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Skate park site OK’d to seek funding, Heron Park further discussed

Exact nature of Heron Park has yet to be determined

By Hunter Hine, Staff Writer

The Berlin mayor and Town Council continued to mull Heron Park’s fate at their Monday meeting, although they did agree to designate it as the site of a new municipal skate park.

While discussing an already-passed motion that designates part of Heron Park as the future location of a Berlin skatepark, council members again pondered plans for the park as a whole.

After the discussion, council members gave the nonprofit organization We Heart Berlin confirmation to begin fundraising for the skatepark so it can pay for planning and surveying.

The town will provide the organization a letter of support for the fundraising, according to the motion approving the skatepark’s location, which council agreed to on Aug. 21.

The town also plans to apply for grants during the 2024 funding round of the Community Parks and Playgrounds Program, according to the motion.

At a July 31 skatepark work group, Mayor Zack Tyndall and Councilman Steve Green met with parks commissioners, town administrators, members of We Heart Berlin to decide on a location for the proposed skatepark.

There, members decided that Heron Park was an ideal location for the skatepark as opposed to other options such as Henry Park, Stephen Decatur Park and the Worcester County Northern Athletic Complex.

At the Monday meeting, Tyndall said that the town might want to put a public works facility on the same plat as the skatepark.

Green said that the council hopes to keep plans fluid but also wants to position We Heart Berlin to move forward with the funding process.

“I think that a nailed-down solid skatepark should come at the heels of a grand plan, and whether that plan is done on a piece of paper or 85 pages of paper, or over a month or over six months, we should have some sort of a light plan for what would be around it,” said Jeff Smith, executive director of We Heart Berlin.

President and CEO of We Heart Berlin, Tony Weeg, said he hopes that the skate park would serve as an impetus for the planning of the rest of Heron Park. That way designers could build the skate park knowing what would surround it, Weeg said.

Green said that Weeg’s point served as a good segue into the question of “what are we going to do?” with the park.

Councilman Jack Orris said the council should show resolve for its decision to put the skate park on the plat, but acknowledged that town officials have decide whether to keep part or all of the park or sell part or all of it.

“We need to decide where we’re going,” Orris said.

Orris suggested the planning commission set up a subcommittee to decide how to use the front of the park along Old Ocean City Boulevard and allow the park commission to decide what to do with the ponds and area surrounding them.

Smith said that We Heart Berlin members would like to be part of any committees formed to decide on plans for the park.

Tyndall said the town has to find out the status of a submitted application for a grant to help defray the cost of demolishing the park’s existing buildings property before moving forward with committees.

“Can we say, ‘thank you’ to We Heart Berlin and ‘go fundraise?’” Tyndall said.