Tomm May Nature Trail

Recreation Division

THOMAS J. MAY NATURE TRAIL AT TANTUM PARK

Included among the 36 acres at Tantum Park is the Thomas J. May Nature Trail, a wooded and slightly hilly walking trail constructed and dedicated in the Spring of 1993 by the residents of Robbinsville as a tribute to Tomm in recognition for his commitment to the environment and to his community. The trail includes 17 Viewing Stations that detail the plant life inhabiting the area. There are three entrances, and the various walking paths are less than two miles long. There also are benches for rest and relaxation. There is a portion of the trail that runs parallel to the Assunpink Creek. The “Assunpink” originates in rural Monmouth County and was named by the Leni Lenape native people to mean “Stoney Watery Place."

On October 21, 2004, Dr. Patrick L. Cooney walked the perimeter of the trail and compiled a list of native plants. Plant vegetation has changed slightly over the years, but overall the plant species outlined in the link below are shade tolerant and thrive on lots of moisture.

Thomas J. May (Sept. 26, 1951 – Oct. 16, 1988) was a Soil Scientist and Senior Geologist with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. "Tomm" was a member of the Washington Township Environmental Coalition and later served on the Washington Township Environmental Commission.

tomm-may-headshotIn the late 1970’s, the State of New Jersey mandated the placement of an industrial waste landfill in Mercer County, specifically in the vicinity of Sharon School, Robbinsville Airport and nearby residential areas. At that time, Washington Township was primarily a rural community with only about 2,000 residents. Approximately 20 concerned citizens with varied professional backgrounds formed the Washington Township Environmental Coalition.

Some of the Coalition individuals included former Mayor Nancy Tindall, environmental advocate Janet Van Nest, educator Rosemary James and geologist, environmental engineer and Mr. May.

Tomm successfully presented critical scientific data before the Mercer County Improvement Authority on how the local water table, soil characteristics and demographics of the area made such a proposal to build an industrial landfill dangerous to local inhabitants.  Scientific data was presented on the projected health risks and likelihood of widespread environmental contamination with the result of overall degradation of the quality of life in Robbinsville. After a tireless and time consuming effort by the Washington Township Environmental Coalition, the landfill proposal was defeated. Robbinsville Township would not be the desirable place to live today if it were not for the activism of the Coalition, and the scientific expertise presented by Tomm.

tomm-may-life1On October 21, 2004, Dr. Patrick L. Cooney walked the perimeter of the trail and compiled a list of native plants. Plant vegetation has changed slightly over the years, but overall the plant species outlined in the link below are shade tolerant and thrive on lots of moisture.

CLICK HERE FOR THE TYPES OF PLANTS THAT CAN BE FOUND ON THE TRAIL

Tomm attended the Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ. He also held a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology and Soils Science (with emphasis on ground water pollution studies) from Rider University, and a Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering from Rutgers University.  At his untimely death on October 16, 1988, Tomm was working on his PHD in Civil Engineering at Rutgers University.

Tomm may life2In the late 1960’s Tomm was a devoted advocate of recycling and natural resource conservation.  Tomm diligently contributed his time and energy in the education of others on environmental conservation through public lectures and the encouragement of recycling programs by local communities, industries and individuals. This was a time of emerging environmental awareness. Tomm married Karen, who was the love of his life, in 1986.

Those who knew Tomm could not help but admire him for his intellect, easy nature, tireless energy, sense of humor and his genuine concern for the good of all.  He was also an avid long distance runner and practiced healthy living.

© 2019 • Robbinsville Township, NJ • 2298 Route 33, Robbinsville, NJ 08691 • (609) 259-3600
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