By Angie Devanney
Make no mistake about it, I personally know first-hand that our municipal and Board of Education employees, and our volunteers do a great job with the limited resources they have to work with. But being a member of a governing body, particularly one with a small population, means jumping in the car, driving to Trenton or Elizabeth and advocating for County, NJDOT and other state dollars – not missing grant deadlines. It means ensuring all organizations in town are getting what they need to adequately service residents. That is the leadership I believe has been missing. It is time to think beyond the status quo of how “we’ve always done things,” and strive to do better.
As a baseball and softball mom, I have increasingly become disappointed with the condition of our fields over the last decade. I witnessed countless volunteer dads and moms try to maintain the fields, but seemingly, it has been a losing battle. We are a small town where every penny does count. When opportunities to obtain grants are missed that would improve the condition of our fields, our children are the ones affected most by it – and that’s not acceptable. These grants programs are also opportunities to get back more of our tax dollars from Union County. While Berkeley Heights has missed several of these grants, our neighboring towns of Mountainside and New Providence received $300,000 – $400,000 more in recreation grant dollars than Berkeley Heights.
Now our roads are falling more and more into disrepair. During my tenure as Township Administrator, our Department of Public Works’ track record was a source of community pride. Yet today, the Township government has missed 2 New Jersey Department of Transportation (local aid) road grants, once in 2014 and just last year in 2017. On average, these grants are $200,000 annually. Imagine how many roads could have been repaired and reconstructed with $400,000 or more! How can our DPW deliver services efficiently when the overall conditions of our roads requires far more attention than should be necessary just to do basic maintenance?
Likewise, libraries always seem to be on the chopping block at a time when they are needed more than ever helping to prepare our children for the future. That’s why I am committed to advocating for New Jersey State Library Construction Bond Act funds to help offset some of the cost of the municipal complex. I will also fight to ensure that Berkeley Heights tops the list of library grant funds received from Union County in the next coming three years, not the bottom. We owe it to our library staff and board to be fierce advocates for them and our community.
Regardless of political party affiliation, the Mayor and Council have a duty to work across party lines at both the county and state levels and provide the tools our DPW, recreation, library staff and volunteer organizations need to build better fields, create recreation opportunities, maintain the roads and provide resources for our library.
Leadership starts at the top. That is why I ask for your support on November 6th to be our next Mayor, along with Stephen Yellin and Alvaro Medeiros for Township Council.
P.S. I welcome your questions or ideas on how we can make positive changes in Berkeley Heights. Don’t hesitate to email me at AngieforBHMayor@gmail.com.