.

'BACK The BAC' Launches Petition Drive in Berkeley Heights

Aims to force special election if Town Council refuses to change agreement enabling sewer connection.

Jim Wood, the president and founder of the Berkeley Aquatic Club, route: {:controller=>"listings", :action=>"show", :id=>"berkeley-aquatic-club-swim-school"} -->, Inc. and principal in the

Jonathan C. Wishnia September 21, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Please revise this like the New Providence piece to make clear this is an opinion piece by the PR people of BAC. This is not Patch reporting. Here is what they wrote on that page: Editor's Note: Patch apologies for any confusion caused by posting this press release from Beckerman Public Relations, representing the Berkeley Aquatic Club. As noted below, this was identified as a release from a private organization. It does not represent the views of Patch. However, to further clarify that it is a release, we have categorized it now as an Opinion piece. Patch plans to continue to cover this issue, as we have in the past, and represent all voices. Any community member in opposition to the BAC is welcome to share their thoughts in the comments section below or email a Letter to the Editor to
Jonathan C. Wishnia September 21, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Check out this link: "Berkeley Heights mayor decries 'strong arm approach' of folks circulating petitions for elite aquatic center" http://www.nj.com/independentpress/index.ssf/2012/09/berkeley_heights_mayor_decries.html Unfortunately, the article does not sound surprising.
Chuck Warner September 22, 2012 at 05:16 PM
The project is a massive plus for our community providing the assets of more water safety, increased physical fitness for our youth and recreation and fitness for all ages. Thank goodness for the folks at BAC for giving us a facility that will serve our families for decades and at no tax payer dollars.
Cmon Man September 22, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Which "community" would benefit? Certainly not Berkeley Heights. If this new facility is in place - in Warren, mind you - BAC will close its current facility in Berkeley Heights, taking a ton of tax dollars in town with it. And the pittance of sewer fees to be paid wouldn't be anywhere near the lost commerce in town. Never mind the fact that BH's town council already rejected the facility because the council believes that sewer capacity is needed for in-town services. And what is the great marginal benefit? There are a TON of pool clubs in the area. There are town pools, there are private pool clubs, and there is even Lifetime Fitness. All this facility would do - besides line the pocket of whomever its investors are - would be to create a huge eyesore and permanent damage in a rural area right next to Free Acres and wetlands. Also, aren't you a coach at BAC? If so, why wouldn't you just admit as much so readers know who is spouting talking points?
Chuck Warner September 22, 2012 at 10:00 PM
I did put my name by my post, have spent 40 years in swimming and for the last 2 yrs have done some part time work for BAC. I offer no malice just a few facts: 1. The facilities you mentioned are mainly outdoors. You are right in that they are great from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but that’s it. Currently kids in our area have to drive as much as 45 minutes each way (to Drew University) for swim training. New Jersey as a whole is in awful shape for any facilities that offer “long course” (50 meter pool) training or competition. 2. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury related death in children ages 1 to 4. BAC runs a fabulous “Learn-To-Swim” program, but doesn’t have enough space to fit everyone in the existing pool. 3. There is no plan to close the existing BAC facility 4. Even with tax dollars municipalities are struggling to keep pools open around the country. If someone is going to “line their pockets” with riches running an aquatic facility, it will be a first. 5. The expert on land use and drainage that testified in the hearings in Warren explained that because of the environmental requirements by the builders of a project such as this, the water flow in the wet lands area would IMPROVE. 6. A man in Branchburg changed his Liquor Warehouse to an indoor Soccer Facility. Rezoning was necessary there, not here. It's a fantastic plus for the community. I can understand conflict but for more facts are on backthebac.com.
Harris Ruben September 24, 2012 at 02:09 PM
On events days, Exit 40 would be backed up into the I-78. Emerson Lane would be impassable. The Hillcrest/Emerson Lane intersection would become a death trap. Not to mention that all of us who live in the Emerson Lane area would see traffic increase greatly. Go find a space in an area that's actually zoned commercial and can handle the traffic. There plenty of commercial space around here.
Cmon Man September 24, 2012 at 02:41 PM
The only 'community' that will gain from this is the contingent of BAC backers, be they financial, coaches, swimmers or otherwise. Everyone else loses: The Warren/BH community near Exit 40 will be crushed by this acre plus building. BH is already paying lawyers to defend BAC's suit against it. That's why the Warren/BH area supports StopTheBAC.com. 1. There are indoor YMCAs in numerous towns. There is an indoor swimming facility in the Morris Union Jointure Commission in Warren. Quick googling shows a ton of year round facilities in the area. 2. What does this have to do with anything? 3. If you have done just "some part time work for BAC" how are you in a position to comment? What is your full relationship with BAC? Beyond that, your statement isn't consistent with that of Jim Wood, proprietor of Berkeley Aquatic, in Warren's meetings. 4. It is hard to believe that the CEO of Valeant Pharma, which sells swimcare products and sponsors races, has no business motive. The land that BAC acquired cost over $3mm. Someone had to fund that. Berkeley Aquatics' prior website disclosed a multi-tiered financing strategy. BAC won't disclose it. What is it? Why is it hidden if this is so great for the 'community?' 5. "The expert on land use"? You mean BAC's hired representative? Someone being paid by BAC to represent its interests gave testimony favorable to BAC. That's not a surprise. 6. What does a soccer facility in Branchburg have to do with anything?
Jonathan C. Wishnia September 24, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Harris- The point you raise is worth further note. The route through Berkeley Heights to the facility is Emerson Ln, a winding, shaded, streetlight-free mile-long, 25 mph road that has almost no shoulder (and in many places, no shoulder as the flora touches the road). Given its quiet, serene nature, it is also an area frequented with joggers and walking families. There is little more dangerous on that road than drivers who ignore the speed limit and fly around the country curves and hills. There are so many worrisome situations that I can envision: One would be a harried parent ignoring speed limits to get to swim practice or a meet in the dark, flying around corners when kids are waiting for school busses or folks are jogging. Another would be a parent unfamiliar with that road driving in adverse conditions (think ice or snow), who isn't familiar with the fact that the road is maintained by two different towns that clean ice/snow differently and at different times, if at all. A third - and potentially the most dangerous for all - will be parents trying to make the blind turn from Emerson to get to the facility's entrance on Hillcrest and, because in a rush, not seeing a car flying along on Hillcrest to the left or right. There has been a fatality, unforunately, at the Emerson/Hillcrest intersection. With the new houses across on Hillcrest, traffic has continued to get worse. Imagine adding 50 or 100 cars or more for a big meet. That's a recipe for a disaster.
Tom Maciejewski September 28, 2012 at 05:44 PM
The long and short of the matter is that out of state funding is trying to backdoor their way past the municipality and are willing to destroy a quiet local neighborhood in the process. When these people asked me to sign the petition I asked them if it would be alright if we built a supermarket or bowling alley next door to their house. They seemed taken aback by the question. Having a vote does not make sense here. There is a whole neighborhood with LOTS to lose here. if we are to vote the vote should only include those from the neighborhood. Nobody from the neighborhood wants this MONSTROSITY in this quiet, wooded residencial neighborhood. NOBODY !!! The municipality made the correct decision to protect one of their neighborhoods, why should people who have no vested interest in the topic enter into the discussion?
Tom Maciejewski September 28, 2012 at 05:46 PM
As a home owner in the area with 2 young children I also worry about all of the transient traffic that will be coming through from who knows where? Will the BAC also pay to make sure that the community remains safe?
Tom Maciejewski September 28, 2012 at 05:50 PM
BTW for a large meet there could be 400-500 cars or more ... who knows. The parking lot will hold 250 but they have mentioned that some of the meets will have 400 participants. So you have up to 400 cars, plus RVs, workers, plus administrators who knows. This proposed monstrosity is actually supposed to be bigger than the US training facilities. The land is zoned for residencial or RECREATIONAL swim facility ( AKA neighborhood pool ). Not for a corporate interstate competition facility?
Tom Maciejewski September 28, 2012 at 05:53 PM
BTW ... If you are against what the BAC is pulling please visit Lifetime Fitness or one of the other places in the area with swim lessons and a swim team. Lifetime Fitness has reasonably priced quality swim lessons and the benefit of a gym. They chose to be built on property zoned for commercial use and have been a great addition to the community. Please boycott the BAC ... please let them know that you were not happy with the way they are trying to destroy this neighborhood and that you will not support them.

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