january 2020 Newsletter
State of the Township Address, from Mayor Devanney
It is my privilege to present the 2020 State of the Township address. I want to take a moment to recognize this historic moment. For the first time in history, Berkeley Heights has a majority of women elected to its governing body.
The Township faced many challenges this year, including:
- Managing the construction of a new $32 million municipal complex after discovering nearly $1 million in unsuitable soil.
- Ensuring that six planned court-mandated housing redevelopment projects remain on track; their revenue is needed for capital needs, and commitments including the municipal complex debt.
- Managing a workforce that was under intense pressure to deliver more with a budget under constant scrutiny.
- And, deciding how to deal with a recycling crisis which more than doubled our costs due to overseas markets beyond our control.
And these are just some of the issues in the public eye that posed challenges. Responsibly managing our tax dollars by taking significant steps in both the short- and long-term to get our fiscal house in order was - and is - our top priority. We have also taken the following steps:
- We refinanced the township’s debt and had a bond sale, saving about $3.8 million and has enabled us to make a substantial financial commitment to our aging infrastructure.
- We committed a minimum of $750,000 annually in capital to pave roads for the next 20 years – in addition to other grant money or additional funding allocated as needs arise.
- We have finally undertaken a $100,000 drainage study of the most severe part of town, to serve as a blueprint to address future much-needed repairs to our stormwater system
- We are accurately tracking all grant and other monies in a way that is easily audited.
- We are ensuring that all professionals provide estimates for work to be done for specific projects, with Council now authorizing that work ahead of the job.
- We have biweekly meetings with our department heads.
- We have a formal shared service agreement with Union County on our salt dome, which will bring in over $1,000,000 in revenue over the next 20 years.
- Last month, Council approved moving our emergency dispatch services to Union County, saving the township $100,000+ in annual personnel costs, and offering state-of-the-art technology the township couldn’t afford on its own, to ensure quick response times.
- The Township’s Department of Public Works is now flourishing thanks to the department’s new leadership and our DPW shared services agreement with Union County. The Township is doing more with less at significant cost-savings without a full-time Director.
We have made great improvements in communications with our award-winning Communications Committee. We are increasing our committees and volunteers, to engage more residents. Our hard-working, small team of township employees are respected, valued, and appreciated beyond words. Lastly, our residents are respected for expressing their views and opinions.
Yet the Townships recreational needs remain unresolved. I have called on Council to approve the development of a comprehensive Recreational Master Plan in coordination with the town’s overall Master Plan, which is underway; residents are encouraged to participate (read on for more!).
We have come a long way in a year. 2020 will be full of new challenges that will need innovative, collaborative solutions. Together, I have confidence we will continue to make a difference and make Berkeley Heights a place we are proud to call home.
Happy New Year!
Mayor Angie Devanney
Click here to read Mayor Devanney’s State of the Township address in its entirety
Master Plan - Take the Survey!
The Township of Berkeley Heights is moving forward with its Master Plan, which will serve as a blueprint for our community’s future - showing the current buildings, roadways, parks and other amenities with a proposed vision for where we would like to be in the years to come.
It’s important that the Master Plan reflect the desires and needs of our taxpayers. That’s why we’re asking YOU, the residents, to give your input on what you would like to see in our town. Please take 5 minutes to take this anonymous survey here. Deadline for submissions is Friday, January 24, 2020.
Thank you for your participation!
Electronic & Styrofoam Recycling February 1
Electronics and #6 Styrofoam Recycling takes place once again on Saturday, February 1, 9 am-12 noon, at the DPW Garage on Berkeley Avenue (first street on the right off of Park Ave behind Town Hall & the Police Station). Reminder that it’s the first Saturday of every month! This program has now been expanded to allow for collection of “white goods” (appliances) and scrap metal. ONLY the following items are acceptable; all other items will be sent back home with you. Please bring your driver’s license to prove residency.
ONLY ACCEPTABLE ITEMS:
- Copy Machines
- Fax Machines
- Other Scrap Metal
It’s Time to License Your Pet
The Township of Berkeley Heights requires that all cats and dogs over the age of 7 months be licensed annually. If your dog or cat is currently licensed with the Township, a renewal letter was mailed to you in late December. Be sure to complete and return the application along with proof of Rabies vaccination and license fee as soon as possible. Renewals received AFTER February 28th will incur a late fee. If your cat or dog is not currently licensed and is more than 7 months old you can find the Dog/Cat License Application on the Township website. Please note that whether you are renewing a pet license or applying for a new one, the Rabies Vaccination Certificate MUST be valid through October 31st.
"Happening in the Heights" & Winter Walk Video!
Catch all the fun in this great video of the 5th Annual Winter Walk in December produced by the Communications Committee and don’t miss the regular weekly video series, “Happening in the Heights,” a weekly short video series highlighting what’s happening each weekend and in the upcoming weeks. These weekly videos are a team effort between the Communications Committee and our Township Business Administrator, Liza Viana. The two work together to make sure residents can easily find out about important Township updates and all the great community events going on in town each week.
New videos are posted on the Township Facebook page as well as on the Township YouTube Channel. You can subscribe to the YouTube channel to make sure you don’t miss any episodes. The features are a few minutes long, and highlight fun community and official events that you won’t want to miss.
Have an event you would like to feature? Please email the Communications Committee (BHCommunications@bhtwp.com). Featured events need to be open to the public, and should support local, non-profit organizations.
Make sure you check out the updated 2020 Recycling Schedule for Berkeley Heights on the Township website and available as a printable PDF.
Upcoming 2020 Recycling Dates:
- EAST: January 22, February 5
- WEST: January 23, February 6
Please sign up for the Recycle Coach app for recycling updates from the township and Union County.
Township Council Meeting Schedule
Township Council meetings take place at Town Hall (29 Park Avenue) at 7 pm.
Upcoming Township Council meetings:
- January 14 (Special Meeting), 21
- February 4, 18
Upcoming Budget meetings:
Is Your Street Light Out?
Please call JCP&L directly at 800-662-3115 or report it online here.
Remember to also report any power outages directly to JCP&L at 1-888-LIGHTSS or online here.
Committee & Board Updates
Berkeley Heights Communication Committee
@BerkeleyHeightsGov is now on Instagram! In order to connect with residents in more ways, we’ve now launched the Berkeley Heights Instagram account. The Berkeley Heights Communications Committee will post the latest on town news, services, events and more! Follow us @berkeleyheightsgov!
Interested in Getting Involved? Apply for Township Boards & Committee Positions.
Each year, there are openings for positions as members of Township Boards, Committees and Commissions. The Township welcomes volunteers who have specific experience applicable to each committee/board/commission. Please note that there are only a few volunteer opportunities available this year as there are staggered terms for members of each committee/board/commission.
Your qualifications will be carefully considered and, if your skillset matches the needs of the committee/board/commission you are most interested in, you will be contacted if an opening becomes available.
If you are interested in applying or a position, submit this application to Barbara Russo, Township Executive Assistant (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Berkeley Heights Grant Committee
The committee is researching resources to address senior citizen needs, senior playgrounds, safe routes to parks, electric car charging stations, and recycling, as well as corporate grant opportunities - and working to ascertain what is relevant to BH. The committee is also applying for a Historical Preservation grant, which is due in April. The next meeting will be January 16th at 6:30pm and will include a walk-through of Grants.gov.
Berkeley Heights Planning Board
The last Planning Board meeting in December was a record breaker as it lasted until after midnight. After over a year of listening to testimony and resident concerns, the vote was finally held on the subdivision at 390 Longview. The result was a 2-2 tie, the chairman voted to break the tie; the application was not approved.
Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission
The BHEC congratulates residents for contributing over 10,400 pounds of thin-film plastics to Trex bins located throughout town, from June 2018 - December 2019. While this is a landmark achievement that has raised awareness of our thin film plastics consumption, we now need to take the next step forward in the process. Accordingly, the BHEC seeks your support for three of its measures.
- Participate in the BHEC’s "Reduce Your Use" campaign. All you need to do is take a re-useable bag with handles with you when you shop to avoid taking plastic bags at check-out. If each of us do this even just once a week, we can make a huge difference in decreasing demand for plastic bags.
- Avoid using plastic straws at restaurants and take-out locations, unless you have a medical need to do so.
- In the absence of a state-wide law that will restrict the use of plastic bags at check-out, plastic straws, and polystyrene containers, the BHEC is working with the Township Council on an ordinance that will restrict the use of these items, beginning mid-year. This ordinance is similar to others passed in neighboring towns including Millburn, Summit, Chatham Township and Borough, and Madison. The BHEC is working with local businesses to assist them in implementing practices that will make them compliant with the provisions of this ordinance, even prior to the proposed mid-year effective date.
The BHEC looks forward to your continued support in making our community a cleaner, greener, healthier place in which to live.
Rutgers Environmental Stewards Program
Make a difference in your community by joining the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program in Union County. Offered by Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Stewards leave the program as trained volunteers ready to tackle environmental problems and offer solutions in their own communities. The weekly program starts Thursday, January 30th from 4-7pm at 300 North Ave East, Westfield, NJ. Participants do not have to be county residents to participate; program costs $260 for the 20 weeks. For more information or to register, please visit the Rutgers website.
Community Updates & Events
Governor Livingston High School Genocide Awareness Week
Governor Livingston is hosting a fundraiser at the New Providence Chipotle on Monday, January 27th for their Genocide Awareness Week. A class took a field trip to Kean University to meet Kizito Kalima, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, who is now raising money to build a school in Rwanda to help the nation, as the effects of the genocide are still seen today. Please see more information in the flyer below. The fifth annual Berkeley Heights Winter Walk will be on Saturday, December 7 from 3 to 6 p.m. with the Berkeley Heights Recreation Special Events tree lighting and fireworks show immediately following. More information is available on the Winter Walk website and in TapInto.
Berkeley Heights PBA Local 144
Save the Date! On January 25 at 7pm, you’re invited to the best casino night of the year! Open bar, food, free play, tricky tray- to support your Berkeley Heights Police Benevolent Associate Sick/Welfare Fund. The event will take place at Basking Ridge Country Club (185 Madisonville Road, Basking Ridge). Tickets are available at the door.
Berkeley Heights Huaxia Chinese School
To celebrate the upcoming traditional Chinese New Year, the Berkeley Heights Huaxia Chinese School is hosting "Joyful, Year of the Rat" Chinese New Year Festival 2020 on Sunday, January 26 from 1pm to 5pm at Watchung Hills Regional High School. All residents in the neighborhood are welcome to come!
The festival will feature a large variety of events, including displays of Chinese New Year traditions and cultural artifacts, fun games, a talent show and other performances, family portraits, a bake sale, and authentic Chinese food stalls. Ticket and registration information will soon be posted on Facebook.
Senior Club Update (Ages 55+)
Please join the "Seniors" at their weekly meetings - Tuesdays at 10:30am at Mount Carmel (56 River Road). Everyone 55 and over is welcome - working or retired - and encouraged to attend our meetings, 2020 trips and loads of parties. The Township website has a section for Seniors and related events and information.
Berkeley Heights has a 22-passenger senior bus equipped with a wheelchair lift. It picks up seniors 3 days/week who want to run errands along Springfield Avenue or attend Senior Club meetings and other social events run by the Senior Club each month. Find the online schedule here. For information on senior activities, trips or clubs, please contact Joan Luciano at 908.665.9604 or email@example.com.
Women’s Club of Berkeley Heights
On January 21, the club will hold a meeting at the Faith Lutheran Church, 524 South Street in New Providence (Please note change of venue) at noon. We will write cards to be distributed to Veterans at the Lyons Veterans Hospital in Basking Ridge for Valentines Day. All are welcome to join us. Refreshments will be served. We are also collecting white tube socks, sudoku, word search, and crossword puzzle books to go with the cards. Drop off is at Phyllis McEnroe’s home, 112 Windsor Way.
The Berkeley Heights Woman’s Club, a supporter of CASA, will also have Steve Polychronopoulos, a CASA advocate, speak about his experiences working with CASA.
On February 4th, the club will celebrate the Chinese New Year at a luncheon at Hung’s Shanghai restaurant, 362 Park Avenue in Scotch Plains. A buffet will be served from 1-4 p.m. Cost is $26. Please contact Phyllis for more details at 908-578-6809.
Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad
The Rescue Squad always needs volunteers, both medical and auxiliary! Come to the Rescue Squad’s new "Meet & Greet - Open House" every Tuesday from 7-9pm; meet our members, learn more about us and what it takes to join the Squad. Free refreshments and ambulance tours, too - bring the family! For additional information, visit their website or call (908) 464-0013.
Berkeley Heights Library Foundation
The Berkeley Heights Public Library Foundation is looking for volunteers! We’re planning several events over the next few months to raise money for the new library and we’d love your help. Our next meeting will take place on Monday, January 27th at 7pm in Town Hall. Please visit our website for more information on how to get involved or to make a donation. Thank you!
Berkeley Heights Public Library
- Paper Plate Story Times (Ages 2-5)
Tuesdays, January 14, 21, 28 from 10:30 to 11am
- Mother Goose Play Time (Ages 0-3)
Thursdays, January 16, 23, 30 from 9:30am to 10am
- Adult Book Group: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Tuesday, January 14 at 7:30 pm
- Good Tyme String Band (All ages)
Tuesday, January 15 from 10:30am to 11am
- Italian Conversation Group (Informal Italian conversation group led by a fluent Italian speaker for teens and adults - beginners welcome)
Wednesdays at 7:00 pm
Berkeley Heights Highlander Booster Club
5th Annual Baseball Gala
Saturday, February 8, 2020 from 7pm – 11pm at the Primavera Regency. Cost is $100 per person and includes an open bar and live music from Jersey Shore favorite, Ray Anderson and The First Verse (http://mrray.com/rayandersenbio) . Ray has played in Meat Loaf’s band as well as Cats On A Smooth Surface (where he often jammed with Springsteen!). Our silent auction will feature many new items and unique trips. Auction items and additional details will soon be announced!
To purchase tickets or more information, contact Liz McCulloch at firstname.lastname@example.org or purchase online.
Super 50/50 Baseball Raffle
Now in its 3rd year, the Super 50/50 continues to grow. The maximum prize is $7500 and only 150 tickets will be sold. This year the drawing is being held on Sunday, April 19th at the Varsity Baseball Field. Cost of each raffle ticket is $100. Please purchase tickets online.Comments? Suggestions? Please send them to: BHCommunications@bhtwp.com
Comments or Suggestions? Please email: BHCommunications@bhtwp.com