BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- The first order of business on Tuesday, Dec. 17, was awarding a proclamation to outgoing Councilman Peter Bavoso. Mayor Angie Devanney read the proclamation and posed for a photo with Bavoso, his wife, daughter, and the council. 

After presenting him with the proclamation on a wooden plaque, she handed Bavoso a yellow and gold gift bag, and said, “This has been an education in bourbon for me … I hope you enjoy it and relax.” Bavoso quipped, “You know bourbon is vegetarian,” to which she responded, “It’s vegan.”  She cautioned, “This is for later.”

Councilman Stephen Yellin added, “You know they used to give out a gavel to someone who was leaving. This is definitely better.”

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The proclamation itself read:

WHEREAS, Peter Bavoso and his wife Janine searched for a vibrant, family-oriented community to raise their family, when they discovered Berkeley Heights where they have lived for nine years; and 

WHEREAS, Peter Bavoso was elected to the Township Council beginning in 2017; and

WHEREAS, Peter Bavoso has been a fierce advocate for neighborhood preservation with his active involvement regarding the Berkeley Aquatic Club relocation and more recently with Warren’s affordable housing initiative which could affect the Emerson Lane area; and 

WHEREAS, during his tenure on the Township Council, Peter Bavoso played an integral part in increasing communications to the Township residents starting with recruiting members for the Communications Committee who have technical backgrounds to build the new website; and

WHEREAS, Pete helped lay the framework for the new website, participated in informal chats with residents and urged fellow council members to openly communicate with residents; and 

WHEREAS, Pete has spent countless hours advancing the municipal redevelopment project and closely scrutinized budgets and capital spending plans; and 

WHEREAS, with Pete’s superior sense of humor, the Township Council and public could always count on him to add some levity to intense discussions; and 

WHEREAS, Peter Bavoso will complete his service as Councilman on December 31, 2019.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Mayor and the Township Council of the Township of Berkeley Heights, on behalf of all of our citizens do hereby formally recognize and publicly thank Peter Bavoso for his dedicated service to the Township.

The presentation of the proclamation came at the beginning of the meeting. The last order of business was a citizen’s hearing where members of the public could speak to the council and, in this instance, to Bavoso, who opened the citizen’s hearing by saying “We would like to hear from you for the last time,” which produced gales of laughter from the council and audience.

Charlie Pratt said, “Pete, I would like to say thank you. You have taken a lot of sides on issues that are definitely community-oriented. You’ve held your positions. If you were up here for fame and glory, I am sorry for your disappointment.” 

Heidi Cohen came up to the podium and said, "Thank you, Pete. I didn’t know two weeks ago, when you gave your wonderful speech, I wasn’t sure if we would see you tonight.” Cohen said she just “wanted him to know you are a great egg and the town is lucky to have you and we will be lucky to have you, because I know you may not be sitting up here, but you will stay involved.”  

Two weeks earlier, at the Dec. 3 meeting, Bavoso said he was unsure whether he would be able to attend the Dec. 17 meeting and spoke to the council about his three years on the council. “I can’t believe it is December 2019.” He thanked members of the community for their support and offered kind words during my time here,” and called his three years on the council “an interesting overall experience.”

He acknowledged the many “selfless people” who have volunteered their time to “make our town better.” He thanked his wife, “Janine, for her patience and never-ending support for the things I do in life, for one reason or another.”

He said he never thought of himself as a political person, and believes that is still true today, after three years on council. “I did my best and tried to make decisions that would help manage change and would make the town better. Like it or not, the change comes and you can either manage it or it can run you over,” he said. 

He pointed out “We live in New Jersey and there will always be potholes and taxes. That’s not a Berkeley Heights thing.” 

Marc Faecher convinced him to run, with the aid of Councilwoman Jeanne Kingsley, he said. After getting to know his running mate Manny Couto, and working with him, Bavoso said, “It would be very difficult to find ... another selfless, involved neighbor to be part of this town council and to represent the true and hopeful values of this community other than Councilman Couto … Here’s to ‘Manny' more years," he said.

 “Here’s the thing … everybody up here is up here to make our town better, to keep things moving forward together for everyone … to make Berkeley Heights a more desirable place to live … to ultimately make our homes more valuable … This should not be about Democrats or Republicans ... There is no conspiracy, so stop it. Stop with the Facebook stuff,” he urged.

He pointed to the things that were started before he joined the council that are now well-established or becoming a reality including: the municipal complex; a functioning, growing website; finding new revenue streams for BH; keeping the YMCA and pool in town; the strength of the award-winning town communications; Winter Walk and Restaurant Week, which gain more participants each year, and a better looking downtown. 

He asked everyone on the council to “keep the momentum going,” and keep moving forward.