To the Editor,
My name is Ed Gallitelli, a 28-year resident of Berkeley Heights, and a volunteer for most of my time here in this great town. I have been a member of the Recreation Commission since 2009, and have been Chair since 2016 when fellow members elected me as Chair of the Commission.
I was outraged to see our volunteer-led Recreation Commission become a victim of Angie Devanney’s recent attack campaign. Not only was there no reason for it, every resident needs to understand that her facts about missed recreation grants are completely wrong. What good comes of smearing the hard work that so many volunteers have done to deliver top-level programs for our kids?
Devanney and her running mates say we have “Missed recreation grants in 2010, 2011, 2013. Neighboring towns got $300-$400k more” – this is simply not true.
It’s clear that Berkeley Heights received $2.58 million dollars from Union County over the last 7 years – triple what New Providence and Mountainside received in the last 17! Further, Berkeley Heights received grants in 2011 and 2013 from the Kids Recreation Trust Grant, both of which were published by ucnj.org--2011, 2013.
Further, our town received $85,000 in 2008 and 2009 to rebuild fields at Woodruff, Mountain Park, Mary Kay McMillion and Hughes School – which were still in progress by the time 2010’s application rolled around. More, that same year, the Snyder Ave Park turf field and playground unveiled a $2.35 million project funded by Union County’s trust.
What isn’t clear is how a 2014 grant Ms. Devanney filed as a PAL Board Member, and not revealed until recently, was ever obtained by the Kids Recreation Trust Fund Grant, with no record of how the funds would be spent, or what they paid for. In fact, it raises more questions about how it was achieved in the first place because she falsely represented herself as a public official, failed to list any project descriptions, quotes, invoices and/or purchase orders; and PAL is not one of the 21 municipalities of Union County.
These obvious accounting errors raise questions about the larger administration of the grant program in question.
Finally, it’s worth noting that neither Angie Devanney nor her running mates ever contacted the Recreation Commission to validate any of the statements they have made regarding missed Recreation Grants. Had she done so, this error, and the smearing of our volunteer’s effort, would have been avoided. That’s a shame.
I applaud our Recreation Commission volunteers and our remarkable Recreation Department staff who go above and beyond for the residents of Berkeley Heights. Our programs are the best around and at the best price! I’m also happy to answer any questions about our fields, parks or playgrounds, on this, or any issue, by email at email@example.com or visit the Recreation webpage at https://www.berkeleyheightstwpnj.gov/recreation/index.html.
Our town needs qualified leaders who will be honest with residents. If Angie, Stephen, and Alvaro can’t be honest and upfront, and can’t abide by their own pledge to not mudsling – even as it relates to community volunteers who are trying to do the right thing for our town - how could you ever trust they will be open, honest, and abide by any rules if elected? You can’t.
Their actions have made my vote clear in November. Please join me in supporting Mayor Bob Woodruff, and Town Council Members Michael D’Aquila and Michelle Greco who are seeking re-election.
Ed Gallitelli, Chair
Berkeley Heights Recreation Commission