By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer
(March 4, 2021) We Heart Berlin Inc. has been established as a Maryland-based nonprofit to raise funds for town projects.
Organizer Tony Weeg said he used LegalZoom to set up the nonprofit, and is now embarking on the next step of pursuing tax exempt status through the federal government.
As a nonprofit, We Heart Berlin has a board of directors, consisting of Weeg, Jeffrey Smith, Brian Robertson, Denee Bowen, Adrian Bowen Sr., Tom Simon and Carol Rose. The board met for the first time on Monday.
Weeg said the purpose of the board is to decide how money will be spent to benefit the town.
We Heart Berlin’s mission is “to improve and create recreational opportunities for the benefit of Berlin and its residents.”
“[Bowen Sr.] wants to make a proposition to the Parks Commission, which will then go to the mayor, to get an art installation painted on top of the basketball courts at Henry Park,” Weeg said. “He’s writing up a proposal to bring to the Parks Commission.”
We Heart Berlin will assist Bowen in raising funds needed for the art installation.
In addition, the nonprofit has established GoFundMe accounts to raise funds for an outdoor ping pong park at John Howard Burbage Park on William Street and a skate park at Heron Park on Old Ocean City Boulevard.
“I set lofty goals for both. I put $25,000 for the ping pong park and $500,000 for the skate park, because if I could raise those two amounts for those two things, we could do a lot of things on our own,” Weeg said. “We hope to just be an arm of money raising and the loudest wheel on the boat or the ship so that we can make the most good noise happen, raise the most money and make it so that everybody knows about these projects and it’s not lost to anybody’s ears.”
To donate to the Berlin outdoor ping pong park, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/we-heart-berlin?utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet.
Weeg has donated $250 to the ping pong park and Councilman Troy Purnell has donated $750 through GoFundMe.
To donate to the Berlin skate park, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/2a8hnpodlc?member=8777888&sharetype=teams&utm_campaign=p_na+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer.
Weeg has donated $250 and Councilman Jay Knerr has donated $500 toward the skate park through GoFundMe.
The Berlin Police Department is expected to contribute $1,000 as well.
Donations can also be made to We Heart Berlin Inc. at Taylor Bank located at 24 N. Main St. in Berlin.
“We’re not looking at this as a rush. This is sort of a long game, and we’re just in the first inning,” Weeg said. “Donate if you can.”
For more information about the nonprofit, visit www.facebook.com/groups/weheartberlin.
During Weeg’s presentation about the ping pong park to the Berlin Parks Commission on Tuesday, he proposed permeable concrete pads and ping pong tables made locally from aluminum or steel surrounded by a white picket fence and hedges.
“I’m on the precipice of filing for nonprofit status with the IRS,” Weeg added. “Once we have our nonprofit status, we’ll be able to sort of increase the level of donorship that we’ll get because [donors will] be able to use that money for write-offs.”
Responding to Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood about maintenance of the ping pong park, Weeg said he hopes the project will be low maintenance, primarily requiring grass cutting.
Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen suggested the next step for the project would be to check for utilities underground at John Howard Burbage Park because of its proximity to the power plant. Then, the ping pong park proposal would be presented to the Berlin mayor and Town Council.
“We would also need at some point to have a professional engineer come in and examine it and make sure the ground can take it,” Bohlen said.
Furthermore, a memorandum of understanding would need to be established.
Bohlen also told Weeg that Mayor Zackery Tyndall plans to communicate with Jack Burbage, the late John Howard Burbage’s son, about their feelings regarding the ping pong park proposal.