08/04/2022 | Thoughts from the Editor’s Desk – August 5, 2022

Thanks to the growing popularity of mail-in ballots, waiting for this year’s election results must have been agonizing for candidates in tight races. Although the District 3 race was tight as Eric Fiori won the seat by 37 votes, the tightest race by far was in District 4 where two-term incumbent Ted Elder retained his seat by just six votes. on a familiar enemy. The race was tight across the board with District 4’s four candidates separated by just 20 votes, Elder getting 239 votes, 16-year-old Commissioner Virgil Shockley getting 233 votes, followed by Nancy Bradford’s 221 votes and Jeff’s 219 votes. McMahon.

The matchup between Elder-Shockley — two former school bus drivers — was one of the most interesting political rivalries in recent history. After unseating incumbent Jim Barrett in the Democratic primary for the then-District 2 commissioner seat in 1998, when it was a five-member council, Shockley won re-election in 2002 in the district. 4 newly created as a body of seven members. The 2006 election marked the first of five disputes with Elder. Shockley won easily, taking 62% of the vote, 1,419 votes to Elder’s 862. Four years later, Shockley won again, but it was closer with just 90 votes separating him from Elder, 1,278-1,188. 368 votes against 1,192 for Shockley. In 2018, Elder had it easier, beating Shockley with 53% of the vote and a margin of 209 votes, 1,672 to 1,463. Ahead of that year’s election, Shockley changed his party affiliation to Republican, acknowledging that party affiliation mattered. He helped him narrow the difference, but it wasn’t enough to topple Elder in the end.

As for 2026, I don’t expect to see Shockley or Elder on the ticket, but Bradford and McMahon could be in contention again, as they both had favorable runs in their early campaigns. Four years is still a long time.

It came as a surprise to some – including Berlin City Councilor Jack Orris who expressed concern at last week’s town meeting – that an inclusive playground was the top parks/recreation priority for the city. . Many believed that a proposed skate park was the most important feature, thanks to private fundraising funds and a favorable feasibility analysis being prepared by Salisbury University’s Business Economic and Community Outreach Network.

After last week’s meeting, where he said he was frustrated that the skate park was ranked second on the city’s list of priority projects for Open Space program funding in fiscal year 2024 , Tony Weeg, founder of We Heart Berlin, asked community members to email city officials. to rephrase their opinion of a skate park. Additionally, an online survey was posted asking residents of the city where they would like a proposed skate park to be located – Henry Park, Heron Park or “other”, such as Decatur Park. By midweek, more than 200 people had taken part in the survey.

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After hearing from the citizens of the city, Mayor Zack Tyndall took to Facebook to make sure the public is aware that this is not the renovated playground versus the skate park as far as future priorities. He said the city could “pursue both projects at the same time.” He said an inclusive playground has moved up to top priority as an inspection report revealed numerous safety issues with existing equipment. At last week’s meeting, he encouraged Weeg to formally present the skate park proposal to the Parks Commission, but Weeg feels the momentum for the skate park was already past that phase. He felt the next step was for the council to decide on a site, adding that he favored Henry Park. Tyndall wants the parks commission to consider the skate park proposal at its next meeting in September. The parks commission is expected to be present at next week’s council meeting to further discuss the list of priorities for the Open Space program.

It seems to me that the support is there for a skate park in Berlin and the feasibility study supports it as a community asset, but even the most ardent supporters disagree on exactly where it should be located . For me, Heron Park is out given the city is trying to sell the property. It’s unclear at this time whether negotiations over a sale price will succeed with the preferred developer, but regardless of course, the city has secured a demolition grant for the buildings on the property. A skate park on this site will be problematic for years to come, even if there is a smooth transition of ownership. Although Weeg supports Henry Park, there are concerns about young children crossing Route 113 to skate. Some people want to see it added to the open parking lot and lawn north of Decatur Park.

It was interesting to note the conclusions of the feasibility study, which was finalized last month. He concluded: “We estimated that there were 126 casual skaters and 44 basic skaters in Berlin. If 50% of casual skaters and all primary users visit the skatepark weekly, the skatepark would receive 107 visits per week from Berlin residents, with additional traffic from surrounding areas. …. The community benefit of a skatepark is significant. Berlin’s population does not have adequate access to a skatepark facility, which negatively impacts the ability of youth and young adults to safely participate in the local skateboarding community. Although a location has not been determined, William Henry Park appears to have the capacity of a skatepark and is located in an area that would be of interest to Berlin’s young population.

About Cedric Lloyd

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