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'BACK The BAC' Announces Voter Initiative Drive in Berkeley Heights

If Berkeley Heights Council refuses to amend Sewer Service agreement, Township will designate date for special election for voters to decide if agreement should be changed.

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 caitlin.mahon@patch.com.

On Wednesday, 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 20, 2012 at 01:35 PM
(Fixed for a typo) This petition is ridiculous. Berkeley Heights offered BAC perfectly acceptable land in a commercial zone in Berkeley Heights to build a huge facility. BAC refused. Now BAC is whining because they put themselves in a bad spot by misjudging the land, sewerage and legal requirements. So what does BAC do: sue the town (which costs Berkeley Heights residents tax dollars to defend), while also threatening to take sewer capacity and tax revenue by moving away, all for a pittance back to the town. This is a joke. BAC needs to go back to commercial zoned areas where an acre-plus building is suited. They can then keep tax revenues in Berkeley Heights and drop their ridiculous litigation.
Concerned Persons Stopping the BAC September 20, 2012 at 01:36 PM
This petition is ridiculous. Berkeley Heights offered BAC perfectly acceptable land in a commercial zone in Berkeley Heights to build a huge facility. BAC refused. Now BAC is whining because they put themselves in a bad spot by misjudging the land, sewerage and legal requirements. So what does BAC do: sue the town (which costs Berkely Heights residents tax dollars to defend), while also threatening to take sewer capacity and tax revenue by moving away, all for a pittance back to the town. This is a joke. BAC needs to go back to commercial zoned areas where an acre-plus building is suited. They can then keep tax revenues in Berkeley Heights and drop their ridiculous litigation.
Alberto September 20, 2012 at 01:40 PM
The BAC is trying to force the township to do what they want. This will bring more traffic to the area, bring strangers in.... all so the BAC can use a pool they both 8 years ago... Please help your neighboors stop this www.stopthebac.com
Jonathan C. Wishnia September 20, 2012 at 01:44 PM
The worst part about the facility, Harris, is exactly what you mention: it is not a public facility. In fact, it has HUGE out of state $$$$ investors. 80% of the facility, according to BAC's own filings, will be owned the CEO of California-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals and the CEO of New York-based Humanscale Corporation. Why are two out of state, wealthy CEOs backing this project? What else is going on that isn't being disclosed?
Jonathan C. Wishnia September 20, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Messed up with the typos there. This is me, as I didn't realize it would change my name. I am proud to be associated with those trying to fight this ridiculously inappropriate, neighborhood destroying, tax revenue sucking, private facility.
Jonathan C. Wishnia September 20, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Why is the Patch publishing materials that are (by own admission) literally written by the BAC's publicist. Beckerman Public Relations, are you aware that your client, Jim Wood, was the president of USA Swimming when USA Swimming was smacked by a child molestation scandal that led to jail time for coaches and litigation? The scandal was covered by ABC News, USA Today and a ton of other sources. In fact, according to this report by USA Today - http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/2010-07-27-usa-swimming-misbehavior_N.htm - Jim Wood was aware of 46 individuals who were (quoting from the article) ""flagged" for alleged misconduct against swimmers but haven't faced any disciplinary action because they aren't current members." In other words, USA Today reported that USA Swimming under Jim Wood apparently was aware of sexual predators and DID NOTHING about it? If that's not acceptable at Penn State, why is that acceptable in Berkeley Heights? Beckerman - is this your normal clientele?
Matt Netter September 20, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Essentially, Warren gets additional tax revenue and Berkeley Heights gets more traffic, noise, bright lights, and a big eye sore in its most peaceful residential neighborhood.
Emerson St Neighbor September 20, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Have the CEO of California-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals and the CEO of New York-based Humanscale Corporation ever driven on Emerson Lane when someone is pushing a baby carriage. There will be accidents, possibly serious, if even dozens of extra cars drive on Emerson Lane. They should know that they will be morally responsible for anyone injured in a car accident related to this facility. Their companies and their individual names will be published so that they can explain why they funded the destruction of a quiet residential area.
Emerson St Neighbor September 20, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Humanscale Corporation are both international corporations with facilities all over the world. Valeant does have offices in the area at 14 Main Street, Suite 140, Madison, NJ 07940-1818 and 700 Route 202/206, Bridgewater, NJ 08807. If a tragedy does occur on Emerson Lane, (which really scares me), then pickets in Madison or Bridgewater will be coming blaming Valeant for what happened.
Alberto September 21, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Did you guys notice the re-edited the story and removed the bottom lines: Editor's Note: The information above was submitted to Patch by Beckerman Public Relations, representing the Berkeley Aquatic Club. The Patch is promoting the BAC. Thats something to think about.
Harris Ruben September 21, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Nice catch.
Harris Ruben September 21, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Actually, it's right at the top, in italics
Caitlin Mahon September 21, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Hi everyone, Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts on this issue. After reading a number of your comments, which are much appreciated, I'd like to make one thing clear — this press release was submitted to us by Beckerman Public Relations, a private company representing the Berkeley Aquatic Club. Since the BAC is a local business, this is a huge issue in Berkeley Heights and we've previously published articles about this issue, we chose to run this press release to inform the public as to what the BAC is planning to do. We are, in no way, taking a side on this issue. We published this release simply as a way to inform you, residents of Berkeley Heights. Again, let me make it clear that Patch is NOT supporting the proposed BAC facility. We are neither for nor against this new facility. My original "editor's note" was moved from the bottom to the top of the release so more residents would see it and understand that this release is simply meant to inform readers as to what is going on. I understand this is a very controversial issue in Berkeley Heights. To further clarify that it is a release from a private company, we have categorized it now as an Opinion piece and we do apologize for any confusion. I urge each and every one of you to submit a Letter to the Editor in response to what the BAC is planning to do. You can send it to Caitlin.Mahon@Patch.com and I will publish it on New Providence-Berkeley Heights Patch. Thank you, Caitlin Mahon
Jonathan C. Wishnia September 21, 2012 at 10:05 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.
Jonathan C. Wishnia September 21, 2012 at 10:07 PM
This post is also cross-listed here: http://warren.patch.com/articles/back-the-bac-announces-voter-initiative-drive-in-berkeley-heights-2640fd64 People should go comment there as well.
Tom Maciejewski September 23, 2012 at 03:28 PM
If the BAC is allowed to build at the proposed site, it will destroy a quiet BH neighborhood, bring in tons of transient traffic, destroy over 50 acres wilderness, lower the housing prices for all houses in that vicinity. From what I understand the BAC is bringing in the big lawyers to start bullying around the town council and everyone else involved. I ask the people of Berkeley Heights to stand together to prevent the BAC from destroying our neighborhood. Think about how you woud feel if someone were to build a large facility be it a supermarket a home depot or a national swim center a block or two from your house. Would you like it? This is not something that really benefits BH at all. There are other sites that would be more appropriate in spots zoned for commercial. The place where they are proposing to build is in the middle of a very quiet residencial neighborhood. Lets all band together here and tell the BAC that they cant bully us around ... we dont want their facility in their proposed location.
Jack September 28, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I was at the Berkeley Heights 5k and one of the volunteers collecting signatures for the petition asked me to sign. I told him I live off Emerson Lane and was opposed to the facility. His response was that I obviously don't believe in democracy.
Concerned in BH September 28, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Jack, I'm surprised they also didn't tell you that you support obesity. That seems to be their thing, since they have no real arguments to lean on, other than "We want this now and we want this here, so we'll bully our way into getting it". Insult, insult, insult.
John Werner September 29, 2012 at 02:54 AM
On the flip side of these emotionally charged comments, there appears to be a lack of appreciation to the success this local organization has at represented our country inside and outside of the pool. Not just as competitive swimmers at the State, National, International, and at the Olympic levels, but outside the pool as well. Didn’t anyone feel a bit proud of Team USA swimming performance in the Olympics? BAC didn’t have any swimmers in London, but had several competing at Olympics Trials- 1 step away. Is it possible to move beyond the “not in my backyard” mentality? As we speak, there are former BAC swimmers at all the major service academies: US Naval Academy, US Military Academy (West Point), and US Air Force Academy. These are no longer the kids you bumped into standing in line at the bagel shop, Pizza Hut, Rita’s and throughout the town, but young leaders that are going on to defend your vey rights to sound off as you are in these messages. This club is responsible for developing the character that has helped them choose this course.
John Werner September 29, 2012 at 02:59 AM
What is not being said is the club has nearly exhausted all efforts to stay locally. In fact, the club brought a pool over a decade ago and has been unsuccessful finding a home for it. And like the business world, many of the local teams have consolidated and now operate out of university or school with a pool. Building a pool is a way of investing that goodwill and association within the area. I have empathy for those residents who fear an unknown. For all those concerns, I simply ask “if if hasn’t been an issue at its current location, why would it be at its new one? Ask the current adjacent neighbors what they think. And if there was any validity in all the rhetoric, wouldn’t it be in the collective township’s interest to have the club move to nearby Warren and have the best of both worlds?
Jonathan C. Wishnia September 29, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Mr. Werner- What do the relative merits of Team USA swimming have to do with the location of this facility? Nothing at all. To the extent that USA Swimming is somehow relevant, I think a lot of people should look into USA Swimming. For example, there was this ESPN Outside the Lines piece: "Sex abuse pervasive in USA Swimming" (here: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/otl/news/story?id=5071820). ABC News was also all over it: "USA Swimming Calls for Emergency Hearing Over Abuse, Payoff Claims" (here: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/usa-swimming-calls-emergency-hearing-abuse-payoff-claims/story?id=16853904). Do a google search for USA Swimming and sexual misconduct and what you'll find - between lawsuits and fired/banned coaches - is not something to write home about.
Thomas Hansen September 29, 2012 at 08:36 AM
Hi folks. Most of you probably have no idea who I am, so I'll say hello. I think I have a unique perspective to add to this argument because I actually used to live on Emerson Lane (#44 to be exact!) AND I swam for the Berkeley Aquatic Club for 6 years. As someone who used to ride my bike and trick-or-treat down that road, I am very familiar with it. I am also very familiar with BAC, which is why I want to share some thoughts. It seems like there is one big thing missing from all the arguments against this facility: the kids. The only reason BAC exists is to develop boys and girls into hard working, courageous, and humble men and women. Jim Wood, the founder and head coach of BAC, is not in it for money. He's not in it for fame. He's not even in it for pride. He's in it for the sake of the thousands of kids (like me) he has helped grow, and the thousands more that will come if the new facility is built. This is something Berkeley Heights NEEDS! Don't believe me? Take a stroll into the current BAC facility and examine its board of graduates and where they went to college. You will be impressed. If you'd rather not venture into enemy territory, interview some of the graduates and ask what BAC means to them. They will tell you how important it was to making them who they are today. This is ultimately the heart of the issue, and therefore we should look at the building not as a nuisance, but as an investment in our kids.
Thomas Hansen September 29, 2012 at 08:48 AM
Tom, how can you possibly say this is something that doesn't benefit Berkeley Heights at all? Let's look at this from an athletic point of view. BAC is the most successful athletic institution in Berkeley Heights, period. Let's look at it from an academic point of view. BAC swimmers are top in their classes and go off to top colleges. It is the most successful institution promoting strong academics in Berkeley Heights, period. Let's look at it from an economic point of view. Hundreds of BAC families, from Berkeley Heights and elsewhere, stop in town everyday to pick up a bagel, buy some gas, eat dinner, grab groceries, fill a prescription, etc. BAC is essential to the local economy. Let's look at it from a health and wellness perspective. Thousands of kids learned how to swim at BAC, keeping them safe in the water. Thousands more have become fit and healthy people. BAC is an example of healthy and safe living. Let's look at it from the kids' perspective. Thousands of kids have benefited greatly from this program. To say there are no benefits is simply untrue and unfair.
Thomas Hansen September 29, 2012 at 09:02 AM
The hyperbole here is rather extravagant. The "destruction of a quiet residential area" is actually the development of one lot that will probably have a nice fence around it and no extra noise except that of families walking to and from their cars and the door to the facility. The neighborhood and is quietness remain. The inevitable "serious accidents" argument is nothing more than a flat assumption. Hundreds of cars SPEED down Emerson every day right now, but accidents don't seem to be a problem. Why would a few dozen more, coming at intervals (different practice times) cause a multitude of serious accidents?
Thomas Hansen September 29, 2012 at 09:11 AM
This post is taken completely out of context. I actually have to thank you for posting the link because anyone who clicks it and reads the article for themselves will discover that USA Today actually portrays Jim Wood as a strong leader who is taking the necessary actions to rid the organization of criminals and ensure the best possible environment for its kids. I swam for Jim Wood for years. He is an exceptional leader. He would never hurt a child or condone or conceal hurting a child.
Thomas Hansen September 29, 2012 at 09:15 AM
The spreading of true information is not "forcing." Abiding by local, state, and national laws is not "forcing."
Richard Brindle September 29, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Richard Brindle Berkelry Aquatic's proposed facility was presented to Warren Twsp. as a " Recreational Swim Facility" since , according to their attorney "swimming is a recreation" and a recreational facility is allowed. The truth is, swimming is a competative sport activity and the proposed facility is a training and competition facility. The main pool is a 50 meter 10 lane pool that was used for the Olympic swim team trials in 2004. Next to it will be a warm up pool so the competition pool does not have to be shut down to allow for warm ups .Next to the pools is a room shown on the site plan as a "3700 sq ft team staging area" . Why does a "recreational swim club" need this? It does not, but a training and competation center does. Mr. Woods stated in Warren that he would hold 30 to 40 swim meets a year with about 400 competitors. If you have 400 competitors show up for a sporting event at 10 AM, they start arriving at around 9. Mr. Woods has 200 or so parking spaces planned and and his traffic study says 137 cars per hour, and a 1 lane entrance to the facility. Do you belive 400 participants and their families and spectators are going to arrive in 137 cars? What happens when the 400 plus cars are on Hillcrest Rd , Rt 78 and Emerson Lane and have no where to go. Rt78 and Hillcrest Rd. is a dangerous as it is now. Find out the facts and the truth about what BAC really is and it's impact .Do not believe their paid propigandists and their misinformation. LOOK AT THE FACTS!
Tom Maciejewski September 29, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Look ... this will DESTROY the neighborhood. It was done through Backdoor politics funded by interstate money. Why was that property purchased and not one that was zoned for commercial use and that wouldnt destroy a neighborhood. The argument that some BH people may use the pool is 100% irrelevant. This monstrosity that is proposed is mainly for interstate competitions. There is plenty of commercial property around. Why choose a quiet wooded community for the location? Because it was cheap since it was not zoned for commercial use? Does it end up being cheaper to get lawyers in to bully the BH municipality than to buy commercial property where this could be set up correctly without HURTING a whole bunch of FAMILIES. If you think that the argument is all about if BH people would use some MONSTROSITY ... you have missed the point and are more out of touch than one would think. Otherwise you are trying to divert the backdoor, bullying politics that is going on by switching the topic to something else.
Tom Maciejewski September 29, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Why not get some commercial property. How did Lifetime Athletics get some local Commercial property? Lifetime Athletics has roughly the same size facilities as what you are proposing. How did they get the land without backdoor politics and destroying a quiet, wooded, totally residencial neighborhood? This all comes down to $$$ ... Please we are just asking the BAC to be responsible and do the right thing. Just get some commercial property in the area. It is not about if we want a Enormous interstate training facility here or not ... it is all about your choice of location and the bullying that is going on. How about down the street. I hear that whole Citibank complex will be avail soon. There is a plethera of commercial property avail. there are many articles like this: http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2010/aug/23/commercial-real-estate-next-economic-shock/ So you cant tell me that there is no commercial property avail. Why kill a neighborhood? Why destroy 50 acres of forest when so much available commercially developed land exists? Why bring in interstate money to fund an aggressive campaign to bully around a local municipality? Why not do what other responsible businesses do?
Tom Maciejewski September 29, 2012 at 03:52 PM
On top of converting a wooded quiet neighborhood into a overlit, concrete and pavement commercial property, I have also been worried about all of the transient traffic that will be brought into the neighborhood. There are lots of children that live around here and who knows who will be coming in. Who is going to pay for all of the extra security that will be needed?

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