Lease Negotiations with Berkeley Heights Y will go Forward, but not Everyone is Happy

Supporters and opponents of the proposed BH YMCA/Community Pool project filled the council chambers at the Feb. 6, 2017 meeting. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Supporters and opponents of the proposed BH YMCA/Community Pool project filled the council chambers on Feb. 6, 2017. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
One of several residents speak on the proposed BH YMCA/Community Pool project. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Discussion on the proposed Berkeley Height YMCA and BH Community Pool lease finished up almost two hours after it started. Negotiations on a lease were approved. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
One of several residents to speak on the proposed BH YMCA/Community Pool project. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
After Council President Marc Faecher read the proposed lease terms, Paul Kieltyka, CEO of Summit Area YMCA addressed the council. Credits: Barbara Rybolt

Editor's note: Edited 2/9/17 at 8:00 a.m.

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - In a meeting that included a resident being escorted out by the police chief, outbursts from audience members and bursts of applause, the Township Council managed to move forward on several projects Tuesday.

After almost two hours of public comment, the council, in a  unanimous straw vote, authorized Township Attorney Joseph Sordillo to enter into lease negotiations with the Berkeley Heights Y.  At a previous meeting of the council, the Summit Area YMCA proposed taking over the management of the Berkeley Heights Community Pool (BHCP), leasing the land on which the pool is located, and building a 36,000 square foot facility on the approximately three acres of usable land on the site. In addition, the Y would make needed repairs to the pool so it can open this season, and later replace the current pool, which is more than 50 years old and at the end of its useful life.

Sign Up for E-News

Council President Marc Faecher said he knew there was concern about traffic on Locust and Timber, especially in "connection to 100 Locust, a senior housing development, that has been going on for some time."  The developer will have to do a traffic study, which will be reviewed by the township. A traffic light could be placed at the entrance to Locust and Snyder. "In addition, if the Y and township execute a lease, it will be up to the Y to resolve site plan related traffic concerns on the other side of Timber," added Faecher.

Mayor Robert Woodruff said the township is aware of the traffic issues on Timber and surrounding areas of the Locust property. He and Township Administrator John Bussiculo have met with Police Chief John DiPasquale and are taking a "global approach" to traffic issues. That approach takes into consideration how the development at the King's and movie theatre property, as well as 100 Locust and the YMCA affects traffic in the township. Township planner Mike Mistretta is currently doing a traffic study of 100 Locust and there is a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement that includes language that permits the township to require a traffic light throughout the 30 years of the PILOT agreement, the mayor explained.

The traffic issues will also be reconsidered when, and if, the Y signs the lease and has full schedules available that will impact the traffic on Locust and surrounding streets.

A spirited discussion of the proposal began as soon as the floor was open to the public.

Todd Scorzafavia, a resident of Timber Drive, said "What I heard tonight was all about money." Nothing was mentioned about the safety of children who live in the Timber Drive area, "which is already a cut-through," he continued.  He said his seven-year-old daughter "wants to ride her bike safely to the pool," but the additional traffic generated by the Y will make an already busy road more dangerous and will generate more traffic onto Timber Drive.

A supporter of both the pool and the Y, he said, "Let's think about safety.  Nothing wrong with the plan except the location ... It's the wrong location," he said. Residents "have to put safety above pleasure, the pool, and money, the Y. Safety first," he said. "When a child dies in the future, there will be lawsuits, and isn't that horrible that we have a decision tonight to make to save a child's life," he said.

Other Timber Drive residents expressed their concerns about the traffic situation on Locust and Timber and, by the end of the public comment period, at the mayor's suggestion, an ad hoc committee of Timber Drive residents was in the process of being created. Once assembled, they  were to call Bussiculo

Doug Brogowski, a Park Avenue resident and a self-declared supporter of the Y and the pool, said, "Maximizing every square foot of town for the highest possible revenue generation ... makes for a pretty lousy place to live ... Losing both of these institutions will have an absolutely disastrous effect on Berkeley Heights for a very long time. This is a wonderful deal for Berkeley Heights."

Questions about the plan included whether this is an "all or nothing" situation, the size of the facility, with parking, when plans will be available for public viewing, how the pool got into this situation, how construction vehicles would be dealt with and the zoning of the site. Others questioned the difference between this proposal and the Berkeley Aquatic facility which the council voted against several years ago, the effect the expansion of the Y facility would have on Lifetime Fitness and the number of children who will be at the pool -- 1,000 was floated as a possibility.

Some suggestions from residents included creating a bike path from Timber to the pool, looking at all of Locust and doing the planning for the street up front.

Jeanne Mirabella said the proposed Y is literally in her back yard and "I like having the pool there" and thinks she will like having the Y there, also. Traffic is a problem on Timber and it's a problem going the posted 25 mph speed limit, she told the council. "We would like to have you include the residents of Timber ... I would be happy to serve and have many neighbors who would be happy to serve ... I am not opposed, but I am opposed to the 'wait and see' attitude" about the class schedule, pick up and drop off times at that Y and what that will do to traffic in the area.

Others who support the Y building on Locust turned to the benefits offered by the Y and the pool -- jobs for young people, partnering with Governor Livingston High School programs, meeting spaces for local organizations and free health seminars.

Council Vice President Jeanne Kingsley read a letter from Laurie Liming in support of the proposal and lauding the "Live Strong" program which Liming uses as she recovers from breast cancer.

Resident Tom Lenehan urged the council to increase the proposed lease amount. "We're essentially giving it away."

Sai Bharrgavi Akiri asked if there could be a referendum on the Y and was told that wasn't in the plans or necessary.

Manny Couto and other council members supported the idea of the ad hoc committee and agreed that safety can't be compromised.

Peter Bavoso said, "We're trying to do what is best for the whole community."

Woodruff said, "They don't want to have a quality of life issue," nor does he or the town. What he knows is that Timber Drive and the Y "had a pool and a Y ... we won't get one without the other...but it is a process."  He then authorized the straw vote adding, "We haven't heard the end of this."

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Berkeley Heights’ Women of the Week (WoW) Series features Beth Ferris Sale

March 18, 2018

In honor of the women who are driving change, blazing trails and nurturing society, the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council is pleased to announce an exciting initiative called, Women of the Week (WoW) Series. In the spirit of community, we wanted to honor the women right here in Berkeley Heights who are impacting the world in their own way for the remaining weeks of Women’s History ...

OLP Presents 'Screenagers' a Documentary on Growning Up in the Digital Age

March 18, 2018

Our Lady of Peace Church and Academy in New Providence will be hosting a special screening of the movie "Screenagers" regarding a very important topic for families and youth – “Growing up in the Digital Age.” The movie delves into the important and current topic of children and teenagers and their use of social media and digital devices. The movie is appropriate for ...

Transform Your Relationship with Food


You will receive on-going support, personalized information, realistic and individualized goals that allow for lasting lifestyle changes, amazing recipes, motivation, sample grocery lists, meal planning assistance, advice on avoiding fad diets, objective feedback and tools to avoid lifestyle diseases.

• Healthy eating Healthy ...

Watchung Hills Coin Club's 36th Annual Coin Show is April 8

The annual Watchung Hills Coin Show will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 8, at the Elks Lodge #1068, 375 Union Ave. (Rt. 28), Bridgewater.

This is the only show sponsored by a local coin club in Central New Jersey. It offers free admission and parking. Young Numismatists are welcome.

The show is the ideal one-stop shopping venue for sellers, as well as buyers. For those wishing ...

NPHS Student's Response to After School Walk-out Plan at NPHS

March 14, 2018

A group of students file into a science classroom amid a nervous din of chatter, the air is electric with excitement and nervousness. This small group of approximately 30 students are a studious bunch, largely members of the sophomore class with squeaky clean administrative histories. They are currently preparing to defy authority and stand up for what they believe in, even though they had been ...

New Providence's Allen W. Roberts School Gets Security Walk Through by Police Department after Bomb Threat

March 12, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence Police Department sent a letter to parents and guardians of students at Allen W. Roberts Elementary School after a non-specific bomb threat was reported on Monday afternoon.

It's the second threat  reported at a New Providence school in March. The first threat was reported on March 5th at New Providence High School.

Emergency ...

Avon Loses Its Last ‘Grand’ Hotel to the Claw of an Excavator

March 17, 2018

AVON-BY-THE-SEA, NJ — In less than two days, an Avon-by-the-Sea landmark that stood for 130 years was reduced to a huge pile of rubble. The Norwood Inn no longer stands on the corner of Norwood and Second Avenues — the last of the stately hotels that once graced the streets of Avon.

As onlookers gathered around the demolition site on March 15 and March 16, an excavator clawed its ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, March 19, 7:00 PM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

Agents of Change: Women in NJ History


Tue, March 20, 7:30 PM

Mountain Park School, Berkeley Heights

Boy Scout Open House - Troop 368

Education Giving Back

Wed, March 21, 7:00 PM

Summit Free Public Library, Summit

increase your networking and interviewing iq

Business & Finance Other

Thu, March 22, 7:00 PM

Summit Free Public Library, Summit

The Long march home: An American Soldier's Life ...

Education Other


Fri, March 23, 9:30 AM

Dunkin Donuts, Berkeley Heights

Let’s Meet Up to Clean Up! BH Walks, a New ...


JCP&L Representative Describes Utility’s Actions During Storm Quinn, Answers Residents' Questions

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The format of this week’s  Berkeley Heights 'Here and Now' was turned on its head this week. Mayor Bob Woodruff reviewed what happened in the township following Storm Quinn and its predecessor Storm Riley, complete with statistics. He then asked a representative of JCP&L questions about the utility’s response, and how it was ...

Berkeley Heights, Here and Now: Redevelopment Updates

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Mayor's Round Table has been rebranded to "Berkeley Heights, Here and Now." This new format will continue to provide updates from Mayor Bob Woodruff, municipal offices and the Communications Committee want to hear from citizens, businesses and community organizations.

Included in this episode, Mayor Bob Woodruff addresses the status of the ...

You Want a Check for How Much!

 My first admissions gig was working for a small liberal arts college with a pretty hefty price tag.  Picture me at a college fair: name tag in place, pile of brochures ready to go.  An eager family would walk up and we’d start a conversation.  One of the first questions I’d get from parents was about cost and the moment that $50,000-plus figure left my mouth I ...

Now That The Dust Has Settled…Smart Tax Moves In 2018

Now that the dust has settled, here are some smart tax moves to lower your taxes and/or avoid higher taxes/penalties in 2018. These steps may be especially helpful if you live in high property and high income tax states (e.g. New Jersey, New York, California) since state and local tax deductions are capped.  Unfortunately all these changes mean you’ll need more time and energy to ...