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Tennis court renovations in Berlin resume after delay

Work last week resumed on tennis court renovations at Stephen Decatur Park in Berlin.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(July 19, 2018) Work resumed last week on the Berlin tennis court renovation project, which has been beset by several delays.

The Town Council in January approved spending about $300,000 to overhaul the four courts in Stephen Decatur Park.

Included in that total was a contract with Terra Firma of Delmarva Inc., which was awarded a contract not to exceed $84,798 for tennis court construction. The town also agreed to pay $59,838 to Grasso Fence Co. for the purchase and installation of fencing, and $11,738 to Cunningham Recreation for installation of “specified amenities,” including benches and infrastructure for netting.

Additionally, the Berlin Electric Company was to provide additional services valued at $46,989.

Of the total cost, $215,000 was to be covered by a Community Parks and Playgrounds grant under the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

At the time, Town Administrator Laura Allen called the project “a long time coming.” She said the proposal was brought before the town council the previous May.

Last Thursday, Allen said contractors had just restarted mill and overlay work that morning.

“The project was put on hold for a period of time because we wanted to do some additional grading in the park and there’s really only one employee who’s got that skillset,” she said. “That employee happened to be out sick for a little bit, so that put us out.”

That wasn’t the first time the renovations were delayed.

“The tennis court project has been kind of a challenge from the beginning,” Allen said. “It turned out the surface itself was thicker than we had expected, because in previous years the way the tennis courts were rehabbed wasn’t really consistent with best practices.”

More surface meant workers had to remove more material in order to repave the courts. What’s more, Allen said, the foundation on two of the four courts wasn’t stable.

“We needed to do some work to kind of adjust and shore up for that,” she said.

The Town Council in April approved additional funding of $12,000 to address those problems.

“There’s been no new costs since the council took action a couple of months ago,” Allen said.

On the bright side, the rainy spring season is over and mostly dryer weather means several town projects were wrapping at about the same time, Allen said.

“Assuming the weather is good, and the contractor is able to work quickly, I would say [the project could finish] by the end of the summer,” she said.

That includes the new lighting system installed by Berlin Electric. Allen said public works also put in some new playground surfacing, similar to mulch, at both Stephen Decatur Park and Dr. William Henry Park.

New signs and bollards were installed at Decatur Park to prevent motorists from driving through the park onto the gazebo area. Allen said the path was meant only for town utility vehicles.

“We’re worried about kids or dogs being hit while they’re driving back and forth,” she said.

When all the work is finished, “It’s going to be really nice. It’s going to be a long time coming,” Allen said. “But it’s well worth it.”

Elsewhere in Berlin, Allen said improvements on Gay Street and stormwater work Cedar Avenue, Maple Avenue and Pine Street were nearly complete.