Berlin Council Delays Strategic Plan’s Second Phase

BERLIN – Municipal officials said they wanted to hear from BEACON before approving a second phase of Berlin’s strategic plan.

The Berlin Town Council last week voted 4-0 to delay approval of a second phase of the strategic planning process until representatives of BEACON (Salisbury University’s Business, Economic and Community Outreach Network) present the results of the first phase to the town. That presentation is expected to take place Dec. 11.

“It would make more sense to have them talk about phase one before we go to phase two,” Councilman Jack Orris said.

In August, the town agreed to spend $9,300 with BEACON on the first phase of a strategic plan. John Hickman, director of BEACON, told the council at the time that the program had a dual mission of community outreach and experiential learning and that all projects are completed with teams of graduate and undergraduate students under faculty supervision. Hickman told the council the purpose of the town’s strategic plan was to look at Berlin’s strengths and weaknesses as well as its opportunities. He said BEACON proposed a three-part process for the town’s plan. The first phase would include development of a survey for citizens and the collection of information from town officials.

Mayor Zack Tyndall told the council last week the first phase had been completed and that BEACON was scheduled to share findings from that initial phase with the council on Dec. 11. He presented a motion to give BEACON the ability to move forward with the second phase for an additional $9,300.

“We don’t want to preclude them from continuing to move the study forward,” Tyndall said.

Orris said he had hoped representatives from BEACON would be present, as he had questions about the first phase. Councilman Steve Green, noting that just 110 of the town’s 5,000 residents had participated in the initial strategic plan questionnaire, said he also had questions.

“Were we pleased with the number of surveys we got back?” Green asked.

Tyndall said that would be a better question for BEACON. Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said John Hickman, director of BEACON, the low participation rate wasn’t unusual.

“He indicated that was on par with his experience,” she said.

Orris said he’d rather wait to approve the second phase after BEACON presented the results of the first phase.

The council voted 4-0, with Councilman Jay Knerr absent, to table approval of the second phase of the strategic plan.

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.