BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Once the municipal complex is open and ready for business, the seniors may see some changes in their programs. One of those changes is the ability to have the free senior citizen programs offered by Union County College come to Berkeley Heights.

Township Council member Stephen Yellin said he met with the President of the Berkeley Heights Senior Citizen Club Joan Luciano recently and she told him seniors are feeling “tolerated, but not appreciated by the township government.”  He said one way to remedy that is to recognize the seniors for who they are and for all they have done “for and in our community.”  He suggested officially recognizing those seniors who have made a significant contribution to Berkeley Heights as a way to change their perception of how the township views them.

There is also a need for volunteers who could help promote the senior citizen programs.

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The seniors would also like to have a guaranteed meeting day and time for the town meeting room in the new municipal building. They now meet from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Mount Carmel Hall. The township pays for that, he said. However that arrangement does not allow the seniors to take advantage of the free programs offered by Union County College, something which New Providence seniors enjoy. Other items on the senior club’s wish list is an additional senior exercise program and possibly a senior citizen picnic at Columbia Park in July or August, along with volunteers to run the grill.

Looking ahead, the seniors are concerned about the safety of their senior bus – and wonder if they need an emergency exit. They would also like to expand its availability from three to four or five days a week, Yellin said.

He recommended that the council should take on “some of the easier items,” with an eye to accomplishing some of them by fall of this year.

Council member Susan Poage suggested the picnic might be something that could be arranged for the summer.

Council member Jeanne Kingsley said that until the municipal complex is done, they can’t get the free programs from Union County College.

Councilman Pete Bavoso agreed they could “attract these types of programs” when the complex is done.

Yellin suggested recognizing a senior who has volunteered for many years at a meeting.

In other news, the Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad is looking for people to do day shifts – not only as EMTs but as drivers. The squad wants to alleviate the fears of serving as a member and is holding open house events to try to attract members. The Rescue Squad is holding Open Houses from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, at its headquarters, 378 Snyder Ave.  

The Downtown Beautification Committee will be at the next council meeting and will report on their projects.

Bavoso said the Communication Committee wants to schedule more “coffee and conversation” events in town. They are “looking to find informal spaces where residents can talk to local officials.” The schedule of the meetings will be out soon.

Kingsley said commuter parking continues to be a problem. “It seems to be a major concern with realtors and more.”  She said there is a group “BoxCar which has a few spaces available in Berkeley Heights,” that is becoming active in the area.

The group “launched a shuttle out of Summit and Chatham to New York City,” she said.  They also “rent parking spaces, in driveways, from homeowners,” and the company allows the homeowner to turn on and off the parking spaces, so if they are going to be home for two weeks and don’t want someone parking in their drive, they turn the spot off.

No one knew a lot about the app and are not endorsing it, but they wanted people to know that it exists.

Kingsley said the residents of the township “want more parking spaces … In five years, with self-driving cars, we may not need spaces, but now we do.”  She said she would like to create a task force to look into parking solutions.