By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Feb. 28, 2019) Berlin Falls Park Committee members last Thursday discussed subcommittee reports on a park development map and how the grounds could find a permanent name.
Roger Fitzgerald, in leading the physical park subcommittee, presented a plan that included small improvements like park benches and a viewing blind for wildlife, as well as larger amenities like a skate park and amphitheater.
The skate park was mapped out near the large, existing building by the park entrance, while the baseball-field shaped amphitheater was shown in an area previously used during Jeep Week.
Committee member Kate Patton said that location wasn’t accidental.
“The idea was that in [putting] the amphitheater on where the jeep infrastructure had been, that’s already heavily compacted. It’s already been utilized. Then, you can utilize the field for other things,” including for parking and stormwater needs, she said.
Fitzgerald said the area could fit as many as 11,000 people in a standing-room-only crowd, assuming 10 square feet per person, or about 7,800 sitting down in lawn chairs. The idea being, there’s plenty of room for growth.
“You don’t bring 11,000 people in on your first venue,” Patton said. “Think of what the Taylor House is and they get a couple hundred people out there and it’s lovely. Maybe this is slightly bigger when you’re initially doing things … we could probably have something built with public works and you’re growing slowly.
“Freeman stage also started out pretty small,” she added.
Town Administrator Laura Allen said Planning Director Dave Engelhart could help determine parking requirements, which would then inform how large the venue could be.
On naming plans, town councilman and committee member Zack Tyndall led a discussion last Thursday night and provided an update in a separate interview on Friday.
“It was pretty short and sweet,” Tyndall said. “We talked about developing a survey to gauge a couple name ideas from the community, and, during our last meeting, some of the committee members had suggested that we look at the names outlined in the interpretive plan for 2017. So, we created a survey so that everybody could see what the general gist of that would look like.”
Names in the 2017 plan included “Berlin Turtle Park,” “Painted Turtle Park in Berlin,” “Green Heron Park in Berlin,” “Otter Park,” “Berlin Bird Park” and “Berlin Nature Preserve.”
“The committee thought they were a little bit too fixated on more of the natural aspects of the park, so they want to brainstorm over the next month or so on some different names that would be more all-encompassing,” Tyndall said. “One of those names for the survey will include the current name, ‘Berlin Falls Park,’ in case people have grown to love that.”
He said there would also be a fill-in-the-blank space for other suggestions.
When the survey is finished, Tyndall said it would be released online and available on the town website and through social media.
He said there was also a discussion of a “QR” code at the park, so visitors could use their cell phones to make suggestions on the fly.
“Once people are there and enjoying the space, all they would have to do is scan that and then it would prompt them and take them directly to the survey,” Tyndall said.