BERLIN – The town could soon apply for another grant to help fund the demolition of derelict buildings at Heron Park.
Though Berlin didn’t receive funding during the state’s last round of strategic demolition grant awards, Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells is preparing another application following positive comments from state officials.
“They said we had a strong grant but the funding wasn’t there,” Wells said. “They encouraged us to reapply.”
Staff is recommending submission of the grant application, which seeks more than half a million dollars to assist in the demolition of “the main campus footprint” at Heron Park.
Mayor Zack Tyndall, however, said the application wasn’t due until July and that it was too early to say if the town would apply.
“It’s still a little up in the air as to what route we’re going to go,” he said.
Tyndall said there were still parties interested in buying the park parcels and that the town was possibly going to issue a press release announcing that it was seeking proposals. He said there was also an opportunity to consider short-term options that made financial sense.
“A clear path forward to solicit those things has not been developed yet,” he said.
In March, elected officials held a special listening session to gauge public interest in selling parts of the Heron Park property. The parcels that could be sold include parcel 57 (the southwest portion of the property off Old Ocean City Boulevard, adjacent to the railroad tracks and including most of the old poultry processing buildings) and parcel 410 (a 10-acre rectangular portion of the property that runs behind Cropper & Sons and includes outbuildings and open space). The two-hour listening session included a variety of presentations regarding plans for the park’s future, one of which called for a public-private partnership on a concert venue. Tyndall said the town hadn’t received any more information on that in the months since.
He added that while the councilmembers weren’t particularly interested in selling parcel 410, they were more open to getting rid of parcel 57. He stressed however that nothing had been decided yet.
Wells is hopeful that the town will submit the application for the demolition grant, which would not require a match in town funds. She’s also working on an application for a Community Legacy Grant for approximately $200,000 that would help with the renovation of the old police station space. The space, adjacent to town hall, isn’t currently being used and would be ideal for community meeting area.
“We don’t have a community meeting space that’s easily accessible,” Wells said, adding that she regularly fielded calls from community members looking for meeting space.