State Grant Viewed As Major Positive For Berlin Park Property

BERLIN – Municipal officials are excited about the possibilities a $500,000 state grant will create for Heron Park.

Following the news that Berlin received a $500,000 strategic demolition grant for the old chicken processing building, elected officials this week expressed optimism about what it could mean for the property.

“I was extremely pleased and excited to learn the town received the demolition grant for Heron Park,” Councilman Jack Orris said. “Huge thanks go out to staff for working diligently on this particular application for at least two years.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Larry Hogan announced $63 million in grant awards to promote community development and economic growth. Among the awards was the $500,000 strategic demolition grant Berlin applied for to demolish the large structure on parcel 57, the section of Heron Park closest to the railroad tracks. The parcel is one of several included in a request for proposals (RFP) the town issued in November. Officials want to see ideas for parcels 57, 410 and 191.

“This is very exciting news not only for the Town of Berlin but for possible purchasers for this property,” Councilwoman Shaneka Nichols said. “You’ll be able to see the land itself without the obstruction of that building there so you can get a true visual for your possibilities, what could be there, in the future. It makes it more marketable for everybody.”

Orris said demolishing the building had been discussed for years and had been a possible goal of the then-Berlin Falls Park Advisory Committee (BFPAC) when the town initially bought the 60-acre property.

“From the days of the BFPAC to now we’ve been hoping to receive this funding opportunity,” Orris said. “This funding and the addition of parcel 191 to the RFP makes me more anxious to see the proposals and how we can best move forward with the property.”

Councilman Jay Knerr said the demolition would add to the parcel’s value.

“This demolition grant is definitely welcome news for the Town of Berlin,” he said. “It will allow us to take down that eyesore of a building and increase the overall value of parcel 57. From there the goal is to get the right development project that will benefit the town as a whole.”

Mayor Zack Tyndall said that because the cost of tearing the building down was substantial, about $560,000, it would have made it difficult for a lot of interested parties.

“This demolition grant is going to take some of that burden off,” he said.

According to Tyndall, the pre-bid meeting held when the RFP was issued showed there was “substantial interest” by reputable companies. Tyndall said he was eager to see what proposals the town received but noted that the municipality wasn’t obligated to accept any of them. Proposals are due by Feb. 14.

“The RFP does not bind the town,” he said. “It just opens the door for a formal proposal.”

The large section of the property where the ponds are located was not included in the RFP and will remain a park.

“The passive use area is not up for discussion,” Tyndall said. “That is to remain a park.”

He added that officials were exploring grants that might help the town upgrade the pathway and add safety features to that area of Heron Park.

State Grant

The buildings formerly home to the Tyson chicken processing operations will be demolished with the state grant funds. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

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.