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Berlin, MD 21811
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Walking path no longer in Henry Park plans

7/19/12 | By Nathan Brunet, Staff Writer

BERLIN — One month after organizing a sub-committee to learn more about what work the community surrounding Dr. William Henry Park on Flower Street wants done on the park, the Parks Commission is now certain about upgrades that would benefit the area.

Almost immediately after last month’s meeting, each member of the sub-committee addressed nearby residents who use the park, and was able to compile a list of new features they want in the park.

“I was very impressed with how interested the committee is,” Parks Commission Chairman Mike Wiley said after this month’s meeting last Wednesday. “They’re on top of everything.”

Constructing a new basketball court was the most important issue to residents, who cited that cracks in the court have caused safety concerns. Other suggestions are barbecue grills, horseshoe pits, tables for checkers and chess, an additional pavilion to accommodate family reunions and a soccer field.

Coinciding with the additional features, which the sub-committee and Parks Commission both believe would attract more visitors to the park, a larger parking lot was also requested.

Even in its current state, the parking lot sometimes cannot accommodate all visitors during large community events. Berlin Council Member Troy Purnell, whose property is close to the park, offers space for people to park in such instances.

“We can’t rely on his [Purnell’s] generosity,” said Patricia Dufendach, member of the Parks Commission.

To the Park Commission’s surprise, a walking path was not a concern for the community. Originally, a new walking path similar to the one in Stephen Decatur Park on Route 113 was considered to be the main draw of the park’s renovations.

“We were pleased we weren’t further into the project,” said Wiley, who explained that the whole purpose of organizing a sub-committee was so they did not waste money on unnecessary items.

The sub-committee said most residents thought having two walking paths would be redundant, although Flower Street residents have no access to Stephen Decatur Park by walking.

Since there is no crosswalk on Route 113, people walking from Flower Street must dash across the highway in order to use the existing walking path.

Members of the sub-committee said the majority of people who use the current walking path at Stephen Decatur Park use their own vehicles to get to their destination, and the lack of a crosswalk is not an issue.

Although Berlin officials want to place a crosswalk across Route 113 near the parks, the Maryland State Highway Administration is in charge of maintaining the road, and has repeatedly denied requests from the town to incorporate a crosswalk in that area.

According to the Parks Commission, the state claims there is not enough traffic that would walk across the street each day.

Although the Parks Commission is waiting to perform major work since most renovations are not yet set in stone, temporary work on the basketball court will be done by the end of summer to reduce injury risks.

Moving on from last week’s meeting, the sub-committee will likely hand out a survey to the community asking to rank each possible new feature by most desired to least desired.

Findings from the proposed survey will help the Parks Commission narrow the scope of the project during its next meeting on Aug. 1.

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