By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(March 30, 2023) The Town of Berlin reordered its project priorities for the state’s 2024 Program Open Space (POS) Monday, as it prepares to seek grants to help pay for the recreational undertakings that it hopes to pursue.
The official order of the list is the first phase of a new skate park; the second phase of the skate park; purchasing automated external defibrillators for Stephen Decatur, Dr. William Henry, John Howard Burbage and Heron parks; partial conversion of tennis courts to pickleball courts at Decatur Park; purchasing water-side, life-saving devices for Decatur and Heron parks; an ADA-compliant walking path from parking to and around the lagoons at Heron Park; an entertainment venue at Heron Park; a town dog park and observation platforms for the Heron Park lagoons.
While some items on the list — pickleball courts, the entertainment venue, a dog park and observation platforms —have no estimated price tag yet, everything else comes into around $2.1 million combined between local, state and federal funds.
Construction of permanent restrooms and an inclusive playground at Stephen Decatur Park originally topped the wish list’s first draft, but the mayor and council decided that since the restrooms are already built and a grant application for the playground is currently out, it made more sense to bump everything else up. Pickleball also leapfrogged other items in front of it.
“We’ve indicated for (the restrooms and playground) that we sought local-level funding for that,” Mayor Zack Tyndall said during the discussion over the list. “When the county looks at documents for that, they’re going to see (those) are handled and go straight to (the skate park items).”
The playground’s price tag of $1 million piqued the interest of Councilmember Steve Green, who asked why it’s that high, especially seeing as Ocean Pines has one that cost $250,000.
“(It’s the) scope (of the project),” Tyndall replied. This was designed to bring everybody into one space that could be used so that if you have children of different ages and abilities they can play in the same area and parents could tend to one spot.”
“The $1 million price tag is not the one we’re going to buy if we get that.”
Moving pickleball up a few spots — originally it was ahead of only the dog park and observation decks — came after Councilmember Jay Knerr pointed out how popular the sport is.
Town administrator Mary Bohlen said its original rank was determined because, at an estimated cost of $92,000, it was believed other projects were “a little more attainable.”
The projects outlined in the wish list are consistent with the “12 visions” outlined by the Maryland Department of Planning. Those visions are quality of life and sustainability, public participation, growth areas, community design, infrastructure, transportation, housing, economic development, environmental protection, resource conservation, stewardship and implementation.