BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ, October 5, 2019 -- Dr. Sophia Chadda, Candidate for Bernards Township Committee and owner of her periodontal practice in Basking Ridge, visited business owners in the township’s seven primary business districts to learn how she can help grow their businesses and make them more attractive to township residents. Over the course of her campaign and as a 20-plus year Bernards Township resident and business owner, Dr. Chadda has also spoken with neighbors and community members about their desires to support local merchants and shop locally.

Over the past two months, Dr. Chadda spoke with merchants in Dewy Meadow Village, The Hills-Highlands Shopping Center, Marketplace Shopping Center, Riverwalk Shopping Center, Lyons Mall, businesses in Liberty Corner/Church Street and, of course, businesses in the downtown center of Basking Ridge. “I’ve never had a committee member, yet alone a candidate for township committee, ever ask me of my concerns, and am thrilled you [Dr. Chadda] came here and are taking an interest.” said a store owner in the Marketplace Shopping Center who wished to remain anonymous. “The township can help us provide better service to our customers by improving parking, traffic flow, and by ensuring development is well thought out with community members -- store owners and residents alike -- involved in the planning and approval process. The town hasn’t been very transparent in this respect over the past several years,” continued the business owner.

Dr. Chadda found several challenges shared by many business owners in which she feels she can help improve. “Not surprisingly, business owners in Marketplace, Hills-Highlands, and Riverwalk, especially, think parking -- design, congestion and deteriorating condition of the asphalt parking lots -- is a major business inhibitor and a significant and growing safety concern. As a township committee member, I will work to see how these problems can be fixed, whether it involves reviewing, enforcing, and possibly changing zoning regulations related to the design and maintenance of existing and proposed parking facilities,” Dr. Chadda explained. “Merchants, landlords, and the township council have to work together on an ongoing basis to ensure commerce in Bernards Township is convenient, welcoming, and safe,” she continued.

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Other issues impeding business activity is traffic, the long-needed sidewalk repairs in the downtown area, and the lack of sidewalks in the Church Street/Liberty Corner business district. “I was told the traffic, especially during school hours, is especially frustrating to business owners in the popular Liberty Corner district since driveways and parking lot entrances are blocked as children are dropped off and picked up from school.

Balancing the need to maintain the charm of our community while controlling inevitable growth and encouraging people from Bernards Township and surrounding towns to shop in Basking Ridge, Dr. Chadda is looking forward to having the opportunity to work with all community stakeholders to implement smart and sensible changes the township has needed for far too long. “When our businesses do well, they pay more taxes to our community which lowers the burden for homeowners. Keeping businesses in town, and helping them thrive, helps us all. I would also like to establish an Economic Development Commission that would invite our local business owners and managers - small and large - to develop and execute a strategic plan to encourage an environment for all sized businesses to thrive while providing convenience, value and vast options for local patrons,” Dr. Chadda explained.

Other ideas well-received by township merchants and residents alike include having a “restaurant week” once or twice a year in which local restaurants offer specials to increase patronage and attract new customers. Merchants also see Charter Day as a great opportunity to create more special events to attract more people to the downtown area. They also see working with large employers in town, such as Verizon, Sloan Kettering, and the Barnes & Noble corporate office, to encourage their employees to frequent local businesses year-round and during special outdoor market nights.

Dr. Chadda envisions creating a “shop local” initiative, including a social media campaign and leveraging the township’s website, bernards.org, to energize and encourage residents and non-residents to patronize our local businesses. “I would like to conduct a study, with input from local businesses and residents and in coordination with the township’s master plan, to determine which types of businesses we would like to see in our community and what we could do to attract, encourage and welcome these businesses. Providing local shopping and dining opportunities to residents and neighboring communities helps us save gas, save time, increase our sense of community, provide more jobs, and reduce reliance on homeowner property taxes, Dr. Chadda continued. Isn’t that what we want to see in Bernards Township?

Dr. Chadda has owned her periodontal and dental implant practice in Basking Ridge for the past 16 years and is Board Certified by the American Board of Periodontology. Dr. Chadda is a past President of the Tri-County Dental Society, a past Vice President of the New Jersey Society of Periodontists, an active member of the American Dental Association, New Jersey Dental Association, and the American Academy of Periodontology. Dr. Chadda is also a former Assistant Professor of Periodontics, Rutgers Dental school and was a former member of the Bernards Township Board of Health. Dr. Chadda is currently running as the Democratic candidate for Bernards Township Committee where she will use her experience as township business owner, resident, and mother to bring smart, sensible solutions for driving positive change for our town. To learn more about Dr. Chadda’s campaign, please visit Chadda2019.com.