BERLIN — Having seen Berlin grow from nearly empty to fairly bustling during her 26 years in office, long-time Councilwoman Paula Lynch has decided that she will not run for re-election in the fall.
Serving the public in Berlin has been a privilege, said Lynch. It gave her a chance to fulfill a role different than her professional one as business manager at Worcester Preparatory School, where she has worked since it was founded.
“I have enjoyed it. I have enjoyed it a lot. It was a different avenue than what I do on a day-to-day basis,” Lynch said of serving as Berlin’s at-large elected official. “And certainly seeing a prospering community and seeing what it is now has been very, very rewarding.”
When Lynch first joined town leadership, Berlin had a reputation as a sleepy village that was far removed from most everyone’s attention.
“A Monday or a Tuesday, even in the summer, you didn’t see very many people out on the street,” she said.
But over two and a half decades Berlin has grown, according to Lynch, and in a positive direction. She feels that the “spark” that ignited the change was the renovation of the Atlantic Hotel in the 1980s and that Berlin has come a long way since and will continue to blossom in future years.
“The spark, the key, the beginning was the hotel development, that’s what generated it all,” said Lynch. “It’ll be kind of fun to see what there is now. It’ll be interesting to see the next 10 years.”
Now weekday afternoons see a lot of pedestrian and vehicle activity in town, and Lynch said it was a pleasure to not only watch the town grow but to play a part as an elected official. During her tenure, Berlin has experienced a revitalized downtown, implemented a dedicated stormwater utility, expanded tourism greatly and even won Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Town in America 2014.
A particular highlight for Lynch has been the steps the town has taken to modernize much of its infrastructure. Over the past 26 years, Berlin has initiated two major waste water treatment expansions and implemented two spray irrigation systems.
Town administration and personnel have also seen steep improvements by the council member’s estimation.
“From the perspective in the way the town is run, it’s run like a business now. There are some excellent employees who are very professional,” said Lynch.
Communication between council and staff is at an all-time high, she continued. New departments such as the Economic and Community Development have been added to the town’s roster. Employees have become more creative and independent, Lynch noted, and leadership has encouraged this fully.
Besides employees, Lynch also credited a strong volunteer base with any success Berlin has seen. She gave a nod to Ed Hammond, Jim Barrett and Bill Freeman, among many others, pointing out that many volunteers have labored for years to improve Berlin.
When asked why she chose this fall to end her 26-year tenure on council, Lynch said that it is simply time for new blood. In addition to her public duties, Lynch has a professional career and considers 26 years of service a good point to stop.
“I have a full-time job. Instead of taking less time, it seems to take more time. Everybody knows when their time comes and this is my time to bow out gracefully,” she said.
While she won’t seek re-election once her term expires in October, Lynch is still invested in Berlin. As the town continues to re-define itself, she said the “key moving forward is sustainability.”