To BH Town Council, Seniors, and Other Residents:

BH SENIORS STUNG AGAIN?

In Berkeley Heights, the Redevelopment Plan presented to the Planning Board on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 is inadequate for the long term needs expressed by many Seniors over the years. The current plan needs revision and should not be recommended by the Planning Board to the Town Council in its current, unrevised, state.

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WHY?

A. Based on 40 years as a BH resident and 4 years as a BH Town Council Member, I know that this plan does not meet the expressed needs, but can easily be revised to do so. The town and tax payers are spending a lot of money and now is the time to work together to get it right.

B. The Senior Citizen Club of BH is an active and longstanding group that originated in 1968.

C. The Seniors are the largest single group (120 to 160) routinely meeting in the Township; Seniors meet twice per week and are a very active group.

D. Putting an undesignated meeting space in the basement for elderly people with physical limitations is a health and safety hazard that comes with hardship and risk to the Seniors and to BH. It is beyond inconsiderate, it is truly ill-advised.

E. A dedicated space is required to put Berkeley Heights on a close par with both Long Hill and New Providence.

WE CAN FIX THIS VERY SIMPLY:

1. Switch the proposed undesignated basement meeting space to the ground floor parking lot level. Dedicate this meeting space with room for all of the Senior’s equipment, etc. This saves both the Seniors, individually, as well as BH, the extra wear and tear on the building from transporting items in and out, and up and down.

2. Main level access will be easier to transport the Seniors in and out for each meeting. In the event of an emergency, evacuation from the parking lot level would not be problematic or pose additional risk to the Seniors.

3. The Senior population is growing in Berkeley Heights, as it is in the entire USA. (We may have 20 to 30% of the tax paying residents without any children in the school.)

The current plan as proposed does not serve Berkeley Heights well. It is a disservice to the Seniors and poses hardship and unfair risk to them. The Seniors’ long standing desire to have a facility to accommodate their needs can be accomplished now versus being forever lost with the fragmented meeting room plan and usage.

DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN!!!

1. Contact your Town Council Members — Go to the meeting scheduled for June 14, 2016 and speak out in your own voice.

2. The Board should note the inconsistencies and address them in the 45 day period they are allowed in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:12A—7(e).

THIS IS THE LAST CHANCE FOR SENIORS TO HAVE A SPACE THAT PHYSICALLY WORKS FOR THEM TO USE. AND IMPORTANTLY, THIS IS THE LAST CHANCE FOR BH TO DO THE RIGHT THING FOR ITS ELDERLY CITIZENS WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO MAKING THIS TOWN A GREAT COMMUNITY AND A TERRIFIC PLACE TO LIVE.

Sincerely,

John C. Bonacci, BH resident and former BH Town Council Member