I wonder what the real problem is. I was talking to a friend who lives a block away from the house where the shooting happened, and he said he thinks the real problem in Berlin is the landlords renting out slums and moving people up from Nashua and Manchester to where their welfare dollars go further. Actually, to be fair, he only mentioned the landlords as the problem, and I am filling in the blanks. That is one version of the problem, the one he sees, and by all accounts one others agree with.
But low valuation of the property could be the problem. If the properties weren’t essentially worthless it wouldn’t be worth it for people to rent them out for so little they would be enticing to no-income renters.
And the property is valued so low because industry has dried up and there are no more jobs. Unless a sustainable economic model develops nothing is ever going to change in Berlin.
But the jobs that were there aren’t ever coming back, as Norm Charest often points out, because the manufacturing sector has sailed far to the east, and as yet there is nothing to replace it. There are jobs here and there that may come back, but no large scale employer coming anytime soon.
I wonder what, really, is the problem. There’s a graduate fellowship in Illinois where they will pay for your masters degree if you will then go to a post-industrial community to address exactly that question. I wonder what it would take to get them to send one of their fellows to Berlin.
The city took down 92 Main St. and 844 Third Ave. in the last few weeks, and they have dozens more properties scheduled for demolition, but still the changes can’t come fast enough.
Berlin is racing toward its future with a boatload of assets, but with every step it gets jostled and risks spilling them all. One misstep could flatten it. It feels like the stakes rise the closer the city gets to evading failure.
The $4.3 million is working. It will be doing good for the community, even if that takes time to sink in. There are already several “happy little piles” around the city, including the one freebie on Mason Street. But then someone gets shot and dies in the street, and it’s hard to be reassured by the progress.
I’m waiting for the prison to open, for a biomass project to get going, for a few more of the buildings to be occupied and a few more of the relics to come down. Those are the steps it will take, tiptoeing around the end of industrial era, that will bring jobs back to Berlin.
And with the jobs will come the stores, and the property values as well. And rising property values rising will push out the property owners only looking to make a buck by moving people from south to north.
How long can the city hang on? It’s been fighting through the detritus left by the closing of the mill for the last several years, but it’s been fighting the slow death of the industry for decades. I don’t see residents giving up anytime soon.
The real problem is too complex for me. I report on the symptoms from time to time, but the root is still buried deep under the soil. As the only reporter for the Berlin Reporter it is beyond my capacity to get deep enough. I’ve discovered something about being a newsroom of one—you only have so many stories you get to. But in Berlin there is one story more pressing than all the rest, and it deserves individual attention: it is the real problem, which no one can explain, and it’s leaving kids dead on the streets. I wish I had the answer, but lacking that I wish I had time to delve into the question, because people are losing more than just sleep.