BERLIN – Elected officials are considering selling a portion of Heron Park to help offset its costs.
After receiving inquiries from multiple parties interested in buying various portions of the 62-acre park property, Mayor Zack Tyndall told the town council this week he wanted their input. Council members said they wanted more information and to hear from Berlin’s citizens.
“I really would like to hear what the public thinks or what they would have to say before I could entertain a thought of yay or nay,” Councilman Dean Burrell said.
Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood told the council during Monday’s meeting that potential buyers had expressed interest in parcel 410, roughly 10 acres that sits between the park’s ponds and the businesses on Route 346, as well as in parcel 57, which is where the old production plant building sits. Both parcels are currently zoned residential. Fleetwood said one of the entities interested in parcel 410 — who owns adjacent property — had even paid for an appraisal of the land. That section of the park, which is slightly less than 10 acres and includes two storage buildings, is valued at $770,000. Fleetwood added that the town currently used the buildings to store things like tractors and snowplows.
“Prior to us acquiring that property, we were storing our snowplows, woodchippers and things of that nature out in the elements,” he said. “Now they are being stored out of the weather. That adds value to our equipment.”
Fleetwood said that the parcel’s appraised value dropped to $660,000 if the buildings were not included.
While there has also been interest in parcel 57, the site of the big building to the left of the park entrance, Fleetwood said an appraisal on that was underway.
Councilman Jay Knerr said he thought parcel 410 was valuable to the town for future growth at Heron Park, as it could be used for an entertainment venue or a skate park.
“Parcel 57, on the other hand, I think we should definitely sell that,” he said.
Councilmember Shaneka Nichols asked whether the town could sell just a portion of parcel 410.
“Does it have to be all or none?” she said.
Tyndall welcomed council opinions on a potential sale, which he said was why the issue had been included on the agenda.
Burrell said he wanted to hear from the public and also find out the cost associated with setting up new vehicle storage if the town were to sell parcel 410 and lose access to its buildings.
Councilman Jack Orris said he was open to selling some of the park but cautioned against selling parcel 410 in its entirety.
“While I’m open to suggestions for every opportunity I do feel the space to the right when you walk in is important,” he said. “Dividing this parcel up might be a consideration.”
Councilman Troy Purnell agreed that more input was needed.
“Now that everybody understands what we’re contemplating I definitely need to hear from some other people,” he said.
Tyndall said that based on the council’s comments the town would move forward with a public hearing and with getting more information, such as the appraisal value for parcel 57 and the cost of building a new equipment storage shed. He suggested two public hearings — one to gauge interest in any potential property sale and a second to display potential lot lines and easements involved in any sale. The mayor encouraged citizens to weigh in directly with their council representative if not in a formal public hearing.
“If there’s something on your mind, whether it’s this issue or the budget coming up, make sure you let us know,” he said. “It goes a long way.”