By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(July 5, 2018) The Berlin Mayor and Council last Monday discussed the following items during a public meeting at Town Hall:
Water Resources and Public Works Director Jane Kreiter said mill and overlay work would soon be done on William Street, Cedar Avenue and Maple Avenue. The roadwork is part of stormwater mitigation in that area.
She added mill and overlay work on Gay Street also would occur soon. Water lines were recently expanded there to accommodate fire suppression systems in a new development. Kreiter said repaving Gay Street was the last step in that project.
Planning Director Dave Engelhart said a Berlin Bikeways grant had been submitted to the Maryland Department of Transportation. The town is seeking $289,000 in construction funds for phase one of the project, connecting Berlin Falls park to downtown. Engelhart said the total cost for that phase was estimated at about $361,000.
He also said the new Berlin Library on Harrison Avenue is nearly finished. A July 10 soft opening is scheduled and would likely include a ceremony with the Worcester County Commissioners, Engelhart said.
“A grand opening, I guess where they do a ribbon cutting, [is scheduled for] Aug. 7,” he said. “They’re doing some punch-list items now and there’s a few things they need to clean up for us, but for all intents and purposes they passed all their final inspections.
“They’re pretty close to being open,” Engelhart continued. “If you go by there now they’re still putting in some of the furnishings … but the actual building is complete.”
Farmer’s Market successful
Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells said opening of the new Berlin Farmer’s Market on Artisan’s Green was “incredibly successful,” and the second week was even better.
“I’m getting phone calls from people who want to be vendors at the market almost every day,” she said. “It is a specific producers-only market, that means you can’t buy an ear of corn in North Carolina and bring it up and resell it here.”
One vendor, Toby Gilbert of Gilbert’s Provisions, sold out in 90 minutes during the first week and in an hour during the second week, Wells said.
The market is open Sundays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Wells added that the market, as well as the Third Thursday lunchtime concert series on Artisan’s Green, were made possible because of a public-private partnership with the property owner, Garrett Neeb.
“The setting for the new farmer’s market … has worked out well,” Mayor Gee Williams said. “I think that’s a good partnership.”
Town Administrator Laura Allen said she would give a presentation on behalf of the town at the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Center for Livable Communities in Charleston, South Carolina.
Allen said the town was selected to participate in a conference there because of Berlin’s participation in the Government Finance Officers Association Financial Sustainability Pilot.
She said the sustainability team in Berlin included herself, Wells, Finance Director Natalie Saleh, Electric Utilities Director Tim Lawrence and Administrative Services Director Mary Bohlen.
“The presentation is really going to be about why the town was interested in participating in the pilot, what we’ve done so far, and then suggestions for the communities in terms of ways they can approach the same kind of work,” Allen said.
Mayor Gee Williams said the initiative would address the need and desire for more services that “enhance the quality of life” and invest in infrastructure.
“I think it’s great because, historically … everybody has been on their own,” he said. “This is a sincere and real effort to share information on what works and what doesn’t.”
International Bathtub Races?
During the recent Berlin Bathtub Races, last Saturday, Williams said several Russian men from the Voice of America international broadcasting company were in town filming and conducting interviews.
“They’re going to several towns in the United States,” he said. “I don’t know what that means, except I think I’m delighted.”
Berlin Police Cpl. Merle Bragg added, “As they were leaving ,they even told me that they’d expressed an interest in having a couple of individuals come here next year to participate [in the races].”
“That would be great!” Williams said, as several members of town staff contemplated an international racing series.
Laugh it off
Councilman Dean Burrell, just before ending the meeting, said it was nice to have a little levity in Town Hall.
“Isn’t it nice to be able to conduct town business and still not forget to laugh?” Burrell said. “It’s a good thing – move to adjourn!”