BERLIN – Citizens will have a chance to share their thoughts on the future of Heron Park with a public input session March 15.
Town officials this week agreed to set a special public listening session for Monday, March 15 to give residents the chance to weigh in on the potential sale of portions of the park as well as ideas for its future.
“I think that if the public has an opinion, if the public has a presentation, if the public has something they’d like for us to consider, I think it is incumbent upon us to provide them that public opportunity,” Councilman Dean Burrell said.
Earlier this month, town officials began discussing the possibility of selling parcels 57, the portion of Heron Park occupied by the old production plant building, and portion 410, which is primarily open space but includes some town equipment storage. Mayor Zack Tyndall this week voiced plans to accept public input on the potential sale during the council’s March 22 meeting but councilmembers suggested otherwise.
“I do not think it’s a good idea to have it on the 22nd, which is the same date as the public hearing on the tax rate,” Councilman Jack Orris said.
Tyndall and councilmembers agreed to instead schedule a Zoom public listening session for March 15 at 6:30 p.m. Once Councilmember Shaneka Nichols brought up the fact that at least one group wanted to make a presentation regarding a proposal for the park, elected officials also agreed they wanted to hear anything the public wanted to offer regarding the property.
“We’re about to make this important decision on whether to keep or sell one or two of those parcels and yet we have a group that wants to do a presentation for us, the decisionmakers, and the public, to show us ways or how we can generate revenue from those parcels,” Councilman Jay Knerr said. “I think it would be in our best interest to hear that presentation.”
Burrell pointed out that the Heron Park Advisory Committee could have been helping with the process if it hadn’t been disbanded in January.
“I’m sitting here wondering if we acted prematurely in disbanding that committee,” he said. “I have had emails and telephone calls from the public and while engaging in these conversations and replying to these emails it dawned on me that this was, should have been, one of the responsibilities of that committee we just disbanded.”
Tyndall acknowledged that was a valid concern.
Tyndall said those with detailed presentations regarding the park should submit those soon so they could be included in the March 15 meeting packet. Councilman Troy Purnell also encouraged those with in-depth proposals to reach out to councilmembers in advance.
“That way we’re well educated before they show up and we have a chance to ask them questions,” he said.