Tag: berkeley heights

Facts Matter: Our History of Giving Back & Commitment to Moving Us Forward

Facts Matter: Our History of Giving Back & Commitment to Moving Us Forward

Angie, Stephen and Alvaro not only care deeply about this town, but each and every one of them has spent years of their lives giving back to Berkeley Heights any way they can. They have volunteered for organizations in town, spent years obtaining grants and other funding for our town and schools, and given back in numerous other ways. In addition, they each have distinct experience and skill sets that will allow them to hit the ground running when elected. Here’s just a little bit about them….

 

ANGIE

    • Has helped our town get grants and other funding for our fields, parks and schools for years.
    • In 2014, applied for a $18,000 matching grant from the Union County “Kids Recreation Trust” Grant Program on behalf of the BH PAL. The grant money was to be used for softball field dugout installation and drainage improvements at Columbia. She also spent 2 years recuperating grant funds not applied for or drawn down on by the Township; pored over the books for years trying to recoup county grant money for the BHPAL. See the 2014 grant application here.
    • In 2004, helped negotiate with Union County to acquire the land that is now Snyder Ave Park, to save it from development and turn it into the community jewel it is now (final acquisition was in 2006).
    • Worked to get a grant for the softball field at Columbia; just a few weeks ago she got concrete donated to be poured at the Upper Columbia softball dugout pads.
    • Spearheaded an initiative to raise $21,000 in 8 months for air conditioning in every classroom at Mountain Park.
    • Volunteer with Sandy Hook Promise
    • Mountain Park PTO President
    • BHPAL Secretary
    • Awarded the “Women of Excellence Award” in the area of Environmental Advocacy.
    • Berkeley Heights Township Administrator from 2004-2007, running business operations, overseeing the departments of DPW Public Works,Engineering, Finance, Zoning/Construction and Public Safety
    • Named Business Administrator of the Year in 2004 by the Regional Gateway Chamber of Commerce.

 

Stephen

  • Part of the leadership team of Stop the BAC (2013), the community group that was formed to oppose the build of the Berkeley Aquatic Center to Emerson Lane; that grassroots group helped defeat the 2013 referendum.
  • Town Communications Committee.
  • Reported on Town Council meetings for the former Independent Press, through letters to the editor, so residents could know what happened at all meetings.
  • Volunteered with our town Historical Society.
  • Applied to join the town Veterans Memorial Committee twice (in 2014 and 2015, but was not approved; was referred for appointment again in 2017 but was not approved).
  • Recycling and environmental sustainability advocate.
  • Works for the Union County Bureau of Recycling & Planning.
  • Worked as the Individual Giving Manager for United Way of Greater Union County; turned around years of decline in contributions from non-corporate donors, generating 2 straight years of increased revenue and a nearly 20% increase in the organization’s donor base.
  • Experience researching, applying for and obtaining grants, building community relations.
  • Served as the Secretary of the New Jersey Employee Charitable Campaign Steering Committee.

Alvaro

  • Served as a Committee Member and Troop Activities Coordinator for Boys Scouts of America, Troop 368.
  • Leadership positions with the Governor Livingston High School Marching Band.
  • Member of the Environmental Commission.
  • Helped initiate the Trex thin-plastic initiative with the Environmental Commission.
  • Ran for Town Council in 2017 with Susan Poage, because he felt he wanted to give back to the community that has given his family so much; he lost by just 7 votes!
  • 25-year career at AT&T, is now Sales Center Associate Vice President; oversees a team of directors and account executives with a sizable budget.
  • Experience negotiating large, complex deals involving many different stakeholders.
  • Strong background in sales, marketing and operations.

 

Warren Development: We’ll Always Stand Up for Berkeley Heights First

Warren Development: We’ll Always Stand Up for Berkeley Heights First

By Angie Devanney, Stephen Yellin & Alvaro Medeiros

Last week, the Township of Warren voted to accept a court-imposed settlement with the NJ Fair Share Housing Center.  This was unwelcome news for many Berkeley Heights residents. As many will recall, this is the same property that Berkeley Heights residents overwhelmingly voted to prevent overdevelopment on Emerson Lane in 2013.  Now we are faced with a project on the exact same spot; Warren Township plans to build nearly 200 housing units there.

Since the proposed development is located in Warren, Berkeley Heights government does not approve or deny any development planned for the parcel.  However, it appears as if the project would rely on sewer capacity from the Berkeley Heights Wastewater Treatment Plant. If elected, Angie, Stephen and Alvaro will unapologetically oppose any agreement allowing Warren to hook up to the Berkeley Heights sewer if it requires a vote by council.

Further, it appears that the current Berkeley Heights Township attorney participated in talks with the Warren Township attorney related to the sewer, despite having a conflict as the son of the Mayor of Warren. While we are not attorneys and are unsure if this would provide legal basis to nullify any agreements that may already be in place, we will certainly investigate if it can be legal grounds to stop the development.

While the settlement was just recently confirmed, this is not a new subject to the Berkeley Heights governing body.  Documents have surfaced revealing that one year ago, in October of 2017, the Town Council, through the Township Attorney, provided a letter stating that Berkeley Heights has the requisite sewer capacity to accept and process the sewage from this planned development in Warren. It was only when the settlement was proposed that the governing body made a public showcase of hiring an attorney to consult on our options. Our elected officials owe us an explanation as to why they didn’t say “no” and why they did not provide residents with any information about the situation in a timely manner.

Our Mayor and Township Council have not been transparent when it comes to informing residents about the Warren Affordable Housing situation.  If we are elected, we will do whatever possible to prevent this project from proceeding. Going forward, we will ensure full transparency and accountability to ensure residents know as much as possible before major developments like this are formally adopted.

Leadership Starts at the Top

Leadership Starts at the Top

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. 

Angie Devanney: Plans for Handling Impact of 1,000 New Housing Units (TAP Series)

Angie Devanney: Plans for Handling Impact of 1,000 New Housing Units (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 Mayoral Candidate Angie Devanney 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.)

Berkeley Heights is on the precipice of significant change. With nearly 1,000 housing units slated to be built by approximately 2020, we need to plan 2, 5, 10 years into our future. Roads, fields, public safety, the sewer plant, public works will all feel the impact.

First, as Mayor, I will institute a fee on any incoming development to lessen the burden on our town. I successfully negotiated this fee while working on a luxury housing project in a nearby town and stand ready to do the same here.

Second, we should 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 2020 through 2030 by reaching into our community and listening to our residents and business owners.

Surprisingly, our township Master Plan has not been substantially updated since 2007 despite all the new development. Berkeley Heights deserves a government that will be proactive rather than reactive. We will pass resolutions and ordinances that put “teeth” into a new Master Plan and the Citizen’s Review Committee’s recommendations.

Third, I will 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.

Fourth, I would create a coalition of recreation groups to pool funds and make significant improvements to our fields. When Mountainside and New Providence have received $300,000 and $400,000 more grant dollars from the County’s Open Space program, we need to reassess how we leverage our recreation dollars. As the author of grant applications for the Kid’s Recreation Trust Fund and Greening the Streets, I understand that leadership starts at the top. As leaders like State Senator Vin Gopal have noted, we must stop working in silos and bring our shared resources together.

This focus applies to other areas that we need to support, like library grants. I will advocate for Berkeley Heights’ fair share of the state Library Construction Bond Act funds, along with increased funding from the Union County library grant. With a municipal complex that has a price tag of $32 million, we need to take advantage of every grant dollar.

With proper planning, innovative ideas, proactively running our government by including our community groups, non-profit organizations and others, we will be ready for our new future.

Read the original TAP article here.

Get to know Mayor Candidate Angie Devanney (D): Week 1 Question

Get to know Mayor Candidate Angie Devanney (D): Week 1 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 Mayoral Candidate Angie Devanney 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?

Berkeley Heights is a great community, but we can do better. I am running for Mayor because as a mom sitting on the sidelines at many ball games, I witnessed our fields fall into disrepair; as I looked around the town, our roadways seem to be worsening with each year. Opportunities for additional revenue and cost saving measures were missed. Many aspects of our town can be managed better; we need improved management and fiscal responsibility. My experience with running the day-to-day operations of Berkeley Heights government will allow me to hit the ground running on Day One along with my team, Alvaro Medeiros, Stephen Yellin and Susan Poage. I also believe in service and giving back to the community whenever possible. It is a privilege to serve the community where I am raising my two children – Abbey, a 5th grader at Mountain Park and Ryan, a junior at Governor Livingston High School – and ensuring that they continue to grow up in a community that makes us all proud.

I gained vast knowledge of town operations and experience during my time as Township Administrator; I ran business operations, overseeing the departments of DPW Public Works, Engineering, Finance, Zoning/Construction and Public Safety. I am skilled at creating shared services; such as the agreement I reached with the County in IT and printing. My experience and relationships in local, county and state government will allow Berkeley Heights to maximize grants funds and other resources.

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

Angie Devanney: Why I’m Running for Berkeley Heights Mayor

Angie Devanney: Why I’m Running for Berkeley Heights Mayor

It was with great pride that I announced my candidacy for Mayor of Berkeley Heights earlier this year. Berkeley Heights is a great town, but, we have many challenges facing us. Our taxes, our community, how your voice is heard, and our roadmap for the future are at stake in this November’s election. We need more accountability and transparency as our town leaders navigate these challenges.

Like many of you, I have been a very busy parent – running a successful small business, juggling kids’ schedules, and doing what I can to help our community. But I felt compelled to run for Mayor, not only because my experience as Berkeley Heights Township Administrator equipped me with a deep understanding of how to negotiate on behalf of our community, but because too many people feel their voices just aren’t being heard.

I, along with my runningmates Stephen Yellin and Alvaro Medeiros, who are running for Town Council, offer effective leadership and the opportunity to create positive Change We Can Agree On by listening to your voice. Here’s what else you can expect from us:

Rejecting Personal Attacks

We are neighbors first. We reject the divisive and mean-spirited politics that we see across our country and which has sadly spread to our community. Our Team has taken a campaign pledge to focus on only the issues in this election and have asked our opponents to do the same.

The Issues

Along with my Council running mates, Stephen Yellin & Alvaro Medeiros, during the campaign, we will discuss:

    • Responsible fiscal management – The price tag of our new municipal complex has already increased from $28 million to $32 million without a single shovel in the ground. This cost could spike even more, and the resulting tax burden to residents is entirely dependent on unguaranteed money from unrelated development projects. Taxpayers deserve better due diligence and fiscal oversight. Our Team will also ensure such diligence over the many other development projects planned for our community, as well;
    • Smarter development – nearly 1,000 new housing units are planned to be built by 2020 — our Team will ensure a proactive plan for the future, taking into consideration traffic, safety and other byproducts of growth
    • Improvements to our sports fields – develop a unified plan involving all organizations to improve our fields—no one sports organization can do it alone
    • Recreational opportunities – create walking paths, pocket parks and places for everyone in the community;
    • Care and management of our neglected roads – create an aggressive resurfacing plan leveraging State and County grant money;
    • Leverage grant funds and shared services – lobby County and State agencies to bring our tax dollars back to Berkeley Heights – we can’t afford to continue to miss these opportunities;
    • Transparency- create a citizen’s advisory committee, utilize social media and partner with community organizations to keep residents informed.

About our Team

Like many of you, my husband, George, and I moved to Berkeley Heights for the outstanding school district and tree-lined streets. My children – Ryan, a junior at Governor Livingston High School, and Abbey, a fifth grader at Mountain Park Elementary – have benefitted greatly from growing up in this community.I recently served as the Mountain Park PTO President, where, with the help of fellow school parents, we installed air conditioning in every classroom. I also serve as the Board Secretary to the Berkeley Heights Police Athletic League (PAL), where I recouped over $60,000 of missed grant money that will go to sports programs for our children. My running mates, Stephen Yellin and Alvaro Medeiros, both bring extensive community and professional experience to the ticket, which will enable us to hit the ground running.

Stephen is a lifelong resident who helped save the Emerson Lane/Free Acres neighborhood from overdevelopment, fought to give our firefighters the tools they need to keep us safe and pushed for real improvements in communications and transparency at Town Hall.

Alvaro is a longtime resident who has raised his kids through our public schools and is currently on the Town Environmental Commission. An AT&T executive with over 25 years of experience in the corporate world, he has given back to our town through his tenure as Quartermaster of the Governor Livingston Highlander Marching Band and a Boy Scouts leader.

Humbly, I ask for your support of our entire Team: Angie for Mayor/Yellin & Medeiros for Council. I welcome your thoughts and ideas on how we can improve our town, together as neighbors, as one community. On November 6, let’s vote Column A for Change We Can Agree On and move our town in the right direction!

Sincerely,

Angie Devanney Announces Her Bid to Become Berkeley Heights’ First Elected Woman Mayor

Angie Devanney Announces Her Bid to Become Berkeley Heights’ First Elected Woman Mayor

By Berkeley Heights Democrats

Yellin and Medeiros Round Out Democratic Township Council Ticket

Former Township Administrator and small business owner Angie Devanney announced her bid for Berkeley Heights Mayor today. Angie will be joined on the slate with Stephen Yellin and Alvaro Medeiros for Township Council.

“I am proud to announce my candidacy for Mayor of the Township of Berkeley Heights,” Devanney said. “From acquiring the property known as Snyder Avenue Park and saving it from a high-density housing development to instituting cost-savings measures at Town Hall as Business Administrator, while giving back to our town as an active volunteer and group leader, Berkeley Heights has remained my priority for well over a decade.

“Our Township deserves a Mayor who finds innovative solutions to today’s problems. Our roadways have fallen into disrepair, our sports fields need improvements and we need sensible, mindful redevelopment. Having managed Berkeley Heights government as Business Administrator, combined with over 10 years of community service, I believe I am not only well qualified but have an acute understanding of what our residents’ priorities are to make Change We Can Agree On,” continued Devanney.  “I’m asking for your help and support of our entire ticket, including voting for Stephen Yellin and Alvaro Medeiros for Town Council, so we can join Councilwoman Susan Poage and make real, positive progress toward meaningful change.”

Stephen and Alvaro bring extensive community and professional experience to the ticket. Stephen is a lifelong resident who has worked to give residents a voice in our town’s future. He helped save the Emerson Lane/Free Acres neighborhood from overdevelopment, fought to give our firefighters the tools they need to keep us safe, and pushed for real improvements in communications and transparency at Town Hall. “We need strong, capable leaders who will bring us together to meet the challenges we face,” Yellin stated.  “I am proud to join Angie and Alvaro as a team committed to positive changes and giving all residents a stake in the future of Berkeley Heights.”

Alvaro is a longtime resident who, with his wife Amalia, has raised his kids through our public schools.  An AT&T executive with over 25 years of experience in the corporate world, he’s given back to our town through Governor Livingston’s Highlander Marching Band and the Boy Scouts. “Last year, Susan Poage and I ran for Council with the vision of a ‘purple’ Berkeley Heights: a community where all voices are heard and valued, and where our town of experts can help make the changes we need. My commitment to that vision hasn’t changed, and I look forward to running with Angie and Stephen as we work to make that vision a reality.” Alvaro came within just eight votes of securing the second seat open on Town Council in the 2017 election.

Angie served as Berkeley Heights Township Administrator from 2004-2007. She was named Business Administrator of the Year in 2004 by the Regional Gateway Chamber of Commerce. In 2005, she was awarded the Women of Excellence Award in the area of Environmental Advocacy. Presently she serves as the Mountain Park PTO President and the Secretary to the Berkeley Heights Police Athletic League (BH PAL). Angie is married to George Devanney and has two children: Ryan, a sophomore at Governor Livingston High School, and Abbey, a 4thgrader at Mountain Park Elementary.

Devanney, Yellin and Medeiros pledge to work tirelessly to fulfill their promise to you:  safer streets, walking paths and sidewalks,tough fiscal management of Township resources, sports field improvements and mindful redevelopment.

The general election will be held on Tuesday, November, 6, 2018.

A Community Impact Fee: How to Get Developers to Give Back To Our Town

A Community Impact Fee: How to Get Developers to Give Back To Our Town

By Susan Poage & Alvaro Medeiros

Berkeley Heights is in the process of approving several major redevelopment projects. Between agreements with developers to redevelop properties at Kings (New York Mart), Hamilton Avenue (Little FlowerChurch), Berkeley Cinema and the Connell Center, we will see hundreds of new apartment units built in town over the next few years. These projects are, to some degree, forced upon us by our new, legal requirement to build new affordable housing units.

Developers stand to make considerable profit off of these projects, but the overall benefit to our community is limited. If we’re going to approve these agreements, we ought to do everything we can to maximize the benefit to our town – and as of right now, we’re not.  To change that, we’re proposing developers pay a Community Impact Fee so that our community benefits in additional ways from this development. Here’s how it would work:

To enable developers to make a profit off these projects, the Mayor and current Township Council are approving temporary tax breaks for them, called PILOT agreements (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes). If elected to the Council, we would insist that as part of any PILOT agreement, the developer agree to pay what is called a Community Impact Fee. This has been done by other New Jersey towns as a means to ensure the developers give something back to the communities being affected by their projects.

By charging a reasonable rate of $300/unit built, we can generate nearly $200,000 a year in new revenue during the life of the PILOT agreement– none of it from raising taxes or cutting critical services! We propose to use the Community Impact Fee to fully restore and upgrade our sports and recreational fields. Berkeley Heights families have known for years that our sports fields are in very poor shape compared to neighboring towns where our kids compete – theirs are better maintained and have much better amenities, despite the hard work of our Recreation Department and PAL volunteers.

By creating the Community Impact Fee, we will ensure Berkeley Heights has playing fields worthy of our great town. When we say we’re fighting for Change We Can Agree On, this is precisely the kind of new perspective we would bring to the Township Council.

As taxpayers, we’ve invested a great deal to make our community a great place for our families. Isn’t it time our Township Council listened to and invested in our priorities? If you want to improve our playing fields and parks – for our kids, our quality of life, and our future – then we ask for your vote on Tuesday, November 7th. Vote Poage & Medeiros, Column A for Change We Can Agree On!

 

Real Problems need Real Change:  Better Communications/Transparency is Change We Can Agree On!

Real Problems need Real Change: Better Communications/Transparency is Change We Can Agree On!

By SUSAN POAGE and ALVARO MEDEIROS

One of the most important reasons we are running for Township Council is that we need to do a much better job of informing and engaging residents on what is going on in our town. We believe it is our job to go out into the community and meet with residents, informing them and listening to what they have to say; not for you to come to us.

As we’ve gone door-to-door across town in recent months, we’ve found that most residents have heard little or nothing about most of the major actions being taken by the Mayor and Council, including:

  • Making sure residents understand the phasing of the development and what municipal services could be impacted, such as the library downsizing.
  • Communicating major development projects to the entire town when they appear before our planning board, such as the new 7-story apartment complex will be built at the Connell Center.
  • Repaving of our roads is a major complaint; however, the current plan will take 15 years to implement.

Whether or not we agree or disagree with these actions is not the issue; what matters is that town residents deserve to know about them.

We are committed to building on the progress finally being made and doing much more beyond it, including:

  • Fully embracing social media to engage residents and ask for their input, before taking action on important issues.
  • Creating an e-newsletter.
  • Saving money from a print newsletter by having the “Mayor’s Roundtable” done for free.
  • Holding occasional weekend meetings, not just on the Municipal Complex, in order to attract more residents at a more convenient time for them.
  • Ensure we have a township website worthy of the 2010s, which means it must be mobile friendly and enable residents to access information more easily.

You deserve a voice in the future of our town. That’s Change We Can Agree On and it’s why we ask for your vote!  Please join Democrats, Republicans and Independents in voting for Poage & Medeiros, Column A on November 7th!