By Greg Ellison
(Oct. 14, 2021) The Berlin Historic District Commission approved several requests during its meeting last Wednesday.
Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells presented plans for a decorative design to cover up the “No Parking,” warning painted on the asphalt by a mural in front of the Welcome Center at 14 S. Main St.
“It’s not very pleasant,” she said. “When people take pictures in front of the Welcome Center, they are standing right on the ‘no parking’ sign.”
The goal is to make the Welcome Center front area more welcoming, Wells said.
“It’s similar to an old English style walkway,” she said. “Instead of like you’re standing in a parking lot.”
Commission members voted in favor of the proposal.
Wells also pitched plans to spruce up an alley between Gilbert’s Provisions at 116 N. Main St. and Island Creamery at 120 N. Main Street.
The alley would be transformed into an entertaining functional sidewalk mural promoting pollinators.
“Since we are Bee City,” she said.
Plans also include installing a pair of rain barrel and container gardens.
“There are two AC units on the roof that drip condensation,” she said.
The result is often a slimy mess that at times makes the alley difficult to negotiate.
“We would like to add rain gardens where condensation drips down,” she said.
The trough storm water planters, which measure six feet long, would serve as bee pollinator gardens.
Building owner Troy Purnell gave permission for the alley to be reimagined as “Pollinator Way,” with an action-oriented mural to educate and entertain children.
Commission members unanimously approved the project.
Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood and Public Works Superintendent Jimmy Charles requested approval to replace more than three-dozen windows at Town Hall.
Fleetwood said the project includes 38 widows, including one smaller bathroom opening.
“The fact is we need those windows replaced,” he said.
Charles displayed a sample version of the double-pane Anderson insulated replacement windows
Fleetwood said some fabrication was required to match the building’s current design features.
“The end result is the angles and colors will not change,” he said.
The commission voted to approve the renovation project at Town Hall.
Ernie Gerardi, who owns the building at 119 N. Main St. operating as the Sterling Tavern, presented a request for a new front awning to provide expanded outdoor service.
Gerardi said Sterling Tavern owners Matt and Brooke Borrelli launched the culinary venture this spring while society was navigating through coronavirus restrictions.
“Outside seating is a premium,” he said. “The new owners wanted this; that is why I’m here.”
Project plans incorporate the existing metal roof with posts installed inside metal perimeter fencing.
“It would cover the entire front of the restaurant,” he said.
The commission approved the proposal, with Rose noting the seating addition would be an asset.
Ending on a different note, proposed exterior renovations for a building at 16 Pitts St. were sent back to the drawing board.
Samantha Pielstick, representing property owner John Burbage Jr., said the project is intended to freshen up the structure’s appearance to look more cohesive with the town.
Rose said the location’s current appearance is a disgrace.
“The building sat for decades without much work,” she said. “It’s time for the whole thing to be cleaned up.”
Project plans include resurfacing exterior stucco surfacing with new paint added, along with installing brick accent columns and window trim. Also proposed are shutters for upper floor windows and re-facing metal roofing.
“I don’t like any of this,” Rose said.
The design rendering appears more modern than Victorian, with Rose noting the building was originally all brick and did not include shutters.
Rose said historically accurate renovations should be pursued.
“It’s not appropriate for the age of that building.” “All that stucco is over brick.”
Commission member Norman Bunting agreed the site needed the proper attention
“I’m a big brick fan,” he said.
Commission members issued a continuance to permit design changes based on their feedback.
“Sorry, it might be a little expensive to make it right,” Rose said.