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Merchants get lowdown from Mayor Tyndall

Concerns about changes alleviated during meeting

By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer

(Nov. 12, 2020) Berlin Mayor Zackery Tyndall has alleviated some of merchants’ concerns about marketing for activities during the ongoing pandemic.

Last week, some Berlin merchants met with the mayor and Councilmember Jay Knerr at Sisters on North Main Street to ask about the removal of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of meetings, the removal of the “America’s Coolest Small Town” from the title of town letterhead and Tyndall’s business cards and marketing of upcoming events.

Steve Frene

Steve Frene, president of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, and Larnet St. Amant, the executive director of the chamber, attended the Berlin Mayor and Council meeting on Monday to ask for further explanation.

“In the future, we’d like these meetings to go through the chamber of commerce, so that we may organize them a little bit better,” Frene said. “There were some people that wanted to be there that couldn’t be there.”

In response to the request of shop owners to reconsider his decision to not allow banners promoting the Nov. 27 Ice Ice Berlin Art Sculptures Stroll & Holiday Shop Night, Tyndall said the banners are in the draft phase and will be going up.

Tyndall previously told the business owners that he would contact the Worcester County Health Department about offering free carriage rides for the event.

“The health department dissented on the carriage rides,” the mayor said. “Ivy Wells, our economic and community development director, sent in a covid plan for that carriage ride activity. For the health department’s dissent, they said we could do it as long as the carriage company helped enforce social distancing along with some criteria as to who can sit on the carriage at the same time, and that’s going to be the responsibility of the carriage company.”

For Ice Ice Berlin Art Sculptures Stroll & Holiday Shop Night on Nov. 27, the carriage rides will move to Baker Street. Then, the carriage rides on weekends will be moved back to Pitts Street, Tyndall said.

Frene said many of the town merchants depend on promotions of events, especially during the pandemic as businesses suffer from decreased sales.

“They want, I guess, a clear understanding of what things the town is going to continue to do like brochures, social media posts, any paid advertising – what is the town able to do and willing to do promotional-wise?” Frene asked.

Tyndall said paid advertisements will come through the economic and community development office.

“The same direction that I gave the night of the merchant meeting is the same path that we’re going to continue down, which is the advertising that businesses will be open late, that you can take in the shopping and the lights and the ice sculptures that evening for the Ice Ice event,” Tyndall added.

He also said that the town will post on social media information about Small Business Saturday and 2nd Fridays.

“Even today we were meeting with merchants trying to make sure that things go off without a hitch and that everybody’s safe and able to enjoy the shops because we do want people to come and shop in our small businesses,” Tyndall said. “It’s been a hard time for everyone. It’s especially hard for those that make their living with a storefront. The businesses have been great to work with. So, I don’t see any reason why that would change moving forward.”