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Synagogue Shooting: ‘We are Outraged & We Cannot Allow Ourselves to Become Numb to It’

Synagogue Shooting: ‘We are Outraged & We Cannot Allow Ourselves to Become Numb to It’

We were shocked and saddened over the weekend to learn of another awful act of terrorism at home: the murder of 11 members of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, by a man who openly expressed vile, anti-Semitic views. Among the victims was a 97-year old woman who had survived the Holocaust. Our hearts go out to all those who have lost loved ones, to the families of the security officers who were wounded while rushing to save further lives, and to all Jewish families who are fearful that this nightmare could one day come to be part of their lives, too. All of us must stand with them.

We feel outrage, too. Outrage that hate has been stirred up to target violence towards the vulnerable on a level not seen in our country in recent times. Outrage that these shootings continue to happen week after week, with nothing being done to try and prevent the violence from continuing to spiral. Outrage that another hate-filled American attempted to murder more than 10 leaders who have spoken out against the tide of hate and division that seems to be sweeping across our country. We are outraged, and we cannot allow ourselves to become numb to it.

If we are ever going to help heal our country, we must all do our part. We must do all in our power to bring about a day when the disciples of hate, fear, and bigotry are no longer enabled to inflict harm on innocent victims. We must not only speak of justice but do all in our power to promote it, including promoting love and acceptance withing our community. To do all this is to be a part of a long, hard struggle, but the alternative – to do nothing – is unacceptable. We all can and must join the struggle.

Stephen Yellin: Better Long-Term Plans Needed to Address Town Needs with New Development  (TAP Series)

Stephen Yellin: Better Long-Term Plans Needed to Address Town Needs with New Development (TAP Series)

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Each week leading to the November 6 election, the candidates running for Berkeley Heights Township Mayor and Township Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAPinto Berkeley Heights.

The following answer is from Democratic Township Council Candidate Stephen Yellin for Week 2.

Week 2 Question:

  • What is your recommendation for an infrastructure plan to handle the impact of the addition of approximately 1,000 new housing units as part of the Affordable Housing Settlement? (Please include scope of impact on roads, services and infrastructure.)

The first important thing to note is that the Township has been working on a settlement of their Affordable Housing obligations since 2015.  The fact that we don’t already have an infrastructure plan in place – let alone are implementing one – is a clear example of why we need change. The Mayor and Council have known from the beginning that we would be seeing hundreds and hundreds of housing units built, at a minimum. That they have not been proactive in preparing a plan to address these needs is a major example of why we need change in Berkeley Heights government.

If elected, I would work with Angie Devanney, Alvaro Medeiros and the returning Council members to implement a long-term plan to address these needs. This plan would include important goals to achieve within 2, 5 and 10 years (through about the year 2030). Some of the proposals I would consider for this plan are:

  • Create a Citizens Review Committee to fully assess all our infrastructure needs and update our Master Plan, which last saw significant changes in 2007. We have many capable residents who are experts in various fields that relate to long-term planning, and they should be a full part of the process.
  • Establish clear targets so that we have an acceptable standard to measure progress on our Master Plan goals.
  • Revamp our budget’s Capital Plan to increase funding for road repairs. This includes using new micro paving technology to extend the life of repaired roads for up to 15 years beyond their initial lifespan. This will help keep down the costs of repairs and additions to our infrastructure.
  • Reexamine the waiting list of streets to be repaved so that the most urgent needs are met first. The last review occurred in 2014 and some neighborhoods are in significantly worse shape today.
  • Explore all opportunities to bring departments, community groups, and county and state agencies together and share resources to fix some of our problems. A good example of this is the need to repair and upgrade our sports fields, something I’ve pushed for since 2016.

I’ve spoken with hundreds of residents this year who worry about the quality of services they get for the taxes they pay. I believe they want and deserve a town government that listens to them and plans for the future accordingly. I see it, I feel it, and I know we can do better. That’s why I’m proud to join Angie and Alvaro in fighting for Change We Can Agree On – and, with your help, we’ll meet and overcome the challenges Berkeley Heights faces in the years to come.

‘We Need Action, Not Just Words’ to End Hate

We unambiguously condemn the disturbing flyers distributed in our community by supporters of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as the racist and anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School.

This is not who we are, and we must never give in to those who incite fear and hatred – never. All of us must do our part to ensure hate has no home here in Berkeley Heights. The forces of hatred are emboldened by the silence of good people. We must speak up.

But our community must also go beyond words. We need to do all we can to support those who are angry and upset. We must partner with community groups working toward eradicating hatred, racism, and prejudice. Most of all, we need to listen to community members and organizations who are most directly affected by these displays of hate and intolerance. We need action, not just words, to ensure everyone truly feels they belong in Berkeley Heights.

We will make it a priority to support the work of these community groups and engage with them on a regular basis. Our ongoing, constructive dialogue should seek to educate all residents on how we can work on seeing the world through the eyes of marginalized members of our community, so that we can better understand their perspective.

This struggle is not new, nor will it end soon – but we must do our part to end hate.

Click here to read the original article about the incidents in TAP. 

‘Deeply Concerned’ About the Impact of Warren’s Housing Settlement

We are deeply concerned about the impact of Warren Township’s affordable housing settlement on Berkeley Heights residents. This settlement means 192 housing units will be constructed on a strip of Emerson Lane that belongs to Warren, while the rest of the neighborhood belongs to Berkeley Heights. An additional 176 housing units will be built on the other side of Hillcrest Avenue from the entrance to Emerson Lane. Plus, there is proposed development on nearby Bonnie Burn Road, as well.

This will have a very negative impact on Berkeley Heights residents who live on or near Emerson Lane, leading to greatly increased traffic as well as additional wear and tear on our roads.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact of Warren Township’s affordable housing settlement on Berkeley Heights residents. This settlement means 192 housing units will be constructed on a strip of Emerson Lane that belongs to Warren, while the rest of the neighborhood belongs to Berkeley Heights. This will have a negative impact on Berkeley Heights residents who live on or near Emerson Lane, leading to greatly increased traffic as well as additional wear and tear on the roads.

This news only further serves to emphasize the urgency of developing a clear plan of action to address the challenges posed by having nearly 1,000 housing units added to our town in the next 2-3 years, including its impact on traffic and infrastructure. This plan should already be in place but none currently exists. We will work to create this plan if elected, while learning about and communicating news from neighboring towns that also affects us. We need to be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to responsibly managing the future of Berkeley Heights – and that’s Change We Can Agree On!

Click here to read the latest on the Warren affordable housing settlement.

Get to Know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Stephen Yellin: Week 1 TAP Question

Get to Know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Stephen Yellin: Week 1 TAP Question

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Each week leading to the November 6 election, the candidates running for Berkeley Heights Township Mayor and Township Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAPinto Berkeley Heights.

The following answer is from Democratic Township Council Candidate Stephen Yellin for Week 1.

Week 1 Questions:

  • Why are you Running for Office?
  • What unique skills or knowledge will you bring to the elected office you are seeking?
  • What do you think the major issues facing Berkeley Heights are at this time?

I want to serve on the Township Council because this has always been my hometown and I care about making it the best it can be. Three generations of my family have called Berkeley Heights home, and they definitely made the right call! Growing up here meant I was fortunate to be educated in one of the best public school systems, walk or ride my bike on some of the safest streets, and be part of a community with a remarkable commitment to others. Now, it’s time for me to give back as best I know how.

We have a great town but we have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to local government. The expertise and skills I would bring to the Council, together with Angie Devanney and Alvaro Medeiros, will help us make the positive changes necessary for that improvement. I have a proven track record of making positive changes and promoting common-sense ideas (many of which have been adopted by the Council), of “walking the walk” when it comes to communicating with and listening to our residents, and seeking common ground and reasonable solutions to the challenges we face. These things, together with my extensive knowledge of Berkeley Heights history and public policy in general, make me one of the 2 best candidates for Township Council this election (Alvaro being the other).

The major challenges Berkeley Heights faces today are as follows: 1) Responsibly managing the Municipal Complex project (already $4 million over budget and with an average tax increase of $179 per household); 2) Fixing our roads and sidewalks at a much faster rate than we do now; 3) Planning for the impact of new housing and programs that will put additional strain on our infrastructure; 4) Identifying ways to embrace inclusiveness and give all residents a say in the future of our town; and 5) Working harder to communicate with residents and earn their trust for our efforts in local government.

Click here to read Stephen’s Week 1 answers in their entirety. 

Stephen Yellin & Alvaro Medeiros: Real Experience, Real Solutions, Real Change

Stephen Yellin & Alvaro Medeiros: Real Experience, Real Solutions, Real Change

As we get closer to Election Day, we’ve been thrilled by the increasingly strong support our campaign has received. Residents we meet while going door to door or in small groups are grateful to learn what’s going on in Berkeley Heights, and really appreciate the positive solutions we have for the real challenges we face. That message of positive change is what our campaign is truly all about!

It is vital that our entire team is elected; otherwise, we lack the votes on the Town Council to turn our positive solutions into reality. That’s why we want to tell you a little about us and why we want to earn your vote. We are running because we have the experience, the ideas, and the commitment to bring our community together, and make a positive difference in our local government.

Why vote for Stephen?

 

For Stephen Yellin, Berkeley Heights is, was, and always will be, home – his family first moved here over 50 years ago. Stephen went through our public schools (Mountain Park, Columbia and GL), and came home after graduate school in order to give back to our town as a voice for reasonable, common-sense change. An active volunteer for over a decade, Stephen has successfully fought for improved communications with and from residents, including recording and digitizing Council meetings, deploying e-updates, moving Executive Sessions to the end of meetings, and holding “town halls” to discuss issues with residents at times more convenient for them.

Stephen successfully worked with a coalition of residents to prevent overdevelopment in the Free Acres/Emerson Lane neighborhood as chairman of Stop the BAC’s political committee, keeping residents informed by sending reports on Council meetings to the Independent Press. He also helped expand revenue and cut wasteful spending at United Way of Greater Union County.

“We need new leaders, with the right background and positive solutions, so that we can get Berkeley Heights government back on track while promoting inclusion and respect for all residents,” Stephen says. “That is what Angie, Alvaro and I will do if elected. By electing all 3 of us, we can start writing that new chapter in the history of Berkeley Heights – one we will all write together!”

Why vote for Alvaro? 

Alvaro Medeiros has a proven track record of serving our community, including volunteering as Quartermaster of the Governor Livingston High School marching band and as an active parent with the local Boy Scout Troop Committee. He was appointed to the Environmental Commission earlier this year, where he has worked with fellow volunteers to promote environmentally friendly programs such as a Community Garden and the Trex Thin Film Plastics Challenge.

Alvaro has risen through the ranks at AT&T for the past 24 years to become an Associate Vice President. His business and financial background means he will bring valuable experience when it comes to responsibly managing our tax dollars. Alvaro and his wife Amalia have lived in Berkeley Heights for nearly 25 years, where they’ve raised their children, Adrian and Beatriz, who graduated from our public schools. Alvaro knows first-hand just how much every vote counts in local elections.

“Last year, I ran for Town Council to bring the right type of change in our community. My running mate Susan Poage won, and I nearly joined her. I fell short by seven votes; more proof that EVERY VOTE MATTERS, particularly on the local level.

“What I saw and continue to see in our current leadership worries me. My goal last year was to take a more active role in the township and to be part of the leadership, to be at the table when decisions that affect us all are being made, and to help bring about change for the better. This is why I am running again and am proud to join Angie Devanney and Stephen Yellin on the Change We Can Agree On ticket.”

On November 6th, join the growing movement of Democrats, Republicans and Independents in voting for Angie Devanney for Mayor and Stephen Yellin & Alvaro Medeiros for Township Council.

Case Study in Successfully Negotiating Community Impact Fee: The Park in Roselle

When our team talks about all of the development happening around town in the next few years, we have a vision for how it can be done more effectively.  With over 1,000 new housing units slated to be built in and around Berkeley Heights over the next several years, we must plan to address the impact on roads, fields, public safety, the sewer plant,  public works, and our community overall.

As a first step to mitigate the impact, we will institute a Community Fee on any incoming development to lessen the burden on our town. We will also look for other sources of revenue or areas to ease the pressure on the municipal budget, such as the township sewer plant. Other communities are sharing wastewater services and making long-term investments in energy projects so that plants can become a net-zero energy facilities.

While these may be long-term solutions to ease the burden on our taxpayers, we need to look beyond the immediate future and plan for our children’s future.

That’s why we will institute a Citizen’s Review Committee comprised of different residents from across the community, facilitated by our planning and engineering professionals. This will allow us to assess our needs for the next decade and longer by listening to our local residents and business owners.
This isn’t new territory for us. Our mayoral candidate, Angie Devanney, has experience in helping to negotiate with developers to ensure residents get the benefits they deserve.

For example, in 2012, Angie helped to negotiate a development project in Roselle called The Park, creating beautiful, luxury apartments on the old Roselle golf course. This 60-acre oasis provides a great place for residents to call home while preserving open space for the residents of Roselle. The Park comes with 20 acres of open space and a 3.5-mile fitness trail that is open to the entire Roselle community, and makes it one of the largest preservation of open space in Union County. There are no other sites where such a land mass has been preserved during multi-family development projects.  It took five years, but the end result was something to be proud of. Angie successfully helped negotiated a Community Impact Fee so the developer would may more money to the town for whatever it needed. The Citizens Review committee, a group of Roselle residents and business owners, meeting on a weekly basis for several months, tackled issues related to the project like open space, traffic, infrastructure, walkability to shopping and amenities they would like to see offered at The Park.

With the right experience, proper planning, innovative ideas, and proactively running our government with our community groups, we will be ready for our new future.