Officials Unanimously Support Land Buy For Senior Center

SNOW HILL – The official vote by the County Commissioners to go ahead with the purchase of the former Tyson chicken plant administration building to be transformed into the new Berlin senior center was unanimous Tuesday.

The county had already signed a contract to purchase the property before the formal vote and set a settlement date for next week, county Administrator Gerry Mason said.

The $1.7 million purchase price will cover the old administration building northwest of the juncture of Routes 113 and 346 in Berlin and several surrounding acres.

“This is a chunk of change here,” said County Commission President Virgil Shockley at Tuesday morning’s meeting.

Commissioner Judy Boggs agreed, saying, “It definitely is, but the north area needs a senior center.”

Worcester County has no plans at the moment to build anything else on the site. That will be at least five to 10 years down the road, Commissioner Louise Gulyas said.

Rumors that the Berlin branch of the Worcester County Library will be moved to the new property are false, County Commissioner Louise Gulyas wanted to make clear.

“There will be no library there, okay? No library,” Gulyas said.

One minor issue remains to be worked out before settlement. A sewer pumping station motor burned out when electricity was restored to the property recently ahead of the sale. The county and landowner Troy Purnell are currently negotiating repairs and payment for the work.

“It should be a fairly easy repair to make,” said Public Works Director John Tustin.

Public Works staff has carefully examined the property and found no other problems.

No traffic or road improvements will be needed for the senior center, but if the county elects to add other facilities on the land, work will need to be done on the driveway and at the Route 346 access point.

The building will need an estimated $300,000 in renovations, including a new kitchen and heating and cooling system, before opening for use.