Mayor and Council Meeting Minutes – August 7, 2017

MAYOR AND COUNCIL

AUGUST 7, 2017

Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:43 p.m. In attendance were Council members Liz Gross, Linda C. 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 July 17, 2017. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Mayor and Council meeting of July 17, 2017 as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.

Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $652,758.66. Mayor Cerino stated that there was a separate fund for the Broad Reach sculpture donations in the amount of $5,750.67.

Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Ms. Gross moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.

Mayor Cerino called forward Chief Baker to discuss an employee education program for police officers offered by Chesapeake College. Chief Baker stated that a representative from Chesapeake College told the officers that they have a program which allows credits to carry over from the police academy (30 credits) which they combine with an additional twenty-eight (28) credits to earn an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice. He said that there were three (3) CPD officers interested in pursuing the class.

Chief Baker stated that Chesapeake College is asking for payment at the end of the class and he asked that the Town pay Chesapeake College directly rather than reimbursing the officers. He also said that the employee manual reads that an employee should have one year or more of continuous service with the Town before taking classes. There were two (2) officers who did not yet meet the criteria and asked the Council to allow an exemption. He said that the interested officers would like to take the class together and it begins at the end of the month. Classes were online and the officers are aware that the work is to be done on their own time. The classes occur over a 2-year period at a total cost of $3,600.00 per person, which did not include books.

Chief Baker stated that he received feedback from the Council that the employees should be responsible for their books and supplies and asked for a 2 year employment commitment after the classes were completed. If for any reason the employee would leave, they will be required to refund the costs of the classes to the Town. Ms. Gross stated that there was already a retention problem in the police department and the increase in an officer’s qualifications would make them attractive to larger agencies. She said she thought the additional 2 year commitment was an important part of the Town agreeing to pay for the classes. Chief Baker stated that if an officer did not make it through the class, or failed it, that it would be their responsibility to pay for the classes.

Ms. Gross moved to approve Chief Baker’s proposal for continuing education for three (3) officers as proposed in an email of July 31st with the understanding that the officers will make a commitment to continue employment with the police department for 2 years after completion of the course, and be responsible for purchasing their own books and other supplies. The motion was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.  

Mr. Ingersoll stated that he has an application prepared for a Waterway Improvement Fund Grant in the amount of $300,000.00, noting that that this was a matching grant. It would be submitted the next day.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Council received copies of the draft minutes of the Marina Interpretive Center Bid Opening. There were two (2) bids received as follows:

Emory Hill:     Phase I:                       $ 1, 175,000.00

Phase II:                            946,000.00

Total Bid:                 $ 2,121,000.00

Yerkes Construction:  Phase I:          $1,100.000.00

Phase II:              825,000.00

Total Bid:       $1,925,000.00

Mr. Ingersoll stated that he and Mayor Cerino met with the architect after the bid opening as both bids came in much higher than anticipated. He said that alternatives were discussed, along with the fact that the architect had an expected responsibility to design a building that the Town could afford.   Mr. Ingersoll stated that the architect was working on new sketches eliminating the second floor, which would cut out major costs such as the elevator and two stair towers.

Mr. Ingersoll suggested not awarding the bid per se at this time but selecting the low bidder to negotiate toward a contract using unit pricing changes from the original bid. If a negotiation could not be reached the Town would rebid the new plans.

Mayor Cerino stated that he was disappointed with the building cost bids and said that the building was to have been within the $1,000,000.00 +/- range. The Town had $480,000.00 in grant monies available to begin the build. He said that the second floor would have been an amazing meeting and event space but the Town had to be realistic and work within their means. He added that a one-story building will be attractive and the marina was going to be phenomenal once it was finished.

Ms. Gross asked if a change in materials might make for a less costly build. Mayor Cerino stated that they did look into the aspect, but still only came up with a monetary gain of approximately $300,000.00.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that by removing the two stair towers and elevator there would be much more room on the first floor. He said that they also discussed the possibility of a larger front deck as well. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the existing building was being removed at no cost to the Town but the slab foundation will be kept in place.

Ms. Gross moved to accept Yerkes Construction as the low bidder for the Marina Interpretive Center, subject to negotiations using unit pricing and reflecting changes to the building that will be coming from the architect, was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.

Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to appoint Ms. Amy Meeks as Chair of the Recreation Commission. Mr. Shoge moved to appoint Ms. Amy Meeks as the Chair of the Recreation Commission, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.

Mayor Cerino stated that there was an industrial scale solar project proposed for the Clarke Farm, land outside of Town limits that was zoned as a growth area in the County. The Town Comprehensive Plan describes the area as a potential annexation property for commercial and residential growth. It was not zoned for industrial scale solar. He said that the County has submitted letters indicating their wish for industrial scale projects to be built where they were compatible with zoning. The Town had previously agreed with the County on this point.

Mayor Cerino stated that he met with the solar builder and explained that this project was not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan in that the Town viewed this as a growth area. A solar field was not a match with the Comprehensive Plan’s vision for the land. Mayor Cerino added that he told them if for some reason this was ever built, the Town would want to see screening along the road so the panels were not a dominant feature entering Town and the an easement through the middle of the development to allow for a future bypass. Mayor Cerino stated that it appears as though the applicant took his suggestions as support for the project. Mayor Cerino stated that he was not anti-solar but he wanted to make it clear that the Town was in line with the County on the future development of this property, and this was not in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan.

Mayor Cerino stated that he discussed sending a second letter supporting the County’s position. Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. Barroll did submit a one line letter to the judge of the Public Service Commission asking that the extension be denied, but the extension had been granted.

Mayor Cerino stated that this was a County issue and the only way the Town would become involved is through annexation. He said that the Town would only annex the property if the development with in concert with the Town Comprehensive Plan.

Mayor Cerino stated that this was an election year and said that he wanted to announce that he would be running for a second term as Mayor. He said that he would like to see the Marina finished under his tenure.

Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.

Ms. Gross stated that she wanted residents in her ward to be aware that there has been suspicious activity the past few nights in the area of Philosopher’s Terrace, Richard Drive, Kent Street, Campus Avenue and Byford Drive. She reminded everyone to keep their doors and windows locked on their cars and houses and perhaps leave on the lights.

Ms. Kuiper stated that Legacy Days were August 18th and 19th in Chestertown.

Ms. Kuiper stated that the August and September schedule of RiverArts was on their website. She said that on First Friday, September 1st, RiverArts was hosting “Olivander’s Wand Workshop” in preparation of the Harry Potter Festival. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Mr. Shoge asked if there was any timeframe for paving. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he hoped that paving would begin in the near future. Mr. Shoge stated that he appreciated the Street Crew’s work painting crosswalks, lane lines and parking spaces in Town.

Mr. Stetson stated that he went to the new Smoke, Rattle & Roll restaurant for dinner and was pleased with the selection and flavor of the food.

Mr. Stetson stated that the second pavilion has been built at the Dog Park. He said that it was important to know that the total cost of both pavilions was paid for by donations to the “Friends of the Dog Park”, and that the two pavilions cost almost $15,000.00. He said that he would continue to improve the dog park with donations.

Mr. Stetson stated that the people who send in donations whether they be for the Dog Park, the Garden Club, or those supporting the playscape at Wilmer Park were all examples of what makes Chestertown such a nice place to live. He said that the Town has not raised taxes in years but people show their love for the Town by donating their own money to make it beautiful.

Mayor Cerino asked if there were any questions or comments from the audience.

Mr. Tim O’Brien (resident of Philosopher’s Terrace) stated that his daughter’s bike was stolen twice and recovered at Amberley Park. He said that he would like for the Town to check on the living conditions at the trailer park as there was trash strewn all through the development and it was becoming a known place for drug dealing, vagrants and unsupervised night-time activities. Mr. O’Brien stated that there were good people who lived in the trailer park and they deserved to live in a safe environment that was up to code. Ms. Gross stated that this was one of the properties she was working to improve with the help of the police and other Town staff.   Chief Baker stated that he did not want anyone to be afraid to call police if they noticed anything and said that he would increase patrols in that area. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would be putting in a call to the property manager and ask her to work on the conditions of the property, such as trash and lighting.

There being no further business, Mr. Stetson moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:40 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.

Submitted by:                                                 Approved by:

Jennifer Mulligan                                            Chris Cerino

Town Clerk                                                     Mayor

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