Open Space Funds To Further Improve Berlin Park

BERLIN – Berlin will receive $227,000 from Maryland’s Program Open Space (POS) initiative for improvements to the town’s Stephen Decatur Park, the Maryland Board of Public Works announced this week.

Berlin will use the open space funding to pay for playground improvements and fitness and nature trails improvements at Stephen Decatur Park and a parks master plan.

“On the nature trail and pond area, we want to get educational signage and create a picnic area,” said Mary Bohlen, Berlin’s acting administrative director.  “The fitness trail [project] is actually the installation of fitness stations along the scrap tire path.”

The funds will also be used to replace the oldest playground unit in the park.

“It’s at least 20 years old and no longer comes close to meeting safety and accessibility standards,” said Bohlen.

While the POS money will not fund any improvements at Henry Park east of Route 113, that park has not been forgotten.

“We’re waiting. We want to find out what the community wants out of that park,” said Bohlen.

The parks master plan will use input from the community to create a roadmap for future additions and improvements to all of Berlin’s green spaces, not unlike a small-scale comprehensive plan, including Henry Park.

The improvements at Stephen Decatur Park had been on the wishlist for a long time, Bohlen said.

The town of Berlin applied to use the POS money this summer, after learning that after a failure to use open space funds awarded in previous years could lead to those funds being assigned elsewhere.

Few counties in Maryland pass the open space funding along to municipalities. Worcester County is one of the exceptions.

Recently, however, this practice has borne little fruit, with Berlin, Snow Hill, and Pocomoke City leaving POS money on the table.

If not encumbered this year, hundred of thousands of dollars of town-assigned open space funding would have reverted back to Worcester County.

Other POS projects approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works include two in Worcester County, with $58,500 assigned to the county to create a Greys Creek Nature Park master plan and $49,038 for improvements to Cypress Park in Pocomoke City.