Berlin Commission Ranks Top Priorities For Open Space Funds; Henry Park Lighting First Request

BERLIN– Lighting for the basketball courts at Dr. William Henry Park, ping pong tables for John Howard Burbage Park and plans for a skate park are among the priorities determined by the Berlin Parks Commission.

The commission voted on Tuesday to put basketball court lighting for Henry Park, ping pong tables for Burbage Park, a skate park study and an inclusive playground on its fiscal year 2023 Program Open Space Annual Program for Development. Because the commission identified the lighting at Henry Park as the top priority, that project is the one the commission wants to seek funds for next month.

“It really does expand the ability to use those courts in the wintertime when it’s dark at 5 o’clock,” commission member Patricia Dufendach said. “It gets the people we want playing in the parks. I really hope we are able to get the lighting.”

Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen told the commission she was seeking input on the development list as the town prepared to submit its next Program Open Space grant application in August. Though there has not yet been official news regarding its last application, which was for permanent restrooms at Stephen Decatur Park, she believes that project will receive funding.

“It looks like we will get that funding,” she said.

According to Bohlen the town has not yet received a formal notification regarding the grant but said that it appeared as though the town would receive it. As a result, she wanted the commission to reevaluate the development list since that project could be removed.

“Think of it like a capital improvements plan or something along those lines,” she said.

At her suggestion, the commission agreed to keep Henry Park lighting as the top priority and as such to recommend that the town apply for funding for that project in August.

Mike Wiley, chair of the commission, said Mayor Zack Tyndall had sent him information regarding inclusive playgrounds. He said the mayor was interested in seeing some inclusive equipment added to Stephen Decatur Park.

Commission member Laura Stearns said she’d talked to We Heart Berlin’s Tony Weeg regarding the need for a skate park.

“It takes a lot of money but yes I think it should be on the list,” Dufendach agreed.

At Bohlen’s suggestion the commission agreed to include the skate park on the list but without a location so that funding could even be used to help assess various locations. Stearns said supporters of the project would be thrilled to have it included on the list.

“This is a step in the right direction,” she said.

The commission voted to recommend that the town pursue a Program Open Space grant for the lighting at Henry Park next month and voted to approve the development program featuring the lighting, the ping pong tables, skate park and inclusive playground. Both recommendations will be forwarded to the town council.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.