MAYOR AND COUNCIL
MARCH 5, 2018
Mayor Cerino called the Mayor and Council meeting to order at 7:49 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Linda C. Kuiper, Rev. Ellsworth Tolliver 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 February 20, 2018. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Mayor and Council minutes of February 20, 2018 as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $1,034,180.74. A total of $244,046.71 in bills has been paid for construction work at the Marina which the Town was waiting to be reimbursed through grants, bringing the total to $1,278,227.45.
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.
Mr. David Sobers was present on behalf of the Chestertown Environmental Committee to give an overview on waste management and ways for possible improvements and savings. Before the presentation began, Mr. Ford Schumann read a letter into the record from former Mayor Margo Bailey in support of moving to once weekly trash pick-up and enforcement of mandatory recycling. Mr. Stetson stated that he had always agreed trash should be picked up once a week.
Mr. Sobers stated that 5 years ago the Commission did a report and tonight he included a 1 page condensed summary of recommendations which he distributed to the Council. He said that with the current population of 5,000 there are 6,870 tons of materials discarded annually, 1,200 tons of which are refuse and the balance are recyclables.
Mr. Sobers stated that presently the Town has waste collection 2 times a week and recycling once a week. He said approximately 70% of households now participate in the recycling program (1,375 households) which makes up 265 tons of recyclables collected each year but is only 16% of total waste materials. Yard waste makes up approximately 12%. Mr. Sobers stated that uncharted quantities of recyclables are collected and managed through commercial businesses and private vendors and he thought those numbers would be about 10% of the recyclable rate on top of the Town’s 28%.
Mr. Sobers stated that the Town spends approximately $200,000.00 annually to dispose of 1,205 tons of trash, which amounts to $166.00 per ton. He said that it was more expensive to collect the refuse than to dispose of it ($102.00 per ton for collection/$64.00 for disposal) amounting to $100.00 per household per year for waste collection services.
Mr. Sobers stated that cost for recycling is $238.00 per ton but per household cost is much lower at $46.00. He said that a way of getting the recycling cost down was to increase the quantity of recyclables collected. Another way to draw down the cost was to take the 70% recycling rate closer to 100%.
Mr. Sobers stated that if the Town went to garbage collection 1 time per week, the costs should drop between 20% to 40% (yielding between $40,000.00 to $80,000.00). He said that some of those dollars could be invested in raising the recycling program from 70% usage closer to 100% usage. He said that for every ton of recycling out of the waste disposal stream it saves the disposal costs.
Mr. Sobers stated that the Committee also recommends improved containers on wheels with more visible lettering, labeling and colors. Public education and notices would be helpful in changing the way refuse is collected, along with enforcement. Chapter 85 of the Code of Chestertown could be updated. He said the College students could help spread the word and there could also be a certification program on waste management. Mr. Sobers stated that the Environmental Committee would be happy to have a work session with the Mayor and Council to go into more detail on the trash and recycling issue and perhaps using a pilot program in a designated area of Town.
Mayor Cerino stated that part of the presentation was timely as there has been notification that the company collecting trash in Town may not be continuing, so trash and recycling will be bid out during the budgeting process. He said that he agreed with trash pick-up once weekly, but saw a challenge with compliance of mandatory recycling or having a hauler become an enforcement agency.
Dr. Elena Deanda was present for a permit request for a Community Unity Day, a new event sponsored by Washington College and the Kent County Diversity Group. The event was planned for Saturday, April 14, 2018 from noon to 4:00 p.m. on College Avenue, between Calvert Street and Campus Avenue. She described the festival which was loosely based on University of Delaware’s Community Day, but on a smaller scale, and it would be focused on community outreach. She said that she hopes to make this an annual event. She said that she also spoke with the neighbors who were looking forward to the festival. Rev. Tolliver moved to approve the permit request as submitted was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Ms. Francoise Sullivan of Moo Productions (Chestertown’s Webmaster) was present and gave an overview of the Town website to the Council. She demonstrated how information can be found and the content available to the public on the website. Ms. Sullivan stated that content is added by the community, especially the items on the calendars. She said that she works with the County Webmaster in sharing their information and the Town Staff also updates the site. She said that there are auto-generated emails by subscription for minutes and events.
Mayor Cerino stated that when the website was redesigned it was thought that half of the users would be local residents wanting to know about amenities and meetings. The other half would be used for tourism. He asked the Council if they were happy with how the website is functioning or if they would like to see changes.
Mr. Stetson stated that he thought the primary purpose of the webpage was to promote tourism and has become too busy and geared more towards residents. He thought there should be full page pictures showing the beauty of the area, with a voice-over narrative welcome from the Mayor. Mayor Cerino agreed, stating that he wanted to see more photographic images of Chestertown on the home page.
Ms. Sullivan stated that the website can easily be changed to new images and still have the content, noting that there was a vast amount of information on the site that could be streamlined into a simpler, easier format. Ms. Kuiper suggested identification to go along with the photos.
Ms. Sullivan stated that it was important the Town know who is monitoring the linked website accounts because you may get information that is not necessarily ideal for the website. She said that she is monitoring the Town website and the Downtown Chestertown Association’s Instagram account is uploaded with pictures, but it is being monitored by the DCA. She said that she is also incorporating all other town’s events in Kent County through the County Webmaster.
Ms. Kuiper stated that some of the events are vague. Ms. Sullivan stated those are events that are listed by others and if they are not clear in their description, it will not be clear in the description on the site.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would get some of his own photos to Ms. Sullivan to use on the homepage. He asked for authorization to work with Ms. Sullivan on improvements. The Council agreed.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a permit request for Cars on High for March through October on the 3rd Thursday of each month from 5:30 to 8:00. It requested help form the Street Crew and Police with providing no parking signs around Fountain Park, in closing off a portion of High Street to traffic and allowing food trucks. Ms. Kuiper moved to approve the permit as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he received a permit application from a group simply named “Social Action” for a march for safe schools on Saturday, March 24th (from Dixon Drive to Wilmer Park on High Street, with a short rally in the Wilmer Park from noon to 3 p.m.). Mr. Ingersoll stated that he had asked the applicants to speak to Chief Baker regarding the street closures. Chief Baker stated that he had an email from the group but he suggested walking down the sidewalk for safety reasons and in order to avoid road closures and staff overtime. Rev. Tolliver stated that the march was one of many marches taking place that day across the county for safe schools. Rev. Tolliver moved for provisional approval of the permit for Social Action for a March for Safe Schools on Saturday, March 24th, with the understanding that the Chief of Police will work out logistics of exactly where the march will take place, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was sure the Council had heard that Mr. Wallace Henry passed away the week before. He said that Mr. Henry worked with the Town for over 30 years and did a tremendous job. Mr. Ingersoll said that Mr. Henry’s sons may decide to be in the bidding process this year. He said that Wallace will be missed.
Mayor Cerino stated that Mr. Owen Bailey has submitted a resume and cover letter to the Council and was nominated at the last meeting to the Historic District Commission. He asked for a motion to appoint Mr. Bailey to the commission. Mr. Stetson moved to appoint Mr. Owen Bailey to the Historic District Commission for a 3-year term, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Mr. Foster asked that advertisements for vacancies for Town Commissions and Committees be advertised more prominently. Mr. Stetson stated that having a list on file would also be helpful.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town was in the running for a Bond Bill for the Chestertown Marina. He said that the Chestertown Marina Interpretive Center will function as a waterfront visitors center, a marina store, bathroom and shower facilities, and a retail space. Mayor Cerino stated that Senator Adelaide Eckhart introduced the Bill on behalf of the Town of Chestertown and a hearing was scheduled for Saturday, March 10th in front of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. He said that if the Bill makes it through the hearing it will go to the House. If it is passed in the House, the funding will essentially be approved by the Board of Public Works.
Mayor Cerino stated that in his absence, Mr. Kees de Mooy will represent for the Town of Chestertown on Saturday at the Senate. He is well-positioned and knowledgeable regarding the funding and other issues taking place at the Marina.
Mayor Cerino read the testimony that he would submit at the hearing as follows:
“Honorable Members of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you this afternoon on behalf of SB1177, a Bond Bill for the Town of Chestertown in the amount of $500,000.00 to support an ongoing effort to repair and revitalize the Chestertown Marina. I am here to provide you with a brief history of the project for which we are soliciting this funding and to emphasize the initiatives importance to our local economy. In 2012, the Town of Chestertown purchased the last working marina on the community’s waterfront for $2,000,050.00 utilizing Maryland Infrastructure Bonds from the Department of Housing and Community Development. At the time of purchase, the facility had suffered from years of deferred maintenance in the private sector and was in urgent need of comprehensive repairs. For the past 6 years the Town has worked tirelessly to revitalize the Chestertown Marina in order to promote economic development, stimulate heritage and eco-tourism to the region, enhance public access to the Chester River and preserve an important component of the Town’s history, culture and identity. In the past 12 months, significant progress has been made towards completion of this ambitious undertaking. New bulkheads have been installed, construction of a new boat ramp is complete, old piers have been removed, dredging of the entire site was completed in February, and installation of 2 new floating docks and one new fixed pier is scheduled for this Spring. Additionally, construction of a new marina headquarters is underway. This facility, known as the Chestertown Marina Interpretive Center, will serve as a waterfront visitors center and marina store. It will also provide bathrooms and showers for transient boaters, contain a retail space for marine related activities and be available for public rentals for community events. If awarded, Bond Bill SB1177 will be allocated towards completion of this important structure. The revitalization of the Chestertown Marina will have a tremendous economic impact on the local economy. It is estimated that the new facility will generate $1.7 to $2.2 million dollars in direct spending annually, representing an increase of almost 8% to Chestertown’s $25 million dollar tourism economy. The project will support 30 to 45 new jobs in Chestertown and Kent County and generate approximately $150,000.00 each year in new State and local tax receipts. Additionally, the new amenities at the Marina will significantly enhance the community’s largest annual tourism events including the Chestertown Tea Party Festival and Sultana’s Downrigging Weekend which brings tens of thousands visitors into Kent County and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending at local shops, inns, hotels and restaurants. In summation, this is a project in which the State of Maryland will see a significant return on its investment. Furthermore, it is important to note that this project is part of a broader vision to revitalize nearly half a mile of Chestertown’s waterfront. The Town has been working closely on this initiative with Washington College, which is currently constructing a new $4 million dollar boathouse and has plans to invest over $20 million dollars to create a new environmental education campus just a few hundred yards downstream. When the marina and college facilities are complete, Chestertown’s renovated waterfront will become a major economic engine for Kent County and the Upper Eastern Shore for generations to come. The effort to revive the Chestertown Marina has received a broad-based bipartisan support from the community. The Town has received over 400 letters of support for the project from politicians, business leaders, boaters, residents and visitors alike. Several of those letters have been submitted with this written testimony and more can be provided upon request. Thank you again for this opportunity. While we understand that the State has many funding priorities, we urge you to give SB1177 your favorable consideration. Sincerely, Chris Cerino”
Mayor Cerino stated that if this funding was received it would get the Town very close to the financial finish line. He said that he received more comments on a daily basis now that people can see the work that is taking place at the marina.
Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.
Mr. Stetson stated that he attended the Chestertown Rotary Club’s meeting where they honored the “Save the Hospital” group, noting that the group was well-deserving of the honor. Dr. Paul Tittsworth was the founder of the Rotary Club and a past president of Washington College and the award to Save the Hospital was in his name. The keynote speech was given by Deborah Mizeur.
Rev. Tolliver stated that things were quiet in his neighborhood. He said that he was looking forward to the Community Unity Day on April 14th because it will bring some attention to his ward and that particular part of Chestertown.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Washington College’s Convocation was eventful, with Mr. Morris, a direct descendant of Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, honored and he also attended a breakfast at GAR Sumner Hall. Ms. Sabine Harvey was also honored at Convocation for her volunteer work in Chestertown.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she would like churches to be permitted in the non-profit section of the Farmers Market. Mr. Ingersoll stated that churches have been allowed in the Farmers Market when they are holding a raffle, bake sale or other similar singular event, but churches have not been historically permitted to distribute religious materials because of the separation of Church and State. Rev. Tolliver stated that he agreed that religious materials should not be distributed, but perhaps a church could talk about the other work they are doing in their local and church community. After further discussion, Mayor Cerino stated that this should be an agenda item and not a discussion in a ward report.
Mr. Foster stated that all was well in the First Ward.
Mayor Cerino stated that he was scheduled on Kent County’s Commissioners Meeting agenda for Tuesday, March 6th to request a letter of support on the Bond Bill.
There being no further business and no questions from the audience, Mr. Stetson moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:30 p.m., was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor