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Posted on: June 9, 2021

Mayor's Corner - May 2021: Paving, Paths & Green Space Preservation

Mayors Corner

It feels great to get back to some normalcy! School is nearing the end of the year and summer has virtually arrived. We are fortunate to be able to celebrate some of the Township’s beloved regular events like Relay for Life and the Memorial Day service. 

Operating budget, capital, paving projects and developing old green space in new ways. Here is the latest update for May 2021: 

The operating budget is adopted as well as the capital budget, which will allow for paving in the Riceman, College, Saw Mill West and Powder Horn section. Currently, work is underway for drainage, sidewalks and paving on Fairfax, Windsor Way and Tudor Lane. Additional funds were released by the Township Council for more drainage in the Greenbriar section because the paving project came in under the estimates.  Along with the Plainfield Avenue area sidewalk improvements as a result of a 2018 federal grant, the County is installing a new flashing solar-powered crosswalk at the corner of Plainfield Avenue and Cottage Street to improve pedestrian safety. Additionally, the DPW will continue catch basin and path work during the summer. The Township is still awaiting a permit for the Train Station roof and paving the train station (side) parking lot. Check here for ongoing road project updates. 

While it is important to ensure we are maintaining our infrastructure - such as paving roads and repairing/replacing basins - I am excited to report on the progress my Administration is making on green space and recreation due, in large part, to our positive relationship with Union County. 

In addition to returfing the multi-purpose field, Union County undertook the reconstruction of the old baseball field in the back of Snyder Park. The Snyder Avenue turf baseball field and softball practice field will open this month with the GLHS Varsity baseball team playing Bayonne on the state-of-the art field like the one used in three Major League Baseball stadiums across the country. The organic field plays ten (10) degrees cooler than traditional turf fields because of the all-natural infill made from coconut husks and fibers. It feels and plays like dirt with added cooling, benefits and water savings. The performance shock pad helps keep used turf from finding its way to the landfill. The field features a press box behind home plate, batting cages, new dugouts and specialized separatedisc golf bases for baseball and softball. Please come take a look!

Walk or bike from Berkeley Heights to Summit? A game of disk golf? Stop at Mt. Carmel for a quick beverage and a bite? In May, I had the opportunity to walk the Passaic River trail with County Commissioner Chairman Al Mirabella to share with him my long-term vision for a partnership with the County to develop the Passaic River area on our western border. 

In 2019, I approached the County Commissioners requesting they pursue the acquisition of the former Berkeley Caterers property as County open space. The vision to create an environment of passive recreation with a dose of a little active recreation including a disk golf course along the Passaic River could ultimately connect Berkeley Heights to Summit along the Passaic River. Whether biking, hiking, canoeing or perhaps enjoying a cold beverage at Mt Carmel or a concert on the nearby lawn, the development of this green space in a usable and enjoyable way for our residents is instrumental in balancing the development that is occurring due to the Township’s affordable housing settlement in 2017. Get the FACTS on that development here.  

While negotiations did occur, the County and the developer of Berkeley Caterers were too far apart on the acquisition price, then, in March 2020, the COVID19 pandemic hit.  I certainly won’t allow a breakdown in negotiations to stop the vision! 

So, it was important for our County officials to physically visit the site, as they are making a significant investment in open space in the Township. As he attended and toured the first section of the Passaic trail being cleared and cleaned by volunteers on the Environmental Commission and others, Chairman Mirabella mentioned that he hopes to jump start the Berkeley Caterers talks again. The Chairman also got a glimpse and a request by our volunteers to construct foot bridges to allow for safety and connectivity. An understanding of the overall concept is paramount as the parcel serves as the gateway into Berkeley Heights!

Meantime, we are fortunate that the County has also committed to installing disc golf in the same area near Mt. Carmel this month. For those of you who may not be familiar, disc golf is a flying disc sport in which players throw a disc at a target. It is played using rules similar to golf. Players complete a hole by throwing a disc from a tee pad or area toward a target, throwing again from where the previous throw landed, until the target is reached. 

Finally, the Peppertown Park project management team of professionals launched their inaugural meeting last week. Drainage, layout, and engineering will be the first steps. The project will be laid out in phases so that funds donated by the Connell Company and required contribution by the developer of the former Kings property can be applied toward this project as they become available. Phasing is important to funding. I will be working with the professionals to make a presentation at a future Council meeting over the summer. Hope you can attend the meeting! 

As always, I am here for you Berkeley Heights! Please contact me at; Facebook; Instagram @mayorangiedevanney if you need my assistance. 

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