Mayor and Council Meeting Minutes – August 15, 2016

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MAYOR AND COUNCIL

AUGUST 15, 2016

Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council members Liz Gross, Linda Kuiper, Samuel T. Shoge 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 August 1, 2016 or the public hearing of the same date. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.

Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $774,117.25 and there were assigned funds for waterfront initiatives in the amount of $180,480.00. He said if the expected reimbursements totaling $272,482.47 had been received there would be total operating funds of $1,046,599.72.

Ms. Kuiper asked why the insurance check to Todd’s Body Shop was not paid directly to Todd’s. Mr. Ingersoll said that the insurance check was received by the Town and then the Todd’s Auto Body Shop bill was paid.

Ms. Kuiper asked if any progress has been made on the Delmarva Power bills. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was still working with Delmarva Power noting that the Town has 35 accounts and a “water falling” system had to be tracked for all of them.  He said that the billings were now being entered on a spreadsheet each month for payment to Solar City.  Ms. Kuiper stated that she would like to see how the accounts work.

Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Ms. Gross moved to pay the bills as presented, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.

Ms. Karen Willis of Peoples Bank was present to discuss the Old Fashioned Labor Day Picnic scheduled at the Fountain Park for Sunday, September 4, 2016 from noon to 6 p.m. There would be food and drink available for sale and antique cars along Park Row. Many different organizations will be present and there will be activities for children. Mr. Tom McHugh stated that there will be several bands representing all genres, funded by the Kent County Arts Council, playing throughout the afternoon.

Ms. Kristen Owen, president of the Downtown Chestertown Association, was present on behalf of the Chestertown Waterfront Coalition. Ms. Owen stated that she has been working with Drew McMullen of Sultana, Lani Seikaly of the Greater Chestertown Initiative and Loretta Lodge of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce to address a shared concern over the lack of adequate funding to complete the Chestertown Waterfront renovations. She said that it is imperative that the Town obtain a capital budget allocation from the State of Maryland in order to finish this project. Ms. Owen stated that collectively, the Chestertown Waterfront Coalition represents 350 Kent County businesses and non-profit organizations which include over 5,000 individuals. Continuing to increase customers to the businesses and support for non-profits is most important. She said that an active facility that can accommodate visitors by boat, host public events and increase job opportunities for residents is integral with Chestertown and Kent County’s economic development efforts.

Ms. Owen stated that the coalition has 4 main objectives as follows:

  1. Meet with local and statewide elected officials to advocate for any funding requests made by the Town and to bring any possible resources of funding to the attention of the Town;
  2. To raise funds independently by hiring a professional lobbyist who will work for the coalition to advocate for the Town’s funding requests in Annapolis;
  3. Work to build public support for the Chestertown Waterfront and community support to elected officials and decision makers in Annapolis; and
  4. To solicit letters of support on behalf of the Town’s funding requests to the State.

Ms. Owen stated that before any advocacy efforts are launched at the State level, it was important to know that local officials supported this course of action and asked that the Mayor and Council adopt a resolution to that effect.

Mayor Cerino stated that having these major players in the community come together to try to make the case for Chestertown will make the Town much stronger in their efforts to get the waterfront project finished. He said that this effort needed everyone’s support.

Ms. Kuiper asked if there would be an open meetings violation in anyway if this resolution was passed. She pointed out the case where the now defunct Waterfront Study Committee was found to be a public body a couple years ago. Mayor Cerino stated that the Waterfront Revitalization Task Force was created by the Mayor and Council at a public meeting and therefore, by definition, a public body. Mayor Cerino stated that this Coalition was something done on their own accord and the Town had no involvement other than meeting as individuals.  Ms. Owen stated that in speaking with lobbyists familiar with the process of seeking capital budget appropriation funding, is that if there is not support from local elected officials it is not worth going it to the State level.

Mr. Shoge stated that he wanted to state for the record that the Chestertown Waterfront Coalition had no bearing over plans for the Marina in terms of engineering or architectural and only wanted to see that the funding was available for the Town to carry on with their overall goals. Ms. Owen agreed, stating that the Coalition was offering for the manpower to help get the appropriation, noting that this was a shovel-ready project and a good case for funding. She said that the entire Coalition is vested in the community and the development of the Marina but once funding is awarded the Coalition will disband.

Ms. Gross moved that the Mayor and Council of Chestertown resolve to support the efforts of the Chestertown Waterfront Coalition to advocate for State funding for a portion of the restoration of the Chestertown Marina and understand that the Coalition’s work will include:  1) meeting with local and statewide elected officials to advocate for any funding requests made by the Town and to bring any possible new sources of funding to the attention of the Town, 2) raising funds to independently hire a professional lobbyist who will work for the Coalition to advocate for the Town’s funding requests in Annapolis, 3) work to build public support for the Chestertown Waterfront and communicate this support to elected officials and decision makers in Annapolis, and 4)  solicit letters of support on behalf of the Town’s funding requests to the State.   It is expected that during the course of its work the Coalition will coordinate closely with the Mayor and Council and Town staff, and provide monthly updates to the Mayor and Council on the Coalition’s progress.   Furthermore, while Mayor and Council support the Chestertown Waterfront Coalition’s efforts to advocate independently on behalf of the Town’s funding requests, it is understood and acknowledged by all parties that the Coalition does not formally represent the Town, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.

Mr. Frank Hurst was present to give an update on Chestertown’s Bocce League. Mr. Hurst presented the Council with an updated accounting of the league funds after the monies were transferred from the Town before the 2016 spring season. He said that the total expenses this spring were less than revenue adding $1,100.00 to their total funds of $5,377.20.

Mr. Hurst stated that the fall league will begin on Tuesday, September 5th. He said that the league requests the use of Wilmer Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays for games beginning at 5:30 p.m. He said that at the end of the spring league there were 217 players and they were expecting to have 30 fall teams this year, including the Town’s newly formed team. He said that there was still space for additional teams.

Mr. Hurst asked if the Town could continue to mow the lawn on Tuesday mornings.

Mr. Hurst asked if waivers had to be signed each year. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he thought those who have already signed waivers in the spring would be good in the fall season.

Mr. Hurst stated that he would like to improve the playing area in the Wilmer Park with the Bocce League funds. He said that he met with the groundskeeper at the Country Club who told him that adding topsoil and seed and then using a roller would create an even field. He said that the league would volunteer their time to the project if the Town could roll the field for them. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Town has a small street roller that could be used.

Chief Baker presented the police report for July 2016. Chief Baker stated that Officer Reynolds Peele has been called to active duty.

Mr. Stetson stated that he would like to see a report on cell phone violations as he was seeing many people on phones while driving.

Chief Baker stated that Officer Louis Speight has been with the Department for 2 years and has been promoted the rank of First Class. The Council congratulated Officer Speight on his accomplishment.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Waterway Improvement Grant was submitted for $200,000.00.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that the parking meter covers have arrived and will be installed beginning Tuesday.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was some misunderstandings regarding bulk trash pick-up. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the new Street Superintendent was enforcing rules that have been effect for years for larger piles of organic material. Mr. Ingersoll stated that these fees were not new but it seems as those fees were not being imposed properly for brush, making residents think that there were only fees for bulk items such as refrigerators and televisions or that this type of pickup was included as part of taxes. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there were many man hours and equipment spent on bulk runs for trash and yard waste. He said that the new manager has noticed that many commercial landscaping businesses leaving piles of brush expecting the Town to pick it up, which was never permissible. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Town pays tipping fees each time it delivers to a collection facility and those fees had to be recouped. If a resident does not want to pay the bulk fee they can choose to take bulk and brush to the transfer site themselves but will find that the fees are comparable, if not more, than the Town charges. The benefit to the resident is that the Town will pick up at the curb and take it away.

Mr. Shoge asked about normal grass clippings or leaves. Mr. Ingersoll stated that grass clippings and leaves collected in cans or picked up by the sweeper were expected and did not constitute an extra fee.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that these services are not free and was a service most residents outside of Town would like to have, even with a fee. Mr. Shoge asked about elderly or those on fixed incomes and suggested an amnesty day a couple times a year for bulk trash items. Mr. Ingersoll stated that most homeowners who put out brush do not have a fee because it is the same small amount weekly; the charge came in when it was an extra-large amount of organic material. As for bulk trash items, a spring cleaning day could be considered and has been tried before. He said it would be nice if the County would cooperate on the drop-off end so that it did not cost the Town for tonnage fees.

Mayor Cerino stated that Ms. Emily Welsh was nominated to the Chestertown Recreation Commission at the last meeting and said that he would like to appoint her at the this meeting. Mr. Stetson moved to appoint Ms. Emily Welsh to the Chestertown Recreation Commission pending a background check, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.

Mr. Stetson stated that he attended an emergency meeting of the “Save the Hospital” group on and it was decided that a letter of support would not be sent for the proposed hospital in Easton as it could be detrimental to Chestertown in the future.

Mr. Shoge stated that a resident asked if lights would be installed along the Rail-Trail. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it was unlikely as the trail was meant to be a dawn-to-dusk park, noting that there were too many stretches where electricity was totally unavailable.

Mr. Shoge stated that a bench was installed at the Gateway Park too close to the hoop by the court which did not leave enough when room when playing ball to deaccelerate. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would look into repositioning the bench.

Ms. Kuiper stated that the contents of the Historical Society will be auctioned at Dixon Auction in Crumpton on Saturday, August 20th at 9:00 a.m. with a preview on Friday, August 19th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Brown Bag Lunches would begin at the Bordley Center on High Street on Wednesday, August 17th.

Ms. Gross stated that she just paid a visit to Chester, Nova Scotia which is Chestertown’s companion city. She said that she had lived there for 18 years and when she next visited would like to rekindle the relationship between the towns. The Council thought that was a great idea. Mr. Shoge stated that it was traditions such as this that made small towns unique. Ms. Gross stated that when she first moved to Chestertown a Balsam Fir Christmas tree was Chester’s gift to Chestertown each year (as they are the largest Balsam Fir tree growers in the world) but Fire Marshal rules were then made about live trees in public buildings and it fizzled out. She said that a school in Chester even made ornaments for the tree.

Mayor Cerino stated that Ms. Leslie Cardinell of 312 Roosevelt Drive requested to be on the agenda. Ms. Cardinell thanked the Council for allowing her speak and said that she had deep concern about inaccurate and critical omissions of pertinent facts on police reports in Town. She said that the police should be more vigilant in their documentation especially when it involves the elderly as they are the most vulnerable in the community.

Ms. Cardinell stated that the Chestertown Police Department did not accurately and realistically document the vandalization to the shed located on her property. She showed photos to the Council of several holes to the vinyl siding which she claimed were the result of a neighbor’s intentional vandalism. Ms. Cardinell stated that the police report indicated that the holes could have resulted from a lawn mower kicking up rocks, but said it was vandalized a second time when she left the property and upon her return there was additional vandalization. She said that a boy in the neighborhood had been harassing her in other ways and that she knew he was responsible. In addition to the siding, there was a photo of a screen located off of the deck which had a tear in it. She said that the police told here the rip could have occurred when her patio umbrella flew off and hit it during a recent storm, but she said that she thought the screen was intentionally cut by the neighbor.

Ms. Cardinell stated that she did not understand why the police were emphatic that this was not vandalism and said she wanted it documented in the report that there could have been vandalization, destruction of property and harassment, although the police did not have to name the boy specifically. Ms. Cardinell added that some of her calls to the police have not even been documented, such as when she called because a car drove into her driveway at 11:00 p.m. one evening and she thought the person was going to steal a valuable piece of agricultural art in her yard. She said that she did call the police about that and when she went outside the people had already driven away but the police failed to document the incident.

Ms. Kuiper asked if Ms. Cardinell wanted specific wording in the report in order to make an insurance claim. Ms. Cardinell stated that she was not going to file an insurance claim. She said that she already told the neighbor that she did not want her child to come near her property again. Ms. Cardinell then discussed an occasion when he knocked her clothing off of a clothesline and stole the clothespins. Ms. Cardinell stated that the same “suspect” once flicked a cigarette on her deck and thought he should be mandated to counseling as he could potentially be dangerous. Ms. Cardinell stated that although she did not see this boy vandalize her property he had opportunity, he seems angry and he has sneered at her on occasion.

Ms. Cardinell stated that she did appreciate Chief Baker making corrections to some of the report but she did not know what her resources were if this were to happen again as he denies the vandalism. Ms. Kuiper asked what specifically Ms. Cardinell wanted done. Ms. Cardinell stated that she wanted all pertinent facts documented as she felt she was not being protected. Ms. Kuiper stated that Ms. Cardinell could document this on her own and have the police verify it when they are called. Ms. Cardinell stated that she felt as though she has been victimized twice and needed support. Ms. Kuiper suggested that Ms. Cardinell seek out a support group at the Health Department.

Mayor Cerino stated that he would speak with Chief Baker regarding the reporting from the officers. He said that if nobody witnesses vandalism it was difficult to prove and there had to be some type of evidence. He said from the photos it was difficult to judge whether or not it was vandalism, although he was trying to see both sides of the argument. Mr. Stetson stated that the Council does not have the authority to tell a police officer to change their reports, once written.

There being no further business, Ms. Kuiper moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:52 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.

 Submitted by:                                                 Approved by:

Jennifer Mulligan                                            Chris Cerino

Town Clerk                                                     Mayor

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