Berlin Council Meeting Notebook

BERLIN – The Berlin Mayor and Council meeting was one of the shortest on record, but there were a few matters discussed of note. Here’s a review of the 22-minute meeting:

(BOLD)Special Event Permits Okayed

Main issues examined on Monday were two permits for upcoming events. Special one-day permits for both the Berlin Fire Company Retirement Party (Oct. 2) and the Second Friday Art Stroll (Oct. 8) were approved without debate.

Traffic Concerns Expressed
A few concerns were raised, especially about traffic safety and road conditions in the area.

Due to construction of a new wastewater treatment plant, there has been an increase in traffic along Bottle Branch Road on the east side of town.

Extra noise was a minor worry, while the danger generated by fast moving trucks was a larger issue. The council noted the risk and decided to inform the contractor of their concern.

A private homeowner has reportedly already done so, contacting the contractors about the vehicles causing trouble by parking on the street and driving too quickly. The council was informed that the call to the superintendent of wastewater was productive and that the homeowner promised to monitor the situation in their area.

The council also noted possible trouble with a manhole cover on Flower Street and likewise planned to notify the appropriate department to deal with the safety concern.

Along the same lines, a safety concern was brought up in regards to portable basketball courts being used in Berlin side streets. There was some debate as to whether or not these courts should be allowed. On one hand, they are portable and permit children to play within sight of their parents. However, having these courts set up on side streets might put the children in harm’s way, especially combined with the traffic dangers associated with construction in the area.

The issue was not entirely one sided, as the council felt that children should be allowed to play in side streets near their houses but at the same time expressed the hazards of playing on the road.

Town Ready For Halloween

There were no such safety worries in regards to the town’s celebration of Halloween this year, however. Nearly every officer of the Berlin Police Department will be involved with protecting kids as they trick or treat around town this year. Additional police support will also be available to ensure that the holiday maintains the same level of security and fun it has in previous years.

Trick or treating will take place on Sunday, Oct. 31, from 5-7 p.m. As an event, it has been growing for sometime. When asked if he noticed more people out trick or treating in recent years, Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing responded, “We have more people every year.” He added, “We end up with (children) from all different communities; Wicomico, Snow Hill and throughout Worcester County.”

When questioned about security, Downing informed the council that the celebration would be well monitored by the Sheriff’s Department with assistance available from the state. He went on to joke that his entire office would be involved, except for one member who “snuck out on vacation.”

Other upcoming events the town has planned for October and Halloween in particular are a Harvest Festival, haunted house and a Halloween Fair, which will be hosted by the Berlin Nursing Home. All of the affairs will be well supervised and serve as safe, fun activities for parents and children, according to Downing.

Electric Letter Misleading

One final issue brought up at the meeting was in regards to offers sent to Berlin residents through the mail by Constellation Electric.

The town of Berlin is serviced through municipal energy and not individual companies. Thus, it is impossible for residents to change energy providers. Despite this fact, many recently found envelopes from Constellation Electric in their mailboxes this week. The letter begins with a sentence underlined to reinforce the intent. It reads, “You have the option to choose your electricity supplier.” This is actually completely false, according to the Mayor and Council.

It’s not that the town disapproves of Constellation in particular or wishes to mandate exactly which providers residents may or may not use based on the council’s preferences. The fact of the matter is that municipal energy is supplied to all members of the town and is the only option for electricity.

Any residents of Berlin who received offers from Constellation Electric are asked to simply ignore them. Councilwoman Paula Lynch, who originally brought up the matter for the council, joked that maybe Constellation “should do their homework” as to whether or not an area was locked into municipal energy before soliciting residents.

Lynch was the only member on the council that night to receive the offer from Constellation Electric but many other residents received the letter in Tuesday’s mail.