The $28 million-turned $32 million Redevelopment Plan is going forward. We need to have new, independent-minded Council members that can ensure the project is managed as transparently and efficiently as possible.
The project already went $4 million over budget before a shovel was even put in the ground. This despite repeated statements from members of the governing body that they would hold the cost of the project below $28 million. In addition, the previous, publicly promoted statements the Mayor and Council made about the average tax increase residents would face were wrong. This is why Councilwoman Susan Poage (the only Democrat on the Council) voted “no” to spending the additional $4 million.
We fully support the need for a new Police Station, Emergency Dispatch Center, Town Hall, and Library, but are disappointed by the manner in which the Mayor and Council have handled the process. Many residents feel they have never even been informed about the project, let alone asked for their input and support, leading to an erosion of trust and confidence in township government.
Our Plan: We need to ensure the municipal complex projects stays within budget and is built in an appropriate timeframe.
Angie’s tremendous record as the Berkeley Heights Township Administrator, along with Alvaro’s 25 years of business experience experience and Stephen’s in-depth understanding of Berkeley Heights issues, means they can hit the ground running in making sure the Municipal Complex project is handled much more effectively going forward. We will work hard to identify every possible way to hold down the cost of the project while finishing it in an appropriate timeframe; we will strive to achieve savings below the Guaranteed Minimum Price (GMP).
Another priority is to ensure the complex and the surrounding areas fit in with the town’s Master Plan. The complex should also showcase environment-conscious features such as solar panels. In the future, we need to make a much stronger effort to actively educate and engage the public from the beginning of projects such as these, and to be more transparent with the process and the details.