Chestertown Environmental Committee
Sept 8 2022
In Attendance: Darran Tilghman, Andy Goddard, Carol Trippe, Kevin Denice, Secethia Davis, David Sobers, Jim Bogden, Annie Richards
Meeting opened 7:37
Town Strategic Planning Survey responses.
Darran Tilghman and committee crafted responses to Survey. See attached
Environmental Stewardship Award
Annual Award- first recipient Ford Schumann. Committee will coordinate with Town
Market booth placement
Enviro Committee has been asked if they would switch location with Waterman Wife to alleviate generator noise with shops. W Wife currently in front of Walnut & Wool/Bad Alfred’s/ Dunkin Donuts. Follow up- Watermans Wife staying in current position
Kevin asked if there were anything committee wants to add to WAC sustainability plan.
Jim Bogden- more native plants.
David Sobers- better collaboration with town
Waste & Recycling
Energy – Solar
- Solar United Neighbors (SUN Co-op) – Jim Bogden
- booths at various venues complete
- 10 or so signed up so far?
Joe Maisano intends to finish building the framework of an ordinance to provide infrastructure support for EVs
EV stations at Ajax still not hooked up
CHESTERTOWN STRATEGIC PLANNING SURVEY RESPONSE
Idea 1. Improve access to open spaces (e.g., within a 10-minute walk of every resident) through expanded tree canopy, expanded parks, required limits to impervious surfaces, access to waterways)
- Increase tree planting and growth (tree canopy): Update and follow Urban and Community Forest Master Plan, prepared by Carl Gallegos (attached). Look for opportunities to bury power utility lines. Increase native plantings. Limit impervious surfaces; consider putting requirements into town code for impervious and grass pavers as a required percentage of surface parking. Adopt ordinance supporting native meadows. Coordinate with Chestertown Tree Committee and ShoreRivers Tree Stewards, which has grant funding.
- Prioritize park expansion and pocket parks. Assess potential locations for expanding parks for access to open spaces.
- Increase safe public access to waterways, including the River Walk, enhance public kayak launch at Chestertown marina (Rec Commission constructing storage racks), and paths/trails to and from water. See also Livable Community goals.
Idea 2. Assess pesticide and herbicide treatments being used by the Town. Where used, develop strategies and best practices for pesticide and herbicide, and for removal and eradication of invasive species. (The Town is no longer spraying Permethrin against adult mosquitoes, but what other types of pesticides or herbicides are being used in town?). See Obstacles/solutions below.
Idea 3. Add drinking water stations throughout town. For example, add out door water bottle filling stations in Wilmer Park and other locations along with education about: 1) how this reduces plastics; 2) the quality of the town’s drinking water; 3) the importance of drinking water for human health. Put these in high-pedestrian areas around town such as Wilmer Park, businesses in town, areas around Farmer’s Market, Monument Park, on Rail Trail, shopping centers, etc. The Town’s water department should own one or more mobile water stations (see https://quenchbuggy.com) to set up at the Town’s numerous festivals so that participants can refill water bottles instead of buying and discarding plastic bottles.
Idea 4. Protect the Town’s drinking water wells at all costs. Assess drinking water quality and risks of lead contamination and communicate and publicize results. If safe, communicate safety of drinking water. If any issues with quality, develop and implement improvements.
Idea 5: Support the Mayor’s priority to assess and communicate ways to prevent lead paint contamination in homes (rentals and private).
Q5. TOPIC 2 – A Clean & Healthy Environment
Idea 1. Manage stormwater runoff. Using the Chestertown Stormwater Comprehensive Plan developed by ShoreRivers (link included below), create a timeframe for funding and implementing projects to reduce stormwater runoff and incorporate approach into town plan in collaboration with ShoreRivers, Chestertown Main Street, other stakeholders. Develop a planting plan for water edges in town to increase buffers between lawns and all waterways. Consider town requirements for minimum distance to water to be set aside as a buffer or easement. Implement buffers when making zoning and development decisions.
Idea 2. Consider implementing stormwater inlet trash inserts to trap trash at stormwater inlets to reduce amount of trash entering municipal water systems and surrounding waterways. Put inserts along pedestrian ways, convenience stores, gas stations, etc. Need to determine who would install/maintain.
Idea 3. Promote ways to reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover waste material. We immediately need a contractor to provide comprehensive, reliable recycling to town residents on a weekly basis. Strive for the best practice of paired trash and recycling containers, including at public parks. Expand awareness of both recycling pickup and our Farmers’ Market drop off of items including batteries, light bulbs, etc. Consider eliminating additional single use plastics in Chestertown such as straws, plastic bottles, clamshell takeout containers, stirrers, add 10 cent fees for use of thicker bags used at Acme, add incentive programs for reducing quantity of waste sent to landfills. Explore municipal composting. Increase use of composting and recycling at festivals and large events. Enforce existing ordinances that require recycling, ban plastic bags, and ban plastic straws.
Idea 4. Set as a Town goal that we will have a clean, sustainable environment in land, air, and water. Implement greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for the Town (aim for Net zero emissions). Consider adding emission allowances into city planning (e.g., building usage = x% of town emissions, transportation usage = x%, etc.) Conduct an emissions inventory and then assessment. Set goals for town emissions reductions relative to 2022 baseline (e.g., by 25% by 2025; 50% by 2030; etc.). Then develop approaches to meet goals, such as:
- Set goals (or mandates) for new town vehicles to be lowest emission possible with focus on electric vehicles. When purchasing new vehicles, purchase hybrid, electric, and appropriately sized vehicles. Do assessment: do all town vehicles currently use gas or diesel? What is reasonable timeframe for converting town vehicles to hybrid or electric?
- Aim to convert energy supply from electric to renewable sources for town properties, households, and businesses (e.g., community solar, purchasing solar from existing solar farms, on-site solar, or using renewable energy credits). Also improve energy efficiency of existing buildings. Explore the feasibility of installing solar panels on all Town buildings (e.g., Cerino Center at the Marina, buildings in the maintenance yard, Visitor’s Center), ground-mounted solar at the water treatment plant, and solar EV-charging canopies in Town-owned parking lots wherever feasible (e.g., Wilmer Park, Bailey Park, Gateway Park, Ajax Park, Memorial Park Marina, foot of High Street, Park Row). State grants are available, and the new federal law provides a 30% rebate to municipalities.
Q6. TOPIC 3 – A Vibrant & Inclusive Community
Idea 1. Access to nature; trail connectivity; collaboration with attainable housing and youth development (see Healthy Community, above; Connected Community, below)
Idea 2. Promote Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits more widely; continue SNAP/WIC benefits processing at Farmers’ Market. Assess barriers to SNAP use with community members.
Idea 3. Provide opportunities for youth engagement through events such as Earth Day community trash cleanup. Connect with local educators to provide environmental learning opportunities outside of the classroom for K-12 students.
Q7. TOPIC 4 – A Thriving Local Economy:
Idea 1. Our economy cannot thrive without environmental quality, resilient infrastructure, and a vision for the future. A resilient community attracts both residents and visitors.
Q8. TOPIC 5 – Affordable Housing:
Idea 1. Actively collaborate with orgs like Kent Attainable Housing and ReBuilding Together
to source funding to incorporate green spaces, street trees, native plants, green stormwater infrastructure built into the development plans.
Q9. TOPIC 6 – A Livable Community Making the Most of Existing Character:
Idea 1. Support and help to fund waterfront walk along the Chester River on College-owned lands between Wilmer Park and Radcliffe Creek. Consider upcoming NFWF Infrastructure grant (link included).
Idea 2. Coordinate with Rec Commission, Main Street, A&E, Tree Committee, ShoreRivers, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), etc. to add scale and capacity to projects (e.g., bury the power lines while adding stormwater management and tree plantings).
Q10. TOPIC 7 – A Connected Community: [This question largely means physical connections and places, from trails to roadways to parks, but we are open to your further definition as you answer this question.]
Idea 1. Support the bicycle-pedestrian advisory group to better coordinate town road improvement projects with pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure (Rec Commission- in the works). Support Expanding the existing Wayne Gilchrest Trail to Worton using existing rail bed.
Idea 2: Digital connectivity: Create and maintain a comprehensive database of local resources and services (Vibrant & Inclusive).
Idea 3. Seek Federal, State, and private funding to purchase the 25-acre Chester River Valley parcel and construct bike trails to connect Coventry Farms, Carpenter Park, and Washington Park to both branches of the Gilchrest Rail Trail.
Idea 4. Chestertown Bypass: Double-down on advocacy efforts to convince the State Highway Administration to fund the proposed Chester River Parkway bypass east of Town, which will make it easier for Chestertown proper to become a safely walkable/bikeable community with lower speed limits and more road crossings. This project was identified as a top priority in the most recent Town Comprehensive Plan.
Idea 5. Make streets and intersections “complete”: pedestrian and bike friendly, incorporating stormwater management. Collaborate with ESLC’s Open Streets effort and Washington College. If the Town receives a grant from the federal Safe Streets for All (SS4A) program, allocate the required match of $52,100 from ARPA funds. In the meantime, search for alternative sources of funding for the match (e.g., MD funds for the safety education component) and for the later implementation project, which may require a match of $1 million or more. (e.g., the MD Bike Networks program, and grants from national non-profits on the advice of ESLC). Chesapeake Bay Trust is a possible funding source (see below).
If the Town does not receive the federal grant to create a comprehensive safety action plan, immediately advocate to the State Highway Administration that: 1) speed limits be reduced on upper Highway 213 and western Morgnec Road, 2) that every signaled intersection be equipped with pedestrian crossing signals; and 3) that designated bike lanes be established along MD-213 and MD-291.
Q11. TOPIC 8 – A Financially Resilient Town: [This topic concerns the Town’s operations.]
Idea 1. Consider a Stormwater tax.
Idea 2. Invest in resilient infrastructure for our historic coastal community.
Idea 3. Employ a grant writer/manager (see below).
Idea 4. Employ a Resilience Coordinator (see below).
Q12. TOPIC 9 – Collaborative & Responsive Organization [This topic concerns the Town’s operations.]
Idea 1. The Town should set clear guidelines and expectations for the operations of Committees and Commissions, including meeting and membership protocols, record keeping, budget allocations and expense reports, and regular opportunities for feedback.
Idea 2. Clear path/plan for collaboration among the Town, County, business community, college, other stakeholders.
Q13. Obstacles: Please tell us of any hindrances, concerns, fears, or issues otherwise that have been in your way or might occur in the future as you take action on your high-priority activities?
Obstacle 1. Capacity is a huge obstacle. Good ideas are not action, and they cannot be acted upon without human power. The Town itself has very few executive staff. Committees comprised entirely of volunteers simply cannot carry out the complex, long-term projects the Town needs. Local organizations/nonprofits can hold some of these projects, but only if collaboration with the Town is strong. Possible solutions: We suggest at least two Town hires that would quickly pay for themselves and could transform operations. Grant Writer/Manager: this position could bring a tremendous amount of resources into the Town through federal and state grants and tax incentives. Resilience Coordinator: Maryland is creating an Office of Resilience with a Chief Resilience Officer. Our local representative could address our needs for resilient infrastructure and take advantage of the $1 billion Resilient Maryland Revolving Loan Fund for projects like roads and bridges. Coordinate with WAC’s Director of Sustainability. Other municipalities on the Shore use interns and AmeriCORPS members to add capacity to town operations.
Obstacle 2. Communication. There is no regular flow of information between the Town and Committees/Commissions, or among Chairs of Committees/Commissions. The Town Manager is only one person and cannot always be available. Mayor & Town Council meeting topics with reminders could also be publicized and circulated more widely.
Obstacle 3. Training is needed for municipal landscaping/maintenance teams. ShoreRivers has funding in hand to pay for municipal staff training from Certified Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP) and Tree Steward (links below).
Q14. Resource Information from your Group: Please provide direct links to any digital, web-based plans, project proposals, annual reports, or other documents you would like to provide to the Mayor and Council that relate to your answers above.
Chestertown Stormwater Comprehensive Plan and digital atlas: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5983720d59cc68fa41f034db/t/61ba2419ea2a8a6d6220f02b/1639588892489/Chestertown+Comprehensive+Stormwater+Plan+2021.pdf
Urban and Community Forest Master Plan, Carl Gallegos: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Iy59wKiCWFaHwlHKDwoIfWdqZairSqEj/edit
Possible grant sources:
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Infrastructure 2023 RFP (possible grant for living shoreline/river walk) due in November: https://www.nfwf.org/programs/chesapeake-bay-stewardship-fund/innovative-nutrient-and-sediment-reduction-grants-2023-request-proposals
Chesapeake Bay Trust Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns Grant due in March: https://cbtrust.org/grants/green-streets-green-jobs-green-towns/
Town maintenance staff trainings:
ShoreRivers Tree Stewards: https://www.shorerivers.org/programs//6yz11ijrd9cxh0pm01x7pequrrhqx7
Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professionals certification: https://cblpro.org/