Worthy Proposals To Weigh For Park

Worthy Proposals To Weigh For Park

Residential vs. commercial – it’s the most simplistic way to compare and contrast the two redevelopment acquisition proposals submitted to the Town of Berlin for parcels at Heron Park.

The town’s Request For Proposal (RFP) process yielded two interesting and polar opposite visions for the parcels of the park property along Old Ocean City Boulevard.

The good news is the RFP process was fruitful and gained the attention of reputable companies with local backgrounds and development experiences. Both proposals utilize the recently acquired $500,000 demolition grant and involve funds coming to the town as each involves the developer buying large parcels of the park property. Selling off pieces of the road front parcels will lower the crippling debt burden from the property purchase in 2016.

Now the town must conduct its due diligence and thoroughly evaluate the projects and their impacts on the town. After evaluating, town staff surprisingly ranked the 78-home redevelopment proposal from Natelli Communities 10 points higher than the commercial project from Gillis Gilkerson. Staff evidently viewed Natelli’s slightly acquisition price of $1.6 million more favorably when coupled with the land donation near Stephen Decatur Park. Gillis Gilkerson is offering $1.5 million to the town and the creation of an amphitheater to be run by the town or another entity. Both projects also call for attractive access to the nature area on the north side of the property.

Berlin sits in a solid spot currently on the park. Having choices was the desired position, and there was no guarantee the RFP process would result in suitable projects being proposed. These are two valid visions worthy of intense scrutiny from the public and government. Many residents have given the proposals their attention. The slight consensus seems to be for the commercial project among the citizens on hand at this week’s meeting, but now the town must take deeper dives exploring the finances as well as the public’s sentiments. An updated appraisal is a solid first step to ensure the town is getting what it should be for the parcels up for sale.

Considering the projects at their most simplistic, we heavily favor a commercial development on this site rather than a housing community. In fact, it would be inconsistent of the town to choose a 78-unit single family community project based on recent concerns expressed with new residential propositions as well as potential annexations for more homes.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.