Interested parties inquire about additional property, so town makes it available
By Greg Ellison
(Dec. 16. 2021) After issuing a request for proposals for parcels 57 and 410 in Heron Park last month, the Berlin Town Council on Monday agreed to add a third section, parcel 191, to the package.
Mayor Zach Tyndall said an inquiry was made about adding parcel 191 during a pre-proposal meeting and site tour held for interested parties on Nov. 15. The lot encompasses just over 1.5 acres.
“It’s the area where we had the single stream recycling,” he said.
Town officials are seeking lease or purchase offers for parcels 57 and 410 that total 16 acres of the overall 63-acre Heron Park.
Tyndall said after parcel 191 was mentioned during the November site tour, he offered to present the request for council consideration.
Berlin bought the land, which was the site of the former Tyson poultry plant located on Old Ocean City Boulevard  for roughly $2.5 million in 2015 from Berlin Properties North, which counts Councilman Troy Purnell among its ownership.
Berlin is paying $200,000 annually through 2045 to clear that debt.
Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood said parcel 191 sits directly behind Croppers Towing.
“There is a structure on the property … that houses a significant amount of water resources,” he said.
Fleetwood said if the section were lumped into the Heron Park request for proposals (RFP), relocating supplies such as water valves and fire hydrants would have to be addressed.
“We need to think long and hard about a storage facility,” he said.
Jimmy Charles, who was promoted to Director of Public Works that evening, noted the locale hosts raw materials such as stone and sand not available elsewhere in town.
Tyndall said depending on the nature of proposals submitted the site might prove a less-than-ideal storage location in the future.
“We also need to weigh those operational things we do now with the existing site,” he said.
Council member Jay Knerr adopted a conservative approach.
“We should wait to see what kind of proposals we get for the RFP,” he said.
Tyndall said if parcel 191 were added, it would be in the same manner as parcels 57 and 410.
“We can approve those individually but it’s also allowing whoever is interested to look at the property more holistically,” he said.
Council member Dean Burrell voiced support for including parcel 191 in the Heron Park RFP.
“It could always be withdrawn,” he said.
Councilwoman Shaneka Nichols also backed the proposal, albeit with some reservations.
“As long as we’re not locking ourselves in,” she said.
Tyndall confirmed with Town Attorney Dave Gaskill that adding the third parcel would not require formal action by council.
“We will add parcel 191 to the RFP and send that to parties that have expressed interest,” he said.
On a related note, last Friday Berlin announced the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development had awarded the town a demolition fund grant for $500,000 to cover costs for removing the former Tyson poultry plant.