BERLIN — Berlin’s new city manager Phillip Warren Jr. said he came to Berlin looking for a new challenge after working for over a decade as the town manager of Meredith. Warren said he sees a lot of potential and reasons to be optimistic for the future of Berlin. Warren said he sees Berlin as both a challenge and an opportunity. He said the area is blessed with a number of natural resources including its people, who have the tenacity to help bring the city back to where it used to be. He talked about the city’s recent industrial development activities and businesses as well as OHRV- and snowmobile-related tourism activities. He also touted the importance of Burgess Biopower, which he said is in his opinion the largest producer of renewable energy, especially for a city the size of Berlin. He referenced the local wind turbines and four area hydro facilities as part of the natural and economic resources the city has.
Also on the plus side, Warren said the Route 110 corridor is ripe for development, with the anchor, of course, being Jericho Mountain Park, which will lead to additional opportunities for tourist and recreation-related activities. Warren said once development begins, especially if the corridor can get a hotel, conference center or even a restaurant, other growth will spread from there.
Warren touted the ongoing development related to North Country Growers as an example of diverse businesses opening up in the area. He said in the past Berlin had relied on one big industry, the paper mills, to support economic growth in the city, but now the city will need to rely on a collection of small to medium businesses to help rebuild the community and he is excited about the prospect moving forward.
“What we need to do is broadcast all the positives about Berlin,” Warren said. “We are a renewable energy hub and we are open for business.”
Warren, for his part, brings a wealth of experience in municipal governance. He got his start in 1996 as part of an internship at Bridgewater State College, now Bridgewater State University, in Bridgewater, Mass. At that time, he earned an opportunity to work in the Norton, Mass., town manager’s office. He said at the time he was still unsure of what his career plans would be after college, but the internship morphed into a job working as an assistant to the town manager in Norton. Warren has a Bachelor of Science degree in aviation management from Bridgewater State and a master’s degree from Suffolk University in public administration.
From there, Warren applied for and was appointed by the Norton selectmen to an interim position as the town’s treasurer/tax collector. He was then elected to a three-year term as the treasurer/tax collector in 1999, but he said he only stayed in the position until September of 2000 when he left to take a job as the town administrator in Holbrook, Mass. Warren served as the town administrator in Holbrook until December of 2004, when we took the position as the first town manager of Abington, Mass. Warren said he served as Abington town manager until September of 2009 when he left to take the position as Meredith town manager, where he stayed until May 2, when he officially became the city manager in Berlin.
Warren said he sees some similarities between Berlin and Meredith, specifically that the two communities’ histories have similarities. Warren explained that Meredith had an asbestos and wool mill in the middle of town which closed down and is now an inn, that is part of the town’s revitalization, which he was able to be a part of as town manager. He sees a similar promising future for Berlin.
Warren said he owns a property in North Conway and that before accepting the position in Berlin he had vacationed and traveled throughout the North Country, adding he always thought the region was a nice place to visit and that it might be a place he would want to live someday. He said he reached the point in Meredith where the idea of new challenges and projects appealed to him so he applied for the open position in Berlin.
Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier said the city did extensive interviews with a number of candidates, but when they interviewed Warren, they knew he was the right guy for the job.
“He is very experienced,” Grenier said. “He’s got phenomenal communication skills. We were fortunate to attract a gentleman of Phil’s stature and ability. I think he will be an asset in helping to finish the transition Berlin has started.”
Grenier said at the time the city interviewed Warren there were nine other vacancies for similar positions around the state in communities larger than 5,000 so the city was lucky to land someone of Warren’s caliber.
In just over a week of work with city staff, Warren said the staff is really conscientious and hardworking. He said it is amazing the amount of work that gets done in the city with the resources Berlin has. He said Berlin staff are able to get as much or more done than he saw in Meredith, which had newer and more updated resources, which he said was a credit to the hard work put in by Berlin employees.
Warren said for the short term his focus is on getting through the budget process. After that, he would like to have a meeting to establish goals and objectives going forward with the mayor and the city council.
Warren Carrol, Editor
May 11, 2022