BERLIN – Town officials agreed this week to pursue a grant to buy land to serve as a platform for the excursion train envisioned for Worcester County.
On Monday, the town council gave Economic Development Director Ivy Wells permission to submit an application for a $130,000 Community Legacy grant. If received, the grant through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development would be used to buy property on West Street that could be used as a train platform.
“If we do need it, it’d be advisable for us to own it forthright,” Wells said.
Officials in Worcester County have been working on bringing an excursion train to the area since early last year. They’d like to see a train that would run between Berlin and Snow Hill on the existing Maryland Delaware Railroad Company track.
Though Berlin Falls Park has been suggested as an ideal site for a train depot, Wells said this week that the empty two-acre lot at the intersection of Washington and West streets would also be suitable. Though there’s no for sale sign on the property, Wells said it was on the market.
The property, she says, is close enough to the railroad that it could be used as a train platform or for additional parking space. She said that it could prove useful regardless of whether a depot was built at Berlin Falls Park.
“We’ve been talking about the excursion train for some time …” she said. “We’re still discussing all the logistics.”
The Community Legacy grant she’s seeking would provide the town with outright funding, no match required, for the property acquisition. Applications are due this week and grant awards will be announced later this year.
According to Merry Mears, Worcester County’s economic development director, plans for the excursion train continue to move ahead as the various parties involved work together.
“The development of an excursion train operation in Worcester County is still in play, and I’m encouraged to see the partnerships that have been forged as a result of such an opportunity,” she said. “The forward movement in this process is still very confidential in nature.”