MAYOR AND COUNCIL
SEPTEMBER 20, 2021
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Samuel Shoge, Tom Herz and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.
Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council Meeting of September 7, 2021 and Special Meeting of September 13, 2021. Mr. Shoge moved to approve the minutes of the meetings of September 7, 2021, and September 13, 2021 as presented, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that the operating funds on hand amount was $1,261,918.09.
Mayor Foster asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Ms. Efland moved to pay the bills as presented, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Acting Chief Dolgos presented the police report for August 2021. Mayor Foster presented Acting Chief Dolgos with a proclamation thanking him for his years of service and proclaiming September 30, 2021 as John Dolgos Day in Chestertown. Acting Chief Dolgos was retiring after 30 years of service to Chestertown.
Mr. Jim Bogden of the Recreation Commission was called on to present the findings of the Wilmer Park Design Committee. He said that after calls for designs were sent to several vendors, the designs were narrowed to two by the committee and put out for an online vote. There was a total of 930 votes received, 822 of which were counted (because a name was attached with the vote). There were 516 votes for the Burke design and 306 for Kompan design. He said that the Burke design has many more activities included in the plan. There were concerns raised regarding handicap swings. He said that a toddler swing can be switched to a parent child swing at no additional cost. There were also requests for toned-down colors. Mr. Bogden stated that the bids and proposals have been forwarded to Mr. de Mooy.
Mr. Bogden stated that additional grant monies were being researched for benches. A short fence was considered to keep the smaller children from running off but there was no funding in place for that at this time. An additional handicap parking space ramp may be needed to access the area planned for the play area.
Mr. Bogden stated that the Burke Design matched the approved grant amount for the playground.
Mr. Herz moved to adopt the Burke Design for the Wilmer Park playground, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Bogden stated that Ajax Park ‘s existing play equipment was deteriorating. There is an easement that can only be used for the recreational trail, so this discussion is for the upper end of the park, which was just over 3,000 sq.ft. He said that this was a small parcel of land and the Recreation Commission received three different plans but could not decide which one to forward to the Council. Mr. Bogden stated that there had been controversy regarding the basketball court and that an earlier idea to expand the court to full-sized court had sparked a backlash with neighboring property owners who thought the expansion was inappropriate for the site.
A second plan had included a full court with fundraising from the community and not to come out of the Town budget.
Mr. Bogden stated that a neighbor, Carla Johnson, submitted a third idea for the area with an asphalt pad reduced by 14’ in length with one hoop on the horizontal access. It featured a three point line, a path from the trail to the parking lot for access and handicapped parking spaces and a toddler area playset.
Mr. Bogden stated that new plans were then submitted by others to accommodate the basketball court, compatible with a junior high school sized regulation court. There was another plan with a smaller footprint of a basketball court..
Mr. Bogden stated that AJAX was a logical place for a basketball court and asked that the committee be permitted to begin the funding process through donations.
Mr. Frank Rhodes presented his plan for the AJAX Park, adding that there was never a toddler playground in the original design of the park. He said that the three hoop design was preferred by the youth who had commented during the design process. He said that in his opinion there is little need for a toddler lot at Ajax given the fact that a playground was going to be installed at Wilmer Park.
Mr. Rhodes stated that Minary’s Dream Alliance was going to collect donations for the project, and he said that they were hoping to have one-year to collect the funding necessary for the build out. He said that many are interested in helping to fund the Ajax Park renovations and they were seeking out businesses to help fund the project. Mr. Ingersoll asked about the lighting and water fountains that were in previous Ajax plans. Mr. Rhodes stated that those things were not in the plans as submitted.
Mr. Paul Wilson, native to Chestertown, stated that he did not see the purpose of a new basketball court when new courts were just installed at Gateway Park and Washington Park. He said that the little children played all the time on the equipment that is currently installed at the Ajax Park. Mr. Wilson stated that the business areas downtown were also being affected by the proposed changes to the basketball court.
Ms. Carla Johnson, owner of the train station on Cross Street, stated that when this project began there was no discussion with local business owners. She said that they want a safe place for the smaller children to play and that this pocket park was a good fit for that need. Ms. Johnson stated that basketball could be loud, and in her opinion a small court with one hoop and a three point circle (the alternative design that she had submitted) was plenty in this small area.
Mr. Shoge stated that during his first term as a Councilman, the Town discussed having a pocket park for small children with a small basketball court and play equipment from the S.O.S property. He pointed out that since that time additional large sized courts have been added at Gateway Park and Washington Park by the Town. Ms. Efland stated that the tot lot seemed to be popular with families. Mr. Shoge asked if there was a specific demand or need for bigger and broader as he has only seen younger children playing at Ajax.
Mr. Tyler Johnson stated that they were asked to come up with a compromise plan and said that a basketball court would be better used in Wilmer Park rather than the small area at Ajax Park. He suggested swapping the playground equipment from Wilmer to Ajax and then build the basketball facility at the Wilmer Park.
Mr. Ingersoll asked Mr. Rhodes what age groups he expected to play at Ajax Park as presently designed. Mr. Rhodes stated that he thought the targeted age group would be between the ages of 8 and 12. Mr. Ingersoll stated that sizing of the court and the surrounding development could be important as it would send a message that the facility was being designed for younger children.
Mr. Tom Lippincott stated that he did not see what the push for a larger size basketball court in this area was all about.
Mr. Mike Dunlop, Chestertown resident, stated that he was in favor of the Ajax Committee design with three hoops. He said that there were many new basketball courts in Town, but the college kids are using the Gateway Park and the Washington Park courts are difficult to locate.
Mr. Bogden stated that the Recreation Commission has not specified which plan submitted was their choice as they were unable to reach a consensus.
Mayor Foster stated that he would like to focus the orientation on the younger children in the area. He said that he was also not interested in seeing chain link fences as shown in the design.
Ms. Efland stated that the Rev. Tolliver asked that the vote on Ajax be held until the first meeting in October.
Mr. Shoge stated that the consensus seemed to be that basketball will remain at Ajax Park, and that this would be a decision on what type and scale of renovations and configurations would work best for the space.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Washington College was asking for a refinancing of conduit bond issues and there was a public hearing on the matter held on Thursday, September 16, 2021. Lindsey Rader, Esquire (the Town’s bond counsel paid for by the applicant) was present at the meeting to explain the history of the Town’s conduit bonds, the lack of exposure for the Town and the process followed.. Resolution 06-2021 Washington College TEFRA Bonds could be adopted tonight. Ms. Efland moved to approve Resolution 06-2021 in support of Washington College’s renewal of the TEFRA bonds, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Homeports was holding their Expo on Thursday, October 14th and Chestertown was again a bronze sponsor of the event.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a permit request from Emmanuel Church for outdoor services for St. Francis Day on Sunday, October 3, 2021. The Council approved the request subject to coordination with the rain date for the already approved Car Show.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Kent County Family YMCA was holding a Turkey Trot Charity run on Thursday, November 25th from 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. The Council agreed to the request.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a request for Minary’s Dream Alliance for a permit request for Walk MD Day, Wednesday, October 6, 2021, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Council agreed to the request.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Resolution 05-2021 could be adopted this evening for the Arts and Entertainment District Expansion. Mr. Schratwieser stated that the Council already approved the expansion, the Resolution was formalizing the motion made earlier to the State. The Council signed the resolution.
Mayor Foster stated that there will be a dedication of a plaque for Owen McCoy in the Fountain Park on Saturday, September 25th during the Farmers Market. He said that this was a good opportunity for people to remember Mr. McCoy.
Mayor Foster stated that the Health Department was receiving requests to give vaccines to people during events in Town, but he said that there was no advertising about that. He suggested that when organizations apply for permits from the Town that they should be asked to consider coordinating with the Health Department to have vaccinations on site.
Mayor Foster asked for Ward reports
Mr. Shoge stated that he was presenting to Heron Point tomorrow on current Town Council matters.
Mr. Herz stated that he was excited for the playground at Wilmer Park.
Ms. Efland stated that she attended the animal care shelter groundbreaking this week and KRM was going to do a post with updates on the building site.
Ms. Efland stated that there were new electric car charging stations installed at the movie theatre and near Walgreens.
Ms. Efland stated that Owen Bailey is performing a walk audit of College Heights and was going to schedule a time in the very near future for the demonstration projects.
Ms. McGee asked what the timeframe for the buildout of the Wilmer Park. Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. de Mooy oversaw the Wilmer Park project and would better know the timeframe for the project.
Mr. Bogden stated that there were issues with trash on Calvert Street by the Kent County Library. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the County should provide the trash cans if there was a problem there as it was a county property.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:00 p.m. was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan David Foster
Town Clerk Mayor