BERLIN — The path to a more Walkable, Bikable Berlin became a little clearer this week with the approval of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the town and the Lower Shore Land Trust (LSLT) that facilitates a $30,000 grant from the state toward the project.
In September, the state announced $2.3 million in grants for its Bikeway Program, including a $30,000 cut for the town for its growing Walkable, Bikable Berlin initiative. The LSLT has spearheaded the initiative to create a vast network of hiking and biking trials around Berlin and beyond and the town has been the governmental entity to apply for and accept state grants for the program.
On Tuesday, the Berlin Mayor and Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the LSLT which solidifies the acceptance of the state’s $30,000 grant through its Bikeway Program.
“The application to the Maryland Department of Transportation for the Bikeways grant was submitted by the town, but the Lower Shore Land Trust did all the work on this,” said Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen.
Growing a network of hiking and biking trails in Berlin has been a concept since the town’s renaissance began several years ago, but it remained largely a concept until the LSLT and its executive director Kate Patton really began spearheading the effort. The plans are still preliminary, but initial funding like the grant accepted this week will provide seed money for engineering, trail development and easement acquisition, for example.
Mayor Gee Williams pointed to similar success stories in other jurisdictions and praised Patton for advancing the initiative.
“Congrats to Kate for really getting this rolling,” he said. “We’ve seen what has happened over in Salisbury and the hope is that this is not an end but a beginning. This is something we’ve worked on for years now.”
Patton agreed and said the $30,000 state grant could be just the tip of a funding iceberg.
“This is just a foundation,” she said. “There might be more funding available and we’re going to keep pursuing it.”
The long-term goal of Walkable, Bikable Berlin is connect the town with a network of hiking and biking trails with possible links to Assateague and other rural areas nearby. Closer to home, the intent is to create a safe walking and biking trail network in and around town to encourage residents to walk or ride a bike to stores, restaurants and other amenities rather than driving. Preliminary engineering is expected to start soon, but the actual laying down of physical trails is still probably a few years down the line.