MAYOR AND COUNCIL
DECEMBER 7, 2015
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 November 16, 2015 or the Public Hearing for the Washington College TEFRA bonds of the same date. Mr. Stetson moved to adopt the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting and the Public Hearing as presented, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that Mr. Taylor Frey of the Washington College SGA was not able to meet this meeting and that he would reschedule for another date in the future.
Mayor Cerino called forward members of the Chestertown Recreation Commission. Mr. Brandt Troup, Chairman, stated that the Commission has been looking at Bailey Park over the last few months and they believe that there is the opportunity for a first rate children’s playground at Bailey Park. He said that Wilmer Park and the Gateway Park are under way, but one was a passive park and the other was geared towards older children and young adults.
Mr. Troup introduced Ms. Jenn Hicks. Ms. Hicks stated that she would like to request a comprehensive approach to expanding recreational facilities as there was a major gap in offerings for those with young families. She said she felt that so far the Town has seen piecemeal implementation of recreation opportunities rather than a holistic well-planned approach.
Ms. Hicks stated that a couple years ago, the Recreation Commission performed a Town-wide recreation survey and received almost 100 responses. She said that the survey was short, but there was an overwhelming response to the fact that young children had no recreation space in Town, with 86% indicating that there were not enough outdoor facilities in Town.
Ms. Hicks stated that Gateway Park was under construction at Flatland Road and Rt. 20, which would include a basketball court. It would also help to connect the Rails-to-Trails but was geared for an older group. A playscape was planned to be installed at Wilmer Park, although that appears to be more of an art display than a children’s playground. Ms. Hicks stated that the Commission was also aware that renovations would be taking place at the Kent County Middle School fields, but would not be available to the public during school hours and was not for younger children.
Ms. Hicks stated that for nearly 20 years there was a first class children’s playground at the Garnett School, which has been leveled and replaced. It also was not available to the general public during school hours.
Ms. Hicks stated that there were playground facilities in Betterton, Millington, Rock Hall, Church Hill, Easton and Tuckahoe. She said that all Chestertown town-owned property has been examined by the Recreation Commission and it was determined that no location was perfect but that Chestertown actually deserved more than one playground. There were opportunities for several parks in different areas, especially for smaller pocket parks such as along the Rails to Trails. There was only one space with room large enough for a community playground and that was the Margo Bailey Community Park, located between Rolling Road and Schauber Road.
Ms. Hicks stated that the original plan for the Bailey Park showed playing fields and a playground. She said that it was not clear if this plan was ever adopted, noting that the Dog Park was not on the plans. Ms. Hicks stated that the Recreation Commission would like the Council to officially adopt a plan for the Bailey Park so that the design truly reflects the recreation needs of the community.
Ms. Hicks stated that the Dog Park at Bailey Park was one of the nicest amenities in the Town and said that a child’s playground should emulate it, having shaded areas, spaces for small and large children, fencing, benches, a communication board, parking, port-o-pots and water fountains.
Ms. Hicks stated that the Recreation Commission would like to work with the Mayor and Council on a regular basis and were looking for leadership in order to make a playground happen. She said that she understood that there were many major projects taking place in Town right now, but this would be a good start to bringing young families to Chestertown.
Ms. Hicks stated that the Recreation Commission would also like to see a recreation plan for the entire town, noting that the Commission would be happy to take the lead on this project.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she gave Mr. Troup folders from exhibitors at the Maryland Municipal League Convention and one actually contained a grant proposal. She asked if anything had been done with that information. Ms. Hicks stated that she worked with Cunningham (listed in the folder) and knew of their work but nothing has been done to date.
Mr. Stetson stated that there was playground equipment the Town now owned at 601 High Street and it was geared towards young children. Ms. Hicks stated that the park she was proposing would be large and she welcomed his input as he was responsible for the creation of the Dog Park. Mr. Stetson stated that the Dog Park was truly needed because there were more dogs than children in the area. Ms. Hicks stated that it was time to accommodate the youngest members of the community.
Ms. Gross commended the Recreation Commission for their work and said that this was exactly the type of feedback she wanted to see from the Commission. Ms. Gross also stated that people did not seem to mind driving to a nice playground to play.
Mr. Tom Briggs stated that Chestertown did have a nice playground at one time at Garnett Elementary but it was demolished. He said that he sees most parents of small children from Chestertown at the playground in Church Hill.
Mayor Cerino stated that he thought the playground equipment at the police station would be nice for a mini pocket park along the Rails-to-Trails but he understood that the Commission was looking for a “destination playground”. Mayor Cerino stated that a Community Parks and Playground Grant might work well a Bailey Park playground.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a much more elaborate set of plans and specifications for the Bailey Park, but the original estimate came in at $1.4 million. The Council at the time liked the plans but could not fund it. The park itself was purchased with Stateside Open Space funding, which was not controlled by the County. He said that features from the unadopted master plan, such as the walking trail, were installed when grant funds were obtained.
Mayor Cerino stated that Gateway Park is under construction and the next recreation initiative would be the Kent County Middle School. He said that once those plans were finished he thought focus could be on Bailey Park. He asked if the Recreation Commission could work on ideas for the best placement of the equipment, scale, renderings of playgrounds, and other prototype ideas along with cost estimates.
Mr. Troup stated that the Recreation Commission would begin meeting and having conversations about a playground at Bailey Park, using as much space as the Commission thought appropriate. Mayor Cerino stated that after Gateway Park and the Kent County Middle School projects were finished, a grant could be applied for the construction of a playground at Bailey Park.
Mr. Ingersoll stated the he thought a recreation plan should be promulgated by the Recreation Commission and should include ideas as to how it should be funded along with phasing.
Mr. Troup stated that he would like to return to the Council in ninety (90) days or so with regard to this project. Mayor Cerino agreed. Mr. Ingersoll stated that this timeframe met nicely with budget timing and to prepare for the Community Parks and Playgrounds grant funding due in August.
Ms. Karen Willis from Peoples Bank was present. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a funding request of $1,500.00 from the bank for Chester Gras, which was scheduled for Saturday, February 6, 2016. She said that all monies made from Chester Gras go to the Back Pack Program (part of the Community Food Pantry) and supplies local families in need with nutritious food sent home with school-age children on Friday afternoons. Ms. Willis stated that Chester Gras has raised $10,000.00 last year for this local program.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that when funding requests are made, they are discussed at one meeting and voted on at the next meeting. Ms. Willis stated that last year the Town made a $1,000.00 donation to Chester Gras.
The Council agreed to the permit request for the Chester Gras and Mayor Cerino signed the application to the County for a one-day liquor license for February 6, 2016.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the MVA bus would be in Town during the first half of 2016 on January 19, February 8 and 9, March 14 and 15, April 18 and 19, May 16 and 17, and June 13 and 14.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Town had begun widening the brick sidewalk along Cross Street at the Fountain Park. He said that this would take people off the grass and allow more artisans and farmers on the sidewalk. He said he thought the first half segment would be finished by the end of the week and then the crew would move to the other side (by the horse trough).
Mr. Ingersoll stated that 75% of the concrete, curb, gutter and sidewalk are down at the Gateway Park, including the sidewalk on the side towards Flatland Road. The base to the parking lot and basketball court is down. The guardrail will be moved back and the sidewalk will be widened to five (5) feet.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the window of opportunity for dredging is from now until February 15th. He said that plans and specifications for the dredging of the basin section of the Marina have been prepared. He said that he was waiting on the permit to be signed by the State and Corps of Engineers and was hoping to be able to consider bids for dredging on December 30th.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Council received a letter from the owners of the old Brooks property at Rt. 291 and Rt. 20 for a text amendment change for a future Royal Farms. He said that according to the Zoning Ordinance procedures, the amendment will be considered by the Planning Commission at their December 16th meeting.
Mayor Cerino asked that the Council choose Holiday Decoration winners for their wards by December 21st, noting that there should be a first and second place winner in each ward. Mayor Cerino would judge the Commercial buildings.
Mayor Cerino stated that a group of concerned doctors and staff from the Hospital had been meeting with him to discuss changes taking place at the Hospital. He said that an open letter regarding the Hospital and services that the doctors see as needed for the future of the Hospital was running in this week’s Kent County News. He said this this was a topic that would be front and center soon and residents both in the Town and County had to be ready to respond. Mayor Cerino stated that he was hoping there would be a public forum to discuss these issues in the near future.
Mayor Cerino stated that he appeared before the Kent County Commissioners and the Eastern Shore Delegation last Tuesday and requested a Local Courtesy Bill. Such a bill would be legislation saying that UMMS or the State of Maryland would be financially responsible for the Town’s wells in the event of a worst case scenario where contaminants from the oil spill leached downhill into the Town’s water supply. He said that Delegate Jacobs has been looking into Local Courtesy Bills and found wording from a similar bill in Harford County. Mayor Cerino stated that there was agreement to looking into a crafting a document for that would protect Chestertown’s public water supply from contamination.
Mayor Cerino stated that he had a meeting a few weeks ago with Ms. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Governor Hogan. She asked about different projects that the Town was undertaking and he told her that the Marina was the highest priority project. He said that Ms. Haddaway-Riccio indicated that now was the time to submit for a capital budget request, so he put together a case statement (Capital Project Request for the Revitalization for the Chestertown Marina) and submitted it to the Governor’s Office.
Mayor Cerino stated that he went before the Kent County Commissioners and the Eastern Shore Delegation and asked for their support on the Marina revitalization project last Tuesday. He said that he now needed everyone else’s support for this project and was initiating a letter writing campaign. He said that anyone can write a letter of support in favor of this $1.5 million dollar request from the Governor’s capital budget but it needed broad-based support.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would like at least one hundred (100) letters of support for the Governor by December 21st. He said that they should be addressed as follows:
Governor Lawrence T. Hogan
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401
He asked that the letters be delivered to Town Hall, where they will be scanned for the record. The Town would then forward the letter to Governor Hogan.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town was in receipt of a thank you letter from Horizons for helping to fund their summer program. He said that they would return in the spring for funding for the 2016 budget.
Mayor Cerino stated that he just received a petition from Ashley Herr, owner of the “Black Burro” officially requesting to be allowed to operate out of Fountain Park. He said that there were two hundred eighty (280) signatures supporting her position. No schedule was listed as part of the request, including answering when Ms. Herr proposed to operate.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he thought the Council and the Planning Commission had to go back to the drawing board and decide what they were going to do about food trucks in Chestertown. This decision had to apply to all food trucks that would want to come into Town, not just one business. He said that this was a change from the original plan approved and he thought that others such as the DCA, needed to weigh in on the request.
Ms. Gross stated that more information had to be made available to the Council. Mr. Shoge agreed that the matter should be discussed broadly, and not on a case-by-case basis. Ms. Kuiper stated that she did not want to mix food trucks and the farmers market operations in the park and said that if parking spaces were allotted, they should be different than from where the farmers market merchant park their vehicles.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he thought the discussion should be focused on the difference between having food trucks on private property or on public streets. Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to further discuss this at the next meeting. The Council agreed.
Ms. Gross stated that it was a great weekend in Town. Ms. Kuiper agreed, stating that it was like walking down a street in New York or Washington, D.C. this past weekend. She said that Skippy’s Riverside Gifts and More on High Street and Physically Fitch on Cannon Street both had wonderful openings on First Friday.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Cassinelli’s Distillery was hosting Business After Hours on Tuesday, December 8th at 5:00 p.m.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Farmers Market was going to be open all winter. She also said that any cars violating parking spaces at the Farmers Market will be towed.
Ms. Kuiper stated that a resident of Chestertown, Nancy Hepbron Schreiber Stanton, was turning 100 years on Friday, December 11th. She thanked Mayor Cerino for the proclamation and said that she would present it to Ms. Stanton at a luncheon in her honor on Saturday.
Mr. Shoge stated that things were good in Ward 3. He said that Newt’s was demolished and the new building is already going in.
Mr. Shoge stated that the SHA Task Force should be reporting to the Council at the next meeting.
Mr. Stetson stated that he attended the Council of Governments meeting on November 18th and brought up the fact to the other Towns that the County should consider a tax differential. He said he suggested a meeting with all the Towns to discuss issues and then present them to the County. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it was a State law that the County at least talk with municipalities once a year about the idea of tax differentials.
Mr. Stetson stated that he thought that payment in lieu of taxes was something that had to be discussed with the College. He suggested sending a letter inviting President Bair to meet with Mayor Cerino to discuss the topic. Ms. Gross stated that she was looking into PILOTs in other areas and would like additional time to review how other Towns handle them.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she did not agree with the PILOT program and said that she also thought the timing was poor. She said that the College had a recent tragedy and it should not have been used as an example of a case for payments in lieu of taxes.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the closest that the Town had as a PILOT was when Heron Point was built. He said that it was negotiated that the independent living portion of the property would be taxable and the main building and the rest of the complex would be exempt. He said that he did not see anything wrong meeting with a group from the College’s Board of Trustees discuss the unique problems that municipalities have with institutions.
Mayor Cerino stated that there were no requests from the public to be on the agenda and asked if there were any questions or concerns from the public.
Mr. Jeff Carroll asked if the completion of the underwater electrical cable was still going to be completed by December 19th. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he received an email that it would be an additional two or three weeks. Mr. Carroll stated that there was no work at all yesterday, but he noticed an MDE truck sitting on site and asked if there was an issue.
Ms. Gross stated that she was at the Fish Whistle for lunch and knew that the restaurant was open but asked why there were no signs indicating that the restaurant was open. Mr. Carroll stated that he had signs out but they keep disappearing. He was working with the construction workers for a more permanent way to attach the signs.
Mr. Carroll stated that his night time business was down 30% since the work on Cannon Street began. He said that he put an advertisement in the paper and that the Fish Whistle was offering buy one entrée get one half price on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings through December 2015.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay the bills. Ms. Stetson moved to pay the bills as presented, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
There being no further business, Ms. Gross moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:12 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor