Money from Coastal Bays eliminates need to borrow from Berlin’s water fund
By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(Aug. 29, 2019) A submerged gravel wetland project designed to reduce flooding on Graham Avenue took a step forward Monday evening after The Town of Berlin secured additional funding from the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.
The Town Council unanimously agreed to proceed with the project, after Frank Piorko of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program offered $54,500 via the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The town already received a $75,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust for the project, and “‘the town committed $40,000 in stormwater funds as a match,’ bringing the total budget to $115,000,” according to a staff report.
The project was also approved in the fiscal year 2020 adopted budget, according to the staff report. That amount, however, turned out to be less than needed.
Darl Kolar, an environmental consultant from E.A. Engineering, Science, and Technology Inc., said the main objective of the submerged gravel wetland project would be to reduce flooding along Grant Avenue, treat stormwater runoff and to reduce runoff pollution.
He previously addressed Berlin’s Mayor and Council on June 24 about two bids that came back much higher than expected. Of the two, Goody Hill Groundwork Inc. was the low bid at $157,000 as compared to Barker’s Landing’s offer at $299,580 to do the project.
Kolar previously recommended accepting a re-priced bid from Goody Hill Groundwork for $105,000. However, it did not include “measured pay items,” according to the bid report. If no other grant opportunities became available, the town would have needed to transfer roughly $37,500 from the town’s water utility fund to the stormwater fund.
This prompted concern from Councilman Zack Tyndall and residents. Council members Thom Gulyas, Troy Purnell and Tyndall then formed the majority to reject the project in a 3-1 vote.
During the meeting Monday evening, Gulyas asked Berlin’s Financial Director Natalie Saleh about the potential funding consequences associated with rejecting the proposal.
“Well, we [could] potentially lose the grant that allocated $75[,000] in August and $54,500 that is needed from DNR,” Saleh said. “So the project would come to a full stop.”
Gulyas also asked how it could affect the town’s changes of receiving grant funding in the future, and Saleh did not appear optimistic.
“I see [that] as a definite yes,” she said.
Councilman Zack Tyndall moved to accept the $54,500 grant funding from the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, and to award the construction project to Goody Hill Groundwork, Inc. for $105,000.
The project is expected to finish by Dec. 30, 2019, according to the memorandum of understanding between the Town of Berlin and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.