SNOW HILL – The Town of Berlin is asking the county to help fund a proposed Rails-to-Trails network as well as a feasibility study for a new community center on Flower Street.
Mayor Zack Tyndall on Tuesday presented the Worcester County Commissioners with Berlin’s grant request for the coming fiscal year. The town is seeking an 11% increase in funding from the county that would help with a trail network, a July fireworks show and a feasibility study for a community center to replace the aging Berlin Multipurpose Building.
“We want to see a community center on Flower Street,” Tyndall said. “There’s a demand for that. There’s been discussion in the community for a very long time. The first stage of that project would of course be a feasibility study.”
Tyndall thanked the commissioners for the $465,000 the county granted the town last year, which was used to support fire, police and EMS, but said Berlin was seeking an increase to help with a few specific projects. The town is asking for $39,875 to help with a grant match associated with a Rails-to-Trails program that would create a passive use recreation pathway in the railroad right-of-way.
“We talked a lot, the county and the Town of Berlin, and the Town of Snow Hill also, about a commuter train utilizing the railroad,” Tyndall said. “So the Rails-to-Trails is a little bit different in the fact that it utilizes the easement that’s to the side of the railroad…”
The town is also asking for $5,000 toward the $10,000 fireworks show planned for the Northern Worcester Athletic Complex and $7,500 toward a community center feasibility study. Tyndall said the town was working with the parties involved to find a way to build a community center where the Berlin Multipurpose Building exists now but that it could also be built on a nearby three-acre parcel the town owned. He said the first step in the process was a feasibility study, which is projected to cost $15,000.
The commissioners also heard requests from the towns of Pocomoke and Snow Hill as well as the Ocean Pines Association this week. Pocomoke officials asked for a grant of $465,000 and an additional $32,490, or the equivalent of 10% of the funds the county received from table games revenue at Ocean Downs. Ocean City will make its request at a meeting later this month.
Snow Hill officials requested an unrestricted grant of $500,000 as well as a $235,000 payment in lieu of taxes, $32,490 from table games revenue and $200,000 to go toward sewer line improvements. Town Manager Gary Weber said that like many towns, Snow Hill was struggling with antiquated infrastructure and needed to make improvements to prevent future problems. He pointed out that county buildings relied on that infrastructure.
“We recognize that Snow Hill is only one of four municipalities for whom you provide funding, however, like no other municipality in the county Snow Hill is an integral part of the day to day operations of Worcester County and Worcester County is an integral part of the day to day survival of Snow Hill,” he said.
Ocean Pines Association President Larry Perrone presented a request for $525,000 to help with public safety, $150,000 toward roads and bridges, $40,000 toward recreation and parks and $25,000 for tourism.
“The major portion of our request deals with public safety,” Perrone said. “Our fire and EMS services last year were involved in 13,193 service calls and of those 332 of those calls were mutual aid. The money is being put to good use and it is critical for Ocean Pines.”