Berlin Eyes More Sidewalks

BERLIN – There is a strong possibility that a portion of Broad St. might finally be getting a sidewalk.

At the last Berlin Mayor and Council meeting, Councilman Troy Purnell brought to the council’s attention that Broad St. in Berlin was in need of a sidewalk. The council left the matter to Purnell and Tony Carson, the town administrator, for the time being.

In about a week, the ball has already started rolling.

“Tony Carson really jumped on it,” said Purnell when asked if a request to have Maryland fund the sidewalk had been put forward. “We expect the state to get back to us pretty soon.”

Generally, a new sidewalk would be left up to the Maryland State Highway Administration, as Broad St is part of the state’s system of roads. However, due to problems with the economy and busier roads taking precedence, Broad St. might be put on the backburner, something Purnell does not believe is acceptable.

“It’s a safety issue,” he said, referring to the current condition of Broad St. “I see people walking up and down it all of the time. I see them walking dogs and pushing baby carriages and the road is barely wide enough for the cars as is. There are a lot of houses back there, and when they want to walk downtown they use Broad St.”

Purnell estimated the cost of the new sidewalk would probably range between $45,000 and $55,000. While that is a substantial amount of money, Purnell believes the town has plenty of capital in the budget that could go towards the sidewalk if the state is unable to fund it.

“We’ve got the resources,” said Purnell. “We’ve got $350,000 we could use and we have that much because of impact fees.”

Purnell went on to elaborate on the uses of those fees.

“Impact fees are what builders pay when they start a new development. The money is supposed to go towards parks and sidewalks, basically anything in the area around the building that would be used for the public good,” Purnell, a developer by trade, said.

The matter has been forwarded to the state for review and a quick decision is expected. Movement on the project can’t come too soon for Purnell, who lives along the road.

“This has been needed,” he said, referring to the sidewalk, “for a very long time.”

Though the Broad St. venture is still in the earliest of stages, Purnell is keeping an eye on future projects.

“Now what we need next is a sidewalk down Main St.,” he said.