MAYOR AND COUNCIL
OCTOBER 15, 2018
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Linda C. Kuiper 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 October 1, 2018. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes with an amendment, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $1,578,342.28. Restricted funds for the Marina project totaled $136,503.53.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Mr. Stetson moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Chief Baker presented the Police Report for September 2018. Mr. Stetson asked if it was possible to schedule training so it did not cause overtime. Chief Baker stated that he does that as best he can but there are some times that people had to take the training when it was available and outside of the department. He said that when his officers do the training they schedule sessions to avoid overtime.
Chief Baker stated that an officer retired and there were two officers who would be leaving Chestertown within a month or so for other agencies. He said that this will result in overtime to cover shifts until the positions are filled.
Chief Baker stated that he wanted residents to be careful of phone scams. The latest scam is that a close relative has been seriously injured and needs immediate financial help. He said that if anyone runs into this circumstance, hang up and call your loved one on a number you know is correct for them. Chances are there is no problem at all.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Downtown Chestertown Association has requested the Town to maintain the No Parking signs on the Park Row side of the Fountain Park after the Farmers Market on Saturday, October 27th for food vendor parking. They also asked to waive the open container law from noon to 5 p.m. so that Crow Vineyard and Casa Carmen Winery wines can be poured during the Downrigging Festival. Mayor Cerino stated that the Downrigging Committee was aware of the DCA’s plans for October 27th.
The Council asked that it be clarified with the DCA that the food vendors can go in only after the Farmers Market vendors have left. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would coordinate the times with Ms. Baker, head of the DCA, noting that 1:00 p.m. might be a better time as it allowed vendors time to fully leave the park. Ms. Kuiper stated that she would let the Farmers Market vendors know that they had to out of the park by 1:00 p.m. on October 27th. The Council agreed to the permit.
Mr. Ingersoll read into the record Emergency Ordinance 04-2018 Water and Sewers Ordinance 3-2018 Correction. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the water and sewer rates were increased 9.4% on July 1st, but as an unintended consequence the rate for gallons over the minimum 10,000 amounted to more than 9.4%. This unexpected increase especially impacted commercial businesses in Chestertown. The Ordinance corrected and replaced the overage part of the rate schedule adopted on June 4, 2018. The rate schedule will be retroactive to July 1, 2018 and charges above 9.4% will be waived, if not already paid, credited to the user’s account, or reimbursed if already repaid. Interest on the overage amount will be waived for 30 days. It was being recommended as an emergency ordinance due to the number of accounts financially impacted and the need to alter affected accounts as soon as possible.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Rev. Tolliver was in the office earlier and signed the Ordinance to show his approval and he recommended that the rest of the Council pass the Ordinance. Ms. Kuiper moved to adopt Emergency Ordinance 04-2018 Water and Sewers Ordinance 3-2018 Correction, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino gave a comprehensive projected photo review of the Marina project to date. He said that this might be the most ambitious Town project ever undertaken.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Marina was the only place for the public to access the Chester River by boat. He said this was also the last working marina on the Kent County side of the river that could be visited by boat. Chestertown is a working port dating back to 1706 and an important part of Chestertown’s culture and identity. Mayor Cerino stated the boaters who use the marina make an economic impact all over Chestertown and Kent County. Mayor Cerino stated that although the marina was failing as a private venture, a municipality had access to State and Federal grants that a private company did not have.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Marina was purchased for just over $2 million, paid for with an infrastructure bond through the Department of Housing and Community Development. The yearly debt service was approximately $145,000.00, $55,000 of which is principle. Before repairs began the Town was operating at a break-even level on the interest side of the loan while covering the principle on the loan with Town funds.
Mayor Cerino stated that tidal flooding was an issue at the site with docks underwater on a regular basis. Docks that were buckling and had been built on top of the original dilapidated docks. He said that the slips were shallow throughout the facility and dredging was necessary. The bulkheads were non-existent on all but a couple places at the facility.
Mayor Cerino stated that when he took office there were two public charrettes in order to come up with a conceptual plan of what the residents wanted the facility to look like if and when it was renovated. The plan for the renovation of the Marina was paid for with a $40,000.00 grant from the Waterway Improvement Fund. The initial engineering was performed by McCrone, Inc. and followed by DMS & Associates.
Mayor Cerino stated that prior to the start of the project, the Marina consisted of four docks, which have been reduced to three docks (two of which are floating docks), each with 70’ extensions and finger piers. The travel lift and boat ramp were retained and rebuilt. The waterside Marina office building was demolished and a new Marina Interpretive Center was built on higher ground closer to Water Street. There are attractive paver plazas. At some point the remaining large shed will be removed and the area will become a pocket park with native landscaping for all to enjoy. Improvements were made to the land surrounding the Fish Whistle. There will be a total of 70 slips, a modest increase over the 55 that originally were in place. The water depth begins at 6’ and runs to 12’ to 18’ of water closer to the channel. Mayor Cerino stated that before dredging there were only approximately 30 functional slips due to the accumulation of silt in all slips.
Mayor Cerino stated that it took over four years to raise funding and receive the permitting, as well as addressing concerns of neighbors. There was also a hearing with MDE at the request of the Fish Whistle. Work officially began in March of 2017 with demolition of the infrastructure by Kingfisher.
Mayor Cerino stated that 70’ pilings to 95’ pilings (in some areas) and 25’ industrial grade sheathing were driven in to begin the infrastructure. He said that the site is built on fill and this was not an easy job due to the material that they were hitting while driving the piles. The bulkhead and new walkway in the basin area were finished by the end of June 2017. The boat ramp is exactly where it was located prior to the renovation (though much larger in size) but there were challenges and delays and it was not completed until the end of October 2017.
Mayor Cerino stated that construction on the Marina Interpretive Center began in November 2017 and was now close to the finish line. The front third of the building will be where marina fees are paid along with visitor information. The middle third consists of bathrooms for the public and washers and dryers and bathrooms and showers for transient boaters. The back third is open office space which will be rented to Shore Rivers.
Mayor Cerino stated that in January 2018 a crew came in and demolished the old marina store. The fuel dock and transient pier were also demolished. Hi-Tide returned and removed the finger piers and did final dredging. Bramble has been bringing in truckloads of fill throughout the process to raise the grade of the site by up to 2’. Mayor Cerino stated that the water, electric, sewer, and fuel lines were buried underground.
Mayor Cerino stated that a concrete retaining wall will be poured in front of the Fish Whistle to allow backfill to be installed to the walkway. He said that the walkway and what will eventually be a parking area has a 2’ rise in elevation making it flush with the rest of the property. Pervious pavers were already installed near the Scott’s Point condominiums and are being installed along the boardwalk running from the boat ramp to the river and in the area where the original marina building was located. Mayor Cerino stated that the cement base for a new raised brick pathway down Cannon Street toward the dock was poured. There was new site lighting throughout. The curbing company was outlining the parking areas this week.
Mayor Cerino stated that this project took a long time with problems due to weather and extreme high tides, the Fish Whistle, obstructions while pile driving, silt in the river, and coordinating all of the contractors working there simultaneously.
Mayor Cerino stated that over $5.7 million dollars has been raised to date to pay for the renovations with large Federal and State grants, private donations from 5 individuals amounting to $870,000.00 and a low interest loan from USDA for landside improvements. Maryland DNR Waterway Improvement was a major grantor to the effort. Money was received from the Capital Budget thanks to the help of Sen. Mike Miller and Sen. Adelaide Eckhart. DHCD provided a large grant for the Marina Interpretive Center, $250,000.00 from the Town set aside from the sale of the Armory, along with grants from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority, DNR, and the USDA Rural Development grant. Mayor Cerino stated that all of the grants received were quite competitive throughout the State of Maryland and the USDA grant was competitive throughout the country.
Mayor Cerino stated that people have been asking what they can do to help the project along. He said that the time has come for the final push to finish the project and the Town has to raise approximately $300,000.00 to pay for the work that was scheduled to be finished by Thanksgiving. There were naming opportunities available for buildings, docks, the plaza by Scott’s Point, decks, pillars, finger piers, power pedestals, an interior plaque, and pavers. The donation opportunities ranged in price from $250,000.00 to $250.00.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the concrete pavers were 6” x 9” and would be engraved by Gillespie & Sons, Inc. He said that this was a nice way to honor someone and the bricks would be $250.00 each. They included a lot of space for text and words of dedication.
Mayor Cerino stated that he did not want to take donations before now because people would be waiting for years before they could see their donations at work. He said that he hoped for an official ribbon-cutting at Tea Party next year and may decide to give a tour this November as an ending charrette for the Town. He said he would also be happy to give potential donors a tour of the marina. Anyone interested in helping can contact the Town Manager, Bill Ingersoll. Donations were tax-deductible.
Mayor Cerino asked for Ward Reports.
Mr. Stetson stated that he attended the ribbon cutting for Chesapeake Movies at Washington Square on Friday, October 12th. He said that the theater was nicely renovated.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Shore Rivers is having a half-marathon and 5k run/walk on Sunday, October 28th.
Ms. Kuiper stated that on Friday, October 19th, Washington College was hosting a Food Truck Block Party in Martha Washington Square.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Sumner Hall was hosting the African American Legacy & Heritage in Jazz, Blues & Gospel from November 2018 through June 2019. Dates are listed on Sumner Hall’s website.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Chesapeake Movies also has a website where you can reserve a recliner.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Ghost Walks are taking place on Saturdays through October by the Historical Society at 6:30 p.m.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Historical Society’s House Tour held a couple weeks ago had 165 people in attendance.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Downrigging and the Halloween Parade will take place over the Weekend of October 26th.
Ms. Kuiper stated that MACO staff had a retreat in Chestertown last Tuesday and she was asked to attend along with Mr. de Mooy. She said that they met at Sumner Hall for breakfast, had a tour of the Marina, and ended at the Arts Council building.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she had three people waiting to get into the Farmers Market. She said that all of the Farmers had the draft Rules and Regulations. She said that she agreed with an earlier suggestion to open up High Street to Farmers. Ms. Kuiper stated that Ms. Nancy Lee, who owns a dog grooming service, asked if she could bring her truck to the Farmers Market. Ms. Kuiper stated that she also attended a meeting with Main Street and the Garden Club and there was discussion about the condition of the lawn in Fountain Park.
Mr. Foster stated that he has been away the last couple weeks but his ward seemed to be quiet. He said that he was also happy to see Bloomin’ Wild on the corner of Cross Street and Philosophers Terrace.
Mr. Stetson asked if there was a timeframe on when permits expire when construction comes to a halt. He said that the building on Park Row has been sitting for a long time. Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. de Mooy has been in contact with the owner of the building regarding the permit.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Foster moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:52 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor