BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -  Berkeley Heights is working collaboratively with Union County and neighboring towns for their share of $3,000,000 of grant money made available by the DEP for the Passaic River clean-up. The competition for this grant money will be substantial due to the number of towns the Passaic River touches and the magnitude of issues. 

Amy Wagner, Bureau of Union County Relations and Community Outreach, has been instrumental in moving the Passaic River clean-up efforts forward between the Union County municipalities of Berkeley Heights, Summit, New Providence and Morris County's Long Hill Township.  The DEP has encouraged the towns to join together and go through the County.  Invitations have been extended to Morris County, Chatham Borough and Chatham Township with interest.  
"The DEP is well aware that Berkeley Heights has taken the lead," said Linda Cavanaugh, Berkeley Heights Town Administrator.  "It is helpful that the council has made a commitment to the clean-up of the streams, keeping them clean and the commitment to a fiscal year 2014 budget line item," said Cavanaugh.
"We are proactive, we will get our share.  Our contact with the State has helped," said Mayor Joe Bruno at a recent Town Council meeting. "We want to keep the water in the river."

A meeting was held on Friday, Oct. 11 with representatives from the DEP, Union County, Berkeley Heights, Summit, New Providence and Long Hill Township to walk the river to understand where the difficulties will be.  The list of worst case scenarios were identified from a 2011 Map from the Passaic River Coalition.

The tour began in Summit and finished in Berkeley Heights and Long Hill .  The walking tour is helpful for permitting, to GPS and photograph large snags.  The County is working with T&M Associates as the on-call engineer, who were available to take pictures and video-tape. 

Identifying the scope of the project and how to tackle it collaboratively is the first step of the grant process.  "We are here to move forward, to get some of this DEP money that is out there," said Wagner.  The Letter of Intent is due Nov. 30.