I think we are all still trying to settle in to new routines, new activities and constantly checking our phone calendars to ensure we aren’t missing anything as this new school year began! We’re “back to normal” – well, as normal as we may be for awhile – post-COVID, and it’s both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time!
As we head into Fall, the Township has forged ahead on many large infrastructure projects, continued to ensure our regular yearly services are provided to our residents per their expectation and even expanded some services. But we also are working on various community initiatives. To that end, here’s what’s going on at Town Hall and among our various departments that you may want to know about.
Leaf Pickup Starting Soon
Fall 2022 leaf collection by our Department of Public Works (DPW) will begin this year on October 17 in Section 1. Please see the entire schedule here. Each section will get picked up twice. So if you miss the first pickup, don’t fret!
Leaves should be put curbside before the date of your leaf pickup is scheduled in your section. Please put leaves in paper biodegradable bags neatly stacked curb side. To find which Section your street is on, please go to: http://www.berkeleyheights.gov/sections If you live on a County Road, the County will pick up your leaf bags on or about: County Road 1st pickup 2nd pickup Diamond Hill Road Oct. 31 Dec. 1 McMane Avenue Oct. 31 Dec. 1 Valley Road Oct. 31 Dec. 1 Glenside Avenue Oct.
Road Paving Updates
The following roads will be paved by contractor Tilcon beginning Oct 17: Orchard Lane, Old Farm Road, Mercier Place, Glenside Road and the remainder of Roosevelt Avenue. In addition, drainage projects are underway on Middle Way, Winchip, York, Orchard and Old Farm Road. Meanwhile, our DPW is working to replace all storm grates with new ones ahead of road paving jobs.
Senior Bus is Back!
The Berkeley Heights senior bus is back after a COVID hiatus! We apologize for the delay; our Township - like many other towns - had a very hard time finding a bus driver. After seeking out a number of potential shared services arrangements with other towns, we now had a great driver to drive our 22-passenger senior bus equipped with a wheelchair lift. The bus service will now pick up seniors every Monday at 11am after Senior Bingo for shopping and lunch (schedule is above). Longer trips will be offered one Friday/month. Both schedules are subject to change as we assess interest/demand from potential riders. If anyone needs to be picked up to attend Bingo at Town Hall on Monday's, please contact our Township Senior Hotline and leave a message with your name, contact number and address, and we will have the bus pick you up. The hotline number is: (908) 464-2700, then enter "2229." Leave your name, phone number and address for pickup.
Questions about the bus and where it takes you? Please contact the Berkeley Heights Recreation Department at (908) 608-8575.
Our bus availability may expand this Fall with additional days of the week/trips, depending on interest from our senior community.
In addition, the 501c3 Senior Club offers longer bus trips to Atlantic City. Please call Shirley at (908) 322-8391 for more information and to reserve a spot. In addition, please view our Senior Activities Calendar on our Recreation Department webpage here for the month of September. Questions about programming or other details? Please contact the Rec Dept at (908) 608-8575.
Our Township is offering more senior programming than ever, and we are thrilled that we can provide this encouragement for our seniors to age in place here in the community they call “home.” Please check out our “Seniors” page of our Township website here, or the Seniors section of our Recreation website where you can get information about recreational programming, resources and programs offered by Union County and groups such as Sage Eldercare, get on the list to receive Mayor Devanney’s biweekly robocalls and more.
Drainage Projects & Timeline Updates
West Side Drainage Project – Engineering firm Neglia is working on preliminary design plans to send to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection/NJ Infrastructure Bank to get the agencies’ initial concept review and comment within a month (by end of October). We will eventually need to provide easements, flood area permits, etc…. but want to get the iBank’s initial feedback on design as we move forward.
Riverbend/Chaucer Area - We are still awaiting word on whether our FY2023 federal funding requests for this area will be included in final spending requests from our congressmen. We applied for $750,000 total to install new headwalls at the known outfall locations along the Passaic in this neighborhood, incorporating valves to ensure water flows toward the river, not from it toward residents’ homes. The existing outfalls are open, with no backflow protection for the residents or Township roadways, which causes flooding.
Spring Ridge Drainage Study - Neglia Engineering has completed the majority of all the survey and field work for the Spring Ridge Drainage Study authorized by Council in 2021. Now they will build the base map and will finalize the field work by checking backyard basins and swales to add to the survey work. Once the base map is completed, a hydraulics analysis can be shared with the Council at a public meeting.
Green Brook Flooding – Mayor Devanney, Council President Kingsley and I met virtually with the Green Brook Flood Commission in late July 2022; Green Brook flooding occurs predominately in the Free Acres area of Berkeley Heights, but affects several towns and counties. There is $469 million in federal disaster money available for the Green Brook project, including $3.2 million to study the portion of the project that includes Berkeley Heights. Because of the multi-county/multi-town element of this problem, any solution must involve not only the Green Brook Flood Commission but the DEP, DOT and other state and federal agencies. Meanwhile, we are exploring other short-term solutions to help alleviate flooding in this area.
Sherman Avenue & Peppertown Park
Our engineers and streetscape professionals are finalizing on-site improvements to be made to Peppertown that we will move ahead with while some drainage components in the area of the park adjacent to Sherman Ave are still being ironed out. The goal is to go out to public bid for the on-site park improvements by the end of October.
Meanwhile, we have applied for several grants to help us push the Sherman Avenue Sherman Avenue Pedestrian & Mobility Improvements project (“Sherman Ave Revitalization Project “for short) forward so we can bring the current draft design to reality. We are so excited for this project! It will narrow the driving area for cars, increase walking and biking areas so pedestrians can safely travel the corridor from Delicious Heights to the train station, add streetscaping and other amenities to finally make this a pedestrian-friendly corridor of our downtown that will encourage economic development and bring more passersby to our restaurants and businesses.
Getting More Paving from Utility Companies
We introduced an ordinance before Council at the last meeting that mandates utility companies pave larger portions of our roads (curb to curb, in many cases, instead of center-line to curb) when they dig them up for utility work. This will ensure Berkeley Heights get more road infrastructure improvements from utility companies. Meanwhile, we have a 5-year moratorium on newly paved roads before utility companies can come in and do regular maintenance work (emergency work excluded), and are working with the utility companies to ensure they come in and do their work on soon-to-be-paved roads before we put down new asphalt. This is all to protect the longevity of our roads.
‘Light Up Berkeley Heights’
The Berkeley Heights Police Department and DPW Director are continuing the Township’s “Light Up Berkeley Heights” initiative from 2021 to repair damaged or burned-out street lights.
BHPD officers on patrol ill record lights they note are out, then report them at the end of their shift. The Township will then report them to JCP&L for repair or replacement. Residents can also log on to JCP&L at this link or call JCP&L themselves to also report outages or repairs needed at 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877). More details here.