MAYOR AND COUNCIL
FEBRUARY 1, 2021
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Thomas Herz, Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator), 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 19, 2021. Ms. Efland moved to approve the minutes of the January 19, 2021 Mayor and Council Meeting, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that operating funds on hand was $2,178,053.63.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Mr. Herz moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino introduced Pat Nugent of the C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience at Washington College. Mr. Nugent stated that Carolyn Brooks and Jasmyn Castro joined him for the presentation this evening. Mr. Nugent stated that the Chesapeake Heartland African American Humanities Project was a community partnership documenting the African American experience with a focus on how racism can be undone. He presented a slideshow outlining the program which would digitize information and create an archive showcasing African American history.
Ms. Brooks stated that digitization and archiving this information will make it available worldwide, bringing stories to life and into the public school curriculum. The website for the archived information is www.chesapeakeheartland.org.
Ms. Castro stated that the online archive Washington College is working on consists of over 700 digital objects including 525 still images, 61 documents, 10 oral history reviews, over 13 years of Garnett yearbooks, and documentation and photos of Vita Foods. There are also 3D items and home movies available to review. There was a “History Now” collection documenting activism.
Mr. Nugent stated that there were three (3) community fellowships that will pay community members to take on their own project for digitization and research through community curation. He said that over the summer they will be working with high school students regarding African American music in Kent County. He said that they were eager and open to hearing from teachers and to get the Heartland truck in use as a community resource.
Mayor Cerino stated that this was impressive work taking place and the website was terrific. He said that he thought this would be a well-used tool in the school system. He said that he would love to see the Town help promote this endeavor.
Mr. de Mooy asked if there has been an effort to contact African American Kent Countians who had out-migrated from the County in the past. Ms. Brooks stated that they are reaching out to those people and have already interviewed some people who previously moved out of the area and will continue to do so.
Mr. Nugent stated that they were working with the Smithsonian on this project and that their work will be preserved through Washington College in perpetuity. The best way to contact them with information or documentation is to reach out to him, Airlee Johnson or Carolyn Brooks at Washington College.
The Mayor called on the Town Manager for his report. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the meeting scheduled for February 15th will take place on Tuesday, February 16th due to the Presidents Day Holiday.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that several years ago the C-3 (Neighborhood Commercial) Zone was created, replacing a more intense C-1 Zoning area on High Street extended. A drawback to the zoning change was that larger lots ended up with out-of-scale freestanding signs that would work in areas like the Historic District but not on lots of any size. The change would allow lots outside of the Historic District with 125 feet or more of lot frontage and 25 feet or more of front yard depth to have freestanding sign of up to thirty (30) square feet in area and a height of up to fifteen (15) feet. He said that the Planning Commission approved some changes to the signage requirements that he thought would be welcome by those business owners for signage. Mr. Ingersoll read Ordinance 01-2021 Amendment to Chapter 170 Zoning into the record, noting that the reading would be the introduction of the Ordinance.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that a public hearing is required for the Ordinance as it is a change to zoning. He said that the hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, February 16th at 7:15 p.m.
Rev. Tolliver moved to introduce Ordinance 01-2021 Amendment to Chapter 170 Zoning, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Tyler Campbell donated an amazing photo that he took years ago of Swish Nicholson standing next to his statue. The photo will hang in the Visitors Center and he thanked Mr. Campbell for the donation.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the request for proposals has gone out for the final phase of the Gilchrest Rail Trail. The bid opening will be held on March 5th. Mayor Cerino stated that it was exciting that the Rail-Trail in Chestertown will finally be finished by the end of this calendar year as it has been such a long process and with a great deal work to get it completed.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to appoint Nathanial Woodrow to the Recreation Commission. Ms. Efland moved to appoint Nathanial Woodrow to the Recreation Commission, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to nominate Frank Rhodes to the Recreation Commission. He said that he will forward his cover letter to the Council for review.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to appoint Rebecca Murphy to the Historic District Commission. Rev. Tolliver moved to appoint Rebecca Murphy to the Historic District Commission, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that a vacancy was opening on the Planning Commission and that anyone interested in serving should contact the Town.
Mayor Cerino stated that there was a personnel issue that needed to be addressed and said that he would like to have an executive session before the beginning of the next meeting on Tuesday, February 16th.
Mr. Herz moved for an executive session under statutory authority to close session, General Provisions Article §3-305(b) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom this public body has jurisdiction; or any other personnel matter that affects one or more specific individuals on Tuesday, February 16th at 6:30 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.
Mr. Foster stated that there was a traffic problem on the lower end of High Street and there was a resident present to speak about it. Mr. Nate Richards stated that he lives at the corner of High and Water Streets and said that it was a 4-way intersection but there were only 3 stop signs erected. He said that in the morning generally before business hours, people are speeding down the road to go look at the River. Often they were speeding across the intersection where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic in that area during that time. He said that he was crossing the street with his wife and child and were unnerved by the speed of traffic.
Mayor Cerino asked what had to be done to have a stop sign installed. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he thought speed should be enforced first, adding that if a new stop sign was installed on High Street it would take some time for the public to get used to stopping at the sign. That effect would require police work to guarantee compliance and without it could cause a hazard for those expecting traffic to stop at the new sign.
Mr. Herz stated that Chief Dolgos put the speed awareness radar board in place for now but said that he thought that there was some way that they could pinch the area to cause people to slow down rather than install another stop sign. Mr. Owen Bailey was present and stated that the road could be pinched at the crosswalk to slow traffic coming down the street and said it would be more effective than a stop sign. He said that cones could be installed as a test. Mayor Cerino asked that Mr. Bailey email the visuals to the Council and Town Manager to see if they could come up with a demonstration to try at the intersection. Rev. Tolliver asked if there was a way to get a count on automobiles in the area each day. Chief Dolgos stated that the signboard was made to do that but was not presently operative for doing counts. He said he would try to get some numbers together.
Mr. Foster stated that in regard to the Covid vaccinations, the Kent County Health Department has no control over the number of vaccines they receive but he said that he did not care for the way that the appointments were being handled. He said that by the time their information was filled out, all the slots were already full. He asked if there was a way to have an efficient registration system where information can be on file and then people were contacted when appointments are available to them. He said that finding an appointment was like being on a scavenger hunt.
Mr. Herz stated that he had a conversation with Vic Sensenig of Washington College who told him that the search for a new President was underway. He said that Dr. Powell will remain in place until a new President is found.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he was excited to see the Rail Trail in his ward being completed and he was also glad that larger signs would be permitted in the C-3 District.
Ms. Efland stated that a bench at the Kent County Middle School track had a bench destroyed. She said that the incident was reported to the police and the bench will be replaced.
Ms. Efland thanked the Town Crew for their work during the snowstorm.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Rev. Tolliver moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:52 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor