March 19, 2018-- Toms River Regional Schools worked with the township to write and receive a competitive Sustainable Jersey grant funded by PSEG worth $20,000, money which has been used to transform the aging Poseidon Academy marine science building in downtown Toms River into a flexible workspace promoting environmental research and activism for students and the community. The building was rededicated as the School of Environmental Sustainability Poseidon Lab at a public ceremony March 26.
The remodeled space will support the new School of Environmental Sustainability (SES), part of a STEAM Career Academy which debuted in September 2017 at Toms River High School East. Expanded courses and opportunities will continue to be led by teacher and Poseidon director Jon Hoffman. Students from across the district will benefit from SES student outreach as well as local experts recruited as mentors, sponsors, interviewers, speakers, and guest teachers.
In addition to extensive repairs and remodeling made by the district, staff, students, local partners and volunteers will be involved in planning and running community programs in the space, including public lectures, workshops, and presentations.
The small concrete building, a former bus depot, sits at the foot of the Toms River, where waters flow over 40 miles into Barnegat Bay and, ultimately, the Atlantic. Before the renovation, the classroom fit 15 students, several fish tanks, scuba gear, and some water testing equipment. In its new configuration, it will hold up to 25 people with new technology and utilities.
The project builds on the town’s continuing recovery from Superstorm Sandy in 2012. A high water mark is painted on the side of the building to show how the lab was immersed in over two feet of water five years ago, causing extensive damage. Over the past couple of years, the town has made investments into many areas of the waterfront, including major construction to the bulkhead, a pedestrian bridge, and a refurbished dock and small boat launch. The beautified grounds of Huddy Park are a stone’s skip across the water from the lab. The lab will act as an anchor for new plans being devised by the town to address the waterfront area west of Main Street. View a photo gallery below.