Kids in Berlin play baseball in the fields next to the old smoke stack and boiler from the mill. The mill is gone, and this massive structure is all that’s left. The kids grow up in the shadow of Berlin’s success, hearing stories about it and seeing traces of its past without ever knowing it. Laidlaw, an alternative energy company, is trying to build a biomass power station in the site of the old mill, using the smoke stack. The city council is against the idea. Mayor David Bertrand said a massive industrial facility in the center of town is the city’s past, not its future. But the biomass plant would bring 40 jobs to the area; 40 jobs the area needs. Clean Power, another company working to build a biomass facility, does not raise the same objections Laidlaw does within the council. As the newest city councilor Ryan Landry said, if Laidlaw wanted to build the plant on Jericho Road on the outskirts of town there would be no problem. But they aren’t. They own the land in the center of town with the boiler, and that is where they want to build. The city has decided to retain Downs, Rachlin and Martin, a law firm out of Vermont for around $295 an hour in preparation of the legal battle. They expect to spend $100,000 in the fight. The city councilors are torn between 40 jobs now with a 19th century downtown or an empty downtown now in hopes of a cleaner future. Right now, they are betting on the future.
For more information on Berlin, NH, check out the Berlin Reporter.