MAYOR AND COUNCIL
SEPTEMBER 19, 2022
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz, Jose Medrano (by phone) 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 6, 2022. Mr. Herz moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of September 6, 2022, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that operating funds on hand was $1,904,144.62.
Mayor Foster asked for a motion to pay the bills. Ms. Efland moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Ms. Lisa Mazingo was present from the Kent Family Center and gave an overview of services that the center offers. She said that she considered the Kent Family Center a gateway to other important resources and pointed out that their services were not income dependent. The Center also helps families with children under the age of 5 with their transportation needs. Ms. Mazingo stated that their Facebook page is how most people reached them, but people can also go to www.kentfamilycenter.org.
Chief Dixon presented the police report for August 2022. Chief Dixon reviewed the different events and meetings that he had attended over the month. Chief Dixon stated that there had been a recent race issue that took place at the Washington College Campus. He met with the college administration, and they were working to establish a criminal tips line which can used for race or bias instances. Those complaints would be forwarded directly to Chief Dixon.
Mayor Foster stated that he attended the meeting with Chief Dixon, along with Minary’s Dream, Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Washington College staff, and said it was impressive how quickly everyone responded to discuss the issue.
Chief Dixon introduced Patrol Officer Brandon McGinnis and welcomed him back to Chestertown (Officer McGinnis had left CPD for a job with the Queen Annes County Sheriff’s Department). Chief Dixon noted that Officer McGinnis had the advantage to CPD of being a certified field trainer and had several years of experience in law enforcement.
Chief Dixon stated that the department had just received one of their new vehicles back with completed detail and thanked the Council for the purchase.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he wanted to thank the Kent County News for reporting on the summit that took place at Washington College regarding the racial incident.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Michael McDowell was present to discuss the 2015 SHA Chestertown Community Task Force Report that contained issues and recommendations regarding state roads in Chestertown. Mr. McDowell said that though recent progress was made on the repaving of Maple Avenue, more progress was required, and time was of the essence. The SHA Annual MDOT Consolidated Transportation Program Tour to Kent County was taking place Tuesday, September 20th at 6:00 p.m. at the Kent County Commissioner’s office. Mr. McDowell stated that intensive studies were performed in 2014-2015 and at that time there were findings that tractor trailers were using Maple Road as a cut-through to bypass required weigh-ins and tolls. A letter was sent by Mayor Cerino to the State Highway Administration, and the SHA agreed that work needed to be done and that the work had huge support from the community.
Mr. McDowell said that now was an opportunity to make Maple Avenue safer and it was time to put pressure on the SHA to make the improvements. Mayor Foster asked that the issue of rapid personnel change at SHA be discussed, along with having a local contact.
Mr. Jim Bogden stated that the Kent County Commissioners play a role in the process of creating priorities, which they send to the SHA each March. He said that he saw the last report and, in his opinion, the County Commissioners are not representing Chestertown well.
Mr. David Bowering stated that in working with the SHA on the traffic issues, he learned that the volume of trucks passing Washington Avenue diminished when the work was taking place on Rt. 213 in Centreville. He said that now that the road work was finished in Centreville, the truck traffic has picked back up. He said that trucks should be made to come into Town from Morgnec Road (MD Rt. 291) instead of bypassing the weigh station on Rt. 301.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. Bogden submitted a townwide grant application to the Department of Transportation for a Safe Streets and Roads for All Planning Grant.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the stage owned by Main Street and stored at the Town yard has become somewhat of an issue lately in that non-profits are requesting the stage at the last minute or not at all. He said that all annual event planners would be reminded of the process for using the stage and the Town fee, which was not a rental fee, but a fee paid for the costs of deploying and erecting the stage and removing it.
Mr. Ingersoll read permit requests from the following:
- Emmanuel Church for the Blessing of the Animals on Sunday, October 2nd from 9 am to noon;
- United Way’s request to reserve parking at the Wilmer Park on November 11th for the 5K run on November 12;
- Trunk or Treat at Garnet Elementary on Friday, October 14th, and;
- the DCA’s Annual Scarecrow Contest beginning October 21st.
Mr. O’Brien moved to approve the permits as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll read a letter of appreciation into the record about Ms. Robin Sesplanski for her excellent work at the Visitors Center. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would like to suggest opening the Visitors Center earlier on Saturdays to handle the early setup of the Farmer’s Market. He said that the new hours would begin when a new employee was hired.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that curbside recycling did take place last Friday for those on Route A. The recycling in Area B should take place this Friday, September 23rd.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Hadaway Drive, Haacke Drive, Richard Drive, Dixon Drive and Prospect Street are scheduled to be milled and paved this week.
Mr. Herz stated that Kate Van Name and Susie Chase were present from the ARPA Task Force Committee to present a brief update. Ms. Van Name reviewed the committee’s work since March and said that all information and updates can be found on the Town website. Ms. Van Name stated that 34 letters of intent were received, requesting in total $5.8 million dollars. She said that the letters of intent are going through review and of the 34, there are 17 that the committee has first level approved totaling $1,837,000.00 in requests. The next steps are a final review on September 27th and a recommendation report will be forwarded to the Town Council for approval applications to be sent. She said that that she was hoping decisions could be made on funding by end of the first quarter of 2023.
Mayor Foster stated that he would like to see the requests prioritized by the Committee when they were presented to the Council. Mr. Herz stated that the Council may have to arrange a separate meeting in mid-October to review the request for proposals. Mr. Herz stated that the Council will have the opportunity to review all 34 letters of intent.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a memo received from the Local Management Board regarding imminent evictions at Chestertown Landing. Mr. O’Brien stated that seventeen (17) tenants were going to be evicted due to Covid resources ending. He said that the County stepped in, along with other local non-profits, to offer financial assistance but there were several families still in need of help. Mr. O’Brien stated that the Local Management Board advised that funds are exhausted on all County levels and was asking for funding reimbursement to some of the local non-profits. He said that this may require a special meeting of the Council and time is of the essence.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that catching tenants up on rents was helpful but the tenants also required counseling so they could stay afloat afterward. Mr. O’Brien agreed, stating that he was also asking for additional information about the tenants and programs that have been used to date. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he wanted to make sure that the property owner is going to cooperate and not evict any tenants anyway after they had received aid to catch them up on back rent.
Mr. Herz moved to authorize Mr. Ingersoll to work with MRDC, the Kent County Commissioners and Local Management Board to figure out help for immediate evictions at Chestertown Landing, was seconded by Mr. O’Brien and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Kent County Commissioners sent notice of an Application for Class B Beer and Wine license, with catering, for Phat Daddy’s BBQ, which will be held on Tuesday, October 18th at 6:00 p.m.
Ms. Efland stated that she wanted to discuss installing pavement along the 500 block of Washington Avenue. Mr. Ingersoll stated that sidewalk was not in place because the owner did not want the responsibility of caring for it or having to shovel the walk when it snows. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would reach out to the new owner to see if they would like to have sidewalk installed.
Mayor Foster stated that he had a good meeting with Monica Graves last week regarding the signage on College Avenue. He said that the idea of historic markers was in the plans for Chestertown Unites Against Racism and funded privately until this point. Mayor Foster stated that he would like the Town to pay for the next four (4) signs proposed, two (2) of which would be at Garnet Elementary, one (1) at Janes Church, and one (1) at Bethel AME. Mr. Herz moved to approve the purchase of four (4) signs as outlined by Mayor Foster, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that there were some noise complaints from neighbors about the drums at Aunt Sarah’s Playground. Ms. Efland stated that the manufacturer may have noise softening that they could send the Town. Mr. Herz moved to implement ways to dampen noise from the musical instruments at Aunt Sarah’s Playground, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that Laura Williams of the State Drug and Alcohol Board asked to have an information line added to the Town website, which he would forward to Ms. McCann to have added to the site.
Mayor Foster stated that free Covid booster shots were now available at Walgreen’s.
Mayor Foster stated that there was a COG meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
Mayor Foster asked for ward reports.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he would like to get estimates to open the fence and pave the walkway connecting Rolling Road (by Greenwood Avenue) to the Bailey Park walking path. He said that he and Ms. Efland to discuss the matter and would like a vote for a cost estimate. Mr. Ingersoll stated that when the Town bought the park, the neighbors had publicly requested a fence as a condition of seeking the grant. He said that it was a solid cedar fence, and he is trying to find the original contractor who built it to see if it could be rebuilt, power washed and stained to return to its original condition.
Mr. O’Brien moved to authorize a cost estimate for a paved path, removal of the fence, and construction of a paved path to the Bailey Park from Rolling Road, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. O’Brien stated that as part of the strategic planning process, he would like to send a survey to employees (which would be submitted anonymously), asking the same questions that were being sent to the non-profits, committees and commissions. Mr. O’Brien moved to send the strategic questionnaire to Human Resources to send to all employees, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. O’Brien stated that the marina restrooms do not have the capacity and would not be appropriate for public use. He said that he would like to see those who purchase annual boat ramps have bathroom privileges. Mr. Herz stated that he would like to speak to the Marina Manager before a vote was taken on the matter.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he would like to gather information on portable restrooms similar to those in Galena or at the dock at the Country Club. He said that he thought this would be something that could be implemented rapidly if the Council agreed. Mayor Foster stated that information would be helpful.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he has had many people asking him about removal of the parking meters and he thought they could remove the bases and cap them off. He asked if anyone objected to removing the meters completely, especially around Fountain Park. It was decided that the discussion would continue at a later date. Ms. Fleegle stated that people make donations in the meters, and she would bring the receipts of donations received.
Mr. O’Brien stated that approximately 30 questionnaires have been answered for strategic planning and the deadline was extended to the end of the month. A retreat was proposed for November 11th and 12th.
Mr. Herz stated that there was a complaint about the Backpack Event and said that he hoped a compromise could take place next year so there were no further problems.
Ms. Efland stated that she cannot attend the SHA meeting on Tuesday and asked that someone from the Council raise the concerns expressed by LaMotte Chemical about Rt. 213 traffic and the Town’s concern about a safe crosswalk at the intersection of Haacke Drive and Morgnec Road.
Ms. Efland stated that the play equipment at Bailey Park needs attention.
Ms. Efland asked about the grant for the land purchase from the Hospital at the Bailey Park. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Local Open Space grant has to go through Kent County Parks and Recreation, and the Kent County Commissioners and formal appraisals of the property were needed, along with the Hospital’s approval for the sale. He said that applications will be submitted during the next round for grants.
Mr. Medrano stated that he attended the block party at Janes United Church on Cannon Street and thought it was a nice event.
Mr. Medrano stated that there were crews working near the Gilchrest Trail (behind the Tidewater Trader) and asked what was taking place. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the large oil tank behind the Rail-Trail is being removed.
Mr. Medrano stated that there were many deer crossing MD Rt. 514 at all times near Montgomery asked if deer crossing signs could be installed.
Mr. Medrano stated that the Brookmeadow renovations were moving right along.
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 8:10 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer McCann David Foster
Town Clerk Mayor