MAYOR AND COUNCIL
OCTOBER 3, 2022
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:22 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz, Jose Medrano and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Jennifer McCann (Town Clerk) and guests.
Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the Mayor and Council meeting of September 19, 2022. Ms. Efland moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of September 19, 2022, was seconded by Mr. Medrano and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that operating funds on hand was $2,491,766.39.
Mayor Foster asked for a motion to pay the bills. Mr. Herz moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that he was going to switch the agenda around to allow Ms. Paula Reeder to discuss some issues she had raised with Town event permitting because he wanted Chief Dixon to hear the matter before he had to leave to attend another meeting.
Ms. Reeder stated that there were many events held in Town, and she thought that the permits issued were too lax. To address that she had sent a memorandum to the Council citing steps that should be taken by the Town before any entity was granted a permit to close off streets. She said that recently the entire street, including the driveway, in front of her business was blocked for an event. She felt that this was illegal. She said that she was concerned if there had been an emergency that EMS would not be able to get into her building or her tenant would not be able to get out of her driveway during such an event.
Ms. Reeder reviewed her proposal for an enhanced permitting processes. She said that her business was shut down as a consequence of the event held on Saturday afternoon, September 17. She recommended that the Council review her recommendations and consider codifying them.
Ms. Carol Niemand was present on behalf of the Kent County Coalition on the Homeless. She said that to date they have now put 3 families in permanent housing. They were working on wraparound services for those families and are planning to host monthly get togethers to teach financial management.
Ms. Niemand stated that a trailer was purchased for a single person to live in, and it was being restored at Kent County High School as part of their construction classes. They have been unable to find a spot in Town to place the trailer so it will be placed on a private property for the time being, but that was not within walking distance of any stores. She said that she hoped that they would be able to find lodging for the other homeless people soon. Ms. Niemand stated that lodging costs at the Driftwood for 10 months was $150,000.00 for 22 people and 9 rooms.
Ms. Niemand stated that they submitted a letter of intent for ARPA Task Force funds from the Town, but they have not found any property yet for a housing shelter and the current shelter in place does not open until January 1st (and only operates for the winter months). Ms. Niemand stated that there was also a great need for transportation and food for the homeless.
Ms. Niemand stated that there were evictions taking place at Chestertown Landing that needed attention. She said that more needed to be done to help the less fortunate in Town.
Mr. Herz stated that what the Coalition for the Homeless has been able to do over the last year was a tremendous help to the community. He said that some of the funding from the government for rental assistance from Covid related events is running out and shelters are immediately filled when an opening becomes available. Mr. Herz stated that on October 13th there will be a meeting to discuss Homelessness at Town Hall.
Mr. Kelly Bensen was present on behalf of Bay Venture Outfitters to discuss kayak rentals and tours using the FIN app that makes outdoor recreation accessible by providing the equipment that can be rented through the app. He said that this has been used in the Town of Northeast, Chesapeake City, along the C&D Canal, and Delaware City. Mr. Bensen stated that his firm performs all of the services and brings in the equipment and in exchange the Town would receive $1.00 for every rental that comes through. Mr. Herz stated that he saw the trailer and it was low profile and well put together. Mr. O’Brien stated that he would like to research the system further. Mr. Bensen stated that the FIN system offers both bikes and kayaks. Mr. Bensen stated that in order to begin a program in Chestertown they should put pen to paper by January or February for an April launch.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that a very productive meeting was held between Council meeting concerning the potential evictions at Chestertown Landing Apartments. Representatives from the County, the Local Management Board, the Town Council, the Good Samaritan Group and the Chester Valley Minister’s Association. Reports were given about the substantial amount of aid and assistance already put forth to make sure that no one was evicted. He said that $7,000.00 was the gap amount that was being asked for from the Town to get the tenants involved back to zero where they would be able to remain in their apartments. He said that the issues for several of the tenants was that they were allegedly told by email (from a previous resident manager) that they did not have to pay rent after November of 2021. He will be contacting the owner of this project in the future to discuss with them how this situation was allowed to occur. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Town would be submitted paperwork for reimbursement to the Chester Valley Minister’s Association and the Samaritan Group in the total amount of $7,000.00 for their financial efforts to assist the tenants affected. Mr. Herz stated that there were many different organizations who helped in the effort to keep these people in place, and this was the very last step of effort required to bring this emergency to an end. Mr. O’Brien moved to approve the request from the Good Samaritan Group and Chester Valley Minister’s Association not to exceed $7,000.00, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Ms. Utilities marked the area at the Marina where the footing would be placed for the kayak racks. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Kayak rental agreement was being worked on and should be ready soon to put online soon.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. O’Brien asked about a 6’ trail connector from Rolling Road to the Bailey Park trail and he sent some information to the Council regarding the cost of the project if it was performed in-house. He said that the stone base for the connector trail could be installed by the street crew (except for the final asphalt paving) if the Council liked the idea presented. Mr. Ingersoll stated that this would include the excavation for the path, the stone base, piping over one ditch, a pedestrian fence opening and fence.
Mr. O’Brien and Ms. Efland will discuss the design idea with the neighboring property owners before moving forward with the project.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Haacke Drive has been repaved. There were other roads in Town being worked on right now and should be finished soon. There was discussion of painting bicycle lanes along Haacke Drive.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that a weekend assistant was hired for the Visitors Center and the hours will now begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday mornings. He said that this step was taken to provide bathroom facilities for the Farmer’s Market vendors and visitors who come earlier than it usually opened (10 a.m.).
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Democratic Club had a permit request to use the Rotary Pavilion on Saturday, October 8th from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Mr. Herz moved to approve the permit request as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the YMCA had a permit request in for the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day and read it into the record. Mr. Herz moved to approve the permit as submitted, was seconded by Mr. O’Brien and carried unanimously.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he mentioned the issue of bathroom privileges to those who purchase annual ramp permits at the Marina and Mr. Coleman (marina manager) agreed to the idea. Mr. O’Brien moved to extend restroom privilege to annual ramp permit holders, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously
Mr. O’Brien stated that he did get some estimates on portable restrooms which came in between $55,000.00 and $99,000.00 but was still working on additional information regarding hook-ups.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that 98 Cannon Street Riverside Grille was closing for good on October 8th.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Friday afternoon was the last chance for Eastern Shore Environmental to collect recycling and try to get back on track, but he did not show up. He said it was time to end the contract. Mr. Herz moved to terminate the contract with Eastern Shore Environmental, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was still working to get recycling domes in Chestertown and looking into recycling contractors. Mayor Foster stated that the Town was in favor of curbside recycling, and they would do their best to try to get a sustainable program in place.
Mayor Foster stated that there were discussions on replacing the Middle School building and listening sessions were taking place in Galena, Worton and Rock Hall. There will be a session scheduled for Chestertown in the near future.
Mayor Foster stated that Michael McDowell and David Bowering made a presentation to the SHA at their informational meeting on September 22nd and he personally met with Mr. Ken Fender at SHA (the new District Engineer for District 2) to discuss the issues along Washington and Maple Avenue. Mayor Foster stated that a meeting will take place in October to further discuss the requests of the residents. Mr. McDowell stated that this could be a successful outcome if there was a partnership with Chestertown and the residents.
Mayor Foster asked for Ward reports.
Ms. Efland asked where zoning would allow for solar panels over parking lots. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it might be difficult in the Historic District, but he thought it would be permitted in other areas. He said that he would like to see more on the specific engineering of the solar panels.
Mr. Medrano stated that there was interest in holding a block party in Washington Park on Saturday, October 29th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mr. Bogden stated that this would be a Ward 3 party with a DJ and bounce house at Carpenter Park. Mr. Bogden stated that they would need to rent a port-o-potty. He said that he was hoping to make this an annual party in each ward.
Mr. Herz stated that he shared emails with the Council showing the work product of Phase I of the ARPA Task Force. Mr. Herz stated that he would like to meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 6th to go through the process moving forward, and to review the letters of intent the Task Force deemed an application to move forward was not merited. He said that Ms. Van Name will lead the discussion.
Mr. Herz stated that he attended the meeting with the SHA and also met with a representative from the SHA after the fact where he learned more about District 2 in Chestertown and the limitations that they have. He said that he was happy to see the crosswalks were installed at Maple Avenue and Queen as he thought it was a show of good faith.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he was still working on the Strategic Planning process and was collating the responses that they received from over 30 groups to date.
Ms. Joyce Moody was present on behalf of Janes United Church and said that she would like to be on the next agenda to discuss the issues brought forward earlier in the evening by Ms. Reeder.
Ms. Fleegle stated that a second round of funding was open that could be of broad use for things from neighborhood policing to landscaping and she said that she was looking to submit additional funding requests. She said that the original grant was for security cameras, which was approved and will upgrade all cameras that feed into the police station.
Mr. David Bowering stated that he wanted to be informed what was happening with the SHA so that things do not get confused with too many people talking with SHA and nothing ever actually getting done.
The Mayor asked if there was anyone in the audience who wanted to speak. There being none and having no further business, Mr. Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:21 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer McCann David Foster
Town Clerk Mayor