Thank you to all of those pushing and preparing to upgrade thepublic facilities in town. Three years ago, when we were trying todecide which town to reside in, we compared attributes like libraries, community centers, and downtowns, all part of a “community feel” ranking. As you can imagine, Berkeley Heights scored low on all three, and was the only town that did not have a proper community center.
To that end, introducing a community center concept without taking one extra step to provide proper recreation facilities (i.e. a multi-functional basketball court) truly confounds me. The indoor sports facilities in this town are lacking, if not woeful. Basketball practices at 9pm on a weekday are commonplace, although our son’s PAL league can’t even hold practices because there is nowhere to go. What is the point of a community center if it doesn’t provide an adequate sports and recreation facility? Even more importantly, what is the point of a town winter recreation program if it doesn’t have proper indoor facilities?
A multi-functional basketball court is a winter version of a ballfield (i.e. indoor open space), providing recreation for all sorts of sports and activities, for all sorts of ages. We came from Cranford, and their Community Center basketball court was used all day by seniors (exercise programs), then families with toddlers (ball games, gymnastics), then organized basketball and soccer when school let out, and then adult leagues at night (volleyball, soccer, basketball, etc.). Without the multi-functional basketball court, the community center was just a bunch of carpeted rooms attached to the library. With it, it became a “community” center.
I ask those responsible for the design and the approval to provide thenecessary ceiling height and add a multi-use recreational facility/basketball court for all to enjoy. Sports and recreation and indoor open space are selling points to a town. The cost in thescheme of things is modest, particularly when amortized over a 30 year period and split among thousands of households.
I support the investment necessary for a community center, but only if it comes with a multi-use sport facility (basketball court) for thetownspeople to enjoy. We have one chance to finally get this right. You can’t tear down the building and add a basketball court later. This is it - one chance to invest in the community long term, to bring more indoor open space to Berkeley Heights, and improve quality of life for ourselves and those that come after us; to bring us closer together through a shared facility and shared experience.
To readers who agree with this assessment, please write letters tothe council or make your voice heard at the upcoming meetings.