BERLIN – The town of Berlin faces a busy year with a long list of ambitious goals to achieve, from the new spray irrigation facility to parks projects to cleaning up Hudson’s Branch.
Mayor Gee Williams outlined plans for 2010 this week, a set of goals he has roughed out for the next 12 months. He plans to finalize those goals early in the year after meeting with Berlin Mayor and Council members and consulting the town administrator and department heads.
With the purchase of spray irrigation land in Newark to handle the sewer service expansion, the town needs to look ahead to installing the infrastructure to transport treated sewage to the spray irrigation site and the facilities on site to store and spray the treated sewage.
“We will aggressively seek loans and grants for the wastewater spray site,” Williams said. “It doesn’t do us any good until we have infrastructure. It’s a high-priority item.”
Williams said he does not know how long the infrastructure will take to construct, but felt that the town could get the project funded and begun next year.
As far as infrastructure goes, little by little, as funds are available, Berlin will continue to improve deteriorating sidewalks and add new crosswalks.
“The idea is to do something every year. Over a period of time they should be in excellent shape,” Williams said.
On the environmental front, Hudson’s Branch, a stream that runs through town, needs to be cleaned up in 2010.
“It’s unfortunate it needs to be done. I think the town wants to be the leader there,” Williams said. “I see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get that accomplished in the upcoming year.”
Williams also plans to look into ways to increase recycling in town, both residential and commercial.
Additionally, Williams said he wants to, “at least begin some improvements in the parks.”
A new parks master plan offers several approaches to improvement. It will be up to the Parks Commission to identify a good starting point for that work, which Williams said he hopes will begin in the summer.
Modest landscaping improvements on town property along Main Street, which incurs moderate costs, should continue this year, according to the mayor.
“The plan is to constantly and gradually upgrade the entire appearance of the downtown historic area,” said Williams.
Williams also hopes to secure more grants and loans to continue Main Street programs to improve the economic viability of downtown Berlin, such as more façade improvements.
More partnerships with private interests would allow the town to expand or add special events and festivals.
“They really are a major economic driver of our local economy. They bring people to town,” said Williams, pointing to the new Peach Festival held last summer that he called an instant hit.
“I think we have some other hits we can create,” Williams said.
All recommendations on improving internal controls made by the town’s auditors will be implemented by the end of next calendar year, Williams said.
One major vacant position, that of finance director, should be filled by the next fiscal year, which begins in July.
The next fiscal year should also see a revamped and improved town website, he said, which will be redesigned to be more user friendly for residents, visitors, and potential new businesses.
While Berlin is healthy financially, the plan for the next fiscal year is to once again trim the budget, Williams said. Last year, the town experienced the most severe budget cuts he could remember, but still accomplished most of what it set out to do.