Berlin To Spend $34K On Tyson Property Feasibility Study

BERLIN – The town’s purchase of the former Tyson plant moves closer to reality this week as Berlin officials agreed to hire a nationally known consultant to perform a feasibility study for the 60-acre property.

Following a clean environmental report, the Berlin Town Council voted to spend $34,500 to have EDSA, a Florida-based architectural services company, do a feasibility study to determine the best uses for the old industrial property. Town officials first announced plans to buy the land, which has been vacant for more than a decade, and turn it into a public facility in late 2014.

“As the study concludes, we’ll know what the recommended uses are,” Mayor Gee Williams said. “We’re making the right decision in bringing in top notch experts to help us decide the best options.”

Williams said the recently concluded environmental study of the property revealed that in spite of years of industrial use the land was safe to repurpose.

“That was the most critical part of the decision making process,” Williams said. “It was better than our highest expectations.”

Once the study proved the land didn’t face any environmental challenges, town staff began looking for a company to perform a feasibility study to determine which of the many uses suggested by town residents would be best for the site. Multiple companies were interviewed but EDSA was selected.

“These folks are experts in the use of special facilities,” Williams said. “They were highly recommended to us.”

Resident Barb Stack asked where the town advertised the consultant search.

“I personally know many land planners and civil engineers and I never heard about this to relay the information to some of our local professionals,” she said.

Town Administrator Laura Allen said the Request for Proposals (RFP) had been advertised on a national website, through direct mail and on the town’s website.

Williams said staff from EDSA would look at the various uses — ranging from skateboarding to swimming — proposed for the Tyson property during the town’s strategic planning sessions and determine which were best for the site. Williams said the consultant would let the town know which concepts that land would lend itself to.

“I think we’re all excited to be at this point,” he said.

Councilman Thom Gulyas agreed.

“It’s a win-win,” he said.

The study is expected to take six weeks to complete. When it’s done, the final step in the purchasing process will be the bond market. The price on the property, which is owned by Berlin Properties North, is $2.75 million.

“Our timing is very fortunate,” Williams said. “There are some other municipalities that are looking for bonds at the exact same time and the larger the pool the better the rate.”

When asked by a resident whether the feasibility study would involve any more public input, Williams said it would not. He said the council would receive an interim report midway through the process but that the public would not weigh in.

“I’d be opposed to any plan where we plan any significant public use by a show of hands,” Williams said, adding that the town had already solicited ideas during the strategic planning process earlier this year. “This is what will make sense based on the attributes of the property.”

He added that the company would work to determine how the property could best benefit the town.

“We’re not trying to solve one or two things but see how many things we can possibly do,” he said.