MAYOR AND COUNCIL
DECEMBER 11, 2014
Mayor Cerino called the special meeting to order at 11:00 a.m. In attendance were Council members Linda Kuiper and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, Kees de Mooy, Zoning Administrator and Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk and guests.
Mayor Cerino thanked everyone in attendance for making the trip to Chestertown to discuss the Marina. He said that the project to restore and rehabilitate this site was important as it had fallen to disrepair under previous ownership by the private sector. He said that Chestertown was historically a Port of Entry and it was also important to preserve access to and from the water for the residents of Chestertown and Kent County.
Mayor Cerino stated that there were two large public meetings (charrettes) held over the past year in an effort to formulate a plan to rehabilitate the site. He showed the PowerPoint presentation that was presented at the first Charrette held on May 28, 2014 and incorporated findings from that meeting. He gave an overview of existing conditions, reasons for the original purchase, and slides of what the future holds for the Marina once it was dredged and rebuilt.
Mayor Cerino stated that it made no fiscal sense for a private entrepreneur to purchase this site and restore it as a working marina. He said that municipalities have access to grant funds that a private individual would not and that was the reason that the Town purchased the Marina.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town wanted to go about 70’ out into the river with new slips and the Marina would also have 70 working slips once the project was finished. He said that because Chestertown was not right off of the bay he thought it would become a weekend destination, rather than having many boaters stop in for an hour or two on a day trip.
Mayor Cerino stated that it was important to note that the area marked “FW” on the plans was a privately owned restaurant and the Town’s property wrapped around it.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Town had success with Waterway Improvement Funds with a $200,000.00 matching grant to for bulkhead repair and a $40,000.00 engineering grant to develop the plans that were shown today. He said that there was a $500,000.00 dredging grant which that he would like to use in February if the permits were issued in time to meet a February 15 deadline.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would like to install Wi-Fi at the Marina in the future and thought Community Legacy may be able to help that happen with a grant. He said that there was a trail that connected through Town and thought the Department of Transportation may have some options for grants in that area. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he and the Mayor met with Governor O’Malley last week to ask that Chestertown be put in the State budget for a large and comprehensive infusion of money to do the project all at once.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town is turning away boats that want to come to the Marina, mainly because of water depth, but also because people can’t get off their boats when the area floods. He said that many of the slips near shore cannot be accessed due to the siltation.
There was a question on the breakdown of the budget costs associated with the Marina. Mayor Cerino stated that the Marina was purchased for just over $2-million dollars. He said that the debt service was $145,000.00 annually. The annual expenses of the Marina at this point were $200,000.00 with incomes of $207,000.00. Mayor Cerino stated that the Marina funded itself, but the Town had the debt service to fund. He said that if the Marina was able to be used to capacity, the debt service would become more manageable. The Town was 3-years into a 20-year bond at approximately 3.23%.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the original model was to use Waterway Improvement Funds for the project but nobody realized it would take so long for funding to recover from the recession. He said that this would be a State of Maryland destination once revived, adding that the Town presently had funds set aside for a BIG (Boating Infrastructure Grant) Tier 1 grant of $125,000.00.
Mayor Cerino stated that ideally, if the Town could get all funding into place at once, they could install all of the planned improvements in one operation after the next boating season. He said that the current reality was that the work would have to be done piecemeal as funding comes in. Based on estimates, this project was in the $4 to $5 million dollar range.
Mayor Cerino stated that the large cost to repair the Marina was precisely why the property was no longer in the hands of a private owner. He said that it was not uncommon for a municipality to have own a marina, noting that this happened to be on a much larger scale with deferred maintenance.
There was a resident in the audience who thought that a full-service marina was a necessity and it seemed as though there were no provisions in this plan for a boat stuck in a slip needing repairs. He said that people who are of the boating lifestyle wanted a full-service marina where they could park their cars and hop on their boat for the weekend. He said that there was not adequate parking on the site either for Marina slip holders.
Mayor Cerino stated that the design of the Marina was based on the outcome of two (2) Charrettes that the Town held earlier in the year. He said that the consensus of the many people who attended the Charrettes for a destination Marina where people could spend a weekend. It was not the vision of the community to have a full-service Marina, noting that there was one located within a mile and a mobile service could be on call for a boat having trouble. Mayor Cerino stated that a full-service marina in Chestertown was a failed model, and although he appreciated hearing comments, this meeting was called for ways to fund the approved model from the Charrette.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the previous owner won a $500,000.00 national Boating Infrastructure Grant competition as the top-rated marina worthy of the grant. However, they wanted to extend the piers several hundred feet out into the channel to create additional transient slips and the public protested strongly.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were Community Legacy Grants available for demolition, or if there would be money available to disassemble a building such as the large shed on the property. Mr. Duane Felix stated that typically that was not how the grant would work, but they have used the grant to move houses and such. He said that Community Legacy grants are at $6 million for the entire State of Maryland, noting that the average award was in the $100,000.00 range.
Mayor Cerino stated that at this time, the most urgent part of the project was the waterside.
There was a suggestion from the audience that there was a possibility of Federal money available for trails on the land side, with a cap of about $40,000.00. He said that maintenance equipment could be included in that grant funding. A recreational trail on the water could likely be considered for a grant as well. It was noted that on the Maryland Department of Planning website there was a comprehensive list of funding programs.
Mayor Cerino stated that the modest expansion of the docks would provide quality slips that would be a draw for boaters looking for a destination spot. He said that the vast majority of annual slip holders do not have full use of the slips because they are silted in.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that it was time to move down to the Marina site for a tour and lunch.
There being no further business, Mayor Cerino closed the meeting at 12:15 p.m.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor