MAYOR AND COUNCIL
APRIL 4, 2022
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:28 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 March 21, 2022. Mr. Herz to approve minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of March 21, 2022, as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Medrano and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that operating funds on hand was $2,144,937.84.
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. Nina Fleegle, Executive Director and Kristen Owen, President of the Board of Directors, were present to discuss the Main Street Chestertown Annual Report. Ms. Owen stated that Main Street was asking for the same level of financial support this year as was given in the last fiscal year to the program. She said that there are federal and state grants available to the program which were applied for and used as well, as the Council would see in their presentation.
Ms. Fleegle stated that Main Street invested in Chestertown in a variety of ways, adding that they recently provided a new stage for entertainment. They have applied for a grant for security cameras downtown and were waiting to see if it is funded. She said that they have raised almost $25,000 for the installation of the Wilmer Park Playground.
Ms. Fleegle stated that Covid Relief Grants were received to help provide sub-grants to small businesses. Tourism and marketing have been ramped up since visitors are returning and they partnered with DCA to help with new Covid related signage.
Ms. Fleegle stated that a new website has been launched for Main Street Chestertown this year with a feature for trip planning and a walking map. Ms. Fleegle stated that they have implemented new marketing strategies including digital ads through a grant they received in excess of $100,000.00.
Ms. Fleegle stated that Main Street hosts Dickens of a Christmas, the Annual Car Show, Hometown Holiday and the Tea Party Block Party. They also participated in streetscape and façade improvements. She said that exciting programs are taking place downtown they have invested over $180,000.00 of funding in the area. They were also looking at wayfinding signage. Funding has been received for pedestrian lighting for facades to cast light onto sidewalks.
Ms. Fleegle stated that she was the only paid employee of Main Street Chestertown and the rest of the operation was run by volunteers. Ms. Owen stated that she hoped that the Town of Chestertown would continue to support Main Street Chestertown adding that their dollars were going a long way. She suggested a Memorandum of Understanding between Main Street and the Town of Chestertown for their continued relationship.
Mayor Foster stated that there is a proposal for a bus from Chestertown to Rock Hall and Betterton and said that he had been asked for an endorsement of that project. He asked Ms. Fleegle’ s thoughts on the proposal. Ms. Fleegle stated that anything that can get people to stay longer in Chestertown and Kent County was a win.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he had a request in for Downrigging Weekend, which will be held this year from October 28th through the 30th. Mr. McMullen stated that the request was the same as last year but with more boats and additional music. Mr. Herz moved to approve Downrigging Weekend, October 28 through October 30, 2022 as outlined in the permit request, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Kent County High School had a request in for Paint the Town Blue and Gold on the 300 block of High Street on First Friday, May 6, 2022. Mr. Herz moved to approve the permit to Paint the Town Blue and Gold as submitted for May 6, 2022, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ralph Cattaneo was present on behalf of the Maryland Maritime Heritage Festival requesting use of the Wilmer Park and a portion of the Marina on Saturday, June 4th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mr. Cattaneo stated that they have been working with Paul Coleman at the Marina, who was excited for the event. Mr. Cattaneo stated that from 1997 through 2000 he held the Wildlife Festival in Town and said that he thought this new venture would be held for many years. Mr. Herz moved to approve the Maryland Maritime Festival for Saturday, June 4th as submitted, was seconded by Mr. O’Brien and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll handed out bid specifications for residential curbside recycling and asked the Council to review the document. He said that the project has to go to bid. Mayor Foster stated that Infinity Recycling was closing. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he has the bid opening set for May 9th. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would have the advertisement for the RFP go out. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he thought recycling would be cut off at the end of May.
Mayor Foster stated that the Chair of the Commission was completely satisfied with the changes that have been made. Mayor Foster stated that the playground equipment does not overrun the park and the changes are not substantive. Mayor Foster stated that the Recreation Commission has done an outstanding job of fundraising for the project.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was asked to have an ARPA discussion on the agenda. Mr. Herz introduced Ms. Kate Van Name, President of the ARPA Committee and Andy Goddard, Secretary. Ms. Van Name stated that they have been given strong guidance to adhere to and they are taking their job seriously to help the Mayor and Council with decisions on how to best appropriate the ARPA funds. She said that there have been two (2) meetings to date and the next meeting will take place on April 12th to discuss the application process and communicating to the residents how the program will work.
Mr. Herz asked for an overview of the scope of work. Ms. Van Name stated that ARPA was an interesting program and there was a heavy lift around administration and compliance. She said that they were hoping to minimize the administrative impact to the Town and have the money go where there will be a high impact to the community.
Mayor Foster asked for requests of the Council for the use of the ARPA funds.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he thought the ARPA Task Force was open-ended and he thought their task should be focused on public health, economic interests and economic impact. He said that the Task Force should know how much of the funding they have to work with.
Ms. Efland stated that she thought a percentage of the funds should be used for deferred maintenance and then the rest could be used to grow that money to use it best.
Mr. Medrano stated that public safety was his biggest concern, regarding safety for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout Town, adding that there was no sidewalk on Flatland Road. He said that assistance with Covid related issues is important as well as water and sewer projects.
Mr. Herz stated that it was the Council’s prerogative to spend the money, but the ARPA Task Force can come up with suggestions on how it could best be used.
Mayor Foster stated that he would like to see a focus of the ARPA funds on decaying infrastructure. He said that he thought 90% of the funds should be used for water and sewer as it was absolutely critical. He said that the roads needed repaving and the longer they wait, the more it will cost.
Mr. Herz stated that he thought a Covid fund was necessary to be held until the end to see if it was needed and then if it was not, it could be used for Bailey Park or another project. He said that he also leaned toward a 50/50 split using the money, similar to Ms. Efland’s point. He suggested beginning a capital fund for future needs. He said that he would like to see the ARPA Committee focus on organizations with Chestertown specific needs.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he was in line with Ms. Efland and Mr. Herz with a 50/50 split for use of the citizens and businesses in Town. He said that relief should be offered to small businesses and households. He said that the Town should focus on hard infrastructure.
Ms. Efland stated that all of the Town should benefit from the use of the ARPA funds, not just the downtown area.
Mr. Medrano stated that water and sewer concerns should be addressed.
Mayor Foster stated that there was no regular scheduled paving for maintenance. He said that the Committee had to be wary of mission creep and taking on projects that should be performed by Kent County.
Mr. Herz stated that many projects could be kick-started, but stormwater management and large IT infrastructure were necessary. He said that he asked the Task Force to focus on Chestertown residents.
Mayor Foster stated that there was no motion made for the police to have access to emergency funds using some of the ARPA funding. He said that this was a good opportunity for the ARPA Committee to view the request.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Coalition for the Homeless has a request in for $5,500.00 to help with the costs of their program in the way of a matching donation from the Kent County Commissioners. Mr. Ingersoll asked if the Mayor and Council wished to fund the request through ARPA funds. Mr. Herz stated that he ran into Father Sabetti who told him he was coming to the April 18th meeting.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he accompanied Carol Niemand to the County Commissioner’s meeting, and they asked what Chestertown was giving to the program. Mr. O’Brien thanked the County Commissioners for stepping up on this issue and felt Chetertown should do the same.
Ms. Efland stated that she would like to see the Coalition for the Homeless be a non-profit or know what was happening in way of their 501(C-3). Mayor Foster asked if issues of this type should be sent to the ARPA Task Force.
Mr. Jim Gatto was present to discuss the Chestertown Parkway. Mayor Foster state that he had a draft of a letter to the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation which he hoped would at least begin a discussion. Mr. Gatto stated that the discussion of traffic on Rt. 213 should be an issue raised in the letter. Mayor Foster stated that he would send the letter.
Mayor Foster stated that he was going to write a letter of support for a bus for transportation through the County as discussed earlier when Main Street gave their presentation.
Mayor Foster asked for a motion to appoint Danielle Cudone to the Recreation Commission. Mr. Herz moved to appoint Danielle Cudone to the Recreation Commission, was seconded by MS. Efland and carried unanimously
Mayor Foster stated that he would like to nominate Dwight Zilinskas, who resided in Ward One, to the Recreation Commission. He sid that he would like to appoint him at the April 18th Mayor and Council meeting.
Mayor Foster stated that there was a $50,000 matching funds donation being made for the movement of some of the public art to Chestertown.
Mayor Foster read the 2022 Arbor Day Proclamation into the record.
Mayor Foster stated that he was impressed with the number of people who came out for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on March 29th.
Mayor Foster stated that he wanted to discuss strategic planning and to have a facilitator help to plan out specific needs for Chestertown. He said that a mini-strategic plan would be helpful to be implemented in the course of one to two years. Mr. O’Brien read his proposal into the record. He asked for a budget of up to $5,000.00 for the project.
Mr. O’Brien stated that this would be a discussion on collecting thoughts and priorities for the next couple of years to specific categories and ensuring that the Town was being strategic with their plans.
Mr. Ingersoll asked Mr. O’Brien what the difference was between his proposed strategic plan presentation and the elements in the Town’s mandated Comprehensive Plan. He asked whether the planning was for the ARPA funding or the Town and Utility Commission’s general funding. He also expressed concern about the limited amount of time before the planned strategic planning meetings and questioned how the firm(s) would be procured. Mr. O’Brien stated that he thought there was adequate time for the proposed meeting and that short term strategic planning was an ongoing process and is very different than a 10 year comprehensive plan. Mr. Gatto stated that a couple of members of the Planning Commission should be involved in the process.
Mr. O’Brien moved for a strategic plan and budget up to $5,000.00 for a facilitator, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster asked for Ward Reports.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he had a listening session at Phat Daddy’s with his ward and he would continue to have them throughout the month.
Mr. Herz stated that he would like the Council to consider a consent agenda for Town requests for funding.
Mr. Herz stated that he was thinking a great deal about the Marina and wondered if there might be more funding for the Marina in the way of help for Mr. Coleman. Mr. Ingersoll stated that they were already looking into additional help for the Marina.
Mr. Medrano stated that he was happy to hear that there is a suspect in the shooting that took place in Calvert Heights a couple of weeks ago.
Mr. Medrano stated that there were potholes in the 100 block of Devon Drive.
Ms. Efland stated that April 16th the Bayside Hoyas and Washington College were having an egg hunt beginning at 11 a.m. at Washington College on the green. Ms. Efland stated that from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the same day the A&E Artwalk was taking place downtown.
Ms. Efland stated that she would like to add onboarding for Council and Commission members. She said that training would be helpful.
Mayor Foster stated that the MML summer conference was coming up as was an ESAM meeting and asked the Council to look into participating.
Mayor Foster stated that a mini strategic plan would be implemented in the future to know priorities for the Town.
Ms. Emily Moseman stated that the playground was being worked on and asked that the area is graded well so that the playground does not sit in a puddle once it was finished.
Ms. Moseman asked that the Council think about basic infrastructure with the ARPA funding. She said that the wiring of the telephone poles should be looked into because many of the wires are not even being used.
There being no further business, Mr. Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:20 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer McCann David Foster
Town Clerk Mayor