About Us

What the VEC does?

The Commission was established by Ordinance No. 9-92 on August 3, 1992. It is comprised of seven members (one of whom is also a member of the Planning Board), plus two alternates. All members are Verona residents and serve without compensation. We also have a Council Liaison. Pursuant to Verona Code, Chapter 16-2,  and State Statute N.J.S.A. 40:69A-98 the chairpers
on and regular members are appointed by the Town Manager, and Alternates are appointed by the governing body.

Who is in the VEC?

NamePositionTerm Expires
Jessica PearsonChair
Planning Board Liaison
Sean DiBartoloVice-Chair
Plans Review
Sarah Yauch O’FarrellCommissioner06/30/2020
Kari BaureisCommissioner06/30/2020
Martin GolanCommissioner06/30/2020
Frank CeccacciCommissioner06/30/2021
Michael AuteriCommissioner, Webmaster06/30/2022
Fuad DahanAlternate I, Plans Review06/30/2020
Christen DietzAlternate II06/30/2021
Councilwoman Christine McGrathCouncil Liaison06/30/2020

At the bottom of this page you can link to the Commission's Annual Reports.
How can a Non-Member participate?
Any Verona resident may attend a meeting of the Environmental Commission. If you can't attend, but have an idea to improve Verona's environment, please contact us.

VEC Accomplishments
  • Organized a West Essex Rail Trail Cleanup with Cedar Grove and Essex County Parks in 2017.
  • Hosted Grove Park cleanups and tree seedling giveaways in 2017 and 2016. as part of the New Jersey Tree Recovery Campaign.
  • Celebrated Earth Day at the Recycling Center and distributed reusable bags and recycling bins in previous years.
  • Received an Environmental Achievement Award from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions for the project Grove Park - Nature Preserve and Historic Park in 2016.
  • Participate in January’s Volunteer Night at the Verona Community Center in 2017 and 2016.
  • Sponsored an annual poster contest and exhibits on anti-idling and sustainability at all Verona's public schools since 2009 to celebrate Walk-Bike to School Day.
  • Participated in Verona's 1st and 2nd Annual Green Fair distributing free recycling bins and barrels to Verona residents in 2016 and 2015.
  • At Verona Environmental Commission encouragement, Verona Township adopted a Steep Slope Ordinance in 2016 and a strong Anti Idling Resolution in 2015.
  • At VEC encouragement, Verona Township joined the program Sustainable Jersey, and achieved bronze certification.
  • Participated in the 2016 Hilltop Cleanup with the Sustainable Verona team, the Hilltop Conservancy and numerous volunteers at the Hilltop Reservation.
  • Organized annual Peckman River cleanups behind F. N. Brown as part of the New Jersey Clean Communities Clean Water Challenge.
  • Every year the VEC evaluates proposed development and submits comments to the Planning Board, Board of Adjustment and Board of Education related to the preservation of existing natural resources.
  • Received a 2014 Environmental Achievement Award for the video Verona Recycling 101.
  • Participated in Verona Fair in the Square.
  • Won a 2014 open space grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions to preserve the Peckman trail.
  • Implemented paper and cardboard recycling at all Verona public schools.
  • 2010 Community Service Recognition at the Mayor's Charity Affair.
  • 2009 Environmental Achievement Award from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions.
  • Installed “No Idling” signage at HBW middle school, four elementary schools and Community Center.
  •  Created presentations and videos posted on You Tube about idling, recycling, water treatment, etc.
  •  Created presentation on recycling that was given at all public elementary schools, as well as at Our Lady of the Lake School.
  • Assisted Verona School District in switching to green cleaning products.
  • Attended Hilltop meetings of the Planning Board and TCI expansion meetings by the Board of Adjustment.  
  • Mounted exhibits on anti-idling at the Verona Library and Essex County Environmental Center.
  • Created the Treasured Tree Program and the online tree tour.
  • Developed the VEC's Web site www.veronaec.org using free online software.
Verona Wins 2016 Environmental Award
The Verona Environmental Commission received a 2016 Environmental Achievement Award from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) for the project Grove Park - Nature Preserve and Historic Park, during the 43rd Annual Environmental Congress at Mercer County College on September 30. Pictured from left, ANJEC President Nancy Tindall, Executive Director Jennifer Coffey, Verona Mayor Kevin Ryan, Environmental Commission Chairwoman Gloria Machnowski and ANJEC Vice President Ray Cywinski. Mayor Ryan presented the award at the October 3rd Town Council meeting and thanked the VEC, the Junior Woman's Club of Verona, The Verona Historical Society, the Department of Public Works and all parties involved in this project.
Verona Wins 2014 Environmental Award
The Association of NJ Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) presented its Environmental Achievement Awards to six local environmental commissions at the organization’s 41st Annual Environmental Congress on Oct. 24 at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg. This year’s Award winners include Environmental Commissions from Chatham Township, Manalapan, Oakland, Verona, West Windsor and Westville. The Hawthorne Environmental Commission earned honorable mention. Pictured VEC members Gloria Machnowski and Jim Loudon with former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, the keynote speaker at the event that gathered about 200 environmentalists from around the state. The VEC received the award for its recycling education campaign and video “Verona Recycling 101” produced by the commission in collaboration with students from the Verona High School Environmental Club and the the town's recycling manager. During the congress VEC commissioners also attended workshops such as "Trends in Local Open Space Preservation" and "New Jersey Water Supply".
Verona Wins 2012 Environmental Award

The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) held their 39th Annual Environmental Congress in October at the Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ. Governor James Florio was the keynote speaker and workshop topics included Restoring Living Shorelines, Reducing Vehicle Emissions, Planning for Weather Extremes and Green Infrastructure. The VEC won a 2012 Environmental Achievement Award for the video and program "Go Idle Free Verona". ANJEC described the project as "a perfect example of the scope a commission can achieve with enthusiastic volunteers!". VEC members created this video with help from the H. B. W. Middle School Environmental Club. The VEC would like to congratulate the following students, pictured above during the video shoot: Benjamin Greene, Jewel Chu, Andrew Daddio, Jaclyn Marrese, Emma Kubacki, Erin McNally, Nina Machnowski, Anna and Lucas Konrad-Parisi.

ANJEC President, Nelson Dittmar Jr., pictured right, presented the award to VEC Chairman Gerard Shimonaski, Vice-Chair Gloria Machnowski and VEC Council Liaison Kevin Ryan. Also the environmental commissions from Cranford, Hawthorne, Hightstown, Manalapan, Plumsted, Roxbury and Secaucus received environmental awards this year. The Kinnelon, Westville and Washington Township Environmental Commissions received honorable mentions and four nonprofit organizations received awards. Congratulations to all!
Verona Wins 2009 Environmental Award

The Verona Environmental Commission received an Environmental Achievement Award at ANJEC’s 2009 Environmental Congress held at Cook Campus Center, Rutgers University in New Brunswick on October 17th. The award recognizes the Commission's successful efforts in establishing paper recycling in all of Verona's schools. READ MORE 

Happy 20th Anniversary, VEC!
The Verona Environmental Commission celebrated its 20 Year Anniversary by planting a shade tree by the Community Center's playground on October 2013. The tree is a wonderful 12 feet tall White Oak (Quecus alba L.) White oaks are native to eastern North America and found from Maine to Minnesota southward to Florida and Texas. It is a large, stately tree that can grow from 80 to 100 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet in diameter around the trunk. It grows upright and produces acorns which are a good food source for wildlife. White oak is an excellent ornamental tree because of its broad round crown, dense foliage, and purplish-red to violet-purple fall color. Specimens have been documented to be over 450 years old!! The VEC was established by Ordinance No. 9-92 on August 3, 1992. 

2010 Mayor's Recognition 

The VEC would like to thank Mayor Teena Schwartz and the 2010 Mayor’s Charity Affair Committee for recognizing our Community Service. Congratulations to all 2010 honorees and to all former VEC memberswithout whom this recognition could not be possible. Pictured from left, VEC current Chairman Gerard Shimonaski and VEC first Chairman Marc Kaplan.

The 17th Annual Mayor’s Charity Affair took place on May 23rd at Mayfair Farms in West Orange. The purpose of the event was to raise funds that will be donated to Verona organizations and programs that reach all residents.

Sustainable Jersey - Verona Township has been awarded bronze level certification by Sustainable Jersey for 2015! Bronze certification means a municipality has made a commitment to sustainability and succeeded in implementing significant first steps, while silver certification means a municipality has made significant progress in a number of categories toward sustainability and is a state-wide and national leader. The VEC formally presented the program to the council members on November 2013 and provided information to residents at the December 2013 Fair in the Square. A Green Team chaired by Steve Neale was appointed in 2014 to lead the local sustainability efforts and achieve certification. For more information please visit the Sustainable Verona website.
Volunteers Install Birdhouses
The VEC purchased Bat, Screetch Owl and Bluebird houses with grant money and installed them along the Peckman trail with help from volunteers. The bat box was installed on a dead tree near the river, best locations include rivers and streams since they are natural flyways for bats. New Jersey supports 6 year round resident bat species, the 2 species that people come into contact most frequently are big brown bats and little brown bats. Bats eat many harmful garden pests and mosquitoes. Eastern Screetch Owls like their houses in deep afternoon shade and preys on mice, voles and large insects such as moths and beetles. The Eastern Bluebird house was installed facing the open field. They feed by dropping to the ground onto insects or, in fall and winter, by perching on fruiting trees to gulp down berries.
The role of the Commission is to study and make recommendations to the Township Council and the Planning Board concerning open space preservation, water resources management, air pollution control, solid waste management, noise control, soil and landscape protection, environmental appearance, marine resources and protection of flora and fauna throughout the Township. The Commission review all applications sent to the Planning Board and the Board of Adjustment to evaluate their impact on the environment.

The VEC provides environmental information and programs for residents and protects the Township's environmental resources for health and well being of present and future residents.


VEC members have completed the course on the responsibilities of an Environmental Commissioner given by ANJEC (Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissioners) or Rutgers University's Environmental Stewards program. Several of our members have attended presentations on Green Buildings, Water Protection, Air Pollution, and other environmental topics.

Former Members

The first VEC Chairman was Marc Kaplan followed by Teena Schwartz (former Verona Mayor), Chris Pierce, Lydia Bashwiner, David Freschi, Cinzia Cortese, Jerry Shimonaski, Gloria Machnowski, and Jessica Pearson.

List of VEC members from 1992 to 2019
Marc Kaplan, Beverly DeCheser, Ed Condon (Planning Board Rep.), Larry Gasparo (Planning Board Liaison), Teena Schwartz, Megan Ambroso, Thomas Cocchiola, Robert Masiello, Bill Oser (Planning Board Liaison), Chris Pierce, Lydia Bashwiner, Chris Daniels, Lori Tanner, Jack Grebe, Hans Erdenberger, Joe Carpinelli (Planning Board Liaison), Jerry Caprio, Andrew Robinson, Eric Kohlstaat, Rich Williamson, Jason Apter, David Freschi, Gerard Shimonaski, Cinzia Cortese, Mark Newell, Karen Pensiero (Planning Board Liaison), Genaro Salierno, Marjorie Williams, Kerry Bass, Deborah Jacobsen, Anne Stires, Gloria Machnowski, James Loudon, Tom Freeman (Planning Board Liaison)Tara Bratek, Larry Lonergan (Planning Board Liaison), Virginia Citrano, Anthony Saltalamacchia, Jessica Pearson, Julia Capuano (first VHS student member), Chris Stark, Martin Golan, Michael Foley (Planning Board Liaison), Sarah O’Farrell, Walter Steinmann, Sean DiBartolo, Frank Ceccacci, Michael Auteri and Council Liaison Mayor Kevin Ryan.

If you are a former VEC member and your name is not listed please contact us. The names were taken from the minutes found in the archives.

First VEC Student Member

At its April 7, 2014 meeting, the Town Council unanimously appointed Julia Capuano as an Environmental Commission Alternate Member. Julia was the first student member since the Commission was established over 20 years ago. Julia was a sophomore at Verona High School and a member of VHS Environmental Club back then. She mentioned that protecting the environment for ourselves and future generations is crucial and she planned on attending college for environmental science. 

Proclamation for Shimonaski
On December 16, 2013 the former Chair of the VEC, Gerard Shimonaski, was honored with a proclamation by the Verona Town Council. The Council surprised him with a certificate of appreciation recognizing his 10 years of service and 6 years as the chairman on the Verona Environmental Commission. Shimonaski currently serves on Verona's Public Safety Committee and he is the township representative to the County Solid Waste Advisory Council (SWAC). He is pictured here with Town Council members and former and current VEC members. Congratulations Jerry!

Recycling Campaign

The VEC put together a presentation for all elementary schools in town. The content and pictures were generated locally by VEC members targeting third and fourth grade students, as requested by Frank Albano, Laning Avenue School Principal. The VEC presented this program at the following schools: Forest Ave., Laning Ave. (pictured here), F.N.Brown, Brookdale Ave. and Our Lady of the Lake. Recycling questions, call 973-857-4804. For more information contact us. READ MORE 

The VEC in Verona's Fair
We had a great time at the Verona Green Fair on May 20, 2017. Over 35 vendors and non-profit organizations participated including Morgan's Farm, VMAC, Direct Energy, Liberty Science Center, Montclair Community Farm, West Essex Music Together, Backpacks for Life, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, NJ Spine & Joint, Verona Rescue Squad, Green Point Juicery, Montclair State Enviro Club, PAWS, Momentum Solar, a Shredding Truck, Rx Drug Drop and much more. We distributed recycling bins and barrels to Verona residents, k 
ids learned how to stop plastic pollution and adopted pre-owned stuffed animals at the VEC table. HBW 8th grader Edward Selimi built a bicycle from recycled parts and brought it to the Green Fair. Many people got to ride, and enjoy it! For More Information please visit www.VeronaNJ.org/SustainableVerona
2014 The Commission participated in Verona's Fair in the Square on Sunday, December 7th. Despite the cold and windy weather it was festive all day long with crafts and composting demonstrations (including a real composter on site). Kids made over 40 pine cone bird feeders and several snowflake ornaments with plastic bottles from HBW, previously cut by students from the Environmental Club. Several kids hung their bird feeders from nearby trees while others took them home with a brochure to help them identify common backyard birds. The commission also distributed composting brochures.

2013 The commission participated in Verona Fair in the Square on December 7th. The VEC table was busy all day long with residents of all ages. Visitors learned about Sustainable Jersey, a free certification program for municipalities that want to go green and save money in the process. Verona recen
tly joined the program. Many residents signed up to volunteer in the Green Team, a new commission that will coordinate Verona's sustainability efforts. Children took the Kid's Green Challenge and everybody got a Sustainable Jersey pin and signed the 2014 Verona Pledge promising to recycle more, save water, eat more veggies, use reusable bags, walk more and drive less. Pictured, VEC members informing residents about Sustainable Jersey.
2012 At the commission's table visitors learned about the dangers of toxic synthetic lawn pesticides. The commission invited residents to sign a petition to keep lawn pesticides off Verona's school grounds and public fields where children play. The most common reaction was "Who could be against this?". Over 200 residents already signed the petition in person and online. You can read the petition here. Children made holiday cards for their families and friends with reclaimed cards from Verona. Pictured from right, Council Member Kevin Ryan visiting the VEC table, Chaiman Jerry Shimonaski and HBW teacher Tony Saltalamacchia with his daughter. 
2011 and 2010 At the commission's table visitors played the game "How Long it Takes to Decompose" and and "Identify the Household Hazardous Waste Items". Residents also signed the VEC's recycling pledge and those who needed a new recycling bin ordered a free one. 

Pictured is former Verona Mayor Teena Schwartz visiting the VEC table at the fair, commission members Tony Saltalamacchia, Jim Loudon and Chairman Jerry Shimonaski.

Go Green, Save Green Fair

The Caldwell and Roseland Environmental Commissions sponsored a Green Fair in October 2009.The fair took place at Caldwell College and featured green, sustainable and healthy vendors, speakers and presentations, a silent auction, raffles and fun activities for the whole family. We exhibited our “Idle Free Verona” presentation and poster contest, the VEC Treasured Tree Program and Paper Recycling at Verona Schools’ displays. Pictured between Jerry and Gloria from the VEC is Ann Marchioni, Caldwell Environmental Commission's Chairperson. 
Thank you for inviting us to this successful event!

ANJEC Training

A new member of the Verona Environmental Commission participated on the "Training to protect Natural Resources" held by the
 Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions in 2010. Pictured are some of the attendees during Nelson Dittmar presentation (ANJEC Board of Trustees). The event took place in the Geraldine R. Dodge LEEDS Certified Building, 14 Maple Avenue, Morristown, New Jersey.

Non-Point Source Pollution

The Verona Environmental Commission made a presentation on Non-point source pollution (pollution caused by human activity) to HBW 8th graders. Pictured are former VEC members Andrew Robinson and Carrie Dietz, Area 4 Watershed Ambassador and retired HBW science teacher, Mike Somers. 

To see more pictures visit our Photo Gallery 
(Peckman River Cleanup).

Natural Resource Inventory

Verona's Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) called "Resource Inventory for Verona Township", was published by the VEC in 1999, and prepared by March Associates Landscape Architects, with a grant from the Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Environmental Services. Verona Township plans to develop a new NRI and pay for it with a grant. You can read it HERE

Steps to Go Green

The VEC participated in "Steps to Go Green", a fair sponsored by the Caldwell, West Caldwell and Roseland Environmental Commissions. The event took place in October 2010 at the Caldwell College Cafeteria. Admission was free. The commission presented the program "Idle Free Verona" and played the game "How long it takes to decompose" with the visitors. We would like to tank Ann Marchioni, Caldwell Environmental Commission's Chairperson, for inviting us. Pictured from left, VEC members Tony Saltalamacchia, Tara Bratek, James Loudon, Virginia Citrano and Gloria Machnowski.

 Hilltop Cleanup

We had a great time with the Sustainable Verona team, the Hilltop Conservancy and numerous volunteers at the Hilltop Reservation cleanup on November 19, 2016. Volunteers helped to clean up a new restoration site. This was a family friendly event and several children participated, including boy-scouts pictured here.

Elementary School Presentations
VEC members created a presentation about Verona's Recycling Programs with local pictures and information targeting third and fourth grade students.

Later on the VEC presented this program at the following schools: Forest Ave., Laning Ave., F.N.Brown, Brookdale Ave. (pictured left) and Our Lady of the Lake. This program is plan to run in all 5 school every 2 years. SEE MORE PICTURES HERE
About this Web site
This Web site was created by VEC volunteers in August 2009 using free on-line software. All content and works posted are for educational purposes only. Photographs are either courtesy of volunteers or public domain pictures. VEC member Sean DiBartolo and Michael Auteri are in charge of updating and maintaining this Web site.

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