Berlin Council Seeking Sidewalk Improvement Plan

BERLIN – Sidewalks in Berlin need an improvement plan, according to Berlin Mayor and Council discussions Monday night.

The idea was brought up with Councilman Troy Purnell’s request that the town look into adding sidewalks on Broad Street and upgrading the deteriorating sidewalks on Main Street

“You walk down north Main Street and the sidewalks are just horrendous,” Purnell said.

Purnell, who lives on Broad St., said cars come through at 50 mph and there is no safe place for pedestrians to walk or children to play.

“It’s dangerous,” Councilwoman Lisa Hall said.

“I’m more than willing to donate an easement,” Purnell told the rest of the town council.

Town administrator Tony Carson said that staff is looking into those changes.

The town needs to put together recommendations on improving all Berlin’s sidewalks, Mayor Gee Williams said.

“Let’s start right downtown and start working our way out. Let’s have some plan so it’s not just a patch here and a patch there,” said Williams.

A recently returned Berlin resident survey, not yet released to the public, showed strong support for sidewalk improvements and additions in town, according to Williams.

A serious plan for sidewalk improvements would touch on every neighborhood in Berlin over time, said Williams.

“It bothers me when I see kids playing in neighborhoods where there’s nothing,” Williams said.

In the past, the town of Berlin has installed sidewalks in front of a property if the property owner put up half the money, but, Williams said, the town was often reluctant to chip in its half of the cost for the work.

Calls for sidewalks on Flower St. fell on deaf ears for years. Once the town undertook to find financing for the project and proceed in earnest, after some funding was secured from the state, the work faced engineering and other delays.

“People on Flower St. waited ridiculously long for that sidewalk. No one should ever have to wait that long again,” Williams said.

A number of Flower St. residents have begun walking for exercise since the sidewalks were installed last year, Councilman Elroy Brittingham said.

That shows an immediate benefit to sidewalks beyond foot travel or providing a safe spot for children to play, Brittingham said.