AUGUST 27, 2014
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. In attendance at the meeting were Council Members Liz Gross, Linda C. Kuiper, Samuel T. Shoge and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, Kees de Mooy, Zoning Administrator, Patricia Diver, Director of Finance and Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk, and guests.
Mayor Cerino read the Public Notice into the record as follows:
“The Mayor and Council of Chestertown will hold the second public Charrette regarding the redesign and use of the Chestertown Marina, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at the Marina, 211 S. Water Street. The public is invited to attend, participate and comment.
By Authority of
Mayor Chris Cerino”
The Town Council and Staff introduced themselves to the audience.
Mayor Cerino stated that after the first Charrette, he and the Town Staff worked with the engineering firm of McCrone, Inc. to come up with a first draft of what a newly redeveloped Marina might look like.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town purchased the Marina to preserve public access to the Chester River, for those visiting by way of the River and those coming to the River by land. He said that it was also important to preserve Chestertown’s history as a working port. He said that municipalities have access to public grants that private entrepreneurs did not. He said that State and Federal funds and private donations could be used to fix it up and preserve public access.
Mayor Cerino stated that what inevitably happens when a private owner takes over a dilapidated marina, a developer comes in and builds houses which would lose the public access altogether of the Marina for Chestertown.
Mayor Cerino presented a PowerPoint which first showed the current state of the Marina. He said that docks and bulkheads needed to be removed and replaced. The slips were silted in to point where many boats can’t even gain access to the Marina. He said that a full lunar high tide, with or without any other type of weather system, floods the entire area.
Mayor Cerino stated that some of the points that were taken at the first Charrette were that parking had to be improved for the marina operations and the Fish Whistle. There was a lack of green space and virtually no storm water control on the property. During the winter the site is dominated by boat storage. The marina store and Fish Whistle are basically inaccessible when the area floods.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Marina owned three (3) docks and there was a single Cannon Street dock owned by the Town and leased by the Sultana and the Echo Hill Outdoor School. He said that the concept showed the four (4) docks being replaced by three (3). There would be fuel at the end of the center dock. The dock where the Sultana docks currently would remain fixed, but all the other docks would be floating docks, which would extend farther out into the River.
Mayor Cerino stated that the docks would be extended 70’ into the river, which would allow for a total of seventy (70) slips. He said that currently, the Marina has fifty-four (54) slips, approximately twenty (20) were deep-water slips and the rest are for small boats. Mayor Cerino stated that Chestertown is 25 miles up-river and would not have the type of heavy boat traffic of Rock Hall or Great Oak. He said that transient boaters would likely come in and stay for the weekend. Mayor Cerino stated that fourteen (14) of the proposed new slips would be in 14’ to 18’ of water, noting that this would make for a very unique marina on the east coast.
Mayor Cerino stated that the docks would have 12’ T-heads, which would be three (3) of the most desirable docks on the bay should the plan come to fruition. He explained the sizes of the slips on each dock. Mayor Cerino showed examples of floating piers and how they raise and lower with the tides.
Mayor Cerino stated that existing pedestrian flow through the property was not good. He said that there were two (2) proposed routes through the property for foot traffic. One would raise the grade through the area to the height of the fixed pier on Cannon Street. A 12’ walkway of pervious pavers would run through the property to Scott’s Point, which would then connect to the Wilmer Park. The second pedestrian connection would run around the newly sited marina store to the brick walkway on Water Street to Wilmer Park.
He said that with the removal of the marina store from the existing location there were countless possibilities for the plaza created there. He said that it would also clean the view of the gas tanks and dumpsters, creating a nice space on the water that could become an attractive focal point.
Mayor Cerino showed the current location of the boat ramp. He said that there was a consensus to keep the boat ramp, which put some restrictions on what can be done with the space. He said that a vehicle towing a trailer took up significant space when parking. In this plan, the ramp was relocated which created a straight shot into the River. He said that there was an area for turn around and parking. The large marina shed would be removed. This would allow for twelve (12) to fourteen (14) spaces for trailer parking. Mayor Cerino stated that he parked his own truck and boat outside of the shed as an example of how much parking was required for each boat that would use the boat ramp.
Mayor Cerino stated that the existing marina store was where the prime area of flooding occurred. He said that even when the grade was raised it may continue to sink. He said that any building owned by the Town should go out of the flood zone to higher ground. He said that this proposal showed the Williams building as the new Marina Store with restrooms and showers. There was an area designated at the foot of the dock for a structure to allow an all-weather space for dock hands.
Mayor Cerino stated that there was an area designated for kayak storage with a kayak launch.
Mayor Cerino stated that there was basically no green space on site currently. New green strips were shown around the perimeter. Storm water management areas were designated on the concept but would be designed to make impressive green spaces. He said that there was the potential for a pocket-park with art or a sculpture where the large shed currently exists.
Mayor Cerino stated that this concept showed no travel lift. He said that winter boat storage was envisioned for small trailered boats. He said that revenue from winter storage was a real money maker that would help to pay the debt service.
Mr. William Creager, Chestertown resident, stated that he agreed with the concept although he was concerned about restrooms and showers in the Williams building since he owned the adjacent property.
Mr. Matthew Tobriner, Chestertown resident, had a prepared statement which he read into the record and is attached to this document. He said that the water side was handled well, but he had problems with the land side. He said that the plan created too much parking and said that large trailer parking should be moved off-site, perhaps to Wilmer Park. He said that an urban planner should be hired for the land side of the property. He suggested that the rather than putting the ramp in the center of the bulkhead it be perpendicular as shown in the NEA Arts Concept Plan. Mr. Tobriner stated that he thought the Marina should be an all-year attraction.
One unidentified audience member said he did not want to see revenue lost to create a park setting when revenue is what would really pay the debt service. Mr. Tobriner stated that he wanted to see the Marina be a draw with a long commercial/residential building from the beginning of the property to the end along Water Street. He said that a developer could be found that was willing to lease the land and take the risk of collecting rents and maintaining the property. He said that winter storage was “iffy” anyway.
Ms. Gross stated that much of the parking alluded to by Mr. Tobriner was not completely in control of the Town. She said that the Fish Whistle and the Town of Chestertown have a shared use agreement for parking at the restaurant. Mayor Cerino stated that the Town could not add a lot of boat slips and shrink the parking at the same time.
Mr. Stetson stated that there was a waterfront park in Town just a few hundred feet from the Marina. He said that he would like to see the Marina bring in some revenue.
Mr. Andrew McCown of Echo Hill Outdoor School asked where Sultana would dock when the upriver dock is extended. Mayor Cerino stated that the vision was for Sultana to go out to the end of the dock because of the single-prop. Mr. McCown asked if the upriver side of the pier would be reserved for historic wooden boats. Mayor Cerino stated that is the initial concept.
Mr. McCown stated that he was not opposed to the concept of parking since it has only ever been a parking lot and was zoned intensive marine. Mayor Cerino showed a photo of the Marina in 1980, which showed the lot filled with parking.
Mr. McCown stated that he was hoping to rent the boat shed this winter and said that if the Town was going to remove it, Echo Hill Outdoor School would be interested in whatever may happen to it.
There was a question asked of where people could tie up boats and whether or not there would be a study on the impact of the existing channel. Mayor Cerino stated that he was certain there would be a study of the channel as there were many agencies that would be involved with the dredging of the river. He said that there was no dinghy dock shown on the concept plan, but there was already a floating dinghy dock at the foot of Cannon Street that was only moderately used. He said that additional space for dinghies could certainly be studied.
Mr. Bruce Hartwick, Chestertown resident, stated that it sounded like the Town was going to pay to build a parking lot for the Fish Whistle. Mayor Cerino stated that he has alluded to the owner of the Fish Whistle that if the grade of the Fish Whistle property was going to be raised, there would have to be some cost sharing. He said that it would be a very interesting discussion if and when the plan moved forward. Mr. Hartwick stated that more green space and less parking was always an option for the Town.
Mr. Coby Strohrer, Chestertown resident, stated that large boats stored in an orderly fashion did not look all that bad, and suggested looking into larger winter storage for big boats, rather than getting rid of the travel lift. A member of the audience said it would be very difficult to bring a travel lift in for short periods of time.
Mayor Cerino stated that he thought the outermost deep water piers would be primarily transient slips and the small piers would be used by residents.
Mayor Cerino stated that the there was a large weekend approaching and the Town already had to turn eight (8) boats away because the slips were not available to accommodate transients.
Ms. Freddie Ottinger, resident of Virginia (owns a house in Chestertown), stated that people who live in historic communities do not like parking but it was something that the Town had to be realistic about. She said that she was a rower and the space that was shown for kayaks or shells was inadequate and should be longer.
Ms. Alice Macnow, South Kent Street resident, stated that transportation would have to be provided for people who come by boat. She said that it was important to get people to the commercial district, rather than building additional commercial space at the Marina. She said that the Marina should not take away from the existing commercial area. Mayor Cerino agreed. He said that currently it was not economically viable at this time, but that would be a good problem to have once the Marina was redeveloped.
Mr. Ralph Meima, Chestertown resident, stated that several have alluded to this becoming a “destination marina”. He said that people like to come here for the proximity to the downtown. He suggested mooring buoys as that would accommodate a larger number of people.
Mayor Cerino said that he thought the boaters should be able to get to existing retail to strengthen an already struggling retail district. He said that he thought directional signage throughout Town was needed and being reviewed.
Mr. Ben Armiger, Chestertown resident, stated that he thought there should be an area for fishing at the Marina.
Mr. John Seidel, Chestertown resident, stated that as far as transportation was concerned, the real challenge was getting people to the grocery store. He said at the same time that the Marina was being redeveloped Washington College would be building out their waterfront campus. Students and staff would be shuttled back and forth at the same time the Town was trying to accommodate transient boaters. He said that there could be creative solutions to the transportation problem. Mr. Seidel stated that there will be a transition period where the “Calinectes” will need a place to dock for the College.
Mr. Seidel asked if the consultant gave any indication on the size of the bathrooms, showers and other amenities that would be required for the redeveloped Marina. Mayor Cerino stated that he has not gotten that far into the plans, but whatever was built would be better than was offered currently.
Ms. Lolly Sherry, Kent County Resident, stated that she was an active motor cruiser and asked how many slips would be transient and how many slips would be permanent. Ms. Sherry stated that she thought the Town may want to restrict the amount of resident slips. Mr. Ingersoll stated that as a recipient of the BIG (Boating Infrastructure Grant) transient slips would have to be reserved for those slips created by the grant, adding that the Town has been funded for $100,000.00 to date with a Tier 1 BIG grant.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that large transient boats were being turned away all the time when there were festivals going on in Chestertown. He said that the previous owner lost a BIG Grant because of the overall perception that piers were being taken out too far into the Chester River channel. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the channel was not defined by the Corps of Engineers in this part of the River and said that if there were moorings, they would likely be on the Queen Anne’s side of the River so as not to block the obvious deep water of the technically undefined channel.
Mr. David Davis, property owner, stated that he thought the Town should talk to Washington College to beautify the area in front of the Hyson-Ringgold House. He said that he did not understand the access point to the Marina Store off of Water Street. He thought it was very important to think about the cost of maintenance in the rebuild and said that discussions with the Fish Whistle should begin now.
Mr. Michael Wootton, Kent County resident, stated that when considering the idea of putting trailer storage in Wilmer Park thought should be given to where the boat is placed while the owner goes to get the trailer. Mayor Cerino agreed, noting that it was at least the same distance at Turner’s Creek in Kennedyville.
Mr. Bill Mylett, Marina manager, stated when the Marina was redeveloped he thought that the seasonal slip holders would come back and they had to have a place to park and to unload. He said that the public walkway was a questionable problem with the boat ramp. Mr. Mylett stated that there were many visitors who were only stopping for a couple hours visit and said a smaller dock for those transient boaters might be a good idea, so those small boats can come and go as they please.
Mr. Stewart Bruce, Chestertown resident, stated that he thought that a better area could be found for the dumpster.
Ms. Gail Register, Chestertown resident, stated that if there was an event for Wilmer Park there would be no place to park if it was taken over by Marina parking. Mayor Cerino agreed, stating that a parking area would have to be built to accommodate trailers.
Mr. Greg Kimmel, owner of the River Packet, stated that instead of raising the grade of the Marina, the Town should consider raising the grade of the walkways.
Mr. Jeff Carroll, Fish Whistle Restaurateur, suggested that the Mayor visit Indian River State Park in Delaware. He said that there was green space, restaurant & tiki bar, public boat ramps and all of the other amenities that were being discussed at this meeting. He said that it was built on a larger scale but was worth a look. Mr. Carroll also stated that he thought Wilmer Park was underutilized and should be used more by the Town for events. He said that he thought the empty space left by the Marina store could be used as a draw to bring people to Town, suggesting a crab deck or similar use.
Mayor Cerino stated that from this point, he would incorporate the suggestions from this meeting and try to come up with a final plan by the end of September. He said that the Mayor and Council would have to make some decisions and move forward. He said that not everyone was going to be happy, but something had to be done so that the Town could look for funding sources.
Mayor Cerino closed the meeting at 8:29 p.m.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor