Elected officials are obligated to undertake difficult challenges. There are those which are thrust upon us, like affordable housing, and those which must be addressed to keep our Township moving in a positive direction – like the New Municipal Complex. Our citizens trust and expect their municipal government to act in their best short and long-term interests.
During my nine years of public service as a Council member and Mayor, I have sought to aggressively represent the citizens of Berkeley Heights. I’ve worked diligently to serve our immediate needs while, most importantly, having a vision for how our Town should proceed to maintain our standing as one of New Jersey’s great places to live.
I am proud of what we have accomplished. The diversity of skills of our Council members, the dedication of our Township employees, and the tireless contributions of our citizen volunteers have created incredible enthusiasm. We are a team moving forward with a vision and strong work ethic, and I respectfully ask that you all please help us continue the momentum.
What we have done is most impressive and it has been due to the efforts of so many:
- We have confronted Court-mandated affordable housing; aggressively negotiating with developers, holding fast to minimize density and maximize the quality of construction to assure controlled, attractive growth. Our efforts received high praise from the Court, and we are free from Builder’s Remedy lawsuits for ten years.
- We have negotiated, where appropriate, Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements which provide increased revenues to the Town while allowing us to better control the density and quality of the development. The PILOT stops any tax appeals on the affected property for thirty years.
- We have, in concert with YMCA officials, secured a place to build a new Y facility and to save our community pool, which has served our residents for over fifty years. A new 30,000 square foot YMCA is a win for all of us.
- We have, through the redevelopment/affordable housing process, secured the construction of a 55-and-older apartment complex. We want to provide a place for our older population to remain in our Township.
- We have negotiated an enhancement of Sherman Avenue from Lone Pine Drive to Plainfield Avenue, which will provide a pedestrian boulevard.
- We have a new first-class hotel that is not only a great asset to our town but will provide additional tax revenues.
- We have inaugurated our Winter Walk and Summer Street Fair, Restaurant Week, and Beauty & Wellness Weeks. Such events help make Berkeley Heights a destination for our many neighboring towns.
- We have accomplished what three decades of prior elected officials believed to be needed. We are constructing a new Municipal Complex that will house a new library, our police department, recreation department, engineering offices, administrative offices, and a place for our seniors to meet.
- We have negotiated the exchange of our old library facility with the Hamilton Avenue property owned by Little Flower with our Township making monetary payments of $2.8 million to equalize the value. This transaction gave us the opportunity to monetize an asset for our Town.
- We have provided a location for our library to remain open on the Hamilton site (rectory) until our New Municipal Complex is complete.
- We have recently selected Toll Brothers to develop 47 market rate units and 20 affordable units on the Hamilton property. We will receive $10.5 million from this transaction. This will enable us to mitigate our costs of the Municipal Complex for which we have passed ordinances allowing us to borrow up to $28 million. Since this property has never been owned or occupied by any taxpaying entity, we have opened up a valuable piece of property to produce tax revenues.
- We continue to seek and receive State and County grants to enhance our parks and fields. Our Veterans Memorial Park has become a cornerstone of our downtown while serving as a solemn reminder of all of those who have served our nation.
- We are making great strides at providing timely and complete information to our citizens and now provide real-time video access to Township meetings.
- We are making prudent and smart investments in our Township infrastructure by instituting comprehensive capital plans to improve and maintain our roads, all the while securing State and County grants to defray our costs.
- We have protected the taxpayer’s interests by instituting shared services and other smart management strategies to keep the municipal part of the budget under the two percent cap over the past three years.
All of the above has not occurred through unsupported promises. It’s the RESULT of teamwork and vision. We have achieved great things because we believe in our citizens. We believe in making difficult decisions. And we follow through with the effort necessary to move our Township forward. Work remains to be done. We ask you to please support us as we all continue to make Berkeley Heights a great place to live and work.
Please vote for Woodruff, D’Aquila and Greco Republican Column A on Tuesday, June 5th. The polls are open from 6 am to 8 pm.