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



(Dec. 3, 2015) The Berlin Mayor and Council discussed the following items during a public meeting at Town Hall on Nov. 23.
Meeting canceled
The council voted unanimously to cancel the town meeting scheduled for Dec. 28.
Mayor Gee Williams said it conflicted with the Christmas holiday and would have had a light agenda.
He also complimented the current council, saying it “has probably done as much if not more than any other council in the history of the town … I think it will be a welcome break for everyone.”
The regular town council schedule will resume on Jan. 11.
Vehicle disposal
Police Chief Arnold Downing asked the council to approve a motion that would dispose of seven police cars that were either damaged in an accident or otherwise inoperable, at no cost to the town.
He said the cars, older model Ford Crown Victorias, could not be used for parts for newer cars in the police fleet. All of the cars were stored at Racetrack Auto, some of which have been there for as much as eight years.
Councilmember Dean Burrell made the motion, which was unanimously approved.
Winter prep
Water Resources and Public Works Director Jane Kreiter said the town is already preparing for winter storms, readying salt trucks and plows.
The town’s water treatment plant is also being winterized, something Kreiter said was necessary for its operation during the colder months.
Just Walk success
Administrative Services Director Mary Bohlen said the recent Just Walk event, Nov. 14 at Stephen Decatur Park, drew 63 participants.
“[That’s] over a 300 percent increase from last year,” she said.
Bohlen credited “added attractions,” including more health screenings and a bouncy house for children, with the increased interest.
The walking route also grew in length this year, from one to two miles, and Bohlen said she has received requests to explore three-to-five mile routes in the future.
Grant approval
Bohlen said the town won approval of a state board of public works grant for $218,000 to overhaul the tennis courts at Stephen Decatur Park.
The town will work with engineering firm Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc. to develop plans for the improvements, which Bohlen compared to the recent rebuild of the tennis courts at Henry Park.
Bohlen said the town was targeting spring as start date for construction.
Giving partnerships
The police department and Dollar General have teamed up to collect toys for the holidays. The program is part of a partnership with local nonprofit Worcester County GOLD.
Police Chief Arnold Downing said it was a surprise to be approached by Dollar General and called the partnership “very humbling.”
Downing said the department was also involved with other nonprofits for similar campaigns, including the Cricket Center, as well as with Maryland State Police.
“It’s a busy time, but it’s a time for us to go ahead and have an opportunity to give back to the community,” he said.
New police car
The council unanimously approved a purchase order for $25,401 to buy a new Ford Interceptor from Pittsville Motors.
The new vehicle will replace a car damaged during an accident on Oct. 23.
Cannery update
Electric Utilities Director Tim Lawrence said electricity was hooked up to 10 homes in the new Cannery Village development on Flower Street.
Asked by Williams, he confirmed that the homes were “almost ready for occupancy.”
Growth spurt
Engelhart said total building permits were up sharply in Berlin this year.
The town saw 145 total building permits in 2013 and 161 in 2014. This year, the town has reviewed more than 250 permits, a 60 percent increase over the previous year.
“We’re not done yet,” Engelhart said, adding that infill lots, in particular, were “being snapped up.”
“Berlin’s the place to want to be,” he said.
Planning update
Planning Director Dave Engelhart said the town received stormwater and site engineering plans for the new Arby’s and Royal Farms stores, to be located at the corner of Friendship Road and Route 50.
He said the plans would move to the council for approval after being reviewed by town engineers.
Town planning
Laura Allen, town administrator, confirmed the town would start a new series of planning sessions, Jan. 29-31.
She said the first meeting would consist of a “kick-off” with town staff on the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 29, followed by an evening meeting for the public from 6-8 p.m.
Williams said the town would hold a long session for the public on Jan. 30, and a wrap-up session with town officials on the afternoon of Jan. 31.
A snow date was set for Feb. 19-21. Locations are to be announced.
Thanksgiving message
Williams said it was especially important to extend Thanksgiving greetings this year.
“With all that’s going on in the world, we are particularly blessed and grateful to live where we do,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges, but compared to what’s going on in many places in this world, we are very fortunate people and I encourage us to continue to look out for each other.”