Kermit the Frog thought he had it right when he sang, "It's not easy being green," but in Monroe Township, it's not only easy being green—it's their priority to keep as much green in their community as possible. As the largest community in Middlesex County—42 square miles to be exact—maintaining a balance between open space and development has been an ongoing goal of the hardworking government and its residents.
Maintaining that balance has enabled Monroe Township to receive accolades for its achievements, including one very special one from The National Arbor Day Foundation, which named Monroe Township a "Tree City USA" in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.
Tree City, USA
To achieve the Tree City honor, Monroe Township had to meet four standards: to have a tree board or department; a tree care ordinance; a comprehensive community forestry program; and an official Arbor Day observance. In addition to the Tree City designation, the community also received an Arbor Day Foundation Growth Award.
In a January 2006 column—written at a time when the township was fighting to preserve more land—Monroe Township Mayor Richard Pucci wrote: "The residents and elected officials of Monroe Township are overwhelmingly in favor of preserving open space and farmland, and we expect to act quickly and decisively in order to save these lands from development and to maintain the rural character of our town. The acquisition of undeveloped lands is just one of the things that makes Monroe Township a great place to live."
And it's no wonder that a township with such a rich agricultural history, and prime location right off exit 8A of the New Jersey Turnpike, would want to rein in what free space they have left. To date, they have effectively preserved a whopping 50 percent of their total land.