BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - "Chapter 1" of the project to create a new municipal center came to a close Tuesday night when all the council members agreed Plan C was the best option.

Plan C was introduced on Aug. 4 by Township Administrator John Bussiculo. He and architect Anthony Iovino had attended a July 20 meeting with residents living within 200 feet of the proposed Park Avenue Municipal Complex and heard their objections to, and suggestions on how to change, plans A and B.  

Tuesday night, Iovinio answered questions from the council and residents on Plan C - which is essentially Plan A, flipped, so that the front of the complex faces Park Avenue. The Police Department will be on the end of the complex, closest to the Department of Public Works, the library will be on the second floor, in the center of the facility, and the Municipal Building and assorted offices will be closest to Plainfield Avenue.

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The plan has a total of 253 parking spaces -- 125 for commuters; 76 spaces for the public and 52 for the police department Iovino told the council.

Charlie Pratt, who is one of five property owners whose homes are most seriously affected by the complex told Iovino and the council said, "We won't ask for a Plan D ... If there was an option of doing nothing, we would choose nothing, but that's not possible." He thanked the council "for giving the residents a voice" in the decision-making process and that he hoped members can see that Plan C is "light years better" than previous plans.

While the building will have three distinct sections, it is actually one building. Iovino said since the various areas have different uses, there will be several different HVAC systems in the building.

 There will be sloped roofs on the building and the use of solar panels will be explored.

Pratt asked if the three building areas "need to be so big?"

Iovino said the size was derived from an "objective study on what we need," and was not based upon the original plans for the Little Flower Upper Church building and Rectory on Hamilton Avenue. Plans there required a substantial addition at the L-connection between two wings, to allow the areas to connect, he said.

Still, "We might be able to squeeze the footprint, but not a lot," Iovino said.

The actual footprint, roadways, parking and such will be determined when more detailed drawings, including a 3D rendering of the Plan C Municipal Complex, are done. No date on when that should be submitted was set.

After a "straw poll" of the council, in which everyone agreed Plan C was the best option, Mayor Robert Woodruff asked Iovino to go ahead and create the drawings.

At that, the audience burst into applause.