By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Feb. 28, 2019) Plans to demolish several of the smaller industrial buildings at Berlin Falls park continue to take shape, based on discussions during last Thursday’s parks advisory committee meeting.
The 64-acre former chicken processing property is slowly being redeveloped as both a passive and active-use public park, with a current emphasis being on passive development.
Berlin Falls Park Coordinator David Deutsch told the committee two bids were received to take down seven buildings on the property deemed not to be useful. He said the high bid was $232,000 for all seven buildings, while the low bid was $92,000.
A previous demolition estimate was as much as $600,000.
“Now, we’re talking about something that might be reasonable,” committee member Roger Fitzgerald said.
Several committee members wondered if all of the buildings marked for demolition were unsalvageable.
“We talked to Jane Kreiter in our water resources department to make sure that we weren’t taking any of the small buildings out that might serve some sort of purpose … so we’ve identified those buildings,” Town Administrator Laura Allen said.
“We also asked Jane if she needed any of those buildings for public works storage, and she said no,” Deutsch said added.
Asked if one building in particular could be used for park storage, Allen replied, “We don’t believe it’s a useful building.”
“It’s awkward to get to and it was included in the demolition package that we’re planning on taking to the mayor and council on the 11th of March,” Allen said. “The direction I’ve received has been, ‘do what you can to clean up the park and let’s move quickly.’
“I’m not intending to take any of those buildings out, because they were bid as a package,” she continued. “The comments I’m getting is, ‘Do what you can to make the park more like a park and less like a chicken plant, less like an industrial area’ … that’s the intent.”
Allen about $259,000 remains in a park development budget that could be used for the demolition.
“You’ve got the funds … assuming the council approves it on the 11th of March, we believe the contractor could get in there relatively quickly, and you have a nicer park in a relatively short period of time.”
Committee Chairwoman Amy Field said she considered the matter closed.
“We’re not always going to agree on decisions. It’s not always going to be unanimous … I’m sorry for that but, for those reasons, we’re going to go ahead and move on with the bid as it is.”