MAYOR AND COUNCIL
OCTOBER 21, 2019
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:31 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Linda C. Kuiper, Ellsworth Tolliver and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), 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 September 16, 2019. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of October 7, 2019, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that total operating funds on hand for unrestricted use was $1,281,183.70. Restricted funds for the Marina were set aside in the amount of $21,054.42.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Mr. Foster moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Acting Chief Dolgos presented the police report for September 2019. Acting Chief Dolgos stated that there were 90 less overtime hours in September than August 2019. He said that there was one officer out on military duty at this time.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the civilian part-time employee resigned, and he was working with Acting Chief Dolgos on finding a replacement.
Acting Chief Dolgos stated that the highest calls for services in each Ward were as follows:
- Ward 1: Three (3) rogue and vagabond;
- Ward 2: Eight (8) calls each for parking complaints and alarms;
- Ward 3: Twelve (12) patrol checks at schools and seven (7) parking offenses, and;
- Ward 4: Eleven (11) calls for alarms.
Ms. Kuiper asked if the police have noticed an increase in the homeless population. Acting Chief Dolgos stated that he did, and they had seemed to be congregating at the Fountain Park, but he thinks the situation has improved. Ms. Kuiper asked what is done if someone is found sleeping in the park overnight. Acting Chief Dolgos stated that they are left alone unless a call is reported and then try to plan for placement in facilities in Denton, Easton and/or Elkton.
Rev. Tolliver asked if there was more information on the shooting that took place at Chestertown Cove Apartments. Acting Chief Dolgos stated that they did serve a search warrant and seized a vehicle as a result of the incident, but it was still an active investigation and he didn’t want to give out too many details. Rev. Tolliver asked if there were any other incidents in Coventry Farms with speeding. Acting Chief Dolgos stated that there were a couple stops made and the speeding issue has stopped.
Chief Dolgos stated that the Mayor and Council keeping him on as Chief through March 2020 is saving the Police Department over $50,000.00 in this budget. He said that he also was able to cut costs on office supplies.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a permit request to close part of North College Avenue to allow for a Trunk-or-Treat at the Garnet Elementary School parking lot and parking lot by the Washington College Fieldhouse. He said that there was great interest in this from the community which was the reason for the use of the two (2) parking lots. The event would be held on Friday, October 25th from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mr. Ingersoll said he recommended closing College Avenue just beyond Prospect Street and West Campus just before Goldstein Hall to allow for detouring traffic.
Rev. Tolliver moved to close Prospect Street at the appropriate area, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., keeping in mind that Bethel Church may be having services during this time and the needs of the residents of Prospect Street, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Ms. Jennifer Wysong and Ms. Dianelle Laney, employees of Kent County Behavioral Health were present for a permit request for an event they were calling “Sober October” to be held on Tuesday, October 29th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Fountain Park by Recovery in Motion and the Kent County Opioid Intervention Team. Narcan and hygiene products will be distributed, Narcan training will take place, and information will be made available on shelters in the area. Ms. Laney stated that she would like to park their van on Park Row, and they will set up a table for information and to set up the lunches. There will also be information on recovery programs available for those who are interested.
Ms. Wysong stated that in October 2019 there were already at least 2 deaths and over 6 calls of overdoses in Kent County. She said that there has been resistance in communities because there was a stigma attached to Narcan but knowing how to use Narcan is important to save lives.
Ms. Laney stated that there was a career clothing closet available at the Whitsett Center for men and women who were looking for work and if anyone had clothing to donate they could call CPRS to make arrangements.
Rev. Tolliver moved to approve the permit for “Sober October” in Fountain Park on Tuesday, October 29th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., as presented, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Ms. Julia King was present and had submitted a resume for the position of Farmers Market Manager. Ms. King stated that she has always been involved in the AG community and she works with her brother (who owns King Mushrooms) at the Farmers Markets. She said that King Mushrooms is involved with 20 farmers markets in Maryland and she has been working in the markets for 5 years. Ms. King stated that she works full-time for the USDA Farm Service Agency. Ms. King stated that she thought the Market needed leadership and she would like to take on that role.
Mr. Stetson asked what Ms. King thought of the new set-up for the Market at this point. Ms. King stated that the vendors like having their own spot each Saturday and cooperation was needed on all sides if vendors were going to change their normal location. Ms. King stated that many vendors were on Park Row and she would prefer to see them set up around the square while keeping the vendors off the grass. Ms. King thanked the Council for closing off High Street and Park Row.
Ms. Wanda Gorman, Manager of the Artisans Market, stated that her vendors enjoyed being on High Street instead of inside the park. Mr. Foster stated that he was at the Market this past Saturday and everyone seemed happy with the new set-up.
Ms. Kuiper moved to appoint Julia King as the Farmers Market Manager, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Farmers Market “Go Fund Me” page needed donations and was hoping that the Town would spare $2,000.00 out of the Farmers Market dues. Ms. King stated that Maryland Market money must be applied for annually. Ms. Kuiper stated that SNAP and WIC eligible patrons are eligible for a 50/50 match on the “Go Fund Me” monies collected, which currently had $810.00 in donations. Ms. Kuiper stated that there was $14,500.00 on the books from revenue at the Farmers Market this budget year. Mayor Cerino suggested matching whatever comes into the Go Fund Me page up to $2,000.00.
Mr. Stetson stated that he did not like giving donations with taxpayer dollars. Ms. Kuiper stated that these were dollars out of the vendor’s pockets. Mr. Stetson stated that those dollars were to go to maintenance of the Fountain Park. Mr. Foster asked what it cost to maintain Fountain Park each year. Ms. Kuiper stated that maximum revenue would be over $10,000.00.
Mr. Foster moved to match the funds in the “Go Fund Me” page for the WIC and SNAP eligible patrons up to $2,000.00, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried with three (3) in favor, Mr. Stetson opposed and Ms. Kuiper abstained due to a conflict of interest.
Mr. Foster stated that he made the motion for the Market, but this was a reason that he requested a budget update in October. Mayor Cerino suggested scheduling a November 2019 meeting to review the budget. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he felt the Council shouldn’t tie a motion for funding a cause at the Farmers Market to a meeting date for a budget update. Mr. Foster stated that he wanted the best “crystal ball” that he could have. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it also cost money to bring in staff after hours and to hold extra meetings, adding that he has not had a single question yet on the first quarter report that was sent to the Council.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that holiday parades were coming up and there was discussion about having the vendors on High Street with the parades moving through to the 200 block of High Street for judging. Ms. MacIntosh stated that the Halloween Parade could make it through with the vendors in place. The Christmas parade would also work if the public was asked to move to the 200 block of High Street instead of stopping at the Fountain Park, with the understanding that Santa’s house has its own spot in the Fountain Park. The Council agreed.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that Santa will arrive in Chestertown at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, November 29th. The Christmas parade will be held on Saturday, November 30th at 10 a.m.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to nominate Kurt Smith to the Historic District Commission, noting that he had forwarded his resume to the Council last week. He would ask for an appointment at the next meeting.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to appoint John Hutchinson to the Planning Commission. Mr. Stetson moved to appoint John Hutchinson to the Planning Commission, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to appoint Connie Schroth to the Tree Committee. Mr. Foster moved to appoint Connie Schroth to the Tree Committee, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino read a Letter of Support for a grant request to the Maryland Historical Trust on behalf of the Kent County Historical Society into the record. The Council was unanimous in their support of the letter to the Maryland Historical Trust for the Kent County Historical Society grant request.
Mayor Cerino asked for Ward Reports.
Mr. Stetson stated that he attended the Community Breakfast Meeting where KRM gave an update on the new buildings on Haacke Drive Extended. He said that the KRM apartment plan was on hold because they heard another developer has interest in building apartments in the area.
Mr. Stetson stated that the vendors did a good job of staying off the grass at the Farmers Market, but the patrons were still walking on the grass. He said that signs were put up and he suggested also roping off the area.
Mr. Stetson stated that he attended the ribbon-cutting for the Semans-Griswold Building on South Cross Street and said that it was impressive. The building was 100% sustainable and was so efficient it returned energy to the grid.
Mr. Stetson stated that the Townies won the 2019 Fall Bocce League. He said that 44 teams play in the league and over 100 people attended the Bocce Ball. Mr. Stetson praised Mr. Frank Hurst for forming the league and his continuing work to improve it over the years.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he wanted to thank David A. Bramble, Inc. and the other companies instrumental in the renovation of Carpenter Park at Washington Park. He said that they would be planning a ribbon-cutting soon.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he had another meeting with the Empowerment Council relating to the quality of life of the black citizens of Chestertown.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he attended the Farmers Market on Saturday and said that he would like to see the new arrangement become permanent as it gave a nice ambience to the market.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he was also at the Semans-Griswold ribbon-cutting and it was an incredible building.
Rev. Tolliver thanked Ms. Miller for the quarterly budget report and said that he agreed that he would like to have a meeting to discuss it, but he would also like to have a Town Hall style meeting for ideas from the residents on how to generate additional revenue in Chestertown.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the mural on the side of the East Coast Storage building on Morgnec Road was growing and it looked beautiful. She said that Radcliffe School was looking to expand the program. Ms. Kuiper stated that she was going to try to have the mural recognized by the Maryland Arts Council.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she was happy that Ms. King accepted the position of Farmers Market Manager and said that she would take over management this coming Saturday.
Mr. Foster stated that he attended a Council of Governments meeting and said that it was a good meeting with some discussion on the tax differential. He said that there was also discussion about Galena changing over to automatically read water meters and the savings they are recognizing from doing so. Mr. Ingersoll stated that most of the meters in Chestertown are on radio read and have been for over 10 years.
Mr. Foster stated that he attended a meeting at Sumner Hall last week where a presentation was given by the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He said that there was a unanimous bill passed last September in favor of the Commission. Dr. Marshall Stevenson, one of the Commissions who is also a dean from University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Will Schwartz, president of the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project gave the presentation. He said that this meeting was informational, and films were shown on the 40 lynchings that took place in Maryland. He said that when he was in school this was a topic that was never discussed but it was important that it is part of the curriculum so that people knew it occurred and so that it does not happen again. He said that there is a marker at the entrance to the Courthouse by Memorial Plaza indicating that this is the place where James Taylor was lynched in the 1880s after being denied the right to a trial.
Mayor Cerino stated that there were no requests to be on the agenda and asked if there were any comments or questions from the audience.
Mr. Jim Gatto was present and stated that the Institute of Governments at the University of Maryland has a program that was worth reviewing to examine the role of the police department in Chestertown. He said that costs for the review were minimal, but he thought it was critical that a study be performed for the Town. Mr. Gatto commended Mayor Cerino on his presentation at the last meeting.
Mr. Gatto stated that when the upgrade of the police department was discussed, and ultimately purchased, Chestertown lost 45% of their assessed value during the recession. Mr. Gatto stated that there was also the discussion of a duplex facility on the Sheriff’s Office grounds at the time, which changed overnight with the purchase of the new building. He said that the real problem is that the real estate market has still not recovered in Chestertown. He thought that with the investments that the Town has made and the new buildings by KRM things are looking up.
Mr. Gatto stated that there were costs associated with safety. He said that he had an incident at his home where two (2) officers responded and the issue was handled with a good outcome. He said that the person committing the crime was violent, due to being off his medications, and if a single officer was to have responded the outcome may have been completely different.
Mr. Gatto stated that the police chief reviews his report each month and it was a good chance for the Council to ask questions, so they know what the Police are doing to keep Chestertown safe. He said that he thought policies should be questioned and that the Council should compare Chestertown to other communities of the same size and their police departments before any decisions are made.
Mr. Gatto stated that he agreed that Kent County had to pay attention to the cost differential and help with the Fire Department.
Mayor Cerino agreed that when the police department was ramped up it was during the time of the recession and when revenues were flat. There are other towns in Maryland of the same size with a tax rate much higher than Chestertown and the Counties in which those towns were located step in to help.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Stetson moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:00 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor