MAYOR AND COUNCIL
JULY 20, 2020
Acting Mayor David Foster called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Thomas Herz, Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator) and guests.
Mr. Foster stated that minutes were not yet available for this meeting and would be approved at a future meeting.
Mr. Foster stated that operating cash on hands was $976,777.88.
Mr. Foster asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Ms. Efland moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver, and carried unanimously.
Chief Dolgos presented the police report for June 2020. Chief Dolgos stated that the overtime this month was largely due to protests. He said that he met with the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice and thought it was a productive meeting.
Chief Dolgos stated that Governor’s orders are in effect to wear masks in retail or food establishments for anyone over the age of 9. Fines will be issued for those who refuse to wear a mask up to $1,000.00. Chief Dolgos stated that people have cabin fever from being quarantined and the addition of summer visitors are leading to additional calls for service. Mr. Herz asked if masks are required outside. Chief Dolgos stated that right now masks are optional outside, but it was a good practice.
Mr. Foster asked how foot and bicycle patrols are being handled. Chief Dolgos stated that covering basic details is difficult right now because they are down officers and there have been some people out sick. He said that he hoped by springtime to have at least one officer on a bicycle with a second officer in training. The officer who is certified to ride a bike is currently field-training a new hire.
Chief Dolgos stated that one officer handed in their resignation and is moving to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department. Mr. Foster stated that when salaries are not comparable it becomes more expensive overall in hiring and training costs. Chief Dolgos stated that seasoned officers are leaving because there is no keeping with a pay scale. He said the raise was appreciated but it was not enough to help.
Ms. Efland asked about the new speed camera. Chief Dolgos stated that he would prefer to do another test when school was in session as there was much less traffic than when it was not.
Ms. MacIntosh was present to discuss the creation of a Public Arts Committee. She said in 2014 a Public Arts Master Plan was adopted, and a committee was to be identified for future art sculptures in Town. She said that there is a donor with an outdoor sculpture collection who would like to give several sculptures to the Town and the committee now needs to be formed. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she submitted draft guidelines for the committee to the Council with eleven (11) duties and responsibilities and a recommendation of a seven (7) member committee with 3-year terms.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that nominations and the guidelines could be put forth at this meeting with appointments formally approved at a future meeting. Ms. MacIntosh read the guidelines into the record.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that she would like to nominate the following members to the Public Arts Committee:
- Ingrid Hanson
- David Hegland
- Carla Massoni
- Sam Shoge
- Ben Tilghman
- Gordon Wallace
- Pam White
Ms. MacIntosh stated that she and Mr. Schratwieser will serve as ex-officio members of the Committee.
Rev. Tolliver asked if Ms. MacIntosh needs approvals this evening. Ms. MacIntosh stated that there was some time before official action was required and looked forward to approvals at the August 3rd Mayor and Council meeting. Rev. Tolliver stated that the original document included only the Historic District and asked if revisions could be made to include other areas in Town. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she thought that was a good idea and other areas of Town, outside of the Arts and Entertainment District, would be good places for art. She said there was no reason to keep such a limited scope moving forward.
Mr. Foster stated that at the last meeting Ms. Paula Reeder was on mute when she tried to speak and said she was present this evening and asked if she would like to speak tonight. Ms. Reeder stated that she would like to make a point about the Public Arts Committee, noting that more diversity was needed from the members. She said that the people proposed for the committee was largely a white representation and a more diverse group would serve the committee in a better capacity.
Ms. Reeder stated that painted street murals should not be decided by an arts committee. Rev. Tolliver stated that he would like to have Ms. MacIntosh have her committee together before anything took place.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Terri Batchelor, a close friend of his and working partner with the Town for 30 years, died suddenly. He said Ms. Batchelor was also part of the Tree Committee.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he wanted to send a letter to MDE regarding testing procedures and he would like to have it sent out as soon as possible, noting that he emailed the Council an outline. He asked for the Council’s agreement in sending the letter. Mr. Foster stated that he would like some input on the letter and what constitutes a test as they have been changed from the original agreement. Mr. Foster stated that he would also like an MDE representative at a future meeting. Rev. Tolliver moved to approve the letter requested by Mr. Ingersoll to go to MDE, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was disappointed to read a letter from Kent County Public Works that whey would no longer perform brush grinding in Chestertown and that the Town would now have to bring all the brush to Nicholson Land Fill. Mr. Ingersoll stated that this would be an expense to the Town and had been funded through a grant from the State only offered to the Counties. He said that this was one other service that it being stopped by the Kent County Commissioners. He said that he will try to manage this on his own and try to find out why the Town is not eligible for the Merk Grant. He said that the County touted this expense as something they gave to the Town each year and it was disappointing that they were stopping the service. Mr. Ingersoll stated that this should be a partnership and now anybody from anywhere, not just Kent County residents, can take the brush to Nicholson for free.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that petitions and phone calls have been submitted with input on where to put the parks and playground grant money to build a playground. He said that the Council had to decide where to place the equipment. Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. de Mooy made a wonderful design showing where the equipment could be in Wilmer Park. He said that there was only one more meeting before the grant application is due.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that most people are in favor of a playground in Wilmer Park along with keeping the basketball court in place at the Ajax Park. He asked how the Council felt about the issue.
Mr. Foster stated that he received a good deal of feed back on having a playground installed at Wilmer Park.
Mr. Charles Lerner, a resident whose property backs to Wilmer Park, stated that the playground would be right outside his back door. He said that the Park use has increased, especially with Covid, with approximately 300 people there each day. Mr. Lerner stated that Wilmer Park was already used as a playground it just did not have equipment. He thought other land could be used for playground equipment, using the schools as an example. He said that everything at Wilmer Park is natural and it should remain as such.
Mr. Lerner stated that there was much better equipment than what was being proposed and the equipment would be much more attractive if it had a natural feel to it. He asked the Council to look at the single pieces of equipment on the manufacturer’s website that could be installed adding that he found some to be much more attractive than the current design. He said that the equipment shown would take up a third of the Park, adding that he thought that this plan was rushed, and the Ajax park should be revitalized and enlarged to accommodate both a playground and basketball court.
Mr. Foster stated that much comment was received on this issue and they were moving forward based upon recommendations of the Recreation Commission.
Ms. Jenn Baker, resident of Queen Street, stated that she was in favor of a playscape and said that there were many perspectives that can be integrated into design. She said the manufacturer has many more natural designs that would complement the area better than what was being proposed. She said that a slightly more Chestertown-based design would be welcome in Town by the residents while meeting all needs of the community. She said that there was a tremendous amount of support for the playground, but issues of trash and noise should be addressed before it is installed.
Ms. Rebecca Murphy, resident of High Street, stated that she wanted to express her support of a playground at Wilmer Park. She said that she thought keeping the basketball court at Ajax Park was also important and that that both could be kept in place and would be well-used by the community. Ms. Murphy stated that public space should be available to be enjoyed by the entire community and revisions can be made to design to allow for community input while meeting the deadline for the grant.
Ms. Efland asked if $200,000.00 was the most the Town could be awarded in the grant. Mr. de Mooy stated that if the grant was awarded, $200,000.00 was the maximum grant but there were things that the town employees could perform that were included in the estimate.
Mr. Frank Rhodes, Chestertown resident, asked if the park came before the houses or the other way around. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the park was in place before the houses were built. Mr. Rhodes stated that the park was for all residents of Town and was grateful that Wilmer Park was being considered for the playground. He said that he was upset to hear that the basketball court could become a thing of the past at the Ajax Court and said that the court should be enhanced at that park, not removed.
Mr. Rhodes stated that amenities should be available in Wilmer Park and Ajax Park, as they want young people to live and visit Chestertown. He said that there was so much enthusiasm in the community for an enhanced court at Ajax. Mr. Rhodes stated that all the parks should be being used by the public. He said that the waterfront area is beautiful, and the playground will not take away from that.
Mr. Lerner asked if the $200,000.00 included modifications to the basketball court in the grant request. Mr. de Mooy stated that the grant was for the Wilmer Park play equipment.
Mr. Herz stated that he understood that the residents surrounding Wilmer Park have some trepidation over playground equipment in the Park, but the playground will elevate the entire Town. He agreed that the plan as presented was bold, but they could work on design to integrate nice equipment. Ms. Efland agreed stating that she would like to see the design toned down integrating more of Chestertown and the River into the design. Mr. Foster stated that he hoped this would attract young families.
Mr. Herz asked Chief Dolgos if he saw issues with loitering at night. Chief Dolgos stated that the areas will be patrolled, and additional lighting will help.
Ms. Reeder stated that she thought much more should be done to encourage young people and families to move to Chestertown. She said that she was in favor of a playground in Wilmer Park and that improvements at Ajax Park were desperately needed. Ms. Reeder stated that surrounding residents should be part of the design process so that everyone could discuss what the end design would be. She said that communication is lacking when it comes to consulting with the owners of property around Town projects that are taken on.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there were new rules for parks and playgrounds on the books making all parks in Town open from dawn to dusk.
Ms. Massoni stated that the Recreation Commission might consider equipment for different age groups in their design limiting the equipment to children who will be accompanied by a parent.
Mr. Herz moved to approve a grant request to Community Parks and Playgrounds for playground equipment at Wilmer Park, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Rhodes stated that he has a note from Mayor Cerino stating that he hoped to move on improvements at Ajax Park in the spring of 2021.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he had a discussion with Arlene Lee of the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice asking to be on the August 3rd agenda to discuss the street mural request. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there were many rumors about what this is going to be and said he requested scaled drawings at before the meeting. Ms. Lee stated that she was waiting on material for the mural which should be available in a few days.
Mr. Foster asked for Ward reports.
Ms. Efland stated that it has been quiet in Ward Four with people mostly commenting on playgrounds and murals.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he has been in contact with the Committee at Washington Park who were asking for some help with signage at the Carpenter Park.
Mr. Herz stated that the playground took up a lot of activity for him this week. He said that Crazy Days was coming up this weekend. Mr. Herz also stated that another al fresco dining night took place on High Street which was a success.
Mr. Foster stated that there was a high volume of emails on both the playground grant and the proposed murals. He said that he did not want to see any members of the community alienated by any decisions of the Council and he feared if the streets were painted as a litmus test it would be a loss for the community. He said that the community had to work together to not alienate any member of the community. Rev. Tolliver agreed stating that he hoped the community will reach out like they did over the parks and playgrounds grant about how they feel on this subject.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he also would like to hear from the community about the oil spill as he saw it as a major issue that had to be dealt with in the future.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Rev. Tolliver moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:41 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor