BERLIN – A year after the town received a $500,000 demolition grant for Heron Park, little has changed at the former chicken processing plant.
While the town is in negotiations with a potential purchaser and is exploring demolition, the park appears much the same as it did a year ago. Mayor Zack Tyndall said this week a survey of the various lots that make up the property is currently underway.
“We hope to have more information to share with the public soon,” he said.
After considering the sale of at least a part of Heron Park for some time, the town issued a request for proposals (RFP) late last year. In May, the town opted to enter negotiations with Gillis Gilkerson, one of the two entities that responded to the RFP. The Gillis Gilkerson proposal offered the town $1.5 million for three parcels — marked 410, 57 and 191 — and would involve partial demolition of the existing structures along Old Ocean City Boulevard to create a commercial project.
The town also still has its strategic demolition grant, received last December from the state, to use for the property. Tyndall said this week the town was still in an extended negotiation period with Gillis Gilkerson and was also planning for demolition.
“The council agreed to set up a subcommittee to negotiate with Gillis Gilkerson several months ago,” Tyndall said. “The subcommittee consists of the mayor, Councilmembers Knerr and Orris, the town administrator and the town attorney.”
In addition, in October the town contracted with EA Engineering to complete a survey of the properties and to help develop a request for proposals (RFP) for demolition of the former chicken processing building. According to Tyndall, the survey is now in draft form but the RFP for demolition is still being developed.
Councilman Jack Orris said the subcommittee was active this year, and he’s hopeful that negotiations are nearly complete.
“I believe we are close to the other end of the tunnel here and should soon be able to present to the public as well as the entire council the, in my opinion, positive results from the negotiation period,” he said. “We’ve met regularly with Gillis Gilkerson, reviewed plans, asked questions and discussed concerns as well as throwing back to the discussions of the former Berlin Falls Park Advisory Committee. It’s been a lengthy process but looking back through the past year those of us on the council wanted to be deliberate and intentional.”