MAYOR AND COUNCIL
MABEL MUMFORD GATEWAY PARK
AUGUST 21, 2014
Mayor Cerino called the public hearing to order at 7:05 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Liz Gross, Linda Kuiper, Samuel T. Shoge and Mauritz Stetson, along with W. S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, Kees de Mooy, Zoning Administrator, Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk and guests.
Mayor Cerino read the Public Notice which was published in the Kent County News as follows:
“The Mayor and Council of Chestertown will hold a public hearing regarding the design and use of the Mabel Mumford Gateway Park located at Rt. 20 and MD. 514 beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at Town Hall, 118 N. Cross Street. The public is invited to attend, participate and comment.”
Mayor Cerino stated that Mr. de Mooy would take the lead on explaining the design of the park and then the meeting would open for comments and questions.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the idea of gateways into Chestertown, one of them being Rt. 20 and this site, has been publicly discussed since before 2010 in documents like the Comprehensive Plan. He said that this former truck site had greeted visitors to Chestertown from Rt. 20 and Rt. 514 for almost 40 years. He showed a photo of the site’s “as is” condition.
Mr. de Mooy stated that in 2010 the Town of Chestertown purchased the property with the help of a Maryland Heritage Authorities Grant. He said that the Town applied for and received a DNR Community Parks and Playgrounds Grant for $155,000.00 to make improvements to the property, by way of enhancements to the entrance to Town, improving recreational opportunities for the Town and County, creating a trailhead for the Gilchrest Rail-Trail (Phase III is adjacent to the park), addressing the Kent County Watershed Improvement Plan by reducing impervious surfaces, by planting needed trees and grasses, and by educating the public about the adjacent wetlands and history of the area.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the design of the park included native grasses, trees and green space, with picnic tables and benches. There would be landscaping along the road on Md. Rt. 20. There would be a basketball court at the rear of the property and an ADA accessible trail with a stream and wetland observation deck located on an existing mound on the property. He said that it would be a dramatic improvement from an environmental standpoint. The site was now nearly completely impervious and there would be drastic reductions in the way of runoff into Radcliffe Creek.
Mr. de Mooy stated that there were many regulations to be met on site and in order to comply he has appeared before the Kent County Planning Commission, Army Corp. of Engineers, MDE and Kent Soil Conservation. He said that this property was just outside of Town limits and they were complying with the Comprehensive Plans of Chestertown and Kent County. He said that this plan was also consistent with the Target Investment Zone and met the criteria of Scenic Byways.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the storm water targets they were trying to achieve with this project had to be consistent with the Kent County Watershed Improvement Plan.
Mr. de Mooy stated that letters of support were received to go along with the Grant from Senator Pipkin, Delegates Jacob, Hershey and Smigiel, the Kent County Commissioners, the Maryland Historical Trust, the Chestertown Mayor and Council, the Chestertown Planning Commission, the Chester River Association, the Historical Society of Kent County and the Washington College for the Environment and Society. He said this grant went to the State Clearinghouse where all of the State agencies checked to see that the plans for this park were consistent with their goals and regulations as well. Therefore, SHA, MTA, DNR and MDE have all reviewed the plans to insure that their requirements were met and have checked off on the project.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the plan has been vetted by the Kent County Planning Commission and he was on the verge of final site plan approval. He was waiting on an SHA entrance permit, noting that a second entrance was being eliminated to meet current SHA standards.
Mr. de Mooy stated that there was a lot happening on this end of Rt. 20. There was the Rail-Trail, the roundabout, sidewalks being installed and reduced speed, all of which would help slow traffic entering the park. He said the creation of the roundabout rendered a traffic lane obsolete, which would in turn be used for bicycle traffic.
Mr. de Mooy asked Mr. Ingersoll to comment. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was originally a plan for a footbridge, and it was hoped that at some point in the future the foot bridge could connect the Park to phase III of the Rail Trail.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the land was basically backfill and the buildable land was a very small wedge. He said that the overall impervious surface was being reduced by 50%.
Mayor Cerino asked how many public presentations have been made regarding the park. Mr. de Mooy stated that he discussed this park at a public speech at the Kent County Library, a meeting with the Service Corp. of Retired Executives, at a Recreation Commission meeting, Chestertown Planning Commission, the Kent County Planning Commission, Mayor and Council meetings. He said that there were probably ten (10) different occasions where the plan was publicly discussed.
Mr. Shoge asked how pedestrian safety was being addressed. Mr. de Mooy stated that he has had two (2) meeting with SHA to discuss sidewalks on Flatland Road. He said that there will be a crosswalk installed at the bottom of Flatland Road. Mr. Shoge asked if trees could be trimmed back to improve site lines. Mr. de Mooy stated that the existing road easement vegetation would be trimmed back. The removal of the right hand lane would slow people down as well.
Mr. Shoge asked about the cost of the park. Mr. de Mooy stated that the plan was for the park to be funded 100% by the grant that was received for $155,000.00.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the project was ready to move forward as soon as the entrance permit was received.
Mayor Cerino asked if the audience had questions.
Mr. Jim Gatto stated that the Town should be in receipt of a letter from Bill Arrowood. Mayor Cerino stated that the entire Council had a copy of the letter and it would be placed in the record.
Mr. Gatto stated that he was not a fan of the park but he thought it should be built as best as possible. He said that with the basketball courts in the back of the park, police officers may have to get out of their cars to patrol and there were wetlands all around where people could escape from the officers. He said that if the park felt unsafe to the public, it would not be used. He said that the local police should decide whether this was a County or Town park for coverage issues.
Mr. Gatto stated that details of this plan were important, especially getting people safely across Rt. 20. He said that he liked the bicycle lane. Mr. Gatto stated that the State of Pennsylvania was giving away bridges and thought perhaps the Town could look into taking advantage of one of those bridges.
Mr. Stetson stated that he did not think that building a park would bring crime to the area. Mr. Gatto stated that he thought it was important to plan for problems that may arise at the site.
Mr. Steven Mumford stated that he wanted to thank the Mayor and Council for their work on this site, noting that this park was a complement to the years of service of his mother, Mabel Mumford. He said that the park is being planned to be inclusive of all neighborhoods, which was something that Ms. Mumford strived for during her tenure.
Mr. de Mooy stated that there would be picnic tables on site. There was a question as to who would maintain the park. Mr. de Mooy stated that the Town will maintain the park.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the park should be annexed into Town.
Mayor Cerino noted that the Town had just submitted another Community Parks and Playground grant for the renovation of the campus at the Kent County Middle School.
There being no further business, Mayor Cerino closed the public hearing at 7:50 p.m.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor