MAYOR AND COUNCIL
FEBRUARY 20, 2018
Mayor Cerino called the Mayor and Council meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Linda C. Kuiper, Rev. Ellsworth Tolliver and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council Meeting of February 5, 2018. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Mayor and Council minutes of February 5, 2018 as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $1,174,579.03. A total of $85,412.52 in bills has been paid for construction work at the Marina which the Town was waiting to be reimbursed through grants.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Mr. Stetson moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll was asked about the Cash on Hands report that was discussed at the previous meeting, which he had missed due to illness. Mr. Ingersoll stated that bills reflected in the report had generally been funded and were not reliant on the funds shown in the report as being on hand and in the banks. However, to eliminate any confusion concerning the report, he was revamping both the Utilities and the Town reports to carry forward the previous month’s final funds on hand, show the funds expended and deposited between reports, and given the total funds on hand and in the banks as the bottom line. The reports would continue have the payments made attached to the report.
Chief Baker gave the police report for January 2018. He warned residents that there are phone scams taking place with people claiming to be from the IRS. Chief Baker stated that the IRS will never contact anyone by phone. He said that any questions could be answered by calling or coming in to the police department for clarification.
Dr. Wayne Benjamin gave a presentation on Homeports, noting that they were celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. He said that Homeports was seeking more members and volunteers and enhancing their social programs for all members.
Dr. Benjamin stated that Homeports was a volunteer organization with two paid employees and an office in Town Hall. Homeports main mission was to assist seniors in aging at home safely. They helped with home safety checks, minor repairs, transportation, and vet businesses for their clients.
Dr. Benjamin stated that Homeports currently offers a First Friday dinner in Rock Hall and a Third Thursday luncheon in Chestertown for all their clients. He said that they would like to add on to these social events with senior exercise, card or board games, trips out of the area, etc.
Dr. Benjamin stated that there was a 6-month trial membership available for $100.00. The annual membership is $350.00 per year. There was also a scholarship program for those who do not have the funds to pay for the program.
Ms. Muriel Cole, one of the founders of Homeports, stated that she would like to have the Town’s help in identifying more seniors who could benefit from the program. She said that there were currently 90 members. Most of the volunteer help was driving their members to their various appointments.
Dr. Benjamin distributed the annual report to the Council.
Mr. Jeff Carroll, proprietor of the Fish Whistle restaurant, was present to discuss the idea of an annual fishing tournament in Chestertown. He distributed an overview sheet for the Council to review and said that he has filed a permit form with Department of Natural Resources for the tournament. Mr. Carroll stated that he was seeking permission from the Town to use the proposed new plaza (old Marina building location) as a weigh-in area. He said that he would also like approval for the overall event, which would take place on October 6th and 7th from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day. He said that the tented event in the Fish Whistle parking lot would end by 8:00 p.m. Any money raised from the tournament itself would be donated to local non-profits.
Mayor Cerino stated that with the Marina renovations underway he was uncertain how the plaza area would appear in October but he had no objections to Mr. Carroll using any portion of the Marina site that has been completed by October 6th.
Mayor Cerino asked where trailer parking would take place if contestants wanted to use the boat ramp. Mr. Carroll stated that the area of the tournament was from Crumpton to Queenstown and there were approximately 12 boat launching points encompassed in that area, which should spread out the load of parking.
Mr. Stetson stated that this would be a nice annual event for Chestertown if it was successful.
Mr. Ingersoll asked if there were any other events scheduled for that weekend in October. Mr. Carroll stated that the HP Festival was also that weekend, but he did not see much overlap amongst those participating in either event, noting that parking could be a minor issue. Mr. Carroll stated that the people in the tournament will be in the water during most of the hours the HP Festival is taking place.
Ms. Kuiper moved to support “The First Annual Fish Whistle Rodeo” on Saturday, October 6th and Sunday, October 7th as outlined this evening, noting that updates will be made regarding the best location at the marina for weigh-ins, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Town had received an offer for some of the surplus property located on Lynchburg Street and Hawkins Court. The properties consisted of 4 vacant surplus lots known as 213 and 215 Lynchburg Street and 100 and 102 Hawkins Court. He said that these lots have been for sale for $15,000.00 per lot for low and moderate income potential homeowners or $25,000.00 for builders of homes to low and moderate income potential homeowners.
Mr. Ingersoll said that this land was originally sold to the Town in the late 1970s by the Board of Education and was once the original site of the Garnet School. He said that these properties, along with others, were a part of Interfaith Housing Incorporation’s townhouse properties and although more homes were planned on the parcels, sales flagged and Interfaith sold the remaining townhouse lots back to the Town in 1993. These multiple small lots were then subdivided into larger single-family home sites, only 1 of which sold in 2005.
Despite various efforts to sell, there has been no other interest in the site. Two years ago, Mr. Ingersoll said he contacted all local realtors with a solicitation and Cross Street Realtors received the listing for the lots and for the sale of the former Police Station on Cross Street. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Town’s preference was to have an entity develop the remaining 5 lots with new, low and moderate income homes funded under State or Federal subsidy programs. Cross Street realtors thought there was a building firm interested in placing a model home on one of the lots, but nothing came of it.
In early December, there was an offer for 4 of the 5 lots from Faith Life Church (the church on the corner of Lynchburg Street and Calvert Street) at $10,000.00 per lot with a $10,000.00 good faith deposit in escrow.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the goal of the Town was to build housing for low to moderate income families but not to own the property forever. He said that he thought the Council should considering acting on the offer one way or other or to make a counteroffer if they were so inclined.
Ms. Kuiper asked if the property would remain unimproved. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the ultimate goal expressed by the Church was to build a new church on the property. In the interim, the lots would be used for overflow parking. Rev. Tolliver stated that he knew that the church branched out to real estate and wondered if this was something that was meant to enrich the church through real estate speculation. Ms. Kuiper stated that if the church did build houses the Town would benefit because it would go back on the tax rolls.
Mr. Ingersoll was asked if the lots were improved in any way. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there were water and sewer laterals to each of the lots, though a new building on the lots would only require one and abandon the other laterals.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town has had ownership of the lots for a long time with no success trying to sell them. He said the Town could use the money for other meaningful projects.
Rev. Tolliver moved to approve the sale of 4 lots (213/215 Lynchburg and 100/102 Hawkins Lane) to Faith Life Church at $10,000.00 per lot, was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to nominate Mr. Owen Bailey to the Historic District Commission. The Council had earlier received copies of Mr. Bailey’s resume. A vote would be taken on the nomination at the first meeting in March, according to nomination and approval policies.
Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.
Mr. Foster stated that Chester Gras was a success despite the rain.
Mr. Foster stated that there was a bus trip to the African American Museum that left from Sumner Hall which was well-attended and enjoyed by all who went.
Ms. Kuiper stated that a community organic garden was being implemented at 218 Round Top Road. Anyone was welcome to occupy a space in the garden in the spring, as long as they would garden organically.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Mayor and Council received a letter indicating that there will be an increase in recycling costs and said that she would like to put out an RFP for both trash and recycling. Mr. Stetson stated that he thought garbage pick-up could go to once per week. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was surprised Infinity was not more precise about the increase. Mr. Stetson stated that Infinity was actively recruiting new clients that are added to the Town’s bills for services. Mayor Cerino suggested that Mr. Ingersoll speak with Infinity to better explain the upcoming changes.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he would like to see residents become more involved in the governments processes by volunteering for committees and commissions. He said that the Town is changing and residents needed to be aware of all that was going on in their community.
Rev. Tolliver thanked Chief Baker for his quick work in resolving who was responsible for the damage to the Washington Park park area last week.
Mr. Stetson stated that J.R.s Pub and Lemon Leaf Café closed this past Saturday. He said that he was sad to see the business close and hoped that a new restaurant would open in its place in the near future.
Mr. Stetson stated that he would attend the Council of Government meeting on Wednesday at Molly’s Restaurant and would then go to the Hospice open house at the Hospital.
Mayor Cerino stated that there had been a request by Ms. Leslie Cardinell to be on the agenda but she was not in attendance.
Mayor Cerino stated that he was going to ask Ms. Francoise Sullivan to give a presentation on the website.
There being no further business and no questions from the audience, Mr. Stetson moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:30 p.m., was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor