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Resident feedback sought on Berlin’s strategic plan draft

After meeting with representatives from Salisbury University’s Business Economic and Community Outreach Network, the Berlin Town Council is hosting two public sessions to review the towns’s working strategic plan.

Berlin Council-April 8

Representatives from Salisbury University BEACON discuss Berlin’s working strategic plan with members of the own council on April 8.
Charlene Sharpe / Bayside Gazette

By Charlene Sharpe, Associate Editor

Berlin residents can weigh in on the town’s draft strategic plan at two sessions next week.

The Berlin Town Council on April 8 met with representatives from Salisbury University’s Business Economic and Community Outreach Network, known as BEACON, in a work session to review the third phase of the municipality’s strategic planning process. Following the council review, BEACON is set to meet with community members April 15 and 17.

“We really appreciate the work you and your team are doing,” Mayor Zack Tyndall said.

Last August, town officials hired BEACON to develop a strategic plan to replace the most recent one, which was done in 2016. The document is meant to guide municipal spending for the next few years. Following a community survey last fall and public input sessions in January, BEACON’s John Hickman and Jessica Iacona this week presented a draft of the plan itself. Hickman went over the various driving strategies and accompanying action steps that have been identified as town priorities following community discussions.

“Driving strategy 1 is to foster a community where all are welcome and valued,” he said.

Action steps associated with that strategy, for example, include rotating the locations of town meetings, enhancing the involvement of community organizations and creating a “One Berlin” campaign. Other driving strategies discussed this week included focusing on public safety needs, improving infrastructure, retaining a small-town feel, improving neighborhood connectivity and improving recreation facilities.

Council members adjusted some of the timelines associated with certain action steps and weighed in on the wording used throughout the plan. Councilman Dean Burrell asked that references to east and west Berlin be eliminated.

“Each time we use east and west Berlin we drive a spike dividing our town,” he said. “If we’re going to move past this … we’re going to have to stop thinking about Berlin as an east and a west. If we could not use that term throughout I think it would serve us better.”

While he acknowledged that the references were used to relay important goals, such as connectivity and improving accessibility, he said those topics could be conveyed with references to particular neighborhoods. His peers agreed.

After working in the council’s recommended changes this week, Hickman and his team are scheduled to present the plan to the public April 15 and April 17 at community involvement sessions. BEACON will then share that input with elected officials.

Town leaders encourage residents to attend either community session, the first of which is set for 9-10 a.m., April 15, at the Berlin library. The second session is set for 6 p.m., April 17, at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

This story appears in the April 11, 2024, print edition of the Bayside Gazette.