Engaging the public is the first order of business for Grow Berlin Green, a new program designed to help Berlin become a model town for environmental protection by connecting the community to conservation, but the public must be part of the process in order for the program to be a success.
The three-year project will be managed by a coalition of the Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT), Lower Shore Land Trust and Maryland Coastal Bays Program. However, central to its success will be community involvement.
An open dialogue is vital to ensure the program’s goals of stimulating significant progress toward conservation, water quality and land use challenges facing Berlin, ultimately making the town an archetype for participatory environmental action. To encourage public participation GBG organizers will hold a public meeting Feb. 10 to provide an opportunity for residents, business owners and town officials to voice their opinions as well as learn more about the program.
The Grow Berlin Green Program is part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the town, which was designated a Main Street Community by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley last year. The Main Street approach encourages economic development within the context of historic preservation designed to also help spur economic growth by rebuilding traditional commercial districts. Community self-reliance, a pedestrian-friendly environment, local ownership and a sense of community are also vital to the concept of a Main Street Community, which is managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Both Main Street and GBG rely on public opinion and feedback for their success. To promote this involvement, events and activities will be designed to include citizens, business owners and government officials to better build a foundation for citizen and policymaker participation. Engagement and activism among citizens and policymakers is needed to ensure success in hopes to revitalize downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.
Next week’s meeting will be first formal effort to hear from a broad cross section of the community, including residents, business owners, public officials and educators. It is the energy and commitment of these stakeholders that will fuel the effort to build a movement for positive change in the town.
The meeting is set for Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at Berlin Town Hall. We urge all those who care about the town of Berlin and its future to attend and have their voices heard. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to have a direct impact on where this program is headed.