My name is Michelle Greco and I am running for Town Council. Chances are, I am just like you. I have been a resident of Berkeley Heights for 15 years. My husband, children and I love living here—yet there are certain things that I would like to change for the better. I work full time and I have a family to take care of. I volunteer at my children’s schools and other local organizations and find it all very enjoyable and fulfilling. I have been contributing to the community, but wondered if I committed to increased public service, I would really be able to bring about change. Then I started asking questions about some of the things going on in Town. Why do we have so many potholes? Why are there still some empty stores in town? And why do we need a new Municipal Complex?
Well, I learned some interesting things.
Did you know that we have not done any significant improvement to our infrastructure in over 50 years? Is it any wonder our Municipal Complex is completely inadequate and does not meet many basic building codes? Our police department has been working out of trailers for 20 years. Members of the current Council started the process almost five years ago to find a decent home for our police force, recreation department and Town administrators including meeting space for Seniors, recreation space, a modern library and additional train parking for our community. Now, it’s finally coming to fruition. The plan addresses many of the Town’s needs and yes, it will impact our taxes, but it brings us in line with existing facilities in all our neighboring towns. And the sale of the Hamilton Avenue property will help to offset those costs.
Our roads were left in disrepair for over 15 years until 2014 when the DPW supervisor hired by our current Mayor conducted a detailed survey of all the local roads. This information forms the foundation of today’s realistic plan to re-pave all the roads in need of repair. The plan allows us to hire State-approved contractors at pre-negotiated (lower) prices and leverage over $250,000 of State and County grants each year to minimize the cost of this necessary work to Berkeley Heights' taxpayers. This 15-year rolling plan will save us over $3 million dollars. If we tried to fix all the roads at once, we would lose out on these benefits. This same Council also spent three years researching and negotiating a COAH (Council on Affordable Housing) settlement that allowed us to reduce the number of affordable housing units required from 860 to 389, of which only approximately 200 are required to be built since the rest will be satisfied by existing projects and credits. This reduced requirement allows us to build smaller, attractive developments that maintain our cherished small town feel while also meeting our State obligations. These new developments will bring in people which will help our Downtown and our local businesses THRIVE. All residents—current and new—will enjoy this more vibrant and successful Downtown.
This Town Council’s efforts to create partnerships with resident volunteers and local businesses have formed a true community who work together to improve the quality of life for everyone in Berkeley Heights. For greater transparency, the Council is publishing Town Council meeting video streams and posting presentations on the Township website. I visited the Town’s administrative offices to meet the staff, all of whom were very willing to answer my questions.
After doing my research, I was inspired. I knew that we live in a great town but now I see that we have smart, talented, helpful people who work hard to keep Berkeley Heights running smoothly and are committed to making it an even finer community. And I’m ready to join them and bring my talents and perspectives to achieve this vision of an even better Berkeley Heights. I want to be part of the solution.
So, now I want to hear YOUR concerns so that I can address them. I understand there is still a lot of work to be done. I bring over 25 years of finance experience and 10 years of project management expertise. My work at some of the world’s most successful, well-known and demanding firms qualify me to contribute to Berkeley Heights. I will make sure planned initiatives are completed on time and within budget. I will apply my extensive communication and consensus building skills to ensure that these improvements are carried out in collaboration with residents and in line with our Town’s Master Plan.
We are at a turning point and this year’s election is critical to Berkeley Heights. We are about to see years of planning and hard work come to fruition–and I want to keep the momentum going. Please vote Column A, Woodruff, D’Aquila, Greco on Tuesday, June 5. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.