New Committee Plans Moving Ahead In Berlin

BERLIN – Town officials say plans to form a committee to develop a naming policy for public property are moving ahead.

Following last week’s presentation of an informal petition calling for Berlin Falls Park to be renamed in honor of a retired mailman, the Berlin Town Council agreed the town needed a formal policy on how to name public properties. Officials say they’re in the process of forming the committee that will recommend that policy now.

“The general plan for this committee is to develop a policy that the town can use moving forward to name anything from streets, buildings, parks, etc.,” Councilman Zack Tyndall said. “The purpose of this committee is not to re-name Berlin Falls Park but to create a policy that the town can use to begin the process of re-naming the park.”

The petition presented at last week’s meeting of the town council was put together by resident Bill Todd, who wants the town’s newest park named in honor of retired mailman James Tingle. He said he had 300 signatures on his petition and had spoken with numerous people who thought the park, if not named after Tingle, should at least be given a more appropriate moniker as it was not actually home to any waterfalls.

Mayor Gee Williams told Todd there were countless people the park could be named after, not just Tingle. He also criticized Todd’s effort, calling it “Mickey Mouse,” and said town leaders should have been consulted from the start.

When contacted this week, Todd said he thought the mayor’s reaction was “uncalled for,” but was pleased the council was interested in getting community input through creating a committee. He was also pleased to see close to two dozen people who supported the renaming effort at the council meeting.

“The mayor flew off the handle but the best thing about it is the community showed up,” Todd said. “I’m happy that people are taking an interest in what goes on down there.”

Tyndall, who is expected to be a member of the committee, said he hoped that once it was formed a policy could be developed quickly.

“Our committee is very ambitious and hopes to have something to present to the mayor and council within the next few months,” he said.

In spite of his comments regarding the petition effort, Williams said he thought the creation of a committee was a good solution.

“This provides Berlin with the opportunity to have consistent policies for official naming of public properties or landmarks,” he said.

Williams said that a one-size-fits-all policy was unlikely.

“I believe the committee will be considering a variety of circumstances for naming opportunities,” he said, “including those situations where a practical means of raising dollars from individuals, the private sector, government agencies and programs, and nonprofit organizations, are enabled with a fair policy that serves the greater good and makes amenities our town has never had, possible, using both good taste and judgment.”

According to Williams, the committee will be charged with making recommendations to the mayor and council regarding naming policy. He expects the committee’s membership to be decided upon at a regular council meeting in the near future.

“I believe such a committee, with proper deliberation and time, can develop reasonable and workable recommendations,” he said. “Those given this responsibility will not be given an artificial deadline, but will be charged with taking the time to come up with fair and comprehensive policies and guidelines that will serve Berlin for a variety of naming opportunities, not just the property we have labeled Berlin Falls Park.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.