Friday, January 23–Berlin Exploring Possibility Of New Main Street Park

BERLIN – Hard times may benefit Berlin with a new park, if stakeholders can come together to purchase a property on North Main Street.

The Berlin Mayor and Council, citizens and other representatives from outside Berlin met Thursday evening in a town council work session to discuss developer Mike Nally’s proposal to sell eight acres of land, at cost, to Berlin for a new green space and a new headquarters for local environmental groups.

The property was once intended for residential development, to be called Nally Commons, but Nally has looked in a different direction for the property for the last several months.

Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said Nally came to him with the idea in May and talks have been ongoing.

The property, nearly eight acres in area with one dwelling, has historic significance. The site and home once belonged to prominent Berliner Frederick Brueckmann, who was the first recipient of the Berlin Award.

The town of Berlin has not had a new park since the 1970s, when Stephen Decatur Park was created.

“It would be a new, very dramatic, and very exciting undertaking for the community,” said Williams.

Right now, the town is acting as a facilitator in exploring the concept. Williams hopes to set a precedent in community and government partnerships.

“I think we have to be a proactive facilitator of these things,” Williams said.

Government as the sole mover behind community improvement is an outdated model from the 20th Century, Williams feels. The community should come together to make projects like this one happen if possible.

“It may be we get down the road and find out it’s not feasible,” said Williams, who feels the mere possibility deserves the town’s time to explore.

Chances are such a park could benefit the entire community, Williams said. Not all economic development is related directly to business or profit.

The town is enhanced when residents and visitors can walk to green space, Williams felt.

In a stronger economy, Nally would probably still pursue a traditional residential development on the property, Williams said.

“Recessionary times offer their own opportunities,” Williams said. “We have to look for the silver lining in things.”

Nally could not be reached for comment by deadline yesterday