Council discusses upcoming election, pedestrian paths

Berlin Borough looking to create walking and biking trails to increase pedestrian mobility

Berlin Borough Council met for its monthly meeting at Municipal Hall last week, discussing the upcoming 2020 election, the borough’s master plan, a new ordinance and more.

During council reports, councilman Andy Simone discussed the borough’s possibility of updating it’s walking and biking trails to make a more connected municipality for pedestrians, due to the borough having recently received a low rating on pedestrian mobility.

“The planning board last year was presented with the circulation element of the master plan,” said Simone. “Within that document, Berlin Borough got a low to mid rating on pedestrian mobility throughout town. One recommendation was to improve bike trails and walkability throughout town.”

The Sun previously covered the borough’s updating of it’s master plan this past December, when the borough planning board updated the Historical Preservation, Economic Development and Circulation Elements portions of the plan.

In the report, CME Associates recognized that the majority of the borough’s main roadways are either state or county roads, thus limiting the borough’s ability to make large changes regarding automobile routes. However, it did recommend updating bicycle and pedestrian paths.

At last week’s meeting, council passed a resolution authorizing the borough and CME Associates to develop a Transportation Alternative Plan that can be submitted for grant funding as the borough seeks funds to make such pathways a reality.

According to Simone, the borough is currently in the preliminary stages of developing a plan that would allow for mobility both north to south and east to west.

“We do have a lot of county roads in town that you have to cross, but what we’re going to do is put in a walking trail and a bike trail in certain areas and phase it in projects,” Simone explained. “I think that’s a very progressive movement from the planning board to the council and the benefit is going to go to the residents.”

Later in the meeting, Municipal Clerk Dwayne Harris updated council regarding the upcoming election and what residents should expect, since the state has moved to an all mail-in ballot election.

“What the counties are doing, under the direction of the Governor, is that any municipality that has a population of 5,000 (residents) or more, the county will actually be installing a dedicated mailbox to receive ballots,” Harris said.

According to Harris, since Berlin Borough meets the criteria, a mailbox will be installed in the walkway of Municipal Hall by the county to receive ballots, that way residents can deliver their ballots within their municipality if they do not wish to mail them back. Harris said, at this time, the borough expects the mailbox to be delivered and installed sometime later this month.

Harris also reminded council and residents that the borough will still utilize it’s polling places on Election Day, however residents will vote by a provisional ballot rather than the traditional machine voting at polling places.

Lastly, council unanimously passed the first reading of an ordinance prohibiting the planting of bamboo or invasive plant species and bamboo grasses. A public hearing is scheduled for council’s next scheduled meeting on Thursday, Oct. 8.

According to Harris, the borough has received complaints in the past regarding bamboo and other invasive plant species, causing the necessity to pass such an ordinance. Under the ordinance, more than 10 invasive plant species are prohibited from being planted within the borough. Any that are prohibited but already within the borough, if the ordinance passes on second reading, are then to be contained.