Letters to the Editor

It's time for a change on our town council


We chose Berkeley Heights to be our home away from home because of its proximity to the Watchung reservation, homes with mid-century character, good lot sizes with mature trees. We are very thankful for our home everyday especially when we see chipmunks on our deck, blue jays and robins at our bird feeder, little foxes running around, or a deer family first thing in the morning in our backyard.

We are usually an apolitical family but I decided to go and ask some questions when I heard we might be getting the pilgrim pipeline in our backyard in 2014. Most of our neighboring towns had a clear agenda on how to tackle this and had information readily available to its residents, we had none. I had to work with friends and got in touch with Sierra Club. That's when I realized this town lacks a clear communication strategy and plan. The elected representatives are disconnected from the real issues impacting the tax-paying residents. And we are reminded of it every single time you have to interact with township on any issues be it broken street lights, potholes or broken storm drains.

The very first time I tried to get a permit to update our home, we had to wait for almost a month which resulted in us losing our contractor. I was surprised it took this long when other towns have clear SLA's on the turn around times for issuing a permit which is ~48hrs. The staff are not the friendliest to deal with when you try to understand the process causing the delay.

Sign Up for E-News

We were shocked by the ever growing price of the town hall project  from $14Million to ~$20Million to the current number of $28Million and the decision to go ahead with the SWAP by denying the residents to vote on this huge project. Most of neighboring towns spent in the range of $5-10 million and put those projects on the ballot for the tax paying residents to decide if they want it. That's how a democracy works by working with and convincing the residents of the need for a project so they can vote. Here we are stuck with a town council who will go to any lengths to deny its residents the right to choose or vote on any major project. They use closed executive sessions often. It boggles my mind that the town actually spent close $200,000 to deny its people the right to vote on this town hall project, going to the lengths of getting buildings designated as blighted and choosing the redevelopment law. When a petition for referendum to vote on this project collected hundreds of signatures the township got the attorney involved to shut the voice of the people down!  Why are they so keen on denying people their right?

Attend any town council you will see all them vote yes within an average of ~2-10minutes no discussion whatsoever. It's like they have already made their decisions on any agenda items already. It very impetuous  for them not have a public discussion amongst themselves for residents to understand the issues. And if any resident does decide to get to the mic to ask a question be prepared to be cross examined, bullied into shutting up or given the runaround. I have attended about five town council meetings, sometimes I was told this was already discussed so we can't give you an answer, given absolutely inaccurate information which contradicts actual documents.  

Now is the time for us to usher the change we want and need in Berkeley heights. Please vote for Dr Thomas Foregger and John Leo Jr.  They will help to ensure that our government acts with the required amount of scrutiny and transparency.

Yours faithfully,

Sai Bhargavi Akiri

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Sleep out at Covenant House

June 18, 2018

I can enjoy the same movies over and over like it were the first time to see them.  My kids roll their eyes at this.  Well, many unimaginable things happen as you become a certain age, and you tend to learn to accept those things graciously as gift.   But I remember the movie “The Blind Side.”  Until I saw that movie, I didn’t know homeless children ...

Moms Helping Moms Foundation Receives Overwhelming Support from Community to Help Mothers this Mother’s Day

June 20, 2018

Mother’s Day is often celebrated by showering the women in our lives with beautiful flowers, heartfelt cards, and taking them on special outings to show them how much they mean to us. Yet, for many low-income mothers living in our community, they struggle each day to provide the basics for their babies.

Diapers are a necessity yet one in three families in the United States lack an ...

New Providence Recreation Offers Adult Summer Programs

New Providence Recreation is accepting registrations for adult evening and daytime programs that run June 25th – August 31st.  Most of the eight to nine-week sessions are under $65; several programs are free for NP residents!  All levels of fitness and those returning to exercise are welcome.

Programs are offered starting at 6 a.m.. If you are seeking weight loss, core body ...

Summit Community Blood Drive is Sunday; First 50 donors Will Get a Free Union Theater Movie Pass

The weather may have just started to warm up, but New Jersey Blood Services (NJBS) is already urging the public to donate blood as we head into the summer months.  With schools closing and vacations scheduled, less people donate blood from June through August but transfusions are still needed for local patients.   

“We’re especially thankful to our dedicated donors ...

Union County College Hires New Dean of Humanities

CRANFORD – Dr. Melissa R. Sande is the new Dean of Humanities for Union County College. Dr. Sande joined Union in the fall of 2013 as a full-time instructor of English. She has more than ten years of teaching experience and has previously served as a program coordinator, writing tutor, and an adjunct instructor.

As the Dean of Humanities, Dr. Sande will be responsible for the supervision ...

Watchung Borough Mayor and Council Approve Affordable Housing Settlement

June 9, 2018

WATCHUNG, NJ -The Watchung Borough Council voted on Thursday night  to settle its third round affordable housing obligation mandated by the state of New Jersey. Watchung Borough’s immunity from builder's remedy lawsuits  expires on June 30.

 Mayor Stephen Pote was forced to cast the deciding vote after the council deadlocked at 3-3.

Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith Attends Gun Safety Bills Signing Ceremony with Gov. Murphy in Trenton

June 14, 2018

TRENTON, NJ -- Mayor Al Smith attended a gun safety package bill signing ceremony at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton on Wednesday with Governor Phil Murphy. Mayor Smith joined a bipartisan group of local and state elected officials, as well as members of Moms Demand Action of Union County, at the event. 

“As a leader in Sandy Hook Promise, I was happy to accept the ...

What's Hot and What's Not

Summer is a great time to take a step back, sip a cool beverage, and take a look at what’s going on in the world of college admissions.  Departments use the summer to evaluate how their year went and plan on any changes they want to make for the fall.  Did they over-enroll? Under-enroll?  What application materials were useful to them?  Which were redundant or time ...

How to Design Your Ideal Retirement

Would you like to design your ideal retirement? Where do you begin? First of all, what does retirement mean to you? If you’re in a relationship, does retirement mean the same to you as it does to your partner? Do you know if your “ideal retirement” is affordable or just a pipe dream?

In past generations, retirement planning didn’t involve very much. You stopped work ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...