MAYOR AND COUNCIL
JUNE 21, 2021
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 7:38 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Samuel Shoge, Tom Herz and Meghan Efland, Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.
Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Budget Meeting and Mayor and Council Meeting of June 7, 2021. Mr. Herz moved to approve the minutes of the meetings of June 7, 2021, as presented, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that operating funds on hand amount was $1,526,365.18.
Mayor Foster asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Ms. Efland moved to pay the bills as presented, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Sgt. Lozar presented the Police Report for May 2021. Sgt. Lozar stated that people were feeling the effects of the pandemic as there were many calls for treatment in the way of mental health evaluations and problems with drug overdoses.
Mayor Foster called upon Jamie Williams who was present on behalf of the Kent County Economic Development Office. Ms. Williams stated that Nancy LaJoice from the State of Maryland Department of Commerce joined her this evening for the meeting. Ms. Williams stated that there were different links on the County website to the Maryland Department of Commerce site where people can look for commercial properties for sale. She said that commercial properties within the Town of Chestertown can be listed as well. The website was www.kentcounty.com/business.
Ms. Williams stated that tax credits, loans and programs area also described on the incentive page and each town has a dedicated map. Ms. Williams stated that the Enterprise Zones lend themselves to great tax incentives on improvements to properties. Income tax credits were also available to employees. Any person wishing to participate had to have the property certified by the local taxing agency.
Ms. Williams stated that grants are available to the community through the Federal Government for Covid relief with additional funding through Maryland Department of Commerce for tourism and restaurants.
Ms. Williams stated that the Maryland workforce exchange was a great tool for job openings in the area. The American Job Centers on the Eastern Shore are also a helpful place for employers to list their openings.
Ms. LaJoice stated that she was a field representative for the region and said that she worked closely with Ms. Williams. She had helped to recruit for available jobs in the area and offered training grants to reimburse up to 50% of training costs. She said that she could also help with marketing. She said that there were over fifty (50) grants and loans available to the commercial market through the Department of Commerce. Ms. LaJoice stated that if a business was expanding and adding employees they should report that to the Department of Commerce because there may be financial help available through their office.
Ms. LaJoice stated that there were people looking to hire beginning at $18.00 but between unemployment and the dispersal of federal funds many people were not currently going back to work as they were making $16.00 an hour to sit home. She said that everyone was hiring and there are very few places fully staffed. Ms. LaJoice stated that this was deterring growth to businesses and hoped that it would change soon.
Ms. Williams stated that Kent County was also working on Comprehensive Rezoning. Currently they were reviewing text and the maps and then they would review recommendations for changes. There were links on the Kent County website for anyone interested in the project or for anyone who wanted to have input on the project.
Mr. Shoge stated that many businesses had benefited from Ms. Williams hard work in getting the grants during Covid.
Mayor Foster stated that Ms. Annie Richards of Shore Rivers was present to discuss the comprehensive stormwater management plan and restoration projects for the Chester River and Chestertown. She said that grants in the amount of $336,225.00 have been set aside to help restore Chestertown’s storm water upgrades.
Ms. Richards stated that they were trying to restore mature canopy, implement green development such as bio-swales, repair shoreline areas and retrofit existing stormwater management areas. She said that nitrogen and phosphorous were in the Chester River and they were trying to reduce that load by over 700,000 lbs.
Ms. Richards stated that the backbone of their projects were native plants, green streets, bioretention areas, forest buffers/habitat creation, stormwater wetlands and step pool systems. She said that they have thirty-four (34) projects put in place to try to mitigate runoff.
Ms. Richards stated that the Washington College North Commons project is going to capture rainfall before it reaches Radcliffe Creek. She said that they have several concept plans at the ready, examples of which included Bailey Park 1 (extensive raingarden and habitat system), Bailey Park 2 (along Rolling Road) which would connect to the Chester River, and the Chestertown Marina native demonstration garden around the Cerino Center.
Ms. Richards stated that there was an atlas on their website which was a resource to view proposed and finished projects in the area. All proposals are listed on the atlas as well as areas that are at risk for flood areas and buried pipes.
Mr. Shoge asked if there were any projects planned for High Street which was a leading contributor to runoff. Ms. Richards stated that there was a potential for a convergence of goals with different entities where they can leverage dollars toward mitigation. There are some concepts for Spring Street and High Street to divert water but there would be a large amount of disruption at the time those plans come to fruition.
Mr. Shoge asked if there were any studies on how the step pool conveyance by LaMotte was working. She said that the water was tested regularly where the area became tidal, but it was not specific enough to say what was being saved from that project.
Mr. Foster stated that he hoped there was planning go into the farm community because there was so much runoff coming from those sites.
Mayor Foster called forward Mr. Ben Tilghman on behalf of the Public Arts Committee to discuss the public art donation. Mr. Tilghman stated that Carla Massoni and Pam White were also present this evening. Mr. Tilghman stated that he sent a memo to the Council and was here tonight for feedback.
Mr. Tilghman stated that this collection had a wide variety of artists who are in major museums and this gift to the Town was incredible and said the public art would be a great addition to Chestertown. Mr. Tilghman stated that the donation was offered as a whole collection and not piece by piece. Ms. Efland stated that she loved the idea of the art but thought there may be pushback from the community on some of the more modern pieces. Mr. Tilghman stated that they were working on a descriptive walking tour to educate people on the art and what it represents. He said that the Public Arts Committee was diligently working on where to place each piece of art in Town. Mr. Tilghman stated that the works would be phased in over a 3-year period, rather than the art coming in at one time.
Mr. Herz stated that he understood grants and donations would be sought for the $200,000.00 that was needed to bring the art to Chestertown. He said that he wanted to know if the Town was a “last resort” for funding the art. Mr. Tilghman stated that he felt as though the funding was not going to be an issue with donations that they know are coming but if the Town spends money on installation and upkeep, he thought that there would be a much larger benefit to the Town because of having the art in Town.
Mr. Tilghman stated that the work would remain on site with the owner until a site was chosen for their installation.
Mr. Foster asked if there were still outstanding legal issues. Mr. Tilghman stated that information was sent to Mr. Ingersoll, and they used an attorney who works on public art specifically through the A&E District and he believes that all the requirements were now met.
Mr. Shoge stated that working through this process was a good experience and this was a once in a lifetime gift to the Town. He said that projects like this were what people got excited to fund.
Mr. Tilghman stated that he would like the Council to offer time for public comment on specific sites that the committee proposed for the art to be placed. He said that he would attend a future meeting with the formal proposal for acceptance.
Mayor Foster stated that he attended the Recreation Committee meeting in Wilmer Park, and it was well-attended and informative. He said that the Commission will be reviewing different options for the playground and return to the Council in September.
Mayor Foster stated the Juneteenth celebration in Town was wonderful and said he was pleased with the event.
Mayor Foster asked for ward reports.
Mr. Shoge stated that he took a leave of absence from the Board of Shore Regional Health because he did not want to have a conflict of interest when it came time to discuss the oil spill. He said that he was 100% on the side of the Town when it came to the oil spill situation.
Mr. Shoge stated that he thought there might be a better opportunity to share procedures to committees and commissions, adding that he thought the Recreation Commission should really be a committee and not a formal commission. He said that committees and commissions should be distinctly separate. He said that he would make a formal motion when Rev. Tolliver was present. He said that he thought it would be helpful to have members of the Council be present for committee assignments.
Mr. Shoge stated that the rules (codified or by resolution) were different for all committees and commissions and in some cases non-town residents were allowed to serve. He thought that the chair of any commission or committee should reside in the town limits of Chestertown. He also said that he thought training would be helpful for the commissions and committees and suggested that they look to MML for guidance.
Mr. Shoge stated that now that Town Hall is open again, all committees and commissions should be required to meet in the meeting room. He said that he would work more on the recommendation and make a formal motion at a future meeting.
Mayor Foster stated that a letter was submitted to MDE regarding concerns of Shore Health’s plan to stop the pump and treat system.
Mr. Herz stated that Juneteenth was a great event and thanked Mr. Queen and the Black Union for their work. He said that there is a new marker in Town which comments on slavery in Town.
Ms. Efland stated that she also attended the Juneteenth festival and said she looked forward to the celebration growing each year.
Ms. Efland stated that the movie theater was reopening, and their goal was to be up and running by July 1st.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Shoge moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:33 p.m. was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan David Foster
Town Clerk Mayor