MAYOR AND COUNCIL
FEBRUARY 19, 2019
Mayor Chris Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:30 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 4, 2019. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes with the following amendments to page 4, paragraph 3 “A closed door meeting was held at the Washington College President’s office about the hospital, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use was $1,232,213.36. Restricted funds for the Marina were $1,050.78.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Mr. Foster moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino called forward Ms. Kay MacIntosh, who had a permit request for a Bluegrass Block Party. Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street and the A&E District had originally planned the block party for last fall, but it was postponed due to bad weather. They have rescheduled the block party for Saturday, April 20th. Ms. MacIntosh said that the block party would take place on the 200 block of High Street from Cross Street to Lawyer’s Row from noon to 3 p.m. The Dirty Grass Players will perform, and the event will coincide with the Earth Day Festival. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she discussed the street closures on the permit with the police department. Ms. Kuiper moved to approve the permit for the Bluegrass Block Party on April 20th from noon to 3 p.m. on the 200 block of High Street between Cross Street and Lawyers Row as requested, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street has been researching funding for a portable stage and there was grant funding available through the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. She said that the 16’ x 20’ fold out stage they would like to purchase is contained in a trailer that attaches to a pick-up truck. Ms. MacIntosh said that only two (2) people were needed to set up the stage and it was only supposed to take approximately 30 minutes. This stage had a cover over it and there was a backdrop and sides that could be used during inclement weather. The grant, if awarded, was a matching grant and she said that she would like to request $5,000.00 from the Town toward the match. She said that she was looking for other matches and was also taking private donations. The total cost of the stage was $103,000.00. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the old stage could probably be sold for close to $5,000.00. Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street would buy the stage and donate it to the Town. Ms. MacIntosh stated that if the grant was awarded, she hoped to purchase it in August. Upon delivery, two (2) days of training is included. Ms. MacIntosh requested a letter of support of the grant be written to the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority as well.
Ms. Kuiper moved to provide a letter of support from the Town in support of the grant request SL75 to the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, signed by the Mayor, and when the grant was awarded, a $5,000.00 donation for the in-kind match using the proceeds of the sale of the Town’s existing stage, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Mr. Jim Bogden, resident of Calvert Street, was present on behalf of Ms. Karen Samuels to discuss a proposal for the first every LGBT Pride Event for the Eastern Shore, a portion of which they would like to have in Fountain Park. The PRIDE event was a 3-day festival beginning on Friday, May 3rd. He said that the organizers would like to make this an annual event.
Mr. Bogden stated that he would first like to describe the purpose of a PRIDE celebration. Mr. Stetson stated that was the first question he had, noting that he was “hetero-sex” but did not feel a reason to have a festival to celebrate his sexual orientation. He said that people are born that way. Mr. Bogden stated that everyday was a festival for straight people. Mr. Bogden stated that a PRIDE celebration is for the LGBT community to assemble and celebrate the freedom to be yourself. He said that PRIDE gatherings were more than just bright colors and good times, they were rooted in the histories of sexual minority groups who have struggled for decades to overcome prejudice and to be accepted for who they are. He said that it is wonderful to be surrounded by like-minded people for a change. Mr. Bogden stated that the celebration was not exclusive and that everyone was invited to attend and participate.
Mr. Bogden stated that the festival list he gave to the Council was not finalized yet, and is sponsored by PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays) was working with the Social Action committee to organize the event and to ensure that they were inclusive of all communities. Mr. Bogden stated that this would be a youth-focused family event.
Mr. Bogden stated that this was a Mid-Shore event taking place over a 3-day period in the Towns of Easton, Chestertown and Cambridge. There will be a comedy show in Easton, a dance on Friday evening hosted by the DCA in Chestertown (which is also First Friday), a multi-cultural event on Friday morning in Easton, with the main event in Chestertown’s Fountain Park on Saturday afternoon, May 4th. There will be a performance at Washington College on Saturday evening with seven (7) drag queens from New York including Marty Cummings (originally from Kennedyville and now an actor on Broadway). Sunday afternoon will be an event in Cambridge with another drag show at The 447.
Mr. Bogden stated that he did not know how many people to anticipate. He said that Marty Cummings will serve as the Master of Ceremonies and there was an entire line-up of speakers. Mr. Bogden stated that Mayor Cerino has been asked to kick-off the event in Chestertown event with opening remarks. There will also be people from GLISTEN (Gay and Lesbian Sexual Education Network) at the event, along with others that they were still waiting to confirm. The Pam Ortiz Band will play, along with several musical youth groups. The Garfield Theatre will perform a sketch of Where the Wild Things Are.
Rev. Tolliver asked how the festival would handle protests or dissent. Mr. Bogden stated that the permit request to the Town requested police support. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the permit has not been finalized, noting that he had asked the organizers for additional information, such as how large the stage needed to be, where the tents would be placed, etc. and he said that there was not a true idea of what the organizers really wanted. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the permit was discussed at an earlier Council meeting but there was not enough information provided at that time. He read the requests of the permit to the Council for the full stage, a tent to go over the stage (though the Town still did not have the size they were requesting), police protection, banners to be hung on the street, etc. Mr. Ingersoll stated that when because of the unanswered questions and requests he asked the organizers to come before the Council to present their requests. Mr. Ingersoll stated that hanging banners and that sort of thing was not what the Town did, but what they allowed to be done.
Mr. Bogden stated that there was a list of requests that he would like to clarify. He said that they were hoping for help from the police and would investigate private security, if the Council felt that was necessary. He said that being a family-focused event, noting that all advertising will emphasize that, he hoped that there would be no disruption.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he struggled with the “family-focused” event part of this and asked how he would explain to his 13-year-old son about a group of men or women hugging and kissing and some of the things he has seen in PRIDE festivals that happen in public and that they are okay. Mr. Bogden stated that a lot of people believe that it is okay and that there are normal variations of humanity and said that there have been same sex relationships in every culture, in every period of time in every country.
Mr. Stetson asked if the group liked to be around like people, why did it have to be public and have it paraded around Town. He said that as a “hetero-sex”, he did not seek praise and just because he was in the majority didn’t mean that. He said that he didn’t understand the theory behind this, asking if they were recruiting. He said that people were either gay or not gay and asked if they were exhibitionists or trying to show off.
Mr. Bogden stated that the event was not about sex. Mr. Stetson asked if the festival was not about sex, then what was it about. He said that everyone has a relative who was gay or something, whether they want to admit it or not, and there was nothing wrong with being gay, but he did not understand the need for a celebration in such a manner. He said that they wanted to get together they could go to Wilmer Park and have a party. Ms. Samuels stated that she and Ms. Samuels were on the Legacy Day committee and that was a celebration to celebration the African American community. Rev. Tolliver stated that the argument with the LGBT community was always that it is somehow tied to the African American struggle and he took issue with that. Mr. Bogden stated that the of course the struggle was different, but he did not know how anyone could be against the celebration of people’s humanity in a public way. Mr. Bogden stated that Coretta Scott King once said that the struggle is the same and he would be happy to pass along her writings.
Mr. Foster stated that he saw PRIDE as a celebration showing a diverse society, of which Chestertown was a part. He said that he attended different churches and has been welcomed and has attended PRIDE events and has been welcomed. He said that Chestertown is a welcoming Town and hoped that nobody was rejected because they may be different than others. Mr. Bogden stated that many people grow up with a sense of shame for who they are and in recent years there have been shifts in the United States and other countries, but young people are still damaged by it. PRIDE was an attempt to bury that shame and instead celebrate who they are.
Mr. Stetson stated that he has no problem with gay people, but he found a problem with he fact that they felt as though they had to exhibit who they were when the hetero-sex do not. Mr. Bogden stated again that this was not sex, it was people being around other people who are like them. Mr. Stetson suggested renting a hall. Rev. Tolliver stated that he thought most events like this take place in private places rather than public areas. He asked what type of permit process they went through with Easton and Cambridge to host the events and/or do they have permission to have the event. Mr. Bogden stated that government permission was not required to rent a hall. Mr. Larry Samuels stated that major cities like New York and Boston, and large communities have been having Gay Pride parades for over 20 years and it was a celebration for all people to enjoy their diversity and community. Mr. Samuels stated that there were members of the community who were gay and members who were heterosexual and this was a celebration of everyone.
Mayor Cerino stated that he supported the PRIDE event and he said that he thought Chestertown would be remiss to not support it. Although he thought it may be slightly controversial as the Eastern Shore was a conservative part of the world, he added that there was a large LGBTQ community in Chestertown, who were some of the Town’s finest citizens. Mr. Foster stated that he thought an extra effort should be made to welcome people of all sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity, especially at this time where the nation is so divided. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she supported the PRIDE festival as well and said that not allowing it would be a “black eye” to Chestertown if they did not. Ms. Kuiper stated that part of her oath was to serve without partiality and prejudice and that is how she would vote.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she would like to give additional thought to security for the event. Mayor Cerino stated that if there were people who objected to the event, he would hope that they just would not attend the event. He said that he was in favor of the event.
Mr. Stetson asked why the festival was not planned for Wilmer Park. Mr. Samuels asked why it should have to be at Wilmer Park. Ms. Kuiper stated that the Farmers Market does take place until 1 p.m. Mr. Samuels stated that the Farmers Market takes place during other events and festivals in Town, such as Legacy Day, and that does not seem to present a problem. Ms. Kuiper stated that she would have to organize the event with the Artisans and Farmers Market.
Mr. Foster moved to approve the permit for Mid-Shore PRIDE event on over the weekend of May 3, 2019 as submitted, with the understanding that the details will be worked out between the Town Manager and the Police Department for security and street closures, was seconded Ms. Kuiper and passed with three in favor, Mr. Stetson and Rev. Tolliver opposed.
Corporal Michelle Guerriero presented the police report for January 2019. She said that there were two hundred sixty-one (261) Red Speed violations in January.
Rev. Tolliver stated that there were two (2) arrests for heroin in January and he asked if those arrested were responsible for the deaths of the four (4) individuals over the past couple weeks. He also asked if there was an alert out to the community about the deaths from this drug as usually it comes from the same dealer. Corporal Guerriero stated that she would have Chief Baker report back to the Council on that matter.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there will be a public hearing for Ordinance 01-2019 Critical Area on Monday, March 4, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. in Town Hall.
Mayor Cerino stated that he has been meeting with consulting groups about the Marina. He said that hiring a firm to run the Marina was cost prohibitive and would cut into revenues. Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to hire Coastal Properties for a half-day to go over general operating procedures, marketing advice, etc. The consulting fee came in at $550.00 and asked if it was okay to move forward. Rev. Tolliver moved to hire Coastal Properties for a half-day consultation for $550.00, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked for Ward Reports.
Mr. Foster stated that everything was running smoothly in the First Ward. He asked about the MVA Bus as he heard that there were issues at their last visit. Mr. Ingersoll stated that representatives of the MVA was coming to Chestertown in the next couple weeks to scout out better areas for their cellular service. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he thought that the service would improve drastically when Verizon installed the antenna on the Washington College Tower at Dixon Valve. He said that once the antenna is in place, and reception improves, the MVA Bus would return to the Fountain Park.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Convocation was at Washington College on Friday and said that Mayor Cerino is receiving the President’s Medal.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she was working with Mr. Bill Drazga for music in the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.
Ms. Kuiper stated Chester Gras would be held on Saturday, March 2nd. She said that the Mayor and Council has been asked to judge the parade
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Garfield Center for the Arts was presenting Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he would like to reiterate that people need to consider that opioid addiction is pervasive in the community and that young people are suffering and dying. He asked that everyone be vigilant in the fight against opioid abuse.
Mr. Stetson stated that things were going well in the Fourth Ward.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Stetson moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:25 p.m., was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor