BERLIN – Representatives of the Coastal Association of Realtors joined Berlin leaders to celebrate a new community art kiosk.
On Feb. 19 members of the Coastal Association of Realtors (CAR) and Town of Berlin officials hosted a ribbon cutting for the new community art display — essentially a chalkboard — in front of the town’s visitor center. Ivy Wells, the town’s economic development director, says the board will be used to encourage communication and solicit citizen input.
“We’ll be able to engage the community with questions and facts about the town,” Wells said.
Wells said she’d had the idea for the kiosk several years ago and knew it was something that would be perfect for Berlin. A grant made her dream a reality. The town was able to purchase the large chalkboard with the help of a $2,000 “placemaking” grant from the National Association of Realtors. The group’s grant program is designed to help local Realtor associations — such as CAR — partner with others on activities in their communities. CAR is the first Realtor group in Maryland to receive one of the grants.
“Our Realtors live, work and volunteer in their communities and take immense pride in working to improve them,” said Linda Moran, president of CAR. “Placemaking can help foster healthier, more social and economically viable communities. It creates places where people feel a strong stake in their neighborhoods and are committed to making things better. This grant will allow us to address areas in our community that are in need of improvement or redevelopment and create a place where friends and neighbors can come together.”
Wells said town officials would use the new chalkboard to feature a different question each month. Questions would include things like “what’s your definition of a community,” according to Wells. Anyone passing by will be encouraged to share their thoughts on the board.
Berlin Mayor Gee Williams says the “Berlin Community Chalkboard” is the perfect addition to Main Street.
“With all the changes in technology, everything’s instant,” Williams said. “There’s not that human aspect. Face to face is starting to become more precious than ever…I strongly believe this will be a place to share ideas.”
Wells said she’d wanted to pursue the idea of a community chalkboard for some time but that the CAR grant had made it possible. The handmade chalkboard was built by Anchor Wood Creations. Proprietor Garry Moore spent a month collecting wood throughout the area — much of it from Orlando Bishop’s corn barn and Reggie Mariner’s farm property — to create a substantial frame and mount for a six foot by six foot chalkboard. Even the bolts at the base of the board were locally sourced from the Ocean City Boardwalk.
“Part of the process is finding the material you want to use,” Moore said.
The chalkboard will be set up alongside the seating area in front of the town’s visitor center. The board will feature a different question for residents to consider each month.