News On Redevelopment Plan, YMCA and Brine Discussed at Berkeley Heights Council Meeting

Credits: Barbara Rybolt

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- Several topics that could have a major impact on life in the township took up little time during the Township Council meeting on Aug. 18.

Mayor Robert Woodruff told residents attending the Aug. 18 Township Council meeting to mark their calendars for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16.

That's the day Township Planner Mike Mistretta of Harbor Consultants, Inc. will make a presentation before the planning board on the redevelopment plan proposed for land in what was called "The Swap," the Hamilton Avenue property, the public library and a house owned by the township on Snyder Avenue. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at town hall, 29 Park Ave.

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Later in the meeting, Woodruff said he learned during a casual conversation with people from the Berkeley Heights branch of the Summit Area YMCA, which rents its current facility in town, that the Y is looking for another home and "does not want to leave this town."  During that conversation he said, "I suggested to them we have a piece of property" on Snyder Avenue which the community voted down as a site for a community/senior center several years ago. "I asked them if they were interested," Woodruff said.

On Aug. 11, Paul Kieltyka, the president and chief executive officer of the Summit Area YMCA, sent a letter to the mayor and Council in which he wrote the YMCA "is interested in having discussions about the Township-owned property at Snyder Avenue, Block 1901, Lot 1.01 and 1.03.

"This Snyder Park location could potentially allow for amazing partnerships with the Township, specifically in the areas of seniors, indoor recreation and much more," the letter continued.

The Springfield Avenue land on which the Berkeley Heights branch of the Y is located has always been leased

Kieltyka said the Y would like to discuss the "possible uses of this currently vacant property, not unlike the original concepts the Township proposed after acquiring these parcels some eight years ago."

Woodruff said, "I don't want the Y to leave town" and that the town would be interested in discussing the possibilities "when they come forward in a more serious vein ... I would advise them to make a formal presentation."

While it's still summer, the township is thinking ahead to winter and considering using brine on the roads when snow is in the forecast. Township Administrator John Bussiculo said he met with officials in New Providence to discuss how brine has worked for them and, "They love it." The brine solution is sprayed on streets before snow falls and can be applied well in advance. The brine keeps the snow from building up during the early stages of a storm and, when the plows begin to clear streets, they can "clear the streets down to the blacktop," he said.

The township would have to buy a 1,000 gallon tank for a truck so brine can be distributed across the hilly roads, especially those leading to Governor Livingston High School, and main streets of the town. Unlike New Providence, which buys its brine, the township plans to make its own.

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