BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – This year the Downtown Beautification Committee (DBC) plans to add some new events to the township’s calendar and make some more investments in beautification efforts in the downtown area.

Julie Lloyd led off the council meeting on Jan. 16 with a slideshow presentation on the DBC’s initiatives and 2018 priorities.

The historic banners, which were proposed in 2017, are a reality, although they have not yet been hung on lamp posts, yet. Three of them were hung in the council room. Lloyd thanked Ann Bartholomew, for having done all the art work for the banners.

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Nokia-Bell Labs paid for seven banners marking historic “inventions” that came out of Nokia-Bell Labs, including the Laser, Unix Operating System, Solar Cell, Transistor, Digital Camera, C Programming Language and Telstar Satellite.

Four banners will highlight township landmarks, including Free Acres, Columbia School, the Deserted Village and Littel-Lord Farmstead.

Two others focus on township traditions, Highlander Pride and The Feast of Mount Carmel.

There are three copies of each banner and they will probably be hung in April, she said, and another time of the year. The Hometown Heroes banners will be hung before Memorial Day, in May, and before Veteran’s Day, in November.  Experience Berkeley Heights banners will be put up after May, she said.

Other new initiatives are planned for 2018.

1. Selecting and funding traffic signal cabinet wraps for the downtown area. Two of the boxes, one at Springfield and Snyder avenues and the other at Springfield and Plainfield avenues, will be wrapped in black, to help them disappear. The boxes will not be wrapped in colorful patterns or images, as they are in Somerset County, said Lloyd. 

2. BH Walks, a monthly activity in the township, that members hope will bring residents together as they walk on the many paths of the township. The walks will begin at Snyder and Springfield avenues on various days and at various times, as organizers learn which times and days work the best. People will be encouraged to bring a garbage bag so they can clean up the town as they walk. Dates and times will be released later.

3. Beauty and Wellness Week, which is already in the planning stages. This will be a week-long promotion supported by the many spas, salons, chiropractors and fitness centers. 

4. Make Restaurant Week an annual event.

5. Change the ornament design contest and sale so that they take place every other year.

6. Work closely with the Suburban Chamber of Commerce and help launch a Downtown Holiday Decorating Contest.

7. Purchase eight baskets with liners to attach to lamp posts beginning at Snyder and Springfield avenues. The Fill-A-Basket fundraising initiative will help the DBC obtain plants for the baskets.

8. Launch a working group with businesses to help with “corner-scaping” to create flower beds near the town’s entry points and encourage the formation of a garden club focused on downtown

9. Launch an expanded “Experience Berkeley Heights” website.

10. Seek federal and state grants to help fund these initiatives.

Lloyd asked the council to approve the committee’s plan to spend a portion of the money it has made through various fund-raisers to pay for the traffic signal wraps, and the lamppost Hayrack baskets with a molded coco liner.

All other initiatives will be self-funding, either by businesses or through a fund-raising activity such as the Fill-a-Basket plan.

The DBC has held several fundraisers and has raised approximately $15,300. They want to spend $3,750 for the wraps and $1,943 for the hardware for the baskets with liners, a total of $5,693.

The council signaled it was in favor of the purchases with a straw vote.