CHESTERTOWN MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING
JUNE 21, 2023
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz, Jose Medrano and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Lynda Thomas (Town Clerk) and guests.
Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the Mayor and Council minutes of June 5, 2023. Councilwoman Efland moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of June 5, 2023. The motion was seconded by Councilman O’Brien and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the Mayor and Council Budget minutes of June 5, 2023. Councilman O’Brien moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council Budget meeting of June 5, 2023. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster reported that the cash on hand was $2,127,608.33.
Councilwoman Efland made a motion to pay the bills. The motion was seconded by Councilman Herz and passed unanimously.
Councilman O’Brien made a motion to appoint Cinda Pitcock to the Chestertown Planning Commission. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.
Councilman Herz made a motion to appoint Heidi Usilton to the Planning Commission. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.
Chief Dixon reported that May had almost 100 more calls than April but not for any serious crimes. He noted, however, that there were four (4) non-fatal overdoses. He and Lt. Linz administered CPR and Narcan on a subject who had overdosed and was clearly dead. Chief Dixon was proud to say that their efforts saved the person’s life.
Chief Dixon noted that overtime in May was slightly higher. He said that some of the overtime was reimbursable from the State for Marijuana Eradication, Highway Safety and Tea Party.
Chief Dixon reported that the department would be receiving the Caliber Award for the law enforcement agency of the Year.
Chief Dixon reviewed the various events that he had participated in:
- Tea Party Parade
- Memorial Day Parade
- Garnet Elementary School fifth (5th) grade promotion
- Adult and Child meetings with Department of Social Services
- Special Olympics Torch Run
- Bocce Ball High School Championships at Kibler Field
Chief Dixon reported that he and Mr. Herz worked with Choptank Community Health to bring a Mobile Health Unit to Chestertown. It would be located on the northwest side of CPD’s property near the ELB automotive shop building and up to the property line. Mr. Herz noted that this van will provide mobile medical and dental care, mental health care, and substance abuse care to the Kent County community. There would eventually be other units strategically placed around Kent County.
Chestertown Arts & Entertainment District Update
Hester Sachse presented a Chestertown Arts & Entertainment District (A&E) update. She reported that there has been an increase in the size of art walks since the opening of the Raymond Center. She stated that they have been striving to increase programming for the art walks to provide an opportunity to show off galleries, studios and art in the town studios that are not typically open. They provide maps to visitors and residents to help locate all the art around town. She noted that she hopes this programming will keep bringing people back.
Ms. Sachse reported that they are continuing to partner and work with other town organizations like River Arts. She reported that the plein-air event, held earlier this year, was a success. The number of participants had dwindled due to the pandemic, and it was nice to see all those folks back in town, participating.
Ms. Sachse noted that the A&E District, the Public Arts Committee, and the Recreation Commission had been working together to obtain a removeable mural to place next to Ajax Park and the trail.
Ms. Sachse reported that the A&E have been working to design a generic banner and getting enough ordered to keep on hand to hang in the Arts and Entertainment District.
Ms. Sachse stated that A&E is looking at starting a small pilot program that would get art into the non-arts businesses, around town, in the A&E District like People’s Bank, law offices, and places that would not necessarily be arts related. They would start with art from artists who work and create within the A&E District.
Ms. Sachse reported that next year they will recertify the A&E District and hope to enlarge the boundaries. They would look at possibly incorporating places that did not make sense when the first application for expansion was s submitted but might make sense now.
Public Arts Committee Update
Ben Tilghman reviewed the phase 2 sculptures and their proposed locations around Chestertown. He asked the Mayor and Council to review their submittal art placement submittal and approve or give recommendations about them at their next meeting.
Mr. Tilghman reported that he led a walking tour in May for some visiting travel writers brought in by a consultant for The Brampton Inn. They have been working to raise their profile and the profile of Chestertown as a travel destination. Mr. Tilghman noted that a couple of the writers were astonished at the amount of art and the quality of the art being displayed in town.
Town Manager’s Report
Mr. Ingersoll reviewed upcoming event permits to be voted on at a future meeting.
- Crazy Days
- Legacy Day
Mr. Ingersoll reported that there will be Fourth of July Fireworks this year and stated that they would be shown at the front of Wilmer Park.
Mr. Ingersoll reported that Heron Point had asked the Town to un-dedicate the streets in the Heron Point community by turning them back over to them. Heron Point would maintain the streets to a town standard and that would include plowing them during snowstorms.
When asked about the status of the water and sewer easements at Heron point, Mr. Ingersoll stated that some of the main utility easements at Heron Point were separate from the road and their own separate agreement that would not be affected. The easements for the utilities under the streets would be specified in the new agreement.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would like the Council to consider allowing Heron Point to proceed with the petition. The process has been vetted by Chris Drummond, Esq., town attorney.
Councilman O’Brien made a motion to accept the Heron Point (Intergrace) proposal for serious consideration and request that they go into more detail in their final proposal. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed. Mayor Foster recused himself.
Mr. Foster nominated Vicki Smith and Barbara Brown to be reappointed to the Historic District Commission. He noted that since they are already serving on the Commission, there is no need to nominate them and wait for a meeting to reappoint.
Councilman O’Brien made a motion that we offer the extension to Victoria Smith to renew her term on the Historic District Commission. The motion was seconded by Councilman Herz and passed unanimously.
Councilman Herz made a motion to nominate or reinstate or extend the term of Barbara Brown to the Historic District Commission. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.
Mr. Foster gave an update on the Board of Education Community Meeting held on June 20, 2023, to receive input regarding the process of planning for replacement or renovation of the Kent County Middle School. He was pleased with the discussions held and the questions asked but was disappointed with the turnout. He noted that the decision is planned to be made at the August 18 school board meeting.
Jim Bogden reported on the consultant contract for the master plan and ARPA spending recommendations.
Mr. Bogden asked the Mayor and Council to vote to move forward with Kat Stork Blaher to help develop the Park and Recreation 10-year master plan. He noted that Ms. Blaher had reduced her rate to $8000 and Mr. Bogden asked for an additional $1000 for publicity, marketing, and meeting costs.
Mr. O’Brien reported that the meeting with county recreation staff went as planned but they are offering nothing except to allow the Town to apply for their local Maryland Program Open Space acquisition funding.
Mr. O’Brien stated that the Council would need to give staff permission to contract Ms. Blaher to begin the Recreation Planning process.
Ms. Efland stated that this plan would be great for the Recreation Commission and the Town. She noted that with a formal plan laid out, town staff would have the resources to seek and apply for more grants. This plan will lay out the next to ten (10) years and people will know what to expect when their park is being updated.
Councilman Herz made a motion to approve the $8000 expenditure out of ARPA funds. The motion failed due to a lack of a seconded.
Mr. O’Brien noted that there is a surplus and that general funds should be used.
Mr. Herz stated that recreation is being funded $123,000 and they should use their funding to create and execute the plan.
After a brief discussion, it was agreed to use general funds instead of ARPA funds. Councilman O’Brien made a motion to spend $8000 out of general funds to hire the recreation committees proposed consultant. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed. Councilman Herz opposed.
Mr. Bogden reviewed the proposed lights for the basketball courts at Gateway and Carpenter parks at $5000 per court. Mr. Herz wanted to know why the price was so cheap for lights to go around Carpenter Park and wanted to know if that included the timers, the poles, and asked where the electricity would come from.
Mr. Ingersoll noted that the Council might consider the community input they could gain from the Master Plan Study they had just funded in considering the subject of lighting basketball courts. He said that not everyone was going to appreciate the lighting and pointed out that all the town’s parks are dawn to dusk parks by ordinance. He also noted that getting electricity to the courts was apt to be the most important and expensive part of the project.
Mr. Bogden asked for a motion to move forward to get more details and pricing. It was noted that Gateway Park does not have neighbors and there is already electricity at the park.
Councilman O’Brien made a motion to authorize the Recreation Committee to look for solid estimates on lighting and the pavilion that they proposed at Gateway Park. The motion was seconded by Councilman Herz and passed unanimously.
Mr. Bogden asked for confirmation that the Mayor and Council wanted to apply for Maryland Open Space grant money as phase 2 at Carpenter Park.
Councilman Jose made a motion for the Town to apply for the recreation Maryland Open Space programs, community parks and playgrounds program for the playground at Louisa Carpenter Park. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.
Mr. Bogden asked about getting a couple of directional signs to Carpenter Park along Lincoln Drive and signs to Ajax Park.
Mr. Ingersoll asked Ms. Nina Fleegle about putting the Ajax Park signs on the Wayfinding signs. She reported that it depends on how many blades are already on the sign and that they must stay above the required ADA headspace clearance from the bottommost sign.
Mr. Ingersoll reviewed a letter from the Environmental Committee regarding the industrial scale solar farm proposed on MD 291, just beyond the town limits. He said that while there might be some advantages to contacting the developers asking what sort of things could be done in a working relationship, he doubted that the Town had the capacity to beyond a utility for the sale of electric.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he attended the environmental committee meeting, where the solar developer representatives reviewed the solar project. He felt they were very enthusiastic about options, but they are already restricted by a lot of the county’s stringent rules and regulations. He said that there was a provision in their license that they must provide some sort of auxiliary unit or something on site that could be an additional charging station that would be used by Town residents. He stated that they also do financing for solar and could talk to staff about the town’s existing solar field and if there was anything they could do, to expand or support it. Mr. Ingersoll pointed out that the solar field at the lagoon site was not owned by the Town but by a solar company that the Town negotiated a contract with for 20 years of solar power.
Mr. O’Brien noted that receiving solar energy directly from the solar developer was probably not a viable option. He said that it didn’t seem like the Town would benefit from the project, except for potentially having one additional electric vehicle plug in unit, which is also a requirement of their license.
Mr. O’Brien reported that he attended the Middle School project discussion.
Mr. O’Brien reported that since school is officially over, he and Dr. Couch have renewed conversation about the community kitchen.
The Council each expressed well wish to Mr. Ingersoll on his retirement. They each thanked him for his many years of service.
Mr. Ingersoll expressed his lifelong love for the Town and reviewed how he had become Town Manager 47 and half years before.
There being no further business, Councilman Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:34 p.m. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Lynda Thomas, Town Clerk David Foster, Mayor
The Mayor and Council will hold their regularly schedule second meeting of the month on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 at Town Hall, 118 N. Cross Street at 5:30 p.m. The Mayor and Council will honor the Juneteenth holiday on Monday, June 19, 2023 and will be attending the Kent County Public Schools Community Meeting to discuss the planning for replacement or renovation of the Kent County Middle School, on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 6 pm at the Kent County Middle School media center, 402 E. Campus Avenue, Chestertown.
By Authority of
David Foster, Mayor
A livestream feed is available at www.townofchestertown.com.
MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING
JUNE 21, 2023
- Call meeting to order
- Minutes of June 5, 2023, Mayor and Council meeting
- Operating funds on hand
- Payment of bills
- Appointment of new Planning Commission members: Cinda Pitcock and Heidi Usilton (so that they may serve at a simultaneous meeting on June 21)
- Chief Ron Dixon Police Report
- Hester Sachse, Chestertown Arts & Entertainment District Update
- Catheryn McAllister, Elder Abuse Month
- Ben Tilghman, Public Art Committee Update
- Town Manager’s report
- Heron Point letter of request
- Mayor’s Report
- Old Business
- Jim Bogden – Consultant Contract for Master Plan
- Jim Bogden – ARPA Spending Recommendations
- New Business
- Ward Reports
- Requests from the public to be on the agenda
- Questions or comments