Berlin Eyes State Sustainable Program

BERLIN — Berlin became the first community in the state last week to file for certification in the Sustainable Maryland Certified Municipal Certification Program.

Representatives from Sustainable Maryland briefed the council on the newly formed program and what it could mean if the town joined.

“I would love to see Berlin being one of the first,” said University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center Director Joanne Throwe.

Throwe explained that the Sustainable Maryland program would act as a collective agency helping to promote environmental protection and conservation. It would rate municipalities on their efforts to make a positive impact on the environment and would be a good resource for getting the attention of grant distributors.

“We make a big deal about this,” joked Throwe.

While Berlin’s application hasn’t been accepted as of the writing of this article, Town Administrator Tony Carson didn’t predict any difficulties with admission.

“It [the certification] is very easily attainable,” he said.

Mayor Gee Williams was also optimistic about approval, and promised that if accepted, Berlin would be active in the program.

“We’re not doing this thing just to put a certificate on the wall,” he said.

Williams compared Sustainable Maryland to an environmental version of the Main Street Maryland program. He explained that both offer access to “training, tools, and expert guidance” and that achieving certification in Sustainable Maryland would give Berlin a leg up on other communities competing for the same grants.

“Good track records get more grants more often,” he remarked, adding that Berlin was already developing a reputation as an environmentally conscious town, and that Sustainable Maryland would only further that.

“It adds more incentive to keep to the path that we’re on,” he said.

Sustainable Maryland is sponsored by the Maryland Municipal League, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Town Creek Foundation, a private group that has worked with Berlin in the past.

Williams was excited about Berlin being the first to attempt qualification and predicted the program snowballing in the future.

“It’s something I think is only going to grow…It will evolve over time,” he said.

Williams added that the program should help guide Berlin through the “hoops and hurdles” of the federal grant process and hopes to hear back on the town’s application in the coming weeks.