BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Suburban Chamber of Commerce kicked off the year with a Breakfast with Mayor and Town Council on Friday, Jan. 30, held in the meeting room of the Berkeley Heights Town Hall.  Dr. Patrick Smith of Smith Chiropractic and Vice Chairman of the Suburban Chamber of Commerce welcomed over 65 businesses and officials in attendance.  

Mayor Bob Woodruff, Council President Jeanne Kingsley and Councilman Ed Delia spoke of their vision for moving Berkeley Heights forward for the betterment of the businesses. 

There are some initiatives that are very important in town -- in particular, the Municipal Complex and the potential "land swap", said Mayor Bob Woodruff.  

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There have been five public hearings and the council plans to have one or two more hearings as well as public Planning Board meetings regarding this topic. Woodruff reiterated that "no decisions" have been made. However, he stated that he is hopeful the redevelopment plan will include additional parking spaces at the current municipal complex. "We are hopeful that we can add 60 to 80 extra spots." 

"We, on the council, believe this is the most important undertaking that this Township will have taken in 100 years," said Woodruff. "It will set the course of moving forward in this town." How will it advance the business atmosphere the business climate? "This council is committed to help and improve the atmosphere for the businesses in town."

Litigation concerning one of Berkeley Heights' major land owners has been "concluded", which will enable re-routing of traffic in our downtown, advised Woodruff. "We hope this will be the forefront of an improved downtown plan."

Woodruff also addressed the progress of the Beautification Committee taking "significant steps to increase uniformity and consistency with respect to our buildings and the downtown structure."  All of these steps require ordinances, regulations and rules -- it takes time, said Woodruff. 

With the Master Plan due to be revised in 2016-17, Woodruff is seeking individuals to put a "task force" together consisting of a variety of "walks of life" in town that will include Chamber members, school board members, and realtors, to name a few. The group will identify what Berkeley Heights has to offer, and what direction the town should be going.  

During a question and answer period, Massage Envy Spa owner, Anne Christensen, asked the Mayor to partner with the businesses on signage. "Massage Envy has 1,000 franchises that have realized great success. In Berkeley Heights, we are getting looked at because we don't have the traffic that most of the franchises have. Signage is a huge concern, and if you could partner with the businesses on signage it would be greatly appreciated." 

Steve Guastamacchia from Pete's Place Family Restaurant agreed, suggesting that the township needs to cut the "red tape" behind getting signage approval.

Woodruff concluded that the Beautification Committee is currently in the process of drafting signage rules. "We are reevaluating the ordinance situation."

Woodruff is staying connected with the public through the locally televised  "Mayor's Round Table" segment aired on local TV Comcast 34 and Fios 47 as well as linked to TAP into Berkeley Heights.  The monthly show will address topics that allow the public "to get an understanding of how and why the town works." The Mayor will answer questions from the public during the taping of the show.  Questions should be emailed to bpeer@tapinto.net. 

Ted Romankow, former Mayor and Union County Prosecutor, spoke to the Chamber regarding the Memorial Park Restoration Project, that will cost approximately $100,000 with a target date for completion of at least the installation of all the pavers set for this coming Memorial Day.  Through the website,  www.bhmemorialpark.com, donors will be able to contribute through PayPal, and a 501(c)(3) trust has been established to accept funds.

Council President Jeanne Kingsley also advised the businesses that the American flags that line Springfield Avenue are in disrepair and the Beautification Committee is looking to partner with the businesses and Chamber to raise money to purchase new flags and replace the poles that will carry a lifetime warranty.

Dr. Pat Smith discussed the growing accomplishments of the Chamber and their partnerships with many organizations in town -- working on projects and events that include Avenue of Patriots, revitalized Memorial Day Parade, annual Community Awards Dinner, 11th Rubber Ducky Festival, 2nd Berkeley Heights Street Fair, Free Summer Concert in the Park Series, Jersey Pilot Baseball, 5K Road Races, Golf Outing, Downtown Clock Project, the SCC Foundation Scholarships and Vest-A-Cop, Clean Community Day, after hour networking and more.

"The Chamber is working hard to link our local business community to many opportunities," said Dr. Pat Smith, Vice Chairman of the Suburban Chamber of Commerce listing the following upcoming events and opportunities within the community:

  • Annual Suburban Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner is set for Wednesday, March 25th at the Grand Summit Hotel. Contact Karen Hadley at (908)522-1200 or email khadley@suburbanchambers.org for sponsorship and ticket details.
  • YMCA's 14th Annual Mother's Day 5K is Sunday, May 10 at 9 a.m. at Memorial Park. Contact Tiffany Escott at Tiffany.Escott@thesay.org for details.
  • 12th Annual Rubber Ducky Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 30. Contact Tiffany Escott at Tiffany.Escott@thesay.org or Julianne Simmons at jsimmons@myinvestorsbank.com.
  • Memorial Day Parade sponsorship opportunities contact Tom Barton at the Recreation Department at (908)464-0550.
  • Berkeley Heights 3rd Annual Street Fair is scheduled for Sunday, June 28. Sponsorship and participation information will be available shortly.
  • Jersey Pilot's Baseball has sponsorship opportunities. Contact Ben Smookler at (908)391-6922.
  • Berkeley Heights Summer Concert Series has unique sponsorship opportunities. Contact Dr. Pat Smith at drsmith@drpatricksmith.com or phone (908)464-8899.
  • 4th Annual Berkeley Heights Police Youth Academy for children grades 2 through 12 has sponsorship opportunities. Contact Officer Jason Massimino at jmassimino@bhpolice.org.
  • Save the date for the 19th annual Berkeley Heights 5K Charity Road Race and Fitness Walk to be held on Sept. 20 at Memorial Field.
  • Annual Suburban Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing is scheduled for the Fall.
  • Collection Magazine is the quarterly publication of the Suburban Chamber of Commerce. Contact AnneMarie Cahill at acahill@suburbanchambers.org or call (908)397-8785 for marketing opportunities. 

Peapack-Gladstone Bank was the breakfast sponsor, Edible Arrangements provided fruit platters, Seven-Eleven provided tea and coffee, Derco Office Solutions provided the event printing.

The Suburban Chamber of Commerce's next monthly meeting "First Friday" is Feb. 6 at the Grand Summit Hotel from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. featuring the Mayors of Summit, New Providence and Berkeley Heights. 

Visit the Suburban Chamber of Commerce website for more information on becoming a member.