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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Mayor and Council create Berlin Falls park committee

(Oct. 12, 2017) After months of discussion, the Berlin Town Council on Tuesday appointed 11 men and women to the Berlin Falls Park Advisory Committee. David Deutsch, hired in January, was officially named project coordinator and council members Troy Purnell and Zack Tyndall were also named to the committee. Other members of the committee are Amy Barra, Amy Field, Roger Fitzgerald, Kate Gaddis, Bruce Hyder, Joan Maloof, Shaneka Nichols, Jack Orris and Kate Patton. Initial committee member terms are three years and the committee must meet at least quarterly, but no more than monthly. The committee is required to provide periodic reports to the Town Council and an annual summary by Dec. 15 of each year. A resolution to establish the committee noted the town acquired the property, a 60-acre former Tyson’s Chicken plant, in 2016. The town “intends to use the property for recreation uses, both active and passive,” the resolution stated, adding, “the Town has obtained concept proposals for the development of the property and … through its consultants, has assessed the potential remediation of the waste lagoons on the property, examined the structural condition of the main building on the property and received and environmental stewardship report.” According to the resolution, it was “determined that the advice of a group of citizens would be helpful in assisting the mayor and council in focusing on the planning for the important community asset.” The committee is to assess possible uses for the property that offer a balance of active and passive approaches. It also is to assure that development considers the entire community, which can be aided by seeking the opinions of community members “through public meetings and other forms of outreach.” Naming requests are to be referred to Town Administrator Laura Allen. Mayor Gee Williams, who recommended creation of the committee, said years of information discussion and months of negotiations led to the $2.5 million purchase of the property, which was the site of poultry processing plant going back to 1941. “Approximately one-half of the property – the northern portion – is the site of three former irrigation ponds where natural byproducts from the chicken processing operation were treated prior to the water being discharged into Kitts Branch that ultimately flows into the Newport Bay,” he said. “The southern half of the property currently contains the remnants of the large processing plant buildings, a couple of storage buildings, a couple of large water storage tanks, and portions of land partially paved with asphalt and others are primarily large grassy flat area. The western border of the entire property is the railroad tracks and right-of-way owned by the Maryland and Delaware Railroad.” Williams said the committee would be charged with “developing numerous practical, and whenever possible, inspiring uses for this public property that will make Berlin Falls Park a unique asset for the citizens of the Town of Berlin for generations into the future.” Williams also said public opinion seems to agree that the park should be as on parcel divided into a northern and southern portion, which might be used in different ways. The northern half of the property (the ponds and immediately adjacent areas) have potential as an area where nature would be the main attraction, he said. The southern half of the property (buildings, large tanks, asphalt lots and open green space) would be more suited to more active pursuits that meet a need not already being addressed elsewhere in town. “The challenge and indeed, the opportunity, of the Berlin Falls Park Advisory Committee is to conceive, investigate and ultimately recommend uses for this new public asset that fill voids never before available to the residents of the Town of Berlin. We trust that while some uses will require significant financial support from the private and non-profit sectors, others will be made possible to host special events and year-round activities for citizens of all ages,” he said.