AHS students honored for work on project

Mayor urges residents to support local farms to keep township rural

By jane meggitt
Staff Writer

By jane meggitt
Staff Writer

UPPER FREEHOLD — The Township Committee honored two Allentown High School students for their work on a project that was dubbed a "major historical document" by one official.

At last week’s committee meeting, Sarah Bloom Leeds, Englishtown, and Brain Todd, Millstone, received certificates of recognition from the committee for their work on a photography project titled, "Upper Freehold’s Vanishing Vistas."

Allentown teacher Maureen Nosal and township Environmental Commission member Sue Kozel advised the students on the project.

Bloom Leeds and Todd conducted interviews with Township Committeemen John Mele and Charles Faber; Planning Board member William Search; former mayors Bob Abrams and Fred Kniesler; David Meirs II; and Environmental Commission members Douglas Totten and Kozel. Their project — which included dozens of photographs in addition to the interviews — looked at development, preserved land, wetlands, tree farms and historic sites in the township.

At last week’s meeting, Mayor William Miscoski asked Bloom Leeds and Todd to come forward and said he would like "to take a few moments for another lesson.

"On Tuesday evening, Upper Freehold Township hosted a Regional Strategic Targeting Project outreach meeting. Upper Freehold Township was recognized and has the distinction of having the most farms in the farmland preservation program. We boast over 6,000 acres in the farmland preservation program; 2,567 acres in the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, and over 1,500 acres in county parks and greenways. [The township] is also the home of the Horse Park of New Jersey.

"This year, the state has set aside $1.5 million for land and easement purchases in Upper Freehold Township through the Farmland Preservation Planning Incentive Grant.

"These are vistas that will not vanish," Miscoski said.

The mayor also mentioned that the township had partnered with the county and purchased the Thoroughbred Breeders property on Hutchinson Road.

"There are many types of preservation programs available to interested property owners," Miscoski said.

"We need workable solutions for the large landowners, farmers and those in residential developments to co-exist in harmony, and join their efforts to be the solution, not the problem," he said.

Miscoski told the crowd to support local farmers by purchasing their trees, plants, flowers, and other items in the township.

"Board your horses here and feed them with products from here. Buy the wine made here. You buy from [local farmers] and they will stay," he said.

Committeeman David Horsnall commended the students and the Environmental Commission for taking the time and effort to do the project.

"I encourage you to continue to be involved in the community, whether as a volunteer or even as an elected official. Sometimes your efforts will be thought well of, sometimes there is serious criticism, but that is part of the process of government," he said.

Horsnall added that this was "a major historical document.

"When your children have a chance to go back and look at it, they will be very proud," Horsnall told the students.

Bloom Leeds said that "some people we spoke to said they moved to this area be­cause of the beauty of the land, and it should be preserved."

Committeeman John Mele said, "That’s an interesting point elected officials have to face. The more you have something pre­cious, the more people want to come to it."

"A lot of the new houses don’t blend into the land," Bloom Leeds said.

"I’m not against people moving into town, but there should be larger lots of land so it doesn’t look like a city," Mele said.

Kozel said she was extremely proud of how well the project turned out.

"Sara and Brian have created a lasting visual image of the township’s remaining beautiful rural and environmental trea­sures," she said.

"Overdevelopment is threatening our environmentally sensitive rural commu­nity. I hope the township will place them (the pictures) on the Upper Freehold Web page were residents can see how beautiful our community is through Sara’s and Brian’s special photo project," Kozel said.