BERLIN – Plans are underway to turn 673 acres just outside Berlin into public space.
The Maryland Board of Public Works on Nov. 18 approved the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ plan to purchase two parcels — the Bay Club and a neighboring farm — totaling 673 acres. Mayor Zack Tyndall shared the news at Monday’s council meeting.
“That has passed the Board of Public Works unanimously so we can look forward to that property adding to the greenbelt that’s in our comprehensive plan and some of the passive use recreational activities that’ll be just right outside the boundaries of the Town of Berlin,” Tyndall said. “That’s good news for everybody.”
According to the Nov. 18 Board of Public Works (BPW) agenda, officials were recommending that the board approve the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposal to accept assignment from Lower Shore Land trust of its right to purchase two adjacent parcels totaling 673 acres. According to the meeting packet, the property contains a mix of forests and fields that will be managed by the Maryland Forest Service as an addition to the Chesapeake Forest Lands “for public hunting and trail-based activities such as walking and wildlife observation.” Equestrian trails will also be considered.
“One parcel is a former golf course; fairways and fields will be reforested with a diverse mix of tree species to maximize hunting and other recreational opportunities while protecting water quality,” the BPW agenda reads. “Acquisition presents a rare opportunity to preserve a large tract of land in an area of Worcester County that is experiencing rapid growth.”
The price listed for the 437-acre Bay Club is $3,150,000 while the price for the adjacent farm is $1,075,000.
Tyndall, on behalf of the town, had written a letter in support of the DNR proposal to the Board of Public Works on Nov. 13. In that letter he cited the traffic problems that would come with development of the former golf course, which was at one time discussed as a potential campground.
“Although both of these properties are situated just outside of the incorporated limits of the Town of Berlin, their development will impact people who not only live in Berlin but also those that work and visit our town,” Tyndall wrote. “In the past, we have seen proposals for housing developments and campgrounds on the Bay Club property. If projects such as these would come to fruition our narrow town streets could not handle the volume of traffic imposed by increased vehicular traffic, especially by large campers.”
He wrote that town leaders were relieved to hear of the DNR proposal.
“The conservation efforts of the DNR will help the Town of Berlin work toward establishing a greenbelt around our town, a vital component of our comprehensive plan,” he wrote. “Additionally, the proposed passive recreation activities by the DNR will add to the growing economic trend associated with environmental tourism and work seamlessly with the hospitality industry that thrives so well in Worcester County. As a town, we look forward to possible partnerships with the DNR to help with their effort to conserve the natural beauty of our area. We hope that this acquisition will be the beginning of great things for the greater Berlin area.”