BERLIN — Plans to create a network of trails in Berlin and beyond are moving faster than expected, according to town officials.
“It’s just got so much potential,” said Mayor Gee Williams.
Though Williams asserted that he “did not have low expectations” for the project when it was first suggested last fall, he admitted that more progress has been made by this point than he predicted initially.
Lower Shore Land Trust (LSLT) Executive Director Kate Patton, who is spearheading the effort, provided an update to the Berlin Mayor and Council Monday.
“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for economic development,” she said.
Since generating the idea for a “walkable, bikeable Berlin” trail system last fall, Patton has been aggressively seeking partners in the community and holding workshops and group discussions on how to make it a reality.
“I was very impressed by the enthusiasm,” said Williams.
Already, Patton confirmed that she’s working on a general draft plan to present to the council sometime in May. Even before that, LSLT will be hosting a Trail Mix 2012 event in Berlin next month.
“That will basically launch the program,” said Patton.
During Trail Mix 2012, participants will start at Berlin Intermediate School and will be given maps with running, walking and biking routes to explore. The goal, explained Patton, is to get the community interested and involved in the future of trails.
According to Williams, a trail network will be a “multi-year project”, but so far Patton has been working to lay long-term infrastructure while still moving forward with measurable short-term goals.
“I find that those small bites, if they work, build momentum quickly,” he said.
Eventually, Patton hopes those small bites will add up to a comprehensive trail system between Berlin and surrounding areas like Assateague and Ocean Pines. In the past, she has also hinted at a potential connection with a statewide network.
Williams shared Patton’s long-term aims and guessed that 10-15 years from now, residents might look back at the start of the trail system as one of the most important “quality of life decisions” made by the town. He described the trail initiative as “a rising tide” that will grow stronger with time as long as the community continues to desire the services offered, such as health, fitness, and the ability to enjoy the outdoors.
“When people want something done, the issue is participation … it’s not always money,” Williams said.
For more information on Trail Mix 2012, contact Patton at 410-641-4467.