BERKELEY HEIGHTS — Just a week after an update was given on the Westside Drainage Project residents, council members and the mayor continued to react to the storm drainage problem in town.
The topic was spurred when resident Thomas Lenahan spoke about the Westside Drainage Study during the public portion of the meeting.
The project, an overhaul to the storm drainage infrastructure in parts of town, could potentially cost $15 million, take at least three years to complete and endure a 25-year storm event according to Berkeley Heights Township Engineer Thomas Solfaro who gave a presentation on Sept. 22.
“The proposed fix by the engineers can only handle a 25-year storm at best and cost an estimated 15 to 20 million dollars,” said Lenahan during the public hearing portion. “Therefore, as proposed, it is an expensive cure that does not guarantee to fix the problem and only benefits a small part of the town.
“I suggest we try other steps before committing that much money to a plan that does not cure the problem," said Lenahan.
Berkeley Heights Mayor Angie Devanney thanked Lenahan for his points and offered her take on the storm drainage issue in town.
“The drainage study is not just going to help a small part of the town, it is really going to help a lot of the streets that are downstream,” said Devanney. “Our current system only allows for a one-year storm, this allows for a 25-year storm that’s a significant improvement.”
Devanney emphasized if there are other infrastructure problems in Berkeley Heights, then the township has to examine those as well.
“We can’t afford to kick the can down the road,” Devanney remarked.
Both Councilwomen Jeanne Kingsley and Susan Poage, two members running for reelection on Nov. 3, found common ground supporting infrastructure endeavors like the Westside Drainage Study.
Poage offered an anecdote, where she was recently up around Old Farm Road when it was raining. The storm water was “like a river running over my feet,” recalled Poage. “Roads are all beaten apart. Infrastructure has to be taken care of, we have to tackle it.”
Kingsley offered her own support for addressing infrastructure in Berkeley Heights.
“I think we need to take a look at drainage in other parts of the town as well, so we really understand the entirety of this problem,” said Kingsley.
Councilman Alvaro Medeiros and Stephen Yellin voiced support for their council colleagues comments.
“Streets are going to be damaged, property values are going to start to decline,” said Medeiros.
The next Berkeley Heights Town Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. through the online meeting platform Zoom.