes recreational use of open space in Manchester and seeks to develop a relationship with the Township’s Open Space Committee.

  In April, Middaugh and Newbert were among those who took part in a free tree seedling giveaway program to residents as part of the annual Earth Day program.

  This was a program that helped meet another Commission goal which is to educate the community and assist in the implementation of the NJ State Plastics Ban.

  The Commission also reviews and makes recommendations on the Township’s Master Plan which is currently in the process of being updated. Foor said the Township’s Master Plan Committee is expected to meet later this year and will move forward with changes next year.

  Another duty of the Commission is to make recommendations on the Township’s updated Stormwater Management guidelines, and continue educating the community on the importance of Green Infrastructure.

  The Commission also coordinates community cleanups of open space and during the night’s meeting discussed the recent cleanup at the Brookbrae Brick Factory which Fox said showed far less debris than last year. She noted this was probably due to recent fires around that area and some of the trash may have burned up.