BERLIN – Mayor Zack Tyndall expressed his commitment to working with merchants as the pandemic continues.
At a meeting of the town council on Monday, Tyndall said marketing of local shops and promotions like carriage rides could go forward this holiday season.
“Even today we were meeting with merchants trying to make sure that things go off without a hitch and everybody’s safe and able to enjoy the shops because we do want people to come and shop in our small businesses,” Tyndall said. “It’s been a hard time for everyone. It’s been especially hard for those that make their living with a storefront. The businesses have been great to work with. I don’t see any reason why that would change moving forward.”
Tyndall’s comments came in the wake of a meeting with merchants last week. It was there that shopkeepers asked Tyndall to reconsider his decision not to allow banners promoting a Nov. 27 ice carving event and to permit carriage rides.
On Monday, Berlin Chamber of Commerce President Steve Frene asked Tyndall if he’d had time to review those requests. Tyndall said he had and that the banners promoting “Ice Ice Berlin” on Nov. 27 could go up. He said the Worcester County Health Department had been consulted regarding carriage rides.
“They said we could do it as long as the carriage company helped enforce distancing along with some criteria as to who can sit on the carriage at the same time,” Tyndall said.
He added that because there would likely be more people in town than normal on Nov. 27, the carriage rides that evening would be set up on Baker Street.
“Subsequent weekends those carriage rides will be moved back to Pitts Street,” he said.
When Frene asked about the town’s marketing and promotion efforts going forward, Tyndall reiterated what he said last week to the merchants. He said that the town’s economic and community development department would advertise not a specific event but rather the fact that shops were open late on certain evenings.
Frene thanked Tyndall for his attention to the business community’s concerns.
“We look forward to continuing our great working relationship that we’ve had in the past,” he said.
Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood pointed out that the pandemic was a new situation for everyone in town.
“We hear you loud and clear but please understand, be flexible,” Fleetwood said, adding that this was the first pandemic he’d experienced in his lifetime. “I think it’s probably in all of our lives the first one we’ve experienced. I appreciate your flexibility. We’re all here to work through this together.”
Ivy Wells, the town’s director of economic and community development, offered similar comments in an interview after the meeting.
“We have to be mindful of the spread of this pandemic,” she said. “We don’t want to shut anything down but we want to make sure everything’s operated in a safe way.”