High Bids Prompt Delay In SD Park Restroom Project

BERLIN – Plans for a permanent restroom at Stephen Decatur Park are on hold after bids came in too high.

Though the town received a grant to fund much of the cost of a permanent restroom for Stephen Decatur Park, pricing has more than doubled. As a result, the project has been tabled for now.

“The prices that we got back were just not doable with the grant funds we received,” Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said.

In 2021, the Town of Berlin received a $99,000 Community Parks and Playgrounds grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for permanent restrooms at Stephen Decatur Park. The grant came six years after town officials initially applied for funding for the project, which has long been sought by local residents and council members.

Bohlen told the Berlin Parks Commission on Tuesday that the project was now being delayed. She said that when the town had solicited bids for the restroom, they’d come in higher than expected.

“It was double what we had budgeted,” she said.

The town informed bidders it is not proceeding at this time and staff are now exploring additional grant opportunities.

“Depending on how those turn out we may revisit it sooner rather than later,” Bohlen said. “We’ll have to see.”

She added that the pricing problems related to the fact that the town had to submit its application for the DNR funds long before grant awards were made. The application was due in the summer of 2020 and the town didn’t find out it had received the grant until 2021.

“By the time we were able to bid it wasn’t until this year,” Bohlen said. “When the bids came back they were too much.”

Commission member Bruce Hyder asked if the town could seek a grant from the county. Bohlen said that while that was a possibility, it likely wouldn’t cover the shortfall.

“If worse comes to worst, we’ll reapply for Community Parks and Playgrounds monies for the balance,” Bohlen said. “It may give us a slight advantage because they’ve already committed funding.”

Bohlen added that jurisdictions everywhere were facing price increases and extended wait times for materials.

“Hopefully prices are going to come back down,” she said.

At this week’s meeting Bohlen told the commission another upcoming project, the installation of lighting at the Henry Park basketball courts, was expected to take place this winter. The lights should arrive in December and are expected to take about 30 days to install.

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.