Berlin Picks Stimulus Projects

BERLIN – Elected officials in the town of Berlin finalized last week the list of projects that could benefit from President Barack Obama’s federal economic stimulus plan.

While the list is due to the state soon, the town is still putting together background information. A few more projects were mentioned last week than in the previous discussion, but wastewater plant improvements and expansion, along with road improvements, still top the list.

“The other night we basically made sure we hadn’t forgotten anything,” said Mayor Gee Williams.

One addition to the list, a new public safety building, has been needed for a long time, according to Williams, as well as a new public works building and yard.

“We figure it does no harm to add projects. The state’s going to have their own list and vetting priorities,” Williams said.

A new generator at the electric plant to replace the failed number four generator, brought up by a citizen the first time the matter was discussed, would give more coverage of town power needs if funded.

“Right now we’re not able to cover the electric needs of the town on our own,” said Williams.

A sewer line extension north along Main St, and northwest to Route 50, a costly project, was also spoken of for the list.

Citizen Sue Beaman suggested adding smart meters to the list, which have been suggested for years.

Town citizen Marge Coyman asked to have sidewalks added to the list, since Berlin officials and townsfolk have repeatedly said they want to turn Berlin into a walking town.

“We basically need sidewalks everywhere,” said Williams.

The replacement of the deteriorating Multi-purpose Building on Flower Street is another project to consider, said Councilman Dean Burrell.

The replacement building  should be a significant upgrade, and turn the Multi-purpose Building into a real community center, Williams said.

Flooding relief projects could also go on the list, suggested Burrell.

“Our biggest problem there is being ready,” Williams said. “They want something that’s going to jump start the economy immediately.”

Right now, the town needs to concentrate on prepping the ready-to-go stimulus project list, getting estimates on the work, assessing which projects are close to ready and determining how many jobs would be created, officials say. Administrator Tony Carson said the number of jobs created could be estimated.

“We’ll run it up the flagpole and see what happens,” said Williams. “I would be extremely grateful for anything. This is not an entitlement.”