BERLIN – Last week’s removal of the cracked basketball court surface in Dr. William Henry Park means the first phase of the park’s renovation project is officially under way.
“Weather permitting, they’re ready to begin as soon as possible,” said Mary Bolen, deputy town administrator of Berlin. The job will be handled by Terra Firma of Delmarva.
“We’re making this as green as possible,” Vicki Pusey, president of Terra Firma of Delmarva, said. “We have ground the previous surface up, compacted it and the asphalt will be poured on top so no materials are lost.”
When paving is finished, the surface will need to sit for 30 days until the courts can be opened to the public.
This project is a response to residents’ concern that cracks on the former surface could endanger the safety of people playing basketball in the park. That opinion came to the fore after members of the Berlin Parks Commission set up an advisory committee earlier this year to ask those who regularly use the park what new features they wanted to see.
Originally, new hoop posts and hoops were going to be placed at the same time as the new surface, but the asphalt is being poured as a separate phase because the hoop work must be done by a separate company.
“They are two entirely separate projects,” Bolen said.
The new court surface will cost about $49,000 and the new hoops and posts will cost an additional $14,000.
In all, a total of $103,000 of grant money is being requested by the town from the Department of Natural Resources. This would cover both phases of the court project, along with proposed bleachers and lights to surround the basketball playing area.
Two grants have been requested from the DNR, one for $37,000 and another for $66,000.
Bolen and Mayor Gee Williams are confident the smaller grant will be awarded, but bleachers and lights will not be installed unless the town receives the significantly larger $66,000 grant.
The town will not hear about the smaller grant for about two months, but since the state identified the start of the court project as July 1 of this year, the cost of the work will be essentially refunded to the town if it is awarded the grant.
State officials will not decide which municipalities will receive the larger grant until spring.
If both grants are awarded, they will cover $103,000 of the $108,000 needed to complete the entire basketball court renovation project. The town would cover the remaining $5,000.
Once this project is complete, the Berlin Parks Commission will continue hearing residents’ concerns and look into new features of the park. Some recommendations include an additional pavilion, barbecue grills and chess tables.
According to Pusey, when the new court is finished, Berlin will not have to worry about maintenance for a long time.