Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers especially my pack of “mamas” who continue to make me laugh, provide a source of strength, and serve as the backbone of our community! I also look forward to celebrating with my children Abbey and Ryan, husband George while wishing my own mother a wonderful day in sunny California!
As always, Berkeley Heights is a hub of activity.
SENIORS/VETERANS: Our Senior Affairs Committee will reconvene this month after a short hiatus. I have submitted a proposal to the County for a Request for Contingency funds to assist with social services as well as provide a Union County College class for seniors only. The bulk of the request will be to retain the services of SAGE. The social worker from SAGE has been getting referrals from the Berkeley Heights area. We are excited with the possibility of SAGE becoming more proactive in the community to assist our older residents.
The Berkeley Heights Police Department continues to schedule on-site Mobile Vehicle Commission services, for seniors only, at Town Hall in July and September. The Township is also one step closer to our efforts to working toward and receiving designation as a “We Value Our Veterans” community. Criteria from the prestigious statewide award ranges from special veteran parking to quarterly round table conversations for veterans and much more. This month the Council passed a special Purple Heart Parking at Town Hall at the request of PBA #144 and the local VFW. The Township Administrator, many of our dedicated volunteers and myself are helping to cull through the designation criteria as 145 points are required. Fingers crossed the Township will be invited to participate in the statewide event with the Governor’s office wIth our local veterans.
PARKS: On the green space front, the Township received the $150,000 Fiserve check which will be dedicated to park improvements at Lower Columbia! This is part of a Community Benefit Agreement I negotiated with Fiserve in August of 2021. Also, the administration and I have scheduled a meeting with our transportation specialty planner and Peppertown Park engineer to work together on aligning the western section of Sherman Avenue to support a walking/biking trail that can be continuous through to Peppertown Park and the eastern portion of Sherman Avenue. I continue to speak with the County Manager, Ed Oatman, and attorney for the property owner of Berkeley Caterers. I am pushing hard to finalize this purchase and enforce the MOU so that residents will have walking/biking trail along the Passaic River with hopes of connecting it the western Sherman vision mentioned above!
SEWER DEPARTMENT: The Township owns a sizable sewer plant adjacent to the Passaic River which needs some emergent improvements to reduce gases that are flared off during the wastewater treatment process. Council members Varnerin and Kingsley and I continue to meet with neighbors on Garfield Street to ensure we can improve the quality of life for those residing in that neighborhood. I am certain residents will hear more about the construction of a temporary flare system as well as an enclosed design of a permanent flare system as we continue to push forward.
CULTURAL: Our Truth Community Healing Committee held two subcommittee meetings to plan out the September Multicultural Street Fair slated for September 25 with a rain date of October 2nd. The event will feature food, music, children’s crafts to learn and celebrate all the beautiful fabrics that make up our great Town. Resident volunteers are welcome and as many different cultures are needed. Currently, subcommittees cover Indian, Asian, Ukrainian, Italian, African and Caribbean cultures. Please contact me, if you would like to get involved, firstname.lastname@example.org
BUDGET: Of course, it is budget season! This year, the Township of Berkeley Heights placed a sharp focus on infrastructure, mainly in three categories: roads, drainage and sewer. We had to make hard decisions, but those choices made are in the best interest of our residents. Our town, like many others, have seen many roads deteriorate over time – with increased stormwater runoff and insufficient drainage. Our municipal drainage system has not been updated since the town was built; it is now not able to handle a 1-year storm, let alone a 10-year storm. We have to begin addressing these tough, expensive issues.
While we committed many funds in our capital budget for projects such as road reconstruction, waste water collection system rehab, sewer plant upgrades, and drainage projects throughout town, we continue to seek out grants at the County, State and Federal level for major infrastructure projects in these 3 categories. We have successfully obtained a $500,000 federal appropriation to help us fund next steps with the West Side Drainage project, as well as $699,000 in federal American Recovery Plan (ARP) money, with another tranche of roughly the same amount coming to the township this year. This funding assistance will greatly help us work toward shoring up our infrastructure.
As always, if you need me, I am here for you. Please contact me email@example.com, 908-464-2700 x 2116, facebook.com/mayorangiedevanney or instagram.com/mayorangiedevanney.