Berlin, Developer Agree To Split Sewer Plant Bills

BERLIN – Town officials this week reached a compromise of sorts with Berlin Properties North (BPN) over who should pay for what as the two entities partner on the development of a second municipal sewer treatment facility at the long-defunct Tyson Foods plant, but cost-sharing questions still linger for the project.

BPN owner Troy Purnell appeared before the Berlin mayor and Council on Monday seeking relief from three rather innocuous invoices his company received relating to the proposed second municipal sewer treatment plant at the old Tyson facility on Route 346. Purnell told the council he believed the invoices, which combined total a little over $3,300 and relate to work done by the project’s consultant, should be the responsibility of the town and not his private enterprise.

After considerable discussion, the two sides agreed to split the costs of the three invoices down the middle and work to better ensure similar misunderstandings don’t arise in the future when more weighty financial issues come up during the public-private partnership.

The project calls for Purnell and BPN to develop a state-of-the-art treatment plant at the site for his proposed residential and commercial development and turn the treatment plant, and its excess capacity, over to the town.

An independent consultant is working with both the town and Purnell during the project’s infancy and both entities will likely utilize its services throughout the long life of the agreement. On Monday, Purnell told town officials he had received several invoices related to the project and asked for relief for three specifically he believes should be the responsibility of the town. He asked town officials not to let three small invoices get in the way of what could, and should, be a productive partnership.

“We’ve come a long way,” he said. “It was my understanding we’re working together on this as partners and I’m willing to pay for our side all the way to the end. I’m of the understanding BPN would pay its fees and the town would pay its fees.”

Councilwoman Paula Lynch agreed, saying the three invoices in question were relatively small, but an understanding had to be reached about who was paying for what before the stakes were raised.

“I understood we would pay our freight and you would pay your freight,” she said. “This is a drop in the bucket, but you can see where this could become a larger issue.”

Purnell said that is precisely why he was bringing the three invoices in question to the town’s attention at the early stage of the project.

“I just want to make sure this doesn’t turn into something larger than a drop in the bucket,” he said.

Berlin Mayor Tom Cardinale suggested Purnell sit down with the other principals in the partnership including himself and Administrative Director Linda Bambary and anyone else with a stake in the project to figure out a better way to divide the expenses. He suggested open lines of communication rather than nebulous invoices traveling back and forth through the mail.

“If in doubt arises about who should pay for what, just pick up the phone and call and we can work it out,” he said. “The only way this thing is going to work is as a partnership.”

Councilman Gee Williams said the procedures and protocols of the partnership will have to be figured out as things come up. He also suggested they be figured out early before the project grows in scope and size.

“This is all part of the learning curve,” he said. “We have to figure some of these things out before we get too far down the road.”

With that said, Councilwoman Ellen Lang made a motion the town split the three invoices in question with BPN as a gesture of good will while the parties sort out who will pay for what in the future. The motion passed unanimously.

Berlin Fiddlers Event Breaks Record

BERLIN – There were 35 entries including nine bands in the competition portion of the 15th Annual Berlin Fiddlers Convention last weekend. Event organizer Steve Frene reported this week the three-day event broke an attendance record with an estimated 2,800 people in Berlin on Friday night; 5,000 on Saturday; and 1,000 on Sunday. Here’s a look at how the contestants … Continue reading

Berlin Chips In To Help Developmental Center

BERLIN – Berlin officials this week did their small part to help the Worcester County Developmental Center, which saw its headquarters in Newark burn to the ground earlier this month, donating $250 to the effort to rebuild a new facility for the agency. The Berlin Mayor and Council on Monday voted unanimously, with Councilman Dean Burrell absent and Councilman Gee … Continue reading

Annapolis Chosen Over Resort For Race Finish Line

OCEAN CITY – Annapolis, not Ocean City, will be the host city for the finish line of the internationally recognized Race Across America this year. The popular bicycle race across the country will be finishing in Annapolis this year, despite considerations given to have Ocean City as the final point in the 3,000-mile race. Earlier this month, at a Tourism … Continue reading

Questions Remain Week After Freeman Let Go

OCEAN CITY – One week after the charges were dropped against accused murderer Christy Freeman, a stunned local community is still looking for answers to questions such as why the murder charges were dropped, why aren’t there any other charges the accused can be charged with and why isn’t there a law against storing human remains in and around one’s … Continue reading

Plenty Of Events Fill Out Calendar For Fall

OCEAN CITY – The first day of autumn arrived on Sunday, bringing with it a number of special events for the season’s weekends. Sept. 28-29: Winefest on the Beach, Inlet Parking Lot: Wine samplings, arts & crafts, live entertainment & food. Admission. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 4-7: 10th Annual Endless Summer Cruisin’, Inlet Parking Lot: Car show … Continue reading

An Interview With Ray Godman

OCEAN CITY – With the charges dropped against accused murderer Christy Freeman last week, the local business owner and mother has not been shy about returning to her normal life in the community although she isn’t saying much about the case on the advice of her attorneys. However, her long-time boyfriend Ray Godman talked candidly with The Dispatch this week … Continue reading

Operation Cash-Out Results In Local Indictments

BERLIN – More details emerged this week in the case regarding several local residents caught up last week in the federal sting operation now targeting 45 suspects in an extensive money-laundering and bribery scheme including possible penalties and forfeitures of property for the defendants. Last Thursday, federal officials including the FBI and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), raided two … Continue reading

Friday, September 28 – OP Man Succumbs To Injuries In High-Speed Chase

OCEAN PINES – An Ocean Pines man died this week after slamming his car into a tree early Tuesday morning during a high-speed chase through the community. Shortly before 3 a.m. on Tuesday, two Maryland State Police troopers working radar in the area of Route 90 and St. Martin’s Neck Rd. observed a vehicle driven by Richard Todd Mohr, 33, … Continue reading