CHESTERTOWN MAYOR AND COUNCIL
MAY 15, 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 May 1, 2023. Councilman Herz moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of May 1, 2023. The motion was seconded by Councilman O’Brien and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster reported that the cash on hand was $2,307,916.94.
Councilwoman Efland made a motion to pay the bills. The motion was seconded by Councilman Herz and passed unanimously.
Chief Dixon reported that April was a busier month for general calls for service. He noted that there were two non-fatal overdoses.
Mr. O’Brien noted that traffic accidents were down in April, but in March they were slightly higher. He asked if 22 car accidents in one month is average for a a town the size of Chestertown. Chief Dixon stated that 20 to 25 accidents a month was standard since he’d been with Chestertown. He noted that accidents were down in April at 13 and attributed the decrease to officers being seen around town. He reported that there were 44 motor vehicle citations and 132 warnings issued. Mr. O’Brien asked if warnings were tracked. Chief Dixon stated that the Chestertown Police Department (CPD) has full access to the Maryland State Police use electronic citation software.
Chief Dixon reviewed the various events that he had participated in:
- Garnett Elementary School math night and book fair,
- Community Resource Night with the Elementary and Middle Schools,
- Kent County Department of Social Services child fatality review board,
- Washington College First Responder night,
- Public Schools Spring Crisis and Security meeting,
- State Highway Administration (SHA) meeting and tabletop drills,
- Child Advocacy Center case review,
- Sexual Assault Response Team meeting,
- Local Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council meeting, and
- Human Trafficking Webinar with Harriet’s House in Cambridge.
Chief Dixon reported that Sgt Lozar was retiring at the end of May and two new officers were coming on board. One officer would be graduating from the Anne Arundel Community College Police Academy in early June and would be fully trained and certified. The other officer would be going into the police academy.
Chief Dixon noted that MidShore Behavioral Health would be recognizing the CPD as the Kent County Law Enforcement Agency of the Year for their work with mental health. At this time, all CPD sworn officers are mental health training certified. All new incoming officers will also go through the training.
Mr. Foster noted the SHA meeting and that the Town’s PIA request for the traffic study done on 213 had been approved. The traffic study proved that there are people driving above the speed limit. The Town is now working with SHA to get final approval of a speed feedback sign. The initial plan is to put the camera on 213 between Water and Queen Street for 30 days then move it to another location for 30 days.
Town Manager’s Report
Mr. Ingersoll reviewed proposed budget ordinance 02-2023 and stated that the budget is balanced with no tax rate increase. He noted that there was no increase in rates for the Marina, but the proposed budget anticipated a ten (10) percent rate increase for water and sewer rates. He stated that the budget hearing is scheduled for June 5 to go over and complete the budget process.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Environmental Committee had asked that a formal motion be made to not fund mosquito spraying this year and to announce the availability of mosquito dunks and information on how to reduce the breeding sites on private properties to residents of the Town again this year.
Councilman O’Brien made a motion to confirm that the Mayor and Council is not funding mosquito spraying and will not reinstate it without a full vote of the Council and will continue coordination with the environmental committee on mosquito control measures. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll called on Mr. Jim Bogden to give a summary of the Recreation Commission recommendations to spend $113,400 of ARPA funds for improving the parks.
Mr. Bogden reported that the first big event is Saturday in the Park which includes watercraft activities, and guided kayak tours up Radcliffe Creek. He noted that the launch access point is very muddy, and that Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Dwight Zilinskas have been working to get sand and/or rocks to improve the access area.
Mr. Bogden stated that the Recreation Commission envisioned Carpenter Park to be the second major destination playground. The bulk of the ARPA spending will be for Carpenter Park. He proposed to install lights at the basketball courts that users could switch on. The lights could be turned on for 30-minute increments, up until 10:00 pm when they will remain off. The same timer set up will be installed on at the pavilion to operate the fans.
Mr. Bogden noted that in August the Town will submit a grant application to the Community Parks and Playground program to build a playground at Carpenter Park, in addition to the swings already funded and the climbing structure that is coming from Worton Park. He stated that all these things together will make Carpenter Park a destination for families.
Mr. Bogden reported that Washington Park is planning their big Washington Park Day in September and the Recreation Commission will partner with them to make it a success.
There was a discussion to expand and connect the various trails around Chestertown.
Mr. O’Brien asked if the Recreation Commission considered hiring a consultant to incorporate all of those things. Mr. Bogden stated that if the council decides to use the ARPA funds for that, they would.
Mr. Bogden stated that the Recreation Commission had proposed to recommend the renaming of Gateway Park to the name to the Gateway Sports Park. He said it was an isolated park where noise is not an issue. The Commission would like to make it into a place for young adults and older teens to be as active and as loud as they want to be. He noted that it would be a great location for a skateboard park which is in the County’s five-year plan. He proposed to lights that would turn off at 11:00 pm, a 16’ x 24’ shaded picnic pavilion and post mounted grill.
Mr. Bogden reviewed the Ajax Downtown Park and proposed to install a tetherball pole and build a gaga ball pit. He noted that he is working with Shore Rivers and the University of Maryland Master Gardeners to put in native plants in the autumn and he’s working with the Tree Committee to plant extra trees.
Mr. Ingersoll brought up the issue of the 10-year master plan that had been brought to the Council in a previous meeting. Mr. Bogden noted that the Commission had not had a chance to engage substantively with the County but asked the Council if they would approve it. He reviewed that the contract was $8,500 plus $1,000 to publicizing community engagement and cost for food at community group meetings. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it would be on the next agenda.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Public Hearing for the Budget will be held June 5.
Mr. Foster had a question about the budget ordinance regarding curbside recycling. Mr. O’Brien stated that he thought they had agreed to zero it out and use the contract for private individuals to contract on a $12 a month basis for two pickups a month. Mr. Ingersoll stated that they need to check with the contractor that they are amenable to having private contracts.
Mr. Foster stated that under the alternative proposal, households would be charged $12 for each pickup (two per month), the Town would collect the names of interested households, work with the contractor to facilitate curbside recycling and make sure the contractor is appropriately recycling.
Mr. Foster stated that there were two (2) issues remaining in providing curbside recycling. First, the price that vendors can get for the materials being recycled, transport costs have gone up and interest of contractors in recycling has gone down. Second, the cost of using taxpayer funds to support a project that will be used by a small portion of the community. He personally supports recycling and would like to see the community support recycling but is not convinced that the Town has a right to tax every household to support a project that a small group of residents will use.
He noted that the Town spends $14,400 a year for the recycling center behind Vault Storage which serves both household and private enterprise. He noted that curbside pickup only serves residential households.
Mr. Ingersoll reviewed a letter of request from the Maryland State Highway Administration for assistance with a feasibility study, funding and construction of new sidewalks and pedestrian walkways in Chestertown.
Councilman Medrano made a motion to approve the letter of request for the funding to be high priority though the State Highway Administration. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll reviewed the Juneteenth event permit. Councilman Herz made a motion to approve the Juneteenth Celebration in Fountain Park on Saturday, June 17 from 10 am to 6 pm to close the 300 block High Street between Cross and Spring Avenue, pending coordination and confirmation that this will not impact the Farmer’s Market. The motion was seconded by Councilman Medrano and passed unanimously.
Councilman Herz made a motion to nominate Monica Seles to the Historic District Commission. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.
Mr. Foster reported that he went to a meeting about the Whitsitt Center which was on the disinvest list. Delegate Jay Jacob help to get it off the list and Governor Wes Moore’s administration appropriated $4 million for repairs. He stated that Chestertown is pleased to have the Whitsitt Center in our area with the increase in mental illness. He reviewed a letter to thank Bill Webb of the Health Department, Delegate Jay Jacob, Governor Wes Moore’s administration and the Kent County Commissioners for their support to rehabilitate and sustain the facility.
Mayor Foster read the State of the Town address into the record. He said that it would be posted online for anyone interested in reading it.
Mr. Ingersoll reviewed the public notice for the proposed Ordinance 01-2023, that would amend Chapter 164 Water and Sewers.
Mr. Sipes reviewed that delivery of a jetter would be 30 to 60 days unless there is one available, sitting on the lot. The cost of the jetter, with a 500-gallon containment tank and a 200-gallon freshwater tank for the jetting, is about $55,000.
Mr. Sipes confirmed that Chestertown has the lowest utility rates in Maryland. The rates are more than 50% lower than the next lowest municipality which is Rock Hall. Their rates are $200 quarter versus Chestertown’s rate of $70 a quarter (an amount which also includes the $15 Bay Restoration fee).
Mr. Herz stated that Chestertown would be taking on more risk by enacting Ordinance 01-2023. Currently, the Town takes care of maintaining the mains and when a lateral needs to be replaced, the Town will work with the homeowner and charge them a not to exceed amount of $1,500 for doing all the work under the streets. If they can’t afford that the Town had prorated the debt until it is paid off. Mr. Sipes noted that if a homeowner calls a contractor it could cost between $10,000 to $20,000 to do that work, depending on location.
Mr. Sipes noted that there may be an increase in calls from the homeowners that would normally call a plumber. If the cleanout access point is near the curb, the assessment would only take a couple minutes. If there is a blockage, the Town crew would take care of the problem. He noted that the Town will not provide maintenance on sewer lines that does not have an accessible cleanout near the curb.
Councilman O’Brien made a motion to enact Ordinance 01-2023, amending Chapter 164: Water and Sewers. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.
Councilman O’Brien made a motion to approve the purchase of a jetter up to $60,000 requested by Bob sipes for the use to comply with this Ordinance. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.
Ms. Efland reported that the new Kent County Animal Care Shelter has opened, and adoptions have increased.
Ms. Efland reviewed the Maker Space with Washington College. There are preliminary plans to move forward with obtaining state funding. They would like to ensure that the space is also a community space, attracting students and is also a community space for kids K through 12 and of all races.
Mr. Medrano reported that a Coventry Farms resident almost struck someone at Gateway Park because there is no lighting in the area and noted that the resident had asked what can be done to get lighting for that area. Mr. O’Brien stated that when he and Mr. Foster attended the SHA meeting, they had requested the SHA to look into making that intersection safer. SHA said they would do a study, but they have not heard back about the results yet.
Mr. Herz reported that Madison Bryce Turner, Governor Moore’s Inter-Governmental Affairs liaison, came to Chestertown and that he and Ms. Nina Fleegle took Ms. Turner on a tour around Chestertown and the Chester River Heritage Trail. Ms. Fleegle helped to organize the overall presentation of the Town and Mr. Herz reported that Ms. Bryce fell in love with Chestertown. He said that she would be coming back, at which time they plan to talk with her about some of the nonprofits working in the area.
Mr. Herz reported that he attended the Schaefer Public Policy Conference in Annapolis. He noted that the State had a certified public managers 10-month program that is fully funded by the State so it wouldn’t cost Chestertown anything to participate. He said that it would be a good opportunity for staff to learn how to do their jobs better, how to be better public servants and be able to network with people in similar jobs from around the state.
Mr. Herz reported that he received an email from the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company that there are several hydrants in town that needed attention. Mr. Herz reported that there is a pothole on South Queen Street and Cannon Street and one on Calvert Street.
Mr. Herz stated that the Council of Governments has put forward a slate of legislative items that they’re interested in pursuing for the 2023-24 term. He said that there will be another meeting to get a sense of the broader desire for which items appeal to the members of COG (Council of Governments). He stated that they would be talking about those items and finalizing the legislative agenda.
Mr. O’Brien reported that he and Ms. Efland participated in the panel conducting the first rounds of interview for the Town Manager position. Mr. O’Brien reported that he participated in the Phat Daddy’s food truck Wednesday.
Mr. O’Brien reported that the Town crew had moved the playground equipment from Worton Park that was donated by the Board of Education.
Mr. O’Brien asked for an update on the Rolling Road property maintenance issue. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he spoke with Mr. deMooy and that he was making progress on the matter.
Mr. O’Brien reported that the Tree Committee had forwarded some Tree Ordinance recommendations on a few text amendments.
Mr. Foster reported that Senator Cardin would be the commencement speaker at Washington College.
There being no further business, Councilman Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:37 pm. The motion was seconded by Councilman Efland and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Lynda Thomas, Town Clerk David Foster, Mayor
MAY 15, 2023
The Mayor and Council meeting will resume in person meetings at Town Hall. A livestream feed is available at www.townofchestertown.com.
PUBLIC HEARING – CONSTANT YIELD AND BUDGET
- Call Public Hearing to Order
- Read Constant Yield Public Notice into Record
- Read Proposed Budget Public Notice into Record
- Outline FY2024 Constant Yield
- Outline FY2024 Budget
- Questions or Comments
UTILITIES COMMISSION MEETING
- Call meeting to order
- Minutes of previous Utilities Commission meetings
- Operating funds on hand
- Payment of bills
- Mr. Sipes report
- Questions or comments
MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING
- Call meeting to order
- Minutes of previous Mayor and Council meetings
- Operating funds on hand
- Special Meeting Held – MAY 30, 2023
- Payment of bills
- Jim Bogden – Recreation Commission 10-year Master Plan funding
- Town Manager’s report
- Adoption of the Ordinance 02-2023 – 2023-24 Budget
- Resolution 01-2023
- Permit requests
- Oak Hollow Block Party
- Mayor’s Report
- Town Manager Selection
- Support Letter for Kent Attainable Community Legacy Grant application
- Speed Camera Traffic Study
- Old Business
- New Business
- Ward Reports
- Requests from the public to be on the agenda:
- Questions or comments