Berlin Popularity Surge Leads To Parking Concerns

BERLIN – Jefferson Street traffic concerns have prompted town leaders to seek recommendations from public safety officials.

Mayor Gee Williams said this week that he’d asked the Berlin Police Department to look into the growing number of vehicles parking on Jefferson Street, which runs between Main and Washington streets, and ways to alleviate accessibility issues.

“The Berlin Police Department will be making some recommendations to the town administrator in the next week or two that addresses both the increased need for parking in the Jefferson Street area and the need to be sure  emergency services vehicles as well as everyday motorists can travel unimpeded along these town streets,” he said.

Williams said a resident who travels Jefferson Street regularly brought the issue to his attention Wednesday. As summer has progressed, traffic in town has increased and vacant parking spaces are few and far between. While visitors are encouraged to park in places like Stephen Decatur Park and Berlin Intermediate School when special events are scheduled, those who come to town on an average day simply seek the closest empty spot they can find to their destination.

Williams asked the resident who brought the issue to his attention to speak to Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing.

“I have asked them to communicate and exchange ideas on how to balance the need for residential parking with the increased traffic that impacts Jefferson Street during the height of summer and during special events,” Williams said.

Ivy Wells, the town’s economic development director, said she hadn’t received any complaints regarding the lack of parking in town. She acknowledged however that as the town’s popularity has grown it’s seen an increase in visitors, particularly during special events.

“Obviously our events are more popular now so more people are coming,” she said.

She’s made an effort to encourage attendees to park at Stephen Decatur Park and walk to Main Street.

“It’s not that far,” she said. “It seems like everybody’s got a Fitbit these days — it’s a great way to get in your steps.”

During the town’s larger events, the Casino at Ocean Downs has often provided Berlin with a shuttle to carry visitors from the parking lot at Berlin Intermediate School to Main Street.

“We also encourage our locals to walk or bike,” she said.

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.