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Walking path no longer in Henry Park plans

BERLIN — One month after organizing a sub-committee to learn
more about what work the community surrounding Dr. William Henry Park on Flower
Street wants done on the park, the Parks Commission is now certain about
upgrades that would benefit the area.

Almost immediately after last month’s meeting, each member
of the sub-committee addressed nearby residents who use the park, and was able
to compile a list of new features they want in the park.

“I was very impressed with how interested the committee is,”
Parks Commission Chairman Mike Wiley said after this month’s meeting last
Wednesday. “They’re on top of everything.”

Constructing a new basketball court was the most important
issue to residents, who cited that cracks in the court have caused safety
concerns. Other suggestions are barbecue grills, horseshoe pits, tables for
checkers and chess, an additional pavilion to accommodate family reunions and a
soccer field.

Coinciding with the additional features, which the
sub-committee and Parks Commission both believe would attract more visitors to
the park, a larger parking lot was also requested.

Even in its current state, the parking lot sometimes cannot
accommodate all visitors during large community events. Berlin Council Member
Troy Purnell, whose property is close to the park, offers space for people to
park in such instances.

“We can’t rely on his [Purnell’s] generosity,” said Patricia
Dufendach, member of the Parks Commission.

To the Park Commission’s surprise, a walking path was not a
concern for the community. Originally, a new walking path similar to the one in
Stephen Decatur Park on Route 113 was considered to be the main draw of the
park’s renovations.

“We were pleased we weren’t further into the project,” said
Wiley, who explained that the whole purpose of organizing a sub-committee was
so they did not waste money on unnecessary items.

The sub-committee said most residents thought having two
walking paths would be redundant, although Flower Street residents have no
access to Stephen Decatur Park by walking.

Since there is no crosswalk on Route 113, people walking
from Flower Street must dash across the highway in order to use the existing
walking path.

Members of the sub-committee said the majority of people who
use the current walking path at Stephen Decatur Park use their own vehicles to
get to their destination, and the lack of a crosswalk is not an issue.

Although Berlin officials want to place a crosswalk across
Route 113 near the parks, the Maryland State Highway Administration is in
charge of maintaining the road, and has repeatedly denied requests from the
town to incorporate a crosswalk in that area.

According to the Parks Commission, the state claims there is
not enough traffic that would walk across the street each day.

Although the Parks Commission is waiting to perform major
work since most renovations are not yet set in stone, temporary work on the
basketball court will be done by the end of summer to reduce injury risks.

Moving on from last week’s meeting, the sub-committee will
likely hand out a survey to the community asking to rank each possible new
feature by most desired to least desired.

Findings from the proposed survey will help the Parks
Commission narrow the scope of the project during its next meeting on Aug. 1.