A New Set of Positives

This week, though the election is hot news, is not about the election for me. Since my paper comes out Wednesday I’ve got to search around for stories other than the biggest one in the city. I fell like I’m breathing fresh air for the first time in a while, not mired in the combative discussions that have engulfed the city for the last few weeks. And when I look around I remember why I have hope for Berlin.
The election has been rough on Berlin. People are choosing sides and lashing out along ideological and issue-based lines. I talked to several people today who said this election has been relatively mild by Berlin standards, which continues to amaze me, but apparently Berlin had some rough races in its past.
So while I talked to people today about the election, most of the time was spent looking for unrelated stories. What I found were more of the positive stories I’d been telling before. I strayed from those stories to report on the election, PUC hearings and Laidlaw investors, but when I returned to Main Street they were easy to find.
Like what? Like the burned out buildings are being torn down. It is like a breath of fresh air sweeping through the whole downtown. They are coming down one at a time, but they are certainly coming down. The retail establishments are letting out a sigh, finally free of a yoke. The Berlin Wall will soon be down.
The ATV trail opens next weekend. That is another reason to be happy. Years of efforts by multiple councils have gone into this project, and it’s finally coming to fruition.
SaVoir Flare will open next week, giving me one more place to shop for my wife. I already love Hall of Greetings, Rumorz and Maureen’s, and this gives me one more place to go. I’ll likely buy all of her holiday gifts in Berlin this year.
I noticed another store opening soon: Kate’s Place. Anyone know anything about it?
I ran into Dana Willis, one of the men developing the Notre Dame school, emptying out one of the buildings on Main Street. He’s got a project he wants to put in there, though he said he isn’t ready to release the details. But any development on Main Street by someone like Mr. Willis is welcome. It’s one more building without posters in the windows.
Speaking of Mr. Willis, how about Notre Dame? The site is cleaned up, and the air quality tests were just the other day. The city invested $300,000, and Mr. Willis and his partner are going to invest another $4 million. He expects somewhere near 100 jobs at the assisted living facility that goes there. Those are jobs Berlin could use, and that WMCC can prepare people for.
I also heard there is an art gallery/coffee shop opening on Main Street. Hallelujah. I hope they put in wireless. The proprietor was talking about it briefly today, and I didn’t get the specifics, but again, it’s one more business on Main Street.
And the city got another $500,000 for the Neighborhood Revitalization Program. It will allow them to assist at least 35 homeowners with renovation, though Housing Coordinator Andre Caron said last time they did 34 homes with $350,000. The majority of that money goes to local tradespeople; more jobs for Berlin.
That money, combined with other funds, means Mr. Caron has something like $5 million to spend in the next 24 months to revive the city’s housing stock.
Honestly, the sun was shining today and the future looks bright for Berlin. There has been a lot of negative talk due to the municipal election, but I got out today to see what the people were saying, and the one’s I’m talking to are optimistic. I got caught up in the pace of the moment too, viewing the election as a life or death battle. But it’s not. The city has life, and no one can stamp it out. It has people working to make it better. It has passionate people right where it needs it. It has the tools to move forward. I’m glad I got to see that again today, and I hope everyone else notices it too.

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