BERLIN– Municipal officials will get a firsthand look at what could be demolished at Heron Park during a work session next week.
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, Mayor Zack Tyndall and the Berlin Town Council will hold a 6 p.m. work session at Heron Park. During the work session, they’ll tour the buildings on the site with engineers from Davis, Bowen & Friedel Inc. (DBF) and talk about what can be demolished with the town’s $500,000 grant.
“We’re trying to expend those demolition funds to the fullest,” Tyndall said. “I don’t want to leave any money on the table.”
Last month, the town halted negotiations with a local developer who was interested in purchasing a portion of the park property and instead decided to move forward with using a $500,000 strategic demolition grant it was awarded by the state in 2021. Tyndall said the town asked engineers to begin looking at demolition options as soon as the vote was taken to end negotiations.
“That very next day the engineers started working on evaluating the building,” he said.
Now that they’ve explored the site, they’ll meet with Tyndall and the council to review demolition options and talk about how the building will need to be secured in the wake of partial demolition. Officials have known for some time $500,000 is not enough to demolish the dilapidated processing plant in its entirety.
“Since the beginning we’ve said the engineers are planning as if the entire building cannot be demolished,” Tyndall said.
He said elected officials would need to decide what parts to demolish so the request for proposal (RFP) documents could be developed.
“I think the only way to do that prudently is on site,” he said.
Councilman Jack Orris isn’t convinced an on-site work session is necessary.
“It’s up to the engineers we hire to tell us what should be demolished, what shouldn’t and what absolutely needs to stay for structural integrity and safety,” Orris said. “We’re legislators, not engineers or builders. I believe this work session time could be better spent continuing discussions on things like the LDC multi-year plan or stormwater issues; any number of issues instead of trying to cram everything into a council meeting.”
Councilman Steve Green said he was looking forward to touring the old chicken plant with the engineers.
“We need to know what can be removed through the demo grant and what can safely stay,” Green said. “Most importantly, I am eager to learn about DBF’s recommendations on how to secure the site once the trash buildings are removed. The entire site cannot be cleared with the demo grant. We know this already, but Berlin citizens should not have to look at a quasi-bomb site after viewing this eyesore for the last 20 years while the town continues to debate what to do next.”
Councilman Jay Knerr remains optimistic about the building repurposed in the future.
“I think it’s important for the council to have a complete understanding of what needs to be demolished and what can be saved while staying within the grant funding,” Knerr said. “That building still has value and if we take the right steps now, it could be a future home to a variety of businesses that don’t directly compete with downtown Berlin.”
The work session is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10 at Heron Park. While the public is welcome to attend, Tyndall said attendees would have to wear closed-toed shoes, a hardhat and have a flashlight.
“There will be an indemnification form that has to be filled out,” Tyndall said.
The hold harmless form is available on the town’s website.