To the Editor:
I was in attendance this past Monday night to listen to the presentation by the Township's Planner for the redevelopment of the current Municipal Complex. A conceptual plan was presented to illustrate hypothetical options and mechanisms that might be used to sell the current municipal complex property for redevelopment or construct a new municipal complex - on the existing sight.
For the past number of years, residents and candidates for Mayor and Council have strongly commented that the Township's infrastructure must be improved. This current Council has addressed this significant issue and has taken action to explore the improvements needed. The catalyst to address redevelopment has been Little Flower's desire to execute a land swap which would allow for re-purposing the Little Flower infrastructure for municipal use and allowing for development of the current Municipal Complex property for an improved downtown re-development.
The Municipal Complex, including the Police Department, Town Hall, Administrative and Judicial Offices, Jail, Meeting Rooms, Indoor Recreation Facilities, Engineering Department, Library and DPW have been neglected for years. These facilities do not meet code and are dilapidated. We now have an opportunity to take meaningful action to address these deficiencies.
At the public hearing on Monday evening, the Town Council asked for commentary from the public. There were both constructive and not so constructive questions and comments. A former Council candidate commented "Any Council person who votes for this redevelopment will not be re-elected to office", is an example of commentary that impedes and stifles positive progress. Residents want and have expressed a desire for an improvement to our facilities and downtown. The Council presented a progressive improvement in response to the residents' wishes.
We should keep in mind that a "piece meal" fix of deteriorating structures and the expense to bring non-compliant structures up to code has an eventual higher cost and will serve only as a temporary fix. In time, the Township will have to make the proper capital improvements. The longer we wait, the more it will cost. We now have an opportunity to improve our town's appearance and infrastructure.
Redevelopment brings overall improvement and an upgrade to design standards, something our town needs and residents want. It also increases the desirability and attractiveness of our town to those seeking to open businesses and/or purchase homes. Let's seize this excellent opportunity.
Berkeley Heights Resident