MAYOR AND COUNCIL
OCTOBER 6, 2014
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council members Liz Gross, Linda Kuiper, Samuel T. Shoge 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 15, 2014. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Mayor and Council meeting minutes as presented, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Marina Charrette of August 27, 2014. Ms. Gross had several corrections to the minutes. Ms. Gross moved to accept the minutes as corrected, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that cash on hand and in the banks was $1,120,538.10. The Washington College donation was assigned to the Rail-Trail, waterfront, marina activities and recreational initiatives in the amount of $196,740.00.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Mr. Stetson moved to pay the bills as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino called forward Ms. Sabine Harvey, representing the Chestertown Tea Party Festival. Ms. Harvey stated that the Tea Party was successful this past year. She said that the Tea Party Committee applied for a grant from the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area because there were matching funds from the proceeds of the festival to use if they receive the grant. Ms. Harvey stated that the committee was critically down to only a few people on the Board of the Festival and they needed more people.
Ms. Harvey stated that there were about five people who ran themselves ragged in order for the Festival to take place. She said that they do all the prep work, take time from their jobs for several days before the Festival begins, and then work the entire event. She said that in order to continue the Festival, more people had to get involved.
Ms. Harvey stated that the person who is in charge of the merchants for the Tea Party resigned this year, noting that it was time for the letter to go out for merchants to register for the 2015 Tea Party. She asked if the letter should be sent. There vendors were dwindling because the manpower was not available to recruit or anyone help vendors the day of the event.
Ms. Gross asked if there was something that could be done to rejuvenate the festival. She also asked if there was evidence that the Tea Party benefits the community as the local merchants complained that it did not benefit them. Ms. Sullivan stated that the festival may not benefit the local merchants, but it definitely benefits the non-profits in Town as it is the largest fundraiser most participate in each year, hitting 70% of their annual funding at Tea Party.
Ms. Gross suggested that maybe some of the non-profits could step forward with volunteers. Ms. Sullivan stated that there was push-back from the non-profits when that is suggested because their volunteers are all busy fundraising at their booths during the festival.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Tea Party was a huge benefit to the community and it was the largest weekend in the County each year. He said that people needed to volunteer to make this event happen.
Ms. Harvey stated that anyone interested in helping with the Tea Party Festival was welcome to join the committee meetings which took place the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Visitors Center. They could also go to the Tea Party Festival website and contact anyone on the email links.
Ms. Gross asked if the Tea Party had the funds (or perhaps the Town) to take out a full-page advertisement in the papers seeking help.
Ms. Harvey stated that $80,000.00 was raised this year by the non-profits, which paid for mortgages, to sponsor other community events, and for scholarships. She said that money was important to this community because it was spent locally.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would be happy to attend some Board meetings to act as a liaison to see if the Town could help with some of the problems.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Tea Party this past year was one of the best that he had attended in many years. Mr. Shoge stated that the block party was a nice addition. Mayor Cerino thanked the volunteers for their dedication to the event.
Ms. Francoise Sullivan was present to demonstrate to the Council how the new website overhaul for Chestertown was coming along. Ms. Sullivan stated that she met with Town staff to discuss content and information exchange for the website. She was also in contact with the Office of Tourism and would be working with the admin person at the County to discuss universal calendars. Content was still being added to the site and could be changed if the Council would like to see something different. She showed the different tabs and all that was included so far on the site.
Mayor Cerino asked for more information on the Instagram feed. Ms. Sullivan stated that the photos shown right now are from the DCA, but Chestertown could upload their own photos with captions. She recommended twenty (20) photos with captions that would cycle through continuously.
Mr. Shoge stated that he liked the font Ms. Sullivan was using as it was compatible with Washington College’s website. He suggested using it for the directional signage in Town as well. Mayor Cerino stated that he would like a direct link to Washington College from the website.
Mr. Shoge stated that compatibility with mobile devices looks good. Ms. Sullivan stated that there were still some changes to be made in spacing and the menu superimposes itself over the screen.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to see several rotating images where the waterfront was shown. Mr. Shoge stated that perhaps that could happen with each log on as there were many things in motion already on the screen.
Ms. Gross asked if the Council could have a link to the site so that they can search the content. Ms. Sullivan stated that she would send a link to the Council and looked forward to hearing their comments.
Ms. Kuiper asked if the site was set up to accept credit cards. Ms. Sullivan stated that it could easily be set up to accept payments, but the Town staff was not prepared to accept payments online in the office just yet.
Mr. Shoge stated that he would like to track where brochures were being sent. Ms. Sullivan stated that she would create a database for tracking that information.
Mayor Cerino asked about a timeframe for launching the site. Ms. Sullivan stated that a January 2015 date was suggested, but there is the potential that it could be ready before the New Year.
Ms. Sullivan stated that once the Town had control over the chestertown.com domain, she would also look into the rights to chestertown.gov but said that there would be a legal process involved.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he had a request from Mr. Kevin Taylor to hold the annual Kent County High School Homecoming Parade on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. The Council agreed to the request.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he attended the Maryland Department of Transportation meeting which was held on September 16, 2014 and said that he spoke with Ms. Melinda Peters, SHA Administrator, to discuss the historic easement that was causing issues at the Gateway Park. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would follow up with her this week to see if she could cure the issue of the easement.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was an opinion received from the Open Meetings Compliance Board dated September 29, 2014 to the Mayor and Council, based on a complaint made by Craig O’Donnell. He said that the Town of Chestertown submitted detailed information to the Open Meetings Compliance Board (including sealed copies of the executive minutes of December 16, 2013 and June 16, 2014 to compare the closing statements and summaries to the minutes of the minutes). He said that the findings were accepted for what they were; technical in nature. The findings will be used to further improve the process when the necessity arises for an executive session.
Mr. Ingersoll distributed a new Town form based on the most recent Written Statement for Closing a Meeting published by the Open Meeting Compliance Board on October 1st. He explained that although there were fourteen (14) reasons that the Town can go into executive session, the Town uses five (5) of those 99% of the time so they were highlighted. Mr. Ingersoll stated that when a Council person knows in advance that they wanted to have an executive session the form should be filled out before a Mayor and Council meeting and it will be placed on the agenda. The Council discussed specifics of the form.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would return with the document in the form of a Resolution at the next meeting if the Council agreed. Mayor Cerino stated that he would like the Resolution at the next meeting.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that on September 24th he went to Annapolis and met with sixteen (16) officials from the Corp of Engineers, Department of the Environment, Department of Natural Resources, Historic Trust, etc. who reviewed the intended goals to dredge the marina, rebulkhead and add approximately 70’ to the piers, and raise the land there. He said that the meeting went very well. Mr. Perry Otwell of McCrone, Inc. represented the Town well as the engineer. Mr. Ingersoll said he asked specifically about raising the land around where it floods and the issue of extending the piers. He said that the window for dredging ends February 15th. He said that the Town was working hard to get the dredging permits submitted to meet with that window.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Washington College’s Habitat for Humanity and Jay Yerkes worked this weekend taking apart and putting back together Santa’s House. He said that he sent pictures to the Council earlier in the day. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the students were looking forward to returning to finish the interior for Santa.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he received a letter from Ms. Patricia Diver, Finance Director who was planning to retire on January 30, 2015 to relocate to Florida with her husband. Mr. Ingersoll stated that Ms. Diver has worked for the Town for sixteen (16) years. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was working on an advertisement for Ms. Diver’s position and it would be put on E-Maryland Marketplace and the MML website. He said he will have the Council interview the finalists.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he did have the need for an executive session and asked if a member of the Council would make the motion by reading the form into the record. Ms. Gross moved for an executive session under §10-508 of the Annotated Code of the State of Maryland to deal with the following provisions of Article §3.305(b) as follows:
(3) To consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto;
(8) To consult with staff, consultants, or other individuals about pending or potential litigation.
The topic to be discussed under §3.305(b)(3) is for the possible acquisition of a police building site, and §3.305(b)(8) is to discuss a letter threatening litigation against the Town. The motion was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that there was a permit request for a Halloween Parade hosted by the Lions Club to be held on Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. The rain date would be Sunday, November 2nd at 3:00 p.m. Mayor Cerino read the permit request into the record. The Council agreed to the request.
Mayor Cerino stated that the width of the brick on the High Street side of Fountain Park is being extended as part of a larger plan to restore the park. Mayor Cerino stated that the Lions Club is presenting the Town with a $1,000.00 to help with the costs of the sidewalk widening. He said that there would be a plaque placed in the brick walkway for the Lions Club. Mayor Cerino stated that he would be meeting with the Lions Club members and some members of the Garden Club at Fountain Park on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at noon.
Mayor Cerino stated that procedures for public bodies found by the Compliance Board to have violated the Open Meetings Act states under government article §10-502.5 that at the next open meeting of the body after the board has issued its opinion, a member of the public body shall announce the violation and orally summarize the opinion. The opinion addressed the allegations of Craig O’Donnell (complainant) that the Town of Chestertown violated the open meetings act by meeting in closed sessions without making the disclosures required by the Act and without confining the discussion to the matters disclosed when the Councilmembers voted to close the sessions. The complaints covered all executive sessions from 2009 to June of 2014. Below is the concluding section from the Compliance Board opinion. The Board resolved the alleged complaint by addressing the December 16, 2013 and June 16, 2014 meetings, not responding to the allegations of 2009 to December 2013.
“With regard to the Council’s closed sessions in December 2013 and June 2014, we have found that the Council violated the Act by claiming an exception that did not apply to the discussion that it held behind closed doors and by addressing in that closed session, topics to which no exception applied.”
Mayor Cerino stated that over the weekend of September 26, 2014 the Harry Potter Festival was held in Town. He said that Dr. Rachel Perry-Panas organized the event and it was a huge success. Shop owners commended the fact that the “mystery” could only be solved by finding clues hidden in the shops. He said that the businesses even decorated their stores for the weekend to go along with the Harry Potter theme.
Mayor Cerino stated that Winterfest Weekend would be held the first weekend in December. He had a draft itinerary outlining all that was involved, which he distributed to the Council and read into the record.
Mayor Cerino stated that he has been working with Mr. Ingersoll on the marina project. He said that the Mayor and Council publicly endorsed the concept marina design and he was waiting for McCrone, Inc. to provide price estimates on the various components of the marina. He said that the Governor’s Office, Chief of Staff and the Eastern Shore Delegation should be contacted and asked for a line item in the State’s capital budget. He said that the Town would be applying for grants to fund specific elements of the marina as well. He said that if funding was not granted the Town may want to consider hiring a lobbyist. He said that a newly renovated marina could cost between $3 and $5 million dollars.
Mr. Stetson stated that he would like to consider renaming the Chestertown Marina to the “Port of Chestertown”. He asked if the Council would consider it given the fact that it would signify a destination and a new owner.
Ms. Gross stated that she rode patrol with Officer Leone and said that she was much busier than expected and she planned to ride along with an officer periodically.
Ms. Gross thanked the Utilities Commission for responding quickly to a problem on High Street.
Ms. Gross stated that there was major flooding from the river last week and it was flooding again tonight. Mayor Cerino stated that anytime there was a full moon and southerly winds it floods.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she wanted to thank the merchants for their participation in the Harry Potter Festival, especially the People’s Bank.
Ms. Kuiper asked if the Visitors Center was open on Saturdays as she had complaints that the Center was closed. Ms. Mulligan stated that the Visitors Center was open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Mr. Ingersoll said that if there was a special event in Town they could make an advanced request to keep the Center open even later than 5 p.m.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Mr. Owen McCoy wanted to have a Farmers Market t-shirt to sell and was thinking of having a contest for the design of the shirt.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the “Kent County Reads” program has begun at the Garnett Elementary School. She said that the school needs volunteers for the program. Carmen Parks was the contact and could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Shoge stated that he received an email from Alex Castro, Sandbox Director, announcing a gallery opening at the Kohl Gallery at Washington College on Thursday, October 16th from 5 to 7 p.m. called “Raw Nerves: Homage and Provocation. The Art of Warren Lyons and Jeffery Kent”.
Mr. Shoge stated that the concrete divide along Washington Avenue and Rt. 291 was unsightly. He said that it is overgrown with weeds and discarded cigarette butts. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would contact the State Highway Administration to see if the divide could be swept, noting that it was sprayed after SHA was contacted by Ms. Nancy Butler of Curb Appeal.
Mr. Stetson stated that the benches for Bailey Park arrived for the walking trail part of the park and said that they would be placed at the top of each hill.
Mr. Stetson stated that he was having problems with Atlantic Broadband and was disappointed that during the baseball playoffs service was interrupted during the entire game.
There being no further business, Ms. Gross moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:20 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor