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


Residents turn out to support community center grant request 

Several Berlin residents voiced support last week for the town’s plan to seek a Community Development Block Grant for a community center on Flower Street.

Community center site-Berlin

A small parcel of land slated for a community center is pictured in Berlin off of Flower Street.
File photo

By Charlene Sharpe, Associate Editor

Several Berlin residents voiced support this week for the town’s plan to seek a grant for a community center on Flower Street. 

The Berlin Town Council on Tuesday hosted a public hearing for Berlin’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application, which seeks $500,000 to assist with development of a community center at the site of the multi-purpose building on Flower Street. 

“I’m so overwhelmed right now,” said resident DJ Lockwood, president of the Berlin Community Improvement Association. “To get to this point is incredible. I hope we can keep pushing forward.”

Sara Gorfinkel, Mayor Zack Tyndall’s executive assistant, said the town was seeking input for its planned fiscal year 2025 CDBG application. She explained the town was asking for $500,000 from the $8.1 million the state had available to assist in development of the long-discussed Flower Street community center. She said the grant would help the town demolish the structures currently on the site, which include the multi-purpose building as well as Head Start facilities, so the site could be prepared for future building. The new facility planned would continue to support Head Start and would also incorporate after-school and summer programs run by Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services. 

“We are very excited about the possibility of a Berlin community centner,” said Worcester Youth and Family’s Dr. Jennifer Leggour. 

She said the nonprofit’s summer program had outgrown its current facility and could be housed in the community center, as could some of Worcester Youth’s mentoring programs.

Berlin resident and Worcester County Commissioner Diana Purnell thanked the town’s elected officials for getting the community center project to this point. 

“We are just so happy,” she said. “It is a needed effort. It begins to make Berlin whole in a lot of areas… You’d be surprised what one major project can do for a community and a town.”

Her husband Gabe credited the town with purchasing land and consolidating the parcels that now make up the community center site.

“Berlin saved us,” he said. “Mayor you did a great job. I’d like to say that this, you’ve been talking about one Berlin. This truly brings the community more together. When you invest in your community especially the minority communities, you don’t know how much that enhances the attitudes of the people that live in those communities.”

Resident Janice Smack also expressed her appreciation.

“This is a big project and Berlin deserves it,” she said.

Councilman Jay Knerr asked if there was a plan in place to relocate Head Start during construction. Gorfinkel said she was in communication with Shore UP, which runs Head Start, and was working on a plan to temporary relocate the program. 

Councilman Dean Burrell said it had taken fortitude for the Berlin Community Improvement Association to turn over its property to the town to allow the consolidation of the parcels for the community center. He praised the nonprofit as well as town officials for their work in getting to the point the town could start seeking grant funds for a community center. 

“This is a brilliant and needed project,” he said. “I just want to thank the partners that have come together to facilitate this endeavor.”

The council voted 4-0 to adopt a resolution authorizing submittal of the CDBG application.

This story appears in the June 6, 2024, print edition of the Bayside Gazette.