A few weeks ago, we asked Bernardsville to complete a survey about who we are as a town. Who are we? What makes us unique? Why do people want to come here? Understanding our core, from those of us within it, will help us make educated moves forward in the transformation process of our town. (If you missed it, visit DowntownBernardsville.com/WhySurvey to submit your response!)
When I say, “transform,” I don’t mean changing things completely. Transformation strategies for a town offer up a clear focus about who we are and what kinds of projects make sense for the growth (and therefore, revitalization) of Bernardsville. Just like any business, having a strategy for growth is a requirement. Its not just about doing a few fun events or making the sidewalks a little neater, it is having a clearly defined understanding about what it means to be Bernardsville. What purpose do we serve as a community?
Since we released the survey, 70 responses have helped us to make a start to understand who we are. The results make sense, and you can see the chart here. Responses were across the board, diverse, but the two key areas that stand out the most are family friendly and dining & entertainment. What does this mean?
Main Street America has created a table of various transformation strategies that help define our brand. Take a look at the table here if you haven’t seen it already. Within this table, we can see who are market is to cater to, specifically the family friendly and entertainment categories.
Dining & Entertainment
Description: Focuses on things people do for fun, usually in the evenings. Often serves as a regional destination.
Who it serves: Younger (though not always) Singles and couples (not kids, typically)
Can be complementary to a daytime strategy
Can be associated with nuisance issues (e.g., noise, drinking)
Complements Arts strategy
Improve lighting to increase safety at night
Engage business owners in “responsible hospitality” program
Organize a “night market”
Family Friendly/ Family Serving
Description: Focuses on local families; characterized by family- friendly events and businesses
Who it serves: Families, particularly with babies and young children at home/ Grandparents/ Teens
A daytime strategy
Most active on weekends
Offers products and entertainment locally
Helps engender positive downtown experiences for young people
Add kid-scale street furniture in public spaces
Offer internships to high school students
Show family films outdoors on weekends
Expand business mix with gifts and toys
These are suggested items for each category, but hopefully it helps us to understand who we say we are, so far. We also have next tier results in the categories of Arts, Health & Wellness, Sports & Recreation, and Food. While we can consider projects in all of these categories, Downtown Bernardsville will be gearing action items for 2020 in the two primary main areas as a start.
The Bernardsville Mural Project is a great compliment to these strategies. It is a complimentary art project, engenders a positive downtown experience for young people with our artist’s commitment to including students throughout the process, and allows us to provide the community with a large scale beautification project to open the doors to residents and newcomers in a welcoming and inviting manner.
As our board of directors hones in on additional projects and events for 2020, we hope the community continues to share their opinions on the Why Survey and beyond. We will have this survey available to all indefinitely as we will continuously be open and flexible to the ongoing change that can exist in our world. The comments provided in the survey will offer up some ideas to what YOU want as a community and what we can work on in the short and long term.
We are excited to be your neighborhood champions and look forward to including the community in our work moving forward. Thank you to all who took the time to answer the survey and please feel free to add additional comments below!
We can do this, Bernardsville.