County Asked To Weigh Acquiring Berlin Lions Club Land

County Asked To Weigh Acquiring Berlin Lions Club Land
More athletic fields, such as this senior league baseball field, are envisioned for the Northern Worcester Athletic Complex. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

SNOW HILL – A five-year plan proposed by Worcester County Recreation and Parks would include the purchase of land currently owned by the Berlin Lions Club.

In a budget presentation Tuesday, Tom Perlozzo, the county’s director of recreation and parks, told the Worcester County Commissioners he’d learned that Wawa and Royal Farms had approached the Berlin Lions Club about buying its property on Route 113. A portion of the land, which is adjacent to the Northern Worcester Athletic Complex, is leased by the county and used by the Berlin Little League.

“We need to protect that field legacy in Berlin,” Perlozzo said. “There’s 500 kids participating currently in Berlin Little League.”

As part of his department’s annual budget presentation, Perlozzo outlined a variety of projects parks officials would like to see completed. The largest of those is the purchase of the Berlin Lions Club property.

“The Berlin Lions Club has approached me and said that Wawa and Royal Farms were interested in buying the property, which is a big concern to the Berlin Little League and the Berlin Lions Club,” Perlozzo said. “I’m of the opinion that we should pursue acquiring the property and use Program Open Space (grant funding) for that. That is 100% reimbursable.”

Currently, the county owns the western side of what’s considered the Northern Worcester Athletic Complex — the four multi-purpose fields, senior league baseball and football fields as well as some vacant land. The county leases the Berlin Little League fields from the Berlin Lions Club for $5,000 a year and in turn leases them to Berlin Little League.

Perlozzo said he hadn’t yet discussed a price but had spoken to members of the Lions Club several times.

“Their first intent would be to somehow work with the county so that we could have that land,” he said.

He said the overall Lions Club property was about 60 acres, part of which was leased by a farmer. Perlozzo says if the county acquires the land, in addition to the existing ballfields there will be room to build two more fields.

Other projects included in the five-year plan Perlozzo presented included the addition of more parking at Northern Worcester Athletic Complex as well as improvements at Bishopville Waterfront Park, Greys Creek Nature Park, Newtown Park, John Walter Smith Park and Showell Park. Perlozzo said permanent restrooms and a concession stand at the latter would help attract more events and tournaments.

Commissioner Joshua Nordstrom thanked Perlozzo for including some projects at Pocomoke’s parks but said what the town truly needed was another park.

“The greatest need in Pocomoke as I see it is a new park, somewhere folks who live in Clarke Avenue and Unionville can access by walking,” he said. “A lot of those folks do not have the kinds of transportation it would take to get to various fields for recreation.”

Commissioner Chip Bertino asked why the commissioners hadn’t yet seen the five-year plan Perlozzo had cited. Perlozzo explained that while most of the projects he’d listed were included in the county’s Program Open Space documentation, the five-year plan had only just been created.

“This is flexible,” he said. “This is your opportunity to shape the county.”

He said the plan could be amended based on input from the commissioners.

“My positions’ been the county’s like a blank canvas,” he said. “We can stroke and paint whatever picture you want. I believe we have funds, it’s important to go out there and give the people some projects they’d like to see and it’s not costing the taxpayers any money in most cases.”

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.