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


DHCD loan paves way for major expansion for Twisters

(Aug. 27, 2015) Berlin gymnastics hub Twisters is planning a major expansion, thanks to a grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
In June of last year, owner Carmella Solito asked the Berlin Town Council to defer or suspend impact fees and properties taxes for the proposed new building, which would be located on Route 346 near the former Tyson’s chicken plant.
The council was divided at the time, worrying approval would send the wrong message to other area businesses.
Then, on Monday, Solito returned to council to seek town backing for a low-interest loan from DHCD.
Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells and Planning Director Dave Engelhart apparently worked with Solito to secure the grant.
“Several months ago, I was contacted by Dave Engelhart … to find out if there was any options and opportunities for her because the project she was working on wasn’t working out,” Wells said. “I put together some meetings, and ultimately it resulted in Carmella receiving a Neighborhood BusinessWorks loan from the Department of Housing and Community Development that’s going to make her dream come true.”
Solito had been hoping to move from her original location, on 9026 Worcester Highway, for more than five years.
“We’re looking to open up an activity center for children for recreational gymnastics … and a larger childcare center to incorporate some different sports and incorporate kids from the community that maybe aren’t going to be your star athlete that need physical fitness,” she said during a public meeting on Monday.
Soccer, karate and a trampoline park are possible additions at the new facility, she added.
Berlin’s approval of the project was required by DHCD, and the expansion will not cost the town any additional funding.
Berlin Mayor Gee Williams called the move essentially a “reconfirmation.”
“Apparently your plans had matured with time,” he said. “[DHCD] are going to make sure the community supports the whole concept, which we certainly do.”
Last year, Solito told the Gazette the project could bring 20-30 new jobs to the Berlin area, and would include enhanced facilities for her gymnastics program with the hopes of sending a student to the Olympics.
She reiterated both sentiments during a phone interview on Tuesday.
“We’ve had to send several of our kids out of state this summer to train at the level that we are at because our place isn’t done yet,” she said. “We need a bigger space to train them in – we just can’t do it in this small area.”
Solito said the next step is waiting for the bonding company to review the claim.
“We had some hiccups with our building just not moving fast enough, so we are just waiting for the bonding company and we will, hopefully, moving forward,” she said. “We’re also working with some people in Baltimore to make sure that our budget is sound and tight, and hopefully we’ll get things started in the next few months.”