MAYOR AND COUNCIL
FEBRUARY 2, 2015
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:34 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 January 20, 2015. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Mayor and Council meeting minutes of January 20, 2015 as presented, was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Mr. Stetson moved to pay the bills as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mr. Briggs Cunningham was present on behalf of the Chestertown Environmental Committee and introduced Ms. Anya Schoolman and Mr. Cory Ramsden of the Community Power Network, a non-profit company providing Maryland, D.C. and Virginia solar power systems to the residential market. He said that the Environmental Committee supports the program and would like the Council to endorse it for Chestertown.
Ms. Schoolman stated that Community Power Network was a group that installed solar all over the country and locally as Maryland Sun. She said that their company was dedicated to the adoption of equitable, affordable and renewable energy with a local economic component. Ms. Schoolman stated this non-profit educates people about going solar and takes them through the process.
Ms. Schoolman stated that in the last 18 months they have put together 19 different solar coops in the region. She said that the process went from information sessions where a group (anywhere from 10 to 40 residences) was formed, to issuing the Request for Proposals, soliciting and analyzing bids, checking references, reviewing contracts and seeing through the installations until completion.
Mr. Ramsden stated that having the endorsement of the Mayor and Council would be helpful, noting that Maryland Sun would ask the Town to participate by advertising, promoting and holding meetings with the public in their buildings.
Ms. Schoolman stated that funding for the non-profit came from a grant through the Town Creek Foundation and they were paid a $500.00 fee per signed contract by the installer as part of the agreement. The Town Creek Foundation grant would cover up to five (5) municipalities on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Ms. Gross asked why this should cost homeowners anything, noting that there were PPA arrangements available. Ms. Schoolman stated that the people in the coop decide what the best arrangement is for their contract and they work with PPAs as well. She said that she considers herself a consumer advocate.
Ms. Gross stated that with Chestertown having a Historic District there may be some houses where solar would not be permissible on the front facade. Ms. Schoolman stated that she worked in Historic Districts and their policy was to comply with the rules in place.
Mr. Ingersoll asked what area would be covered by the Town’s sponsorship. Ms. Schoolman stated that this coop would include Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties, with Chestertown as the center of the project. She said that before an RFP is issued, there had to be at least 20 houses in the program and they would need at least 40 to 60 people to sign up initially.
Mr. Ingersoll asked if the arrangements could vary as to the ownership of the SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates). Ms. Schoolman stated that she made sure that this was a transparent process so everyone knew what the options were including the SRECs.
Ms. Gross stated that she would like to look at references from communities that Community Power Network worked. Mr. Ingersoll stated if the Town liked the idea and as part of process, the Town could waive the building permit fee for solar application as an incentive, noting that there would still be a fee for inspections.
Mayor Cerino stated that Chief Baker would present the Annual Report at the next Mayor and Council meeting.
Washington College’s Enactus was present and presented “Soap with Hope” to the Council. Soap with Hope was one of four projects in place on campus, the other three being Shore Marketing, Sprout to Action and Project Garden Box. “Soap with Hope” started in the fall semester and members make and sell soap the five different types of soap. To date, they have produced 330 bars of soap. Ms. Kuiper stated that the group should look into selling their soap as part of the Artisans Market and the Chestertown Tea Party.
The mission of Soap with Hope is to raise funds and use the profits toward global sanitation efforts, providing soap to the military overseas and to developing countries that need soap, and locally to homeless shelters. They also were hoping to create jobs by establishing a soap making business in Haiti.
Mr. Shoge stated that it was important to have an understanding of what the students were working on while on campus. He said that the projects Enactus is working on are ambitious and the students are up to the task.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to discuss the I-Sign. He said that regardless of what was decided to do with the sign, it was installed with good intentions and there was time, money and effort put into the project. He summarized the goal of the I-Sign (attached) and the effort involved in finding funding for the sign and having it installed.
Mayor Cerino stated that if the sign was to be rebooted, it quickly came to a monetary decision, but there was a company called Four Winds Interactive that could run the system. There was a one-time installation fee which provided the software and hardware for $3,205.92. There would be an annual maintenance fee of $1,348.92.
Mayor Cerino stated that the DCA could not cover all costs associated with the I-Sign. He said that he thought the Town and Kent County Tourism could partner with DCA to share the fees if everyone agreed that it was a viable project.
Mayor Cerino stated that if there was an agreement on the fees, everyone also had to decide if the sign should be relocated and the new site. There would also have to be a point person in charge of updating the I-Sign.
Mr. Stetson stated that he thought from the very beginning that the I-Sign should have been installed at the Visitors Center, where there was an employee to keep an eye on it and update it as needed. He said that he did not think that the Town should be the entity that pays for it but did agree to a shared cost.
Mr. Shoge asked what the sign was supposed to do when it was first installed. Mayor Cerino stated that it was supposed to advertise businesses and help people find their way to the businesses. Notices could be posted for special events. It was also interactive, which many found attractive. Mr. Shoge stated that he thought the new website replaced the I-Sign and the information could be accessed at multiple locations from screens. He said that he would rather put any money into the Visitors Center with IPads or similar devices that could do exactly what the I-Sign could do and could be easily controlled by the Town.
A discussion took place about moving the kiosk indoors or to another location, but no decisions were made regarding a new location. It was, however, the consensus that the kiosk should move from its current location.
Ms. Barbara Jorgenson, Vice President of the Downtown Chestertown Association, stated that she was involved with the sign since the concept stage. She said that this kiosk had a small hard drive with software that was displayed on a large LED screen. She said that the software was designed specifically with the visitor in mind and was in no way “outdated technology”. She said that Bernadette Bowman wanted the kiosk to act as a “jumping off” point for visitors, where they learn about different areas in the County while looking for things to do in Chestertown.
Mr. Shoge stated that ultimately the Town would be working with Four Winds if the sign was rebooted. He said that the I-Sign never properly functioned and thought that the money invested in that one device could be incorporated into several different platforms managed in-house by Town staff or the webmaster.
Ms. Kuiper stated that DCA received the grant for the kiosk and they may have an obligation under the By-Ways Grant to continue using the sign. Ms. Jorgenson stated that the total cost of the sign was $27,000.00. Mr. Bob Ortiz was in the audience and said he believed that all obligations of the grant have been met.
Mr. Shoge stated that he liked the idea of partnering with DCA but not when it came to the I-Sign (noting that he thought the Town could do better than the I-Sign). Ms. Gross stated that the duplication of effort did not make sense as it was much the same information available on the website.
Mayor Cerino asked if the Council agreed that the sign should be moved from its current location. Ms. Kuiper was not in favor of changing the location, but the rest of the Council thought the sign should be moved.
Mayor Cerino asked if Four Winds and Ms. Bowman should be invited to a meeting to speak about a revamped sign. The entire Council agreed.
Mr. Shoge asked if the DCA had voted whether or not to support reactivating the I-Sign. Mr. Ortiz stated that no vote has been taken. Mr. Shoge stated that the DCA should make a decision on what they wanted. Ms. Owen, DCA President, stated that Ms. Bowman strongly endorses the sign and that is why they were here tonight. She said that there was value to the components of the sign, but the DCA can’t fund the entire cost.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would check on any obligations of the grant with Scenic By-Ways. He said that a new sign location should be installed in a location that would not trigger zoning issues.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a permit request for the Kent Center and Washington College’s Best Buddies 5k run/walk/wheelchair race to raise funds for the Kent Center. The event would be held on Saturday, March 28th from 8 a.m. to noon and would remain on the Washington College Campus. The Council agreed to the request. Mr. Stetson asked that if the walk spills over to the Rail Trail that the College not use paint this year to mark the path.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a bid opening for the Mabel Mumford Gateway Park on Friday, January 30th. There were six (6) bids received in total, which Mr. Ingersoll read into the record. The lowest bid was from David A. Bramble, Inc. at $242,819.23. Mr. Ingersoll stated that $68,000.00 of bid items were on MD Rt. 20 meeting SHA requirements and connecting with Phase III of the Rail Trail. He said that he thought some of the Bikeways funding received for the Phase III of the Rail Trail could be used. Other items were being reviewed in order to launch within budget. Mr. Stetson moved to award the bid to the low bidder, David A. Bramble, contingent on reaching terms of a final contract, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Community Food Pantry sent the Council tickets to be used at Chester Gras on Saturday, February 7th from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town requested $4-million from the Governor’s Capital Budget for the Marina project, but the allocation was not approved. He said that the Town does have some grant money set aside for infrastructure needs that would begin in November. There was a $200,000.00 matching grant from the Waterway Improvement Fund in place to fix the bulkhead from just downriver of the Cannon Street Pier to where the boat ramp currently exists. He said he would like to use the Washington College donation as the match to be used this fall beginning mid-November.
Mayor Cerino stated that the other source of funding was dredging in the amount of $500,000.00. He said that this will be difficult to do with the docks in place, but at this point was how it had to be done. This would clear the basins inside of the outer slips by the boat ramp and in front of the Fish Whistle to a reasonable depth and the slips could be utilized.
Mayor Cerino stated that he has been meeting with every agency that could possibly fund the work at the Marina, but in lieu of capital funding this was the approach that the Town had to take. He said he would go to the Governor’s Capital Fund again this year and was ready to start a letter writing campaign to show broad-based taxpayer support.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a second Waterway Improvement Grant in the pipeline which would also require a match but it was hoped that other grant funds, such as Federal ones, could be used for a match.
Mayor Cerino stated that Locust Grove Studios was almost finished with the 3-D renderings of the Marina which he thought was the last tool required for a great package for funding.
Mayor Cerino stated that artist picked for the Wilmer Park Playscape would speak to the public at a meeting on Monday, February 9th at 7 p.m. He said that questions would be answered that evening.
Mayor Cerino stated that a support letter was written to the State Highway Administration for Community Enhancement Funding for Washington Avenue in Chestertown and read the letter into the record.
Mayor Cerino stated that the new Town of Chestertown website was launched and could be found at www.townofchestertown.com. He said that there would be a launch party from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, February 6th. Mr. Shoge stated that this will be a good chance to show the community what the website can do and would include a demonstration.
Ms. Gross stated that she would like to have a discussion regarding the bagging of the parking meters. She said that cars were being left on the street for long stretches of time and it was time to revisit the issue, suggesting the discussion take place at the first meeting in March. Ms. Kuiper stated that she would canvas the businesses in Ward 2 regarding the meters. Ms. Gross stated that the Town created parking for the merchants and their employees and it was not being used.
Ms. Gross stated that the most recent meetings were not on the website or YouTube. Mr. Egan stated that he would look into the problem, noting that they should be up to date.
Ms. Gross stated that Arts at Chestertown had the large booth at the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore, with a retail show on February 20th, 21st and 22nd. She said that she was planning to attend one day.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Chester Gras was this Saturday, February 7th and events were planned all day. She said that on Friday, February 13th the Historical Society was having a “Death by Chocolate” sale at their location on High Street.
Ms. Kuiper stated that all of the Chamber of Commerce winners announced at the Gala Event this past Saturday were from Ward 2.
There being no further business, Mr. Stetson moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:40 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor