Connie Gering is one of four Democratic candidates running for Borough Council in the Nov. 5 election. A resident of Riverwoods Drive where she lives with her husband Ron, she is currently serving her second term as president of the Greater New Hope Chamber of Commerce, is chairperson of the revitalization committee of New Hope Borough Council, a founding member and co-chair of New Hope for Our Canal, and continues to co-chair the New Hope Arts and Crafts Festival.
An alumna of Point Park University and the College of New Jersey, Gering has been a teacher, real estate agent, marketing company owner, property manager, and New Hope business owner.
Her reason for adding borough council member to her list of achievements? “I’ve lived here for over 14 years now,” Gering said. “And in the last ten, I’ve been involved with the community. Having been a former business owner in town and being on the Chamber, the revitalization committee, and sitting on the board of WinterFest, I really love this town…and I think I’ve seen it start to deteriorate business-wise due to what’s happened in the last ten years with the economy.
“When I moved here, I really wanted to live in a small town that has a vibrant business community, so I think it’s time we find some ways to revive the business community,” she continued. “I think it’s important that we work with the different boards that are instrumental in running this town — we have Landmark Towns which gives matching grants, we have the revitalization committee which looks for different ways to spiff up the town — and I think it’s important for us to find sustainable businesses that will serve the visitors and the residents,” said Gering.
Another key goal for Gering is “preserving the quality of life for the people who live in this town,” she said. “One of the things we’ve done through the revitalization committee is address the issue of loud motorcycle, truck and car noise by working with the Chamber, and I took that over and we started a campaign called ‘Let’s Rev it Down.’ The idea is that we’re only a one-square-mile town, and we’re asking motorcycles and souped-up cars to find ways to rev their engines down while they’re here, and so far it’s gotten some favorable response in the news media. We’ve also just received coasters and flags that are going to be given to all the restaurants in town that say ‘Rev it Down.’ The goal is to ask them nicely — we don’t want to alienate the motorcyclists or cars coming to this town because they’re really vital to our business community and they bring in a lot of dollars, and they’re an asset to visitors who enjoy watching them parked up and down Main Street,” she continued.
In terms of her qualifications for the position, Gering said, “I think I bring a lot to the table. I owned a marketing company for 20 years that covered the whole East Coast, I was president of a national marketing company for five years, I’ve owned and managed commercial and residential real estate properties for the last 25 years, so I have a sense about the buildings — maybe what the rents should be, how they should be controlled — and finding creative ways to bring in and entice businesses to our town.
“And parking keeps coming up as an issue, so one of the things we’ll be looking at is ‘Smart’ technology that we can implement to make parking more user friendly, so people can come to town and not have to worry about quarters,” continued Gering,
“If you talk to people in my neighborhood, they moved here because they wanted to live in a small town, and we need to find ways to preserve that, but I think some people don’t realize that a vibrant business district keeps our taxes low by offsetting the cost of our police department through parking, and that’s why our property values are high. If you go down Main Street and close up all the shops, you’re going to lose all the tourists, you’re going to lose the parking revenue, and it’s going to deteriorate the quality of the town. So, I think for us to preserve our property values, aside from wanting to live in a small town, it’s important for us to find ways to revitalize,” she added.
“You know,” said Gering, “There’s somebody always beating up on the businesses about cleaning up, but they need to give them a break and take a look at their leases…it’s not always the businesses — a lot of time, it’s the landlord’s responsibility. At the Chamber, we’ve started calling vacant stores so we can decorate their windows and make them look more attractive. A healthy downtown economy is beneficial for all of us.
“If we can start getting buses coming in during the week — even one a day to start — it would be such an asset to this town, and it will help the economy across the board,” she continued. “Five or ten years out, I’d like to make sure there’s not a single vacancy, and that people are lined up to open a business in New Hope because we’re a vibrant town. And I want them lined up to shop and eat and rent and live, too.
“I’ll also make sure the borough continues to be fiscally responsible in whatever we do and that it will be in the best interests of the residents,” added Gering. “We need to find a way to preserve the tranquility of downtown New Hope and be sensitive to the needs of the people living there, while developing a vibrant economy. I think we can find a balance.”
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