My name is Gentiana Brahimaj and I am ready to dedicate the time and energy it takes to making positive changes in Berkeley Heights. I am not a politician or friends with any politician or Township Official. After interviewing with the Republican Committee, I was honored to have received their unanimous support and nomination to run for our Town Council. I have been involved with the Berkeley Heights school system, various sport programs, and helping the community for over 19 years. For the last 6 years I have worked in the hospitality industry and I know firsthand how important a location is for a business to thrive as well as delivering the right product to the residents. My running mate Manny Couto has been working hard to introduce changes, events, and programs that bring beauty and business to Berkeley Heights.
I will assist Manny, and volunteers, with the initiatives to redevelop Peppertown Park. The proposed design creates walking and biking paths that will connect the downtown to the Berkeley Heights train station. Manny is currently writing a Vacant Property Registration ordinance that will require property owners to register their vacant properties. He is also working with the township attorney on updating existing ordinances to allow the township to timely enforce the ordinances. I will also act as a volunteer liaison for the township to provide monthly reports of abandoned or neglected properties. This report can be used to easily send or update violations.
I have already started working and preparing myself for what is in store as a Council member. I have met with representatives from our neighboring towns who are willing to partner with us to help promote local businesses. My comprehensive plan includes:
- Increase public events in town. Events help drive positive awareness to our downtown and increase business sales.
- Collaborate with Summit and New Providence to provide a means of transportation to connect our downtowns; trolley service, small bus service, bike sharing.
- Help form an Economic Development Committee run by successful business owners in town and volunteers whose expertise consists in researching the markets, the latest business trends and consumer demand. After the analysis, this committee will work with the business owners in town and make sure every available rental space is occupied. This Committee will also have input on the Downtown Master Plan and ensuring plans and ordinances are conducive to allowing businesses to thrive.
- Expand Restaurant Week and Beauty & Wellness Weeks with New Providence by attracting their residents to visit our restaurants during our restaurant week then promote the New Providence restaurants to our residents during their restaurant week. We all know how close these two towns are and we can benefit by helping each other, all while promoting and helping our businesses grow.
- Investigate open parking areas that can be used seasonally that could increase revenue for the town and businesses.
- Work with building owners and nearby colleges and universities to rent/lease open retail space to create downtown satellite campus.
- Propose a one-day summer shutdown on Springfield Ave. Allow the children and residents to enjoy an evening or two in town without worrying about traffic. Collaborate with Union County to provide bicycle safety awareness classes during the shutdown.
Here’s a list of Manny’s winning accomplishments I am proud to support:
- Updated Article 19 of the Municipal Code to establish design standards for building materials, colors, and signs. The updated design standards will provide a cohesive look to our downtown.
- Created stronger signage standards within Part 5 of our Municipal Code. These updates will require signage around town to be uniform.
- Co-founded the successful Restaurant Week. Restaurant Week brings thousands of people to Berkeley Heights to enjoy predefined specials offered by local establishments.
- Arranged the Flower Basket program with local businesses to line Springfield Ave with seasonal flowers throughout the year.
- Helped create the Adopt-a-Sign program to bring flowers and greenery to signs throughout the town. This program leveraged volunteers to purchase, plant, and maintain the plantings which has taken a burden off our DPW staff.
- Fundraised and help design Historical and Seasonal banners as well as American flags that line main throughways in Berkeley Heights; Springfield Ave, Park Ave, Plainfield Ave, Snyder Ave.
- Partnered with Berkeley Heights Recreation Commission and the Township to have park and field signs and welcome signs installed throughout town.
- Assisted writing grants to obtain several garbage and recycling receptacles. He also attended many trash cleanup programs to determine where the receptacles would be best utilized.
Manny has a proven track record, one which I will continue to build upon and support. I am confident I have what it takes and am truly committed to making sure Berkeley Heights businesses grow and our downtown thrives.
We respectfully ask for your support on November 5th. Vote Column B for Manny and Gentiana who will put Berkeley Heights First.