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.