A Sunday morning fire destroyed the house at 320 High St., and now its guts are spilling out onto the sidewalk. The smell of smoke burned in my lungs as I took pictures on Monday, and a man stopped by to peer into the building’s bowls. He said the it’d be a shame if no one comes by and takes all the copper piping and wire left exposed. I got the distinct impression he would do it as soon as I left.
I imagine it is easy to get down on the city. Sometimes it seems there are vultures everywhere, particularly after the quiet spell is broken, and the story about Berlin in the Union Leader is once again about fires.
I go home every night to a different town; the city’s struggles are not my struggles. If I were here every day perhaps something like this would be harder to accept, but I don’t, so I am able to look past it and forward.
Residents of Berlin have no shame in being weary. The past decade has dealt a lot of blows to the city, some of which might have appeared fatal, and yet Berlin has survived them all.
I drove to the WMCC campus today, and on the way in I noticed their sign. The best education is adversity the sign said. If that’s true, Berlin has earned it’s Ph.D.
The city hasn’t given up. It is a testament to its residents, even those who trash on it, that the place has the life that it does. In a community like Berlin it’s easy to become ideological enemies, but residents have maintained their pride in their home.
I don’t have that weary perspective, and I haven’t earned a higher degree in hardship. What I see here is positive, and I spend most of my time writing about them in hopes other people will see them too. But I thought after a fire, with the paper just about done, I would put together a list of good things I noticed today to cheer up anyone who feels the most recent fire is the weight that will cause them to crack.
- Tony’s Pizza — If you haven’t noticed, it’s been cleaned up and it looks like a business might be moving in. I’m going to have to check this out in the future. Nice to see some development.
- Morning Lane Photography — The building is looking great. The painting that has been going on outside for more than a week really helps spiff up Main Street.
- Gill Building — New business moving into town… Story to follow to be in the next Berlin Reporter, so stay tuned.
- Neighborhood Stabilization Program — $4.3 million. Need I really say more? OK, it gets released Wednesday, and it will be used to clean up the blight. Again, story to follow more in depth, but it’s happening.
- ATV Trail — A big part of making the city a destination for ATVers, and it gets voted on tonight by the city council. Can’t imagine that won’t help bring people in.
- Wang’s Garden — Need a sports bar. Check out this week’s paper to learn more.
- Fagin’s Pub — They’re working on it, cleaning up the mess. Not sure when it’ll be open, but they’re on it.
- Main Street Benches and Flowers — In fact, all of Main Street up to East Mason Street is looking great. The flowers, benches, scarecrow displays, everything. And store owners have been taking more pride in their store fronts, which shows. The whole thing looks great.
- The Main Street Fires — Those two buildings will be coming down in a month or two. This, combined with the other upgrades on Main Street, make a huge difference.
- The Traffic — I know some people hate it, but I love it. I was downtown the other day, and the streets were busier than I’d ever seen. People will bring the revival the city needs.
I hope that helps for anyone who was having a bad day. I could go on, because so much of what I see up here is positive, but I wanted to make the post quick. Negatives are here, but many of us who haven’t lived surrounded by them all our lives see them as the fringes, not the essence, of Berlin. A number of people have fallen in love with the area in the last few years; this is what they see. Thank god for that outside perspective; may it give hope to those without it.
Update: Two more: the city council passed the ordinance allowing ATVs on city streets, connecting the trails on west side of the city with those on the east, and the building next to the library has been cleaned up and will soon house a gazebo. Keep it coming…