A prison, a biomass plant, another prison…

… and a casino.
Will Berlin change its motto from The city that trees built to Not in your backyard? How about here? It is discouraging to think the only businesses the city can pursue are the industries everyone else wants to get rid of.
Yesterday I got sidetracked while talking to one of the firefighters about the most recent fire. We wound up discussing the economic challenges the city has, making for one more conversation to add to my list. The fireman said he looks around and sees many opportunities no one takes advantage of. He mentioned rescuing someone off Mt. Forist, the big cliff on the west side of town.
“That could be the next Cathedral Ledge,” he said.
Being a climber, I don’t agree; I think it could be better than Cathedral. Or at least it has the potential to be more of an everyman cliff than Cathedral, because it is waiting to be developed. Easier routes could go up without being scary or dangerous. This could be one part of the multi-step approach to drawing people to Berlin.
He mentioned ice climbing, and boating, and ATVs, but Berlin doesn’t have a single hotel and the restaurant selection is pathetic. What does it take to move toward adventure tourism? I don’t hear anyone even discussing it.

The creativity of people trying to solve the problems in Berlin is lacking. Norm Charest, Tri-County CAPs economic development director, said people in the area are caught in a mindset that keeps them from seeing opportunities. His biggest critic, Lorraine Leclerc, is on the same page — it was Project Rescue’s creativity and drive that got things going at the former Notre Dame school.
But these two are doing battle publicly instead of joining forces to solve the city’s problems. Maybe it is the curse of society to have more challenges created by living together than are solved, but it seems Mrs. Leclerc’s creativity is exactly what Mr. Charest championed. Mr. Charest had other development ideas, like an indoor adventure center near the ATV park to provide poor weather and after dark entertainment. Who is going to come up with more ideas like this and move them forward?

The city council seems to be waiting for someone to arrive with this type of creative thinking. They are hoping to find something better than Laidlaw to fill the center of town, some sort of economic advancement that doesn’t spew smoke. They don’t need one employer to bring back the 2,000 jobs the mill used to provide, but they need something. The council has been approached now for a fourth time with an outside idea: build a casino. Casinos may have positive economic effects, as do biomass facilities and prisons, but they aren’t the MOST desirable business to build a community around.
So where are the inside ideas? Where is the creative thinking coming from inside Berlin? The Gill Building was renovated in hopes that by cleaning up the downtown the economy will improve, but that misses the step of having something to build a beautiful downtown around. Who is going to come up with that?

Mr. Charest said he thinks the citizens are so beaten down they don’t know how to get out of this rut. Mrs. Leclerc proved they can. Who in Berlin is going to take the ball from these two and run with it?

One thought on “A prison, a biomass plant, another prison…

  1. Erik,I have been an avid reader of your blog since discovering it almost to the day of its inception. I appreciate your insight, your hard work, and especially your writing style. The Berlin Reporter was lucky to land a rookie reporter who's writings read more like a seasoned veteran for the Washington Post…. keep up the good work!I look forward to future posts……Sincerely,Ryan K LandryBerlin City Council

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