I want to thank the Berkeley Heights Township Council for voting to reject the proposed amendment to our sewer agreement with Warren, thus preventing the construction of the proposed swimming facility directly next to a residential area of the community. While nobody doubts the value the Berkeley Aquatics Center has for its members, the overall harms of the proposal greatly outweighed the overall benefits - not merely in economic terms, but especially for the lives of our residents most directly impacted by the proposed facility.

5 of the 6 Township Council members should be commended for making the right decision, as should Mayor Bruno. I felt it was important to speak out against the proposal as a candidate for Council earlier this year, in order to show the residents of our community that there was at least 1 candidate who stood with them. I thank Mr. Woodruff for being the 2nd to do so. I especially want to thank Councilman Tom Pirone for publicly standing up for the citizens in advance of the 12/6 hearing; he showed true leadership in doing so. I am disappointed in Councilman Ed Delia for voting "Yes"; in doing so, he forgets his promise to the residents in 2010 to "prove that people made the right choice". On this issue, at least, I would argue the voters made a mistake in choosing Mr. Delia. 

On a separate note,I want to thank Councilwoman Elaine Perna not only for her vote, but for her 9 years of service in Berkeley Heights government. As I was the first person to publicly thank her in March, let me be the last as well. We have not seen eye to eye on every issue, and having to run against the ticket she was the campaign manager of in this last election was particularly difficult for me. I wish her well all the same and am sure she will stay involved.

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As I noted last month, I wish the governing body a sound and successful 2012. Let us hope the Berkeley Aquatics Center vote is a harbinger of further good government in the months to come.

- Stephen Yellin

Note:  The author is Secretary of the Berkeley Heights Democratic Committee but writes this letter as an individual resident of Berkeley Heights