MAYOR AND COUNCIL
NOVEMBER 16, 2020
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Thomas Herz, Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator), 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 November 2, 2020. Mr. Herz moved to approve the minutes of the November 2, 2020 Mayor and Council Meeting, was seconded by Ms. Efland carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that operating funds on hand was $1,953,011.60.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Ms. Efland moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mr. Owen Bailey was present on behalf of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and gave a talk on opening the use of public streets and rights-of-way. He said that with the COVID-19 pandemic there were many more open streets due to fewer cars being on the road. That phenomenon has resulted in an increase in pedestrian fatalities because so many more people are out walking and using the streets to provide social distance. Mr. Bailey stated that not only are the streets being used more by pedestrians to walk but there were many roads that do not have sidewalks.
Mr. Bailey stated that since World War II the streets have been built for cars instead of people. He said that now people are realizing that there could be a shift to more open streets for pedestrian use.
Mr. Bailey stated that during the pandemic Governor Hogan tasked counties and towns to find more open space for outside dining and Chestertown and other towns were able to accommodate that request. He said that towns now have learned how to shut down streets and Chestertown does a great job with it during the Farmers Market and at roadside restaurants downtown.
Mr. Bailey stated that there was a pilot program called “Demonstration Projects” where some space dedicated to cars is reallocated for pedestrians using traffic calming and other simple low cost methods to allow pedestrians to use the same space. He said that he thought Park Row would be an excellent street in Town to try this idea.
Mr. Bailey stated that these ideas could be tested on different streets to see what worked, adding that this idea is both flexible and inexpensive. He said that if it was done in an incremental fashion a town might decide to take more permanent steps to make it a long-term capital project if it worked. He said that painting areas or blocking them using haybales or cones was much less expensive than paving and could be done immediately. He said that many businesses might prosper by opening the street space in front of their business to allow for a different atmosphere. If it if did not work, the Town could go back to what exists.
Mr. Bailey stated that he lives in Town and there are no sidewalks in his development. He said that people walk in the street every day. He said that a sidewalk in the neighborhood would be expensive but making a sidewalk with paint would have very little cost and could slow down traffic because it would narrow the roads.
Mayor Cerino stated that many streets in Town were state roads that the Town cannot control, noting that the Town had lobbied SHA to try to have them build sidewalks along Flatland Road. He said that the cost estimate was in the millions of dollars for the build, but he was not certain that they would be permitted to have a demonstration on a state road. Mr. Foster stated that Philosopher’s Terrace might be a good place for a Demonstration Project. Mr. Bailey stated that they could try it with traffic cones, hay bales and planters, leaving it that way on one side of the street for a week and then moving it to the other side the next. He said that the residents will provide feedback as to whether it worked.
Mr. Herz asked if the idea of the Farmers Market in the street tracked with his model. Mr. Herz said that people have told him that they would like to close the 100 and 200 block of High Street to traffic on a permanent basis. He said that leaving the 100 and 200 block of High Street closed to traffic on the weekends might be a start. Mr. Bailey stated that he thought that was a great start for a Demonstration Project. Mr. Herz said that Foxley Manor might be a good place to try this idea as well.
Mr. Herz stated that he thought there may be some momentum to test ideas like this and said that he would set up a meeting with Main Street and the DCA where Mr. Bailey could attend and discuss this idea.
Chief Dolgos stated that anything that could cut down speeding would be helpful.
Ms. Efland suggested making a list and narrowing it down to a couple different areas to test and see how and if it works. Mr. Bailey stated that he wanted to introduce the idea tonight but would look forward to trying out a Demonstration Pilot soon.
Chief Dolgos presented the police report for October 2020. Chief Dolgos stated that the November CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) class was full, but two (2) officers would attend in January and two (2) would go in February. Chief Dolgos stated that the camera at the Fountain Park was installed and was almost ready to go live.
Chief Dolgos stated that a Restorative Justice meeting was going to be held on Wednesday, November 18th and the plan would then be sent to the State’s Attorney for review. He said that he hoped to have the plan in place by January.
Chief Dolgos stated that the bicycle officers would host a Bicycle Rodeo for the children in the spring, noting that that they could not do it sooner due to Covid restrictions.
Chief Dolgos stated that there were eleven (11) total officers in the CPD currently. One officer was in field training, one was on medical leave, and one officer had been exposed to Covid and was under quarantine for two more days. He said that there was one vacancy in the department at this time.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Ordinance 07-2020 Establishing a Human Rights Commission has been revised by Rev. Tolliver and Mr. Herz. Rev. Tolliver stated that the final draft Ordinance was just sent out to the Council about an hour ago via email and thanked the Council members for their support during the process. Rev. Tolliver stated that changes have been made to make the Ordinance more inclusive to all people. Rev. Tolliver moved to pull the original draft Ordinance that had been introduced and replace it with the new draft sent to the Council on November 16, 2020, which could be enacted at the December 7th meeting, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that he was happy to see that everyone was working together on their ideas, adding that the people who have been following the process should know that there was not much conversation among Council members between meetings. Rev. Tolliver stated that this Ordinance was about social justice and said that to make sure that the Ordinance addresses the social justice needs for all residents of Chestertown it did need to take time and they had to put the work in. Mr. Herz stated that they are at the point now where everyone should be pleased with how it the document turns out.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there would be a Zoom meeting with the Hospital and MDE on Friday, November 20th at 11:00 a.m. He said that he would like to have a short agenda to ensure the meeting stays on point. Any resident wishing to see the meeting could watch via the live stream at www.townofchestertown.com.
Mayor Cerino stated that he wanted to know if the pump and treat system was currently on and for how long they intended to keep it running. He said that the silica gel testing method had to be discussed along with other methods that they were using. He said that Mr. Sipes will be on the meeting. Mayor Cerino stated that he also wanted to know when the target date for shut down was going to be. He said that Mr. Forlini, the Town’s attorney on the matter, will also be in attendance.
Mr. Foster stated that they may want to ask how the illegal shutdown happened last spring and why they are trying to shift to an easier test using the silica gel method. Mayor Cerino asked that Mr. Ingersoll draft an agenda to share with the Hospital and MDE before the meeting takes place.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the new connector street between Cannon Street and Radcliffe Drive was discussed at the last meeting. He said that he subsequently received an email from the developer notifying him that a lot and house project had already been sold on the road and a name was required as soon as possible for the deed. In light of the need for a name in a timely fashion, Mr. Ingersoll asked if the Council wished to name the street or leave the name as chosen by the developer in the planning process. Rev. Tolliver stated that he had given it a great deal of thought and wished to suggest a name of an local African American individual, now deceased, who had spent a lifetime in the neighborhood and was respected by all who knew her. Rev. Tolliver moved to name the street in honor of Hilda Hopkins calling the street “Hilda Hopkins Way”, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Covid numbers were rising and the metrics in the State of Maryland were heading in the wrong direction. He said that just last month in Maryland, on October 16th, there were 416 people hospitalized and today there were 985. Mayor Cerino stated that the positivity rate in Maryland was 2.72% in October, but it was 6.45% today. The daily case counts have gone from 781 on October 16th to 1,726 cases today.
Mayor Cerino stated that with Thanksgiving next week there was bound to be community spread of Covid and said that the Town had to make decisions on how to move forward with their planned events. He said that Governor Hogan has been proactive and if the Governor was allowing Farmers Market as an essential business, he would like to continue the Market (if the Health Department approved). The Council agreed to allow the Market to continue if it does not expand in vendor numbers and there is adherence to the social distancing requirements and mask wearing.
Mayor Cerino stated that the holiday lights were being hung in the downtown and there were small activities planned for the first week of December which he would like to see continue as planned unless the numbers in Kent drastically changed for the worse.
Mayor Cerino stated that he was going to again begin making videos on the Covid site each week. He said that he would try to post each Thursday evening, as he receives updates from Emergency Operations Center of Kent County on Thursdays during business hours. Mr. Herz stated that the site was ready to go and asked Mayor Cerino to let him know when he was going live.
Mayor Cerino stated that he was sorry to report that Marty Stetson died last week. He said that Marty was a mentor and friend to him over the years, developed the Dog Park and raised donations annually to make improvements. He also loved to play bocce. He said that although they did not always agree on every issue, Mr. Stetson helped him very much during his time on the Council. He said he will miss his steadfast personality, honesty, and integrity. He read a tribute to Marty into the record.
Mr. Foster stated that Marty was practicing bocce with him just a couple weeks ago and was looking forward to another Townies championship. He said that even though he no longer served on the Council, he loved playing with them on the team. Mr. Foster stated that even during the worst disagreements, Marty was always a gentleman and he would miss him.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he enjoyed working with Marty and said that he liked when he would challenge him on different issues. He said that in the time they served on the Council together he learned so much from him and will miss him.
Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.
Ms. Efland stated that a couple things people might not know about Mr. Stetson were that he founded the Tea Party Distance Run and was an avid swimmer, adding that he swam across the Chesapeake Bay two times. She said that he was a good man with a playful and competitive side and would be missed.
Rev. Tolliver stated that the third ward has been quiet. He said that he wanted to thank Mr. de Mooy for his work to help see that some of the houses on Calvert Street and High Street have been cleaned up as he had received complaints.
Mr. Herz stated that he was working closely with Jamie Williams, Kent County Economic Development Director, who was trying to bring data centers to Kent County. He said that an outcome of an earlier meeting about data centers was the need to create a viewer for parcels of land and said that Ms. Williams has built it, along with a website, but some comprehensive data from Chestertown was missing. He said that he would send links to the Town so they could upload the information.
Mr. Herz stated that he wanted to thank Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Sappington as the wires from the poles have been removed and the streets look much better.
Mr. Herz stated that a local youth group cleaned up the Connolly Park and said that it needs to be mulched.
Mr. Foster stated that all was fine in the First Ward. He said that he wanted to thank Rev. Tolliver for his work on the Human Rights Commission and for working with Mr. Herz to identify important changes. He said that Mr. Herz became a lightening rod for the media through the process and said that he thought people didn’t understand that the Council was on the same side and was trying to make sure that the document was inclusive to all.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that the A&E District has been working on banners to help brand the District. She said that she has grant money to use before the end of the calendar year and that she would like to order 42 new and larger brackets for the poles (currently there were 23 brackets installed) and ultimately, would like to purchase banners (5’ tall x 2’5” wide) which were 1’ taller and 6” wider than existing banners. She said that the new brackets would be sturdier and would replace the existing brackets, with additional brackets being placed along Cannon Street and as far down Cross Street as Bob Ortiz’s studio. The Council agreed to the purchase of the brackets through remaining grant funding of the A&E District.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that she spoke with Marsha Landskroener, Senior VP for Strategic Communications at Washington College to let her know that the A&E District was looking to expand banner sizes and said that she will work with Washington College to find ways to allow their banners or maybe mesh banner styles together in some way.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Ms. Efland moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:23 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor