Berlin Seeking Park Restrooms

BERLIN – Town officials are hoping a grant could fund the addition of permanent bathrooms to Berlin’s parks.

The town will pursue a Community Parks and Playgrounds grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to pay for the construction of bathrooms at Stephen Decatur Park and Henry Park. The grant application, according to Administrative Services Director Mary Bohlen, is due Aug. 19.

“It’s an ongoing grant program for the development of parks, maintenance, repair, that kind of thing,” she said. “It’s hard to say if we’ll get it.”

Bohlen said the town was applying for the $300,000 grant to replace the portable toilets currently in use at the parks with permanent bathrooms.

“It’s just part of the continual upgrading of our parks,” she said. “Porta-potties are not the most pleasant.”

The town will not find out if it received the grant until next spring. Bohlen says that means even if the grant application is successful it will be at least a year before permanent restrooms are in place.

Though the town was given a Community Parks and Playgrounds grant last year to refurbish its tennis courts, officials had asked for the grant the previous year and had not received it.

In case the town is awarded the funding, Planning Director Dave Engelhart asked planning commission members how they would want to proceed with the project.

“Does the town need to come to the planning commission for site plan approval?” he asked commission members at this week’s meeting.

Commission member John Barrett said he didn’t recall town employees coming before the commission in the past when they’d put up buildings at the electric plant.

“We’ve never had to look at that before,” he said.

Commission member Barb Stack, however, said that if a building was being used by the public it would qualify as a commercial building.

“Not that I really think we need to do this but it will be a commercial building,” she said.

Commission member Pete Cosby pointed out if the restroom site plan came before the commission it would provide neighbors with the chance to see the plans before anything was built. Commission members agreed that they would review the site plan when the time came.

Cosby added, though, that permanent bathrooms would be a positive addition to the parks.

“We really do need it,” he said.