By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Aug. 23, 2018) The Berlin Mayor and Council discussed the following items last Monday during a public meeting at Town Hall:
The council unanimously accepted several appointments to town boards, commissions and committees as proposed by Mayor Gee Williams.
Bob Palladino, a new appointment, joins the board of zoning appeals.
Williams said Palladino came highly recommended by Joe Moore and Doug Parks, both longtime board members.
Reappointed were Bill Burke and Jane Briddell to the ethics commission, Mary Moore and Jeff Ricks to the housing board of review, and Patricia Dufendach and Sarah Hooper to the parks commission.
Council members unanimously endorsed a summer revival event of God’s Leading Church Transformation Ministry at Dr. William Henry Park on Flower Street, Aug. 27 through Sept. 1 from 7:30-10 p.m.
Pastor Lyonell Purnell said the church has been in the area for 10 years and previous events at Henry Park were held without issue.
“You’re all invited!” Purnell said.
Councilman Thom Gulyas also recognized Purnell’s daughter, Snow Hill Councilwoman LaToya Purnell, who was in the audience.
Williams joked she had the hardest job – keeping her father out of trouble.
“I know it’s a lot of responsibility, but you’re doing a good job,” Williams said.
“I got it!” LaToya Purnell said with a laugh.
Basketball court lighting
The council unanimously approved a request to reprioritize items for a Program Open Space grant application, moving basketball court lighting for Dr. William Henry Park to the top of the list and downgrading the permanent bathroom project for Stephen Decatur Park.
Administrative Services Director Mary Bohlen said the grant would be for $105,500, with $9,000 in matching funds, mainly provided through in-kind services of the town.
Bohlen said the council had already agreed to reprioritize those two projects during an earlier meeting but, as Williams said, the vote last Monday was essentially “a formal action based on the discussion.”
Tennis court update
Bohlen said renovation of tennis courts at Stephen Decatur Park should finish by the end of the month, based on estimates from engineers at Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc.
She said the courts had been repaved with new asphalt and fencing posts were installed.
“Completing the fence should not be a lengthy process,” Bohlen said.
Electric Utilities Director Tim Lawrence said the exact cause for two recent power outages was undetermined.
An Aug. 3 power outage lasted from 8:39 a.m. until 8:52 a.m. and “took out the entire town,” he said.
An Aug. 5 outage extended from 12:39 p.m. to 1:05 p.m., about 26 minutes. Lawrence said no one was on duty at the time, “so it took us 26 minutes to get somebody here and get the power restored. That’s pretty quick.”
He said there was an issue having to do with Delmarva Power’s substation on Old Ocean City Boulevard and the power feed to the town.
“We’re actually trying to determine what exactly caused that outage,” Lawrence said. “The engineers with Delmarva are working with our consultant, Booth Associates, to figure out what exactly caused that.”
Police Chief Arnold Downing said about 500 people attended a recent National Night Out event at Dr. William Henry Park. He said more than 150 donated backpacks of school supplies were handed out and five donated bicycles were raffled off during the event.
“We had whole bunch of kids and families having a great time,” Downing said.
He said Berlin Police recently participated in a safety conference with county schools, and also had taken children from Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services programs to the Altitude Trampoline Park and Delmar Pizza in Delmar.
Additionally, Downing said he spoke to about 60 children in an English as a Second Language program at James M. Bennett High School in Salisbury.
One student, he said, told police “she didn’t know that women could be police officers.”
“After she listened, she says, ‘I know I want to be a police officer,’” Downing said. “That made my whole day.”
New development update
Planning Director Dave Engelhart said the Berlin Planning Commission voted 5-1 to recommend the Town Council add two parcels of land at the corner of U.S. Route 50 and Old Ocean City Boulevard to the town growth area. The property owner, Ernie Gerardi, hopes to develop the land into a “Berlin Gateway” that could include a convenience store, restaurant, hotel, retail shopping spaces and a car dealership.
He said the matter would have to be on the agenda for a public hearing at a Town Council meeting, likely in September or October.
According to Engelhart, 18 people spoke during the meeting. He said 12 favored the development and six opposed it.
“We had a lot of public participation,” he said.
Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells said new directional signs would be delivered soon to public works.
“I’m working with public works to figure out when we’re going to put those up,” she said. “That also includes the two signs that will direct people to Stephen Decatur Park with a giant ‘P’ so, if someone is looking for additional parking, they’ll see a ‘P’ and go down and park at Stephen Decatur.”
Wells said logistics are being worked on for new café tables and chairs to be used for upcoming town events. The tables and chairs were purchased using AARP grant money.
She said future events included Shakespeare on Main Street, Labor Day Weekend, and the second Small Town Throw Down, Sept. 8.