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Berlin Borough addresses coronavirus preparedness

Berlin Community Center temporarily closed, senior events cancelled

Berlin Borough officials addressed the coronavirus threat at their March 12 meeting, with a focus on preparedness and precautions recommended by the state to protect residents.

Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Rushi Pandya said borough officials have met with officials from Berlin Township to discuss the pandemic and how the two municipalities can work together moving forward.

“During this meeting, we discussed our number-one concern, the safety and welfare of our first responders and our citizens of both communities,” Pandya said. “We discussed our level of preparedness with our department heads in an effort to take steps to reduce the spread of the [virus] while providing necessary services to our citizens.”

Council announced at the meeting the immediate closing of the Berlin Community Center for an undetermined period, a move recommended by Gov. Phil Murphy in his directive  that all gatherings of more than 250 people be cancelled.

After discussions with senior groups in the borough, council also agreed to temporarily cancel all senior events.

Despite cancellation of meetings in neighboring municipalities, Berlin Borough officials elected to hold their session so they could address necessary business in case future meetings are cancelled, according to Mayor Rick Miller.

Council is working with Solicitor Howard Long to find ways in which meetings could be conducted remotely while maintaining input and feedback from residents.

According to Long, the state recognizes that municipalities may pursue meetings by phone in the near future, with residents somehow still submitting questions. The borough has yet to decide how it will accomplish that.

Miller reminded residents that council continues to evaluate procedures for dealing with the virus.

“We do want our residents to be aware that we are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure that we are prepared, in the event that unfortunately something does happen,” he said.

In other news:

  • Council authorized $68,700 from a $245,000 grant for design of the upcoming 2020 Berlin Borough Roadway Improvement Program.
  • The borough approved a shared services agreement with the Berlin Borough School District for the board for education to potentially lease the community center to a third party. According to Miller, discussions are preliminary, but there is interest on both sides to mitigate the high costs of operating the venue.
  • Councilman Len Badolato is meeting with representatives from Camden County College regarding potential partnerships between the college and borough with The Dill House. Badolato said a potential partnership centered around the arts has been discussed.
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