Congratulations to all of our 5th & 8th grade soon-to-be graduates! And a special congratulations to our Governor Livingston High School seniors. Go get ‘em Class of 2022! Coming off a moving and poignant Memorial Day service at Veterans Memorial Park, and into June with so many wonderful events happening, here is an update on the happenings around Berkeley Heights.
Green Space & Sidewalks
We are making great strides on the green space front. The former site of Berkeley Caterers contract was signed by Union County and the landowner this week, taking the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to a full contract, ensuring that site will be saved as parkland. I look forward working with the County Manager and the County Commissioners to help realize the vision of developing the site into passive recreation including walking trails. We are also continuing to work towards the redevelopment of Peppertown Park. The Township slowed down the process to contemplate the realigning of Sherman Avenue to become a pedestrian- and bike-friendly corridor. The Town hired engineering and planning professionals to collaborate to realize this vision. Stay tuned for a presentation at one of our June Council meetings. We will also move ahead with an application to the Department of Transportation in July for the “Safe Routes to Transit” grant program to help construct this project.
Congressman Malinowski held a meeting of regional mayors to discuss the Passaic River flooding issues. Deputy County Manager Amy Wagner will coordinate an ongoing coalition of mayors from Union, Morris, Somerset counties to work toward de-snagging and de-silting the river. The Congressman committed to setting up a meeting with the Army Corp of Engineers to help facilitate these urgent needs to address the Passaic River and to mitigate the flooding occurring in Berkeley heights and surrounding areas. It’s Herculean task, but one we are willing to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work.
Sidewalks are happening! The Township was awarded a $517,000 Safe Routes to School grant from the state to create safe walking routes along Snyder Avenue from Woodruff Elementary School to Hughes Elementary School. Specifically, the money will be used to construct sidewalks along the South side of the intersection of Locust Avenue and Snyder Avenue, up to Hughes school. Once completed, this new sidewalk network will provide a safe and complete sidewalk network from not only Hughes School to the YMCA on Locust Avenue but will help connect Hughes students to the neighborhood beyond Locust, in what is known as “the Woodruff School area.” A big thank you to our Council President Jeanne Kingsley and Township Administrator Liza Viana for their hard work on submitting this application. Our Recreation Commission also rescoped old Union County recreation grants to create a sidewalk from Plainfield Avenue to the Lower Columbia tennis court area. It’s under construction as I type this column. Great job!
Seniors, Veterans, Economic Development, AAPI Heritage & Pride Month
We are taking measures to ensure we are taking care of our seniors and veterans. The Senior Affairs Committee hosted an Information Fair, and we are happy to report it was a great success. We plan to host another bringing together organizations and agencies from the town and county of interest to our older residents. Designated parking spots for Purple Heart recipients at Town Hall has been erected. The Township is aggressively seeking designation as a statewide recognized “We Salute Our Veterans.” We hope to report back in July with good news. It was wonderful to see all the Township residents and participants at the Memorial Day parade and the service that followed after two long years of skipping such a great event.
The Economic Development Committee met with our Acting Construction Code official to discuss how we can better service the needs of existing and future businesses. Thoro Entertainment is volunteering to develop an economic development video promoting the Township using local Berkeley Heights celebrities, Heather O’Rourke from ABC News and WNBA Commissioner, Cathy Engelbert as voice overs. We hope to launch it on all our platforms in the near future.
Truth Community Healing & Inclusion Committee helped to kick off the first annual AAPI Heritage Month celebration. Congratulation to Angus Chen, Natalie Chin and Linda Meehan for a great and enlightening event. Of course, our little poets and musicians were the highlight of the evening. We raised the Pride flag in honor of Pride Month for the first time in the Township’s history. We are working hard to ensure every resident of Berkeley Heights feel welcome and included.
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.