MAYOR AND COUNCIL
MAY 2, 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 April 18, 2022. Ms. Efland to approve minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of April 18, 2022, was seconded by Mr. O’Brien and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that operating funds on hand was $2,246,972.99.
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. O’Brien and carried unanimously.
Kristen Owen, Nina Fleegle, Paul Heckles, Tom Kocubski and Mike Smith were present on behalf of Main Street.
Mr. Heckles, president of the Main Street Board, stated that Main Street would like to begin a Downtown Master Plan project and were planning to apply for a grant with DHCD to help fund a consultant. They estimated that it would cost $75,000 and were hoping to be eligible for up to $50,000.00 but would probably need matching funds at some level from the Town to have any hope of receiving an award.
Mr. Heckles stated that there is a lot of investment going on in Town and it would be better to have a plan defining a vision for goals and projects, rather than performing one-and-out projects one at a time as they present themselves. He said that he thought better decisions could be made for the Town if a plan was in place for future progress. Mr. Heckles stated that the Town has a Comprehensive Plan, but it was not specific enough when it came to defining the visions for the Downtown District.
Mr. Heckles stated that Main Street had the benefit of being part of a National and Statewide Main Street and design was one of the four pillars of each organization. He said that a Master Plan was necessary moving forward and they could use the experience of their sister organizations in implementing a Master Plan for Chestertown.
Mr. Heckles stated that the first part of the plan would be to perform an existing condition study followed by needs and priority assessment. He said that the first grant would be used for this purpose. The next phases would include implementation, with a list of projects along with costs and timelines. He said that all stakeholders would have the opportunity to have input in the plan.
Mr. Smith stated that he has engaged with stakeholders in the community as a start to the Plan. He said that the downtown was a lifeblood for the community and a Master Plan was a catalyst to a thriving business climate. Mr. Smith stated that the vision of the future was grounded on setting guiding principles. He said that they would plan for resiliency, prioritize beautification and unlock the full potential for a sustainable business district.
Mr. Smith stated that he thought a better gateway experience could be considered on Maple Avenue which would tie into the Downtown. He said that nice brick sidewalks and something in the way of signage announcing the arrival to Town might be helpful.
Mr. Kocubski stated that a needs assessment report would be the first step in any project. He said that a request for qualifications would be prepared, and the assessment would begin the mold for the plan and where it should head. Vision plans and studies of the streetscape, public spaces and buildings would be the second phase of the plan. He said that the area involves a great deal of residential and it was important to connect the residential area to the businesses using spaces for public gathering and other improvements.
Mr. Heckles stated that the grant deadline for the DHCD Operations Grant was May 11th. He said that if the Town was on board with the idea of Master Plan, they needed a letter of support with at least a $15,000.00 commitment once the funding was approved. Mr. Heckles stated that if the award was granted, approval would be given in the fall and funds released around the new year. There were then two (2) fiscal years allowed to complete the Master Plan. An RFQ would go out in the meantime.
Ms. Efland asked how this would benefit the entire town. Mr. Heckles stated that Main Street was focusing on the Downtown, but he thought that the as the process moved forward, there would be spillover into the rest of the Town as a result. Mr. Smith stated that without a healthy downtown the rest of the community suffers. He said that there is a direct correlation to nearby residential property values if there was a successful downtown attached to it.
Mayor Foster asked how this Master Plan would differ from the Planning Commission’s Comprehensive Plan and the Strategic Plan that Mr. O’Brien was working to get together. Mr. Heckles stated that there would be overlap with both plans, with a synergy between them.
Mr. Heckles stated that if a planning firm answered the RFQ they might be a good partner in working on the Comprehensive Plan with the Planning Commission.
Ms. Fleegle stated that she forwarded a sample letter of support to the Secretary of the DHCD with wording concerning a financial participation earlier in the day.
Mr. Herz moved to authorize Mayor Foster to sign the letter of support to the DHCD in support of the Main Street Master Plan grant application, was seconded by Mr. O’Brien and carried unanimously.
Mr. Herz moved for a $15,000.00 financial commitment for Main Street’s Master Plan to be used out of the general fund pending award of the grant from DHCD, was seconded by Mr. O’Brien and carried unanimously.
Mr. Dwight Zilinskas was present on behalf of the Recreation Commission. He said that the Wilmer Park playground was coming along nicely and was nearing completion to the point where they were installing the rubber mats and planting.
Mr. O’Brien stated that the Recreation Commission was proposing a fence, but the Mayor and Council has not yet given their approval for a fence. He said that he heard that Mr. Bogden was already looking for people to install the fence, but it was too soon to move forward on that part. Mayor Foster stated that the fence was a slightly controversial issue, and no decision has been made as to whether or not a fence will be installed around the play equipment.
Mr. Zilinskas stated that there had been discussion with Dixon Valve for a kayak launching easement to the Radcliffe Creek on property that they owned . Mr. O’Brien stated that this was his idea and he discussed it with Dixon, but it was not a viable option at this time as the area was part of a larger development.
Mr. Zilinskas stated that he had also discussed kayak racks with a representative of the College and were looking to install two (2) racks at the Wilmer Park (by the pavilion) and to install two (2) racks at the Chestertown Marina by the fencing. He said that there is a company from Northeast, Maryland performing a pilot program on kayaking and rentals. He said that this could be done using an app and the kayaks have GPS trackers. A small percentage of the fee would come to the Town for use of the property. He said he would return with details of the program.
Mr. Zilinskas stated that the Recreation Commission was proposing “Saturday in the Park” on July 23 and the idea was to have events on land and on the water. He said that he hoped to have demonstrations of kayaks and paddleboards and the sale of used boating equipment on site, with lawn games on the Park.
Mr. Ingersoll read the permit for Saturday in the Park into the record. Ms. Efland moved to approve the permit for Saturday in the Park on Saturday, July 23rd as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Medrano and carried unanimously.
Ms. Rebecca Murphy and Mr. Sam Shoge were present on behalf of the Upper Shore Community Development Partners. Ms. Murphy stated that they were here to update the Council on their successes and to make a funding request and funding proposal using ARPA monies.
Ms. Murphy stated that over the course of the year they have had over 40 meetings with stakeholders in the community in order to assess needs of the community. She said that the organization had established themselves with their official EIN and non-profit designation. They have a Board of Directors and a fiscal agreement with Mid-Shore Community in place. She said that they have also identified funding agencies available for the Town and other local agencies.
Mr. Shoge stated that they were targeting ARPA funds in the amount of $270,000.00 that would be reinvested back into the community to support the overall core operations over a 3-year period. He said that the money would be broken down as follows: year 1, $60,000.00; year 2, $90,000.00; and year 3, $120,000.00. He said that this amount might seem large but was approximately 6% of the total ARPA allocation that could lay the foundation for lasting impact on the community addressing systemic equity issues. He outlined the areas where and how the funding would be used in and for the community, said that they would help with grant writing, and support entrepreneurs, businesses and non-profits while addressing equity issues.
Mayor Foster asked if an application would be made to the ARPA Task Force for the funds. Ms. Murphy stated that because they would be helping the applicants appearing before the Task Force they were advised by the Task Force to come directly to the Mayor and Council for funding. She said that it would be helpful to the Task Force for the applicants to have access to their organization so that they could collaborate on their proposals and stretch the resources that the Task Force has for their proposals. Ms. Murphy stated that they were asking for direct funding from the Town and to be a service provider to the Task Force, rather than a grantee.
Mr. Herz asked where this fell under ARPA. Ms. Murphy stated that there were several areas where their organization fell under ARPA use such as technical assistance, Covid disparity and others. Mayor Foster stated that the ARPA Task Force was given a certain amount of funding to help oversee in the way of making recommendations to the Council about their ultimate use. Mr. Shoge stated that he did not want to be seen as shrinking the pot that the ARPA Task force was given, they wanted to add to it by being able to assist those who were applying to the ARPA Task Force in the application process.
Mayor Foster stated that a Task Force was set up to advise the Council and he said that they should go before the Task Force to see if they wanted them to help. Mr. Shoge stated that he would be happy to do so. Mr. Herz stated that he agreed that the presentation had to be made to the ARPA Task Force.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that at the request of the Council he had updated the Tree Ordinance to allow five (5) members instead of three (3) and read Ordinance 01-2022 into the record. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Ordinance can be adopted at the Mayor and Council meeting of May 16, 2022.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Kent County High School has again requested use of the Main Street stage for the graduation on Friday, June 3rd. He said that as per the first granting of allowing the stage to leave town (the MOU between the Town and Mainstreet did not allow the stage to leave the town limits) a motion was needed to have the stage leave Town limits and a $500.00 fee is charged for the street crew to assemble and disassemble the stage. He said that the graduation last year was dramatically enhanced by the use of the stage and many of the graduates were from Chestertown proper. Mr. O’Brien moved to approve the use of the stage at the Kent County High School graduation on Friday, June 3, 2022, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the budget workshop on Monday, May 9th at 6:00 p.m.
Mr. Brian Matthews, Executive Director of Kent Forward, read two position papers, one incorporating an ongoing strategic planning process and the second, endorsing increased investment in Chestertown’s infrastructure.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he had the annual mosquito spraying contract, which fell under Kent County’s program with the State of Maryland. He said he had not signed it this year due to issues that were brought up during the mosquito season last year. Mayor Foster asked how long the Town has been participating in this contract. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the spraying has taken place for 30 to 40 years. Darran Tilghman and Carol Tripp of the Environmental Committee were present to express concern about the program and asked that the Town discontinue participation in spraying. Ms. Tilghman stated that although mosquitos are a nuisance there are other insects that are needed in the community and die as a result of spraying. She said that adulticide fogging with permethrin kills adult mosquitos only and not much of the mist is actually contacting the adult mosquitos but other insects that help the environment. All neurotoxins have links to human health negatively. She said that spraying is not allowed in their program near schools or by outdoor dining places. PFA’s have also been found in pesticides being used for mosquito spraying.
Ms. Tilghman stated that the water and habitat committee (a subcommittee of the Environmental Committee) would like to propose that a contract not be signed for wholesale fogging and gave other pointers to help with the mosquito population. She said that purple martin houses and bat boxes also help with mosquitos and larvae can be reduced by keeping water from sitting and using mosquito dunks (which the committee would provide to Town Hall to give out to residents).
Ms. Tripp stated that Maryland Pesticide Network, the CDC, and WHO have initiatives against spraying and use other ways to integrate mosquito management. Mr. Ingersoll stated that if the program was stopped, it was important to get the word out to people in town about their alternatives. Mayor Foster stated that he was concerned that he may not have the right to tell people throughout Town that they could not spray. Mr. David Sobers suggested leaving the decision to spray or not spray up to the individual homeowner. He suggested that the Environmental Committee produce information for the website, a fact paper and press release.
Mr. O’Brien suggested a pilot program allowing neighborhoods or blocks to opt out. Ms. Tilghman stated that it was an incredible amount of work to opt out of the program on a street by street or home by home basis and something that had to be done every year.
A representative from the Mill at Kingstown stated that dunks are much more effective than spraying because they kill the larvae. She also said that each dunk lasts for up to 30 days and are not harmful to other animals that might drink the water they are in.
The Council decided to hold off on signing the agreement with Kent County for mosquito spraying until the next meeting to allow for discussion amongst the community. Ms. Efland stated that the word had to get out to residents over the next couple of weeks. Mr. O’Brien stated that he thought it was important to also gauge the mosquito population if the Town decided not to spray.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he had several permits for signature and reviewed each.
Mr. Herz moved to approve the permit request, as submitted, for the 2022 Chestertown Car Show on October 1, 2022, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Herz moved to approve Main Street’s permit as submitted for the 2022 Kids Carnival on July 1, 2022 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Ms. Efland moved to approve the permit request as outlined for the HP Festival on Friday, October 14 through Saturday, October 15, 2022, was seconded by Mr. O’Brien and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the permit for the Backpack Giveaway scheduled for August 27th on Cannon Street was before the Council for approval at the last meeting and tabled. At that time, Mr. Herz said that he wanted to talk to the neighboring property owners before the event. Mr. Herz stated to sign the permit and he would work out the details with the neighboring businesses if there were questions or concerns.
Mayor Foster stated that he was nominating David Holman to the Historic District Commission and said that he would ask for a formal appointment at the next meeting.
Mayor Foster stated that he would also like to nominate Michael McDowell to the Historic District Commission and would ask for a formal appointment at the next meeting.
Mayor Foster stated that Garnet Elementary has been designated a Community School and he said that they were recruiting volunteers at the school. This coming Friday there was a Community School Open House and he said that he intended to attend.
Mayor Foster asked for ward reports.
Mr. Herz stated that he had a letter from Sumner Hall and read it into the record. Mr. Herz moved that May 14, 2022 be proclaimed Justice Day in Chestertown, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried with four (4) in favor, Mayor Foster recused citing a conflict of interest (his wife is a member of the Board of Sumner Hall).
Mr. Herz stated that he and Dawson Hunter of the Local Management Board were hosting a meeting on the issue of homelessness on May 19th at 7:00 p.m. on the second floor of Town Hall with other elected officials and organizations for discussion. He said that if anyone had questions regarding the meeting they should contact him directly.
Mr. Herz stated that he and Ms. Efland attended the Local Government Advisory Committee Waterways Tour last week and it was an enjoyable day learning about watershed restoration.
Mr. O’Brien that Elizabeth Watson has been chosen to help with the Strategic Plan and they would be working on an information phase that would take place prior to a public sit-down.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he and Mr. Herz were in on the COG phone call meeting, and he gave the report for the Town. Mr. Herz stated that COG was a good mechanism to involve all the municipalities in Kent on important issues.
Mr. O’Brien reminded the Council that they were meeting with Kent County Commissioners at 10 a.m. the following morning regarding the budget. He said that he would like to propose an MOU between the Town and the County regarding services and surplus items.
Ms. Efland stated that she received an email from Oak Hollow and was requesting adjusting the speed limit on Haacke Drive from 30 mph to 25 mph. Ms. Efland moved to reduce the speed limit on Haacke Drive to 25 mph as in all the other town streets, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Ms. Efland stated that Oak Hollow was also hoping that a bike lane would be installed on Haacke Drive. Mr. Ingersoll noted that they had agreed to a narrower lane than had been originally planned.
Ms. Efland stated that she would like to have a better crosswalk at Morgnec Road closest to the YMCA. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he thought approaching the SHA with plans in hand from the State approved rail trail crossing would be a good start at getting one. Mayor Foster stated that he had already met with SHA and was told that they would get right on it, but nothing has happened. Ms. Efland stated that consistent crosswalks will get pedestrians to use the area. Mr. Ingersoll suggested finishing a five (05) foot sidewalk on Haacke Drive using ARPA funding.
Mayor Foster stated that he would like to ask the Kent County Commissioners for the paving of a couple of town streets and sheriff’s deputies at specific times at the meeting planned for the next day.
Ms. Efland stated that she met with a lot of different entities during the waterway tour, and they were helpful in discussing ways to get funding for different projects.
Mr. Medrano stated that he received an email from Mr. Somerville regarding a pathway from Coventry Farms and Washington Park to get to Carpenter Park. He said that this way the kids will not be cutting through any privately owned yards to get to the park. Members of the HOAs in both neighborhoods were exploring the options and would bring it before the homeowners’ association for a vote in the near future. Mr. Medrano said that he thought the trail area they were considered started at the large storm drainage pond (between the 200 and 300 block of Devon).
Mr. Medrano stated that he received an email from Ms. Mumford-Pautz regarding her concerns about the open drug trade in the neighborhood. Mr. Ingersoll stated that vigilance is important because the drug traffic is real and had forwarded Ms. Mumford-Pautz letter to the Council, CPD and the Street Department.
Mr. Medrano stated that Edge of Town Trailer Park needs some tending to and asked that someone look into the conditions there now.
There being no further business, Mr. Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:15 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer McCann David Foster
Town Clerk Mayor