Grant Requests Exceed $7 Million

SNOW HILL – Three Worcester County towns and one community asked for over $7 million in specific budget requests from the County Commissioners this week.

Berlin asked for $2.2 million; Snow Hill is seeking $2.7 million; Pocomoke City requested $2.1 million; and Ocean Pines is looking for $400,000. Ocean City postponed making its presentation until April 22.

Berlin would like continuing support for the Main St. program, Program Open Space (POS) funds, substantial assistance with street rehabilitation and resurfacing and sidewalks, Berlin Mayor Tom Cardinale said.

“I know you’re under a struggle. Whatever you do for the town of Berlin is going to be appreciated immensely,” said Cardinale.         

This would be the third year that the Main St. program would be supported by the county at $25,000, to pay the program coordinator.

The town would like $99,000 in POS funds to hire a consultant to create a Parks Master Plan, expand the tot lot at Stephen Decatur Park, add picnic spots and educational signs at that park’s nature trail and make improvements to Henry Park’s grounds and parking.

Berlin also asked for over $1 million to fix four roads and $1 million to continue adding sidewalks, in particular on Flower St.

“We are asking for additional funds to install sidewalks on the west side of Flower St.,” said Berlin Councilman and Flower St. resident Elroy Brittingham. “Please consider this for the safety of our citizens and taxpayers.”

Snow Hill also hopes to get a substantial sum from the commissioners’ budget, asking for $2.6 million for major improvements to stormwater infrastructure, the addition of a bandstand at Byrd Park, downtown beautification, wall restoration at Sturgis Park and street and police grants.

“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” said Snow Hill Mayor Steve Mathews, who pointed out 17 new businesses have come to Snow Hill over the last five years.

Stormwater inflow and infiltration is the biggest problem the town faces, Mathews said, requesting $2.3 million to make improvements from Bay to Washington streets and Federal Street between Church and Market streets. The town applied for but did not get a grant to do the work.

The Byrd Park Bandstand is under design, but Snow Hill needs money to pay the construction costs of $186,000.

Pocomoke City requested over $2 million for a variety of needs.

“You’ve been very generous to us,” said Pocomoke City Mayor Mike McDermott. “Pocomoke has led the charge against the concept of tax differentials in Worcester County. We would not even meet with the folks who wanted to come down and talk about that. You’ve been more than generous.”

Pocomoke City would like $500,000 to buy two vacant industrial lots to add to the town’s industrial park. The fire department needs $300,000 for the community center to be built in the old drug store near the new fire station, McDermott said.

The Ocean Pines Association (OPA), which manages a community of over 12,000 year-round residents and comprises about 19 percent of Worcester County’s assessed real estate value, asked for a police grant of $400,000.

“Of all the requests you’ve had today, mine will be the most modest,” said OPA General Manager Tom Olson.

Ocean Pines provides its own police force that also responds outside the community boundaries. The OPA funds the OCPD with $1.4 million of its own money in addition to the county police services grant it has received for the last several years.

“We’re going to have even greater demands placed on us when [the state] gambling referendum passes,” Olson said.