BERLIN – Berlin officials approved a contract with a Washington D.C.-based firm this week to handle the town’s strategic plan.
Councilmembers agreed to spend close to $15,000 to hire Christine Becker Associates to begin the strategic planning process.
Mayor Gee Williams said now is the perfect time for the town to begin planning its future projects.
“We’ve been inundated with ideas of what people would like to see next,” Williams said. “We want to make this an organized and thoughtful decision.”
According to Laura Allen, Berlin’s town administrator, Becker’s company was chosen over two other companies because of its experience and proximity. She said the company had been used by the Maryland Municipal League in the past.
Williams said that in early January, Becker is expected to meet with town officials to discuss the planning process. After that, four “community visioning” sessions will be hosted throughout the town. Those public input sessions will give citizens the chance to share their ideas for the town’s future.
“We want people of all ages, interests and neighborhoods to feel welcome,” Williams said.
Becker will also set up an online survey so those who can’t attend the meetings can have a voice.
“We don’t want anybody excluded,” Williams said.
Once the public’s input has been collected, Becker will meet with town officials again, sometime before spring. Williams said he was anxious to have the strategic plan developed before the town’s budget process began.
“If there’s anything we need to start doing that’s financially feasible, the timing is perfect,” he said.
Williams added his only real concern was that people would be too eager to see the projects in the plan come to fruition.
“We’re just public servants. We’re not magicians,” he said. “What we want to do is to take the resources we do have and channel them.”
Williams is anxious to see Berlin come up with a definite map for the future now that the wastewater treatment plant has been addressed.
“Nothing was possible until that was done,” Williams said. “Berlin was up against a wall.”
With a Main Street full of shops and a contingent of new residents filling homes throughout the town, officials are ready to prioritize other goals.
“There’s a lot of energy, a lot of excitement,” Williams said. “Our goal is to capture that excitement and turn it into assets for the community.”