BERLIN – Municipal officials next week will consider a budget amendment allowing for the purchase of property on Flower Street.
On Monday, the Berlin Town Council will be presented with a motion for a $45,000 budget transfer. The funds, to come from the town’s community center reserve, would allow for the purchase of a lot on Flower Street adjacent to the Berlin Multi-Purpose Building.
“We have the reserve fund for the community center already earmarked,” said Mayor Zack Tyndall. “The idea is to use those earmarked funds to acquire the property.”
The need for a community center in Berlin has been a topic of discussion for at least the past 20 years, according to Tyndall. Though the Berlin Community Improvement Association (BCIA) expressed interest in turning over ownership of the aging multi-purpose building to the town a few years ago as a potential community center site, the plan was derailed when it became known that a half-acre piece of land in front of the property was owned by a separate entity. That entity, the Booker T. Washington Lodge, listed the lot for sale earlier this year at $33,500.
The town council held two closed session meetings in recent weeks and at Monday’s regular session is set to discuss the acquisition of real property. Tyndall said the action item will be a motion that would approve a fiscal year 2022 budget amendment increasing expense and revenue accounts association with real property acquisition in the general fund with a $45,000 transfer from reserves. The town’s community center reserve fund currently contains more than $417,000.
Tyndall said the budget transfer would cover acquisition and transfer costs.
“The goal is once this property is acquired to have more discussion with the Berlin Community Improvement Association,” Tyndall said.
He’s hopeful that the multi-purpose building and this adjoining land can one day be the site of a new community center. While a community center is just a building, Tyndall believes history should play a part. Because the property was once home to the Flower Street School, Tyndall said this location would be perfect.
“You couldn’t find a better place in Berlin,” he said. “This has been a gathering place for over a century.”
Town officials recently agreed to create a community center committee. Tyndall said that group will discuss wants and needs and likely move forward with a feasibility study.
“You have to understand the cost today and the cost long-term,” he said.
Though the town’s last property acquisition — the purchase of the old Tyson plant—has been a cause for contention among residents, Tyndall says the property the town is moving toward buying now is not comparable.
“We’re not going into debt to acquire the property,” he said. “This is a much smaller acquisition done with existing funds and no outstanding debt.”