BERLIN – Citizens can weigh in on the future of Heron Park Monday as the town considers selling a portion of the property.
The town will host a special listening session via Zoom on Monday to hear suggestions and view presentations regarding the 60-acre property. The meeting comes after the town was approached about selling certain sections of the former chicken processing plant. Town officials also learned this week the state had denied their $500,000 strategic demolition grant request. The funding was being sought to demolish decrepit structures on the properties, including the existing former poultry processing building.
“I am very interested to hear comments from the public regarding the possible sale of parcels 410 and 57 at Heron Park,” Mayor Zack Tyndall said. “The council has an important decision to make about this property’s future and the people in our community should have an opportunity to voice their opinion.”
The session, which is set for 6:30 p.m. March 15, can be accessed via the Zoom link on the agenda on the town’s website. The meeting will also be livestreamed on Facebook, though questions and comments will only be accepted via Zoom. After an introduction from the mayor, presentations will be made by those who have submitted them in advance.
Resident Tony Weeg will share his vision for reconfiguring the existing park parcels to allow the town to sell off some space but retain area that could be used for a skatepark as well as the natural section of the park. He believes the town could ensure a beneficial future use of the parcels to be sold if its gets plans and permitting for them done before transferring ownership.
Resident Ron Cascio plans to propose a similar idea. He’s not opposed to selling a portion of the park but believes the town needs to take a comprehensive look at the entire property first to determine exactly which portions it could be beneficial to sell.
“I’m going to suggest that if we do sell that we consider not just lopping off an existing parcel but to first come up with a comprehensive master plan,” he said.
Other presentations on the agenda will come from Live Wire Media (Ann Hillyer and Brad Hoffman) and resident Marie Velong. Velong believes the town should sell portions of the park. She said improving the lots will take more money than the town has. She’s also very concerned about all the hazards on the former industrial site.
“Personally, I think the whole park should be sold, but I do understand the idea of preserving nature in the back parcel,” she said. “My objection to keeping that part is the same as the front parcels. Though the birds and animals adapt to the industrial nature of the land, no one has cleaned up those areas of the many pipes, cement
slabs and construction debris that abound in the back part as should have been done before it was purchased for a park.”
Hillyer said she would be talking about a potential public/private partnership.
“For the first meeting our basic goal is to provide the town a vision of what Heron Park could be,” she said. “We believe that the park could provide a lot of different uses for town residents while beginning to generate revenue through concerts, concessions, etc. I doubt any of the ideas are new but I think our approach as a public/private partnership is new.”
Another individual expected to speak at the meeting is Mark Stevanus, operator of Heavy Metal Playground. Stevanus has been trying to set up a second location of his business, which lets people play with construction equipment, in Worcester County since last year.
Following the presentations, members of the public will have the opportunity to share their thoughts regarding the potential disposition of parcels 410 and 57.