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  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
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City Council Minutes

December 10, 2007

Cambridge Maryland SealMINUTES

Council Meeting

December 10, 2007

 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, December 10, 2007 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Cleveland L. Rippons called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Knox, Sydnor, Cephas, Brooks, and Travers.

Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the amended minutes of the October 29, 2007 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion was denied 3:2 with Commissioners Brooks, Cephas, and Sydnor opposed. Commissioner Cephas said there were a couple of areas that Council asked to be changed to verbatim minutes at the last meeting and it was not done. Commissioner Brooks said she spoke to Ed Kinnamon prior to the meeting and he will have Kathy Foster change them. Ed Kinnamon said the verbatim section did not go back far enough so he will go back further for the next meeting.

Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the minutes of the November 19, 2007 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARING

Proposed Disposition of Unimproved City-Owned Lots - Tax Map 304, Parcel No. 3938, Lot 25 Goodwill Avenue, Acct. No. 07-179472 and Tax Map 304, Parcel No. 3104, High Street, Acct. No. 07-175523-Rob Collison said this public hearing was initiated by a request from Habitat for Humanity. They are searching for properties on which to construct affordable housing. This is a two-step process. First the City has to hold a public hearing to determine if the parcels in question are no longer need for a public purpose or a foreseeable public purpose and are therefore excess properties. That is the purpose of tonight's public hearing. If the determination is made that they are excess properties, then Council can decide how they wish to dispose of or transfer them.

Rob Collison reported that the City received correspondence from Jeff Kirwan who owns a 42-acre tree farm on an adjoining parcel. He asked the Council to resist the temptation to allow 2 houses on what is now a single-home lot. The City also received a letter from Michael A. Jones dated December 5, 2007, who resided at 1307 Goodwill Avenue. He is expressing an interest in the property.

Steve Johnson said DPW would like the opportunity to study these two parcels and then they will make a recommendation to Council. They did not know they were coming up for discussion until the minutes were published. Commissioner Knox made a motion to give the Department of Public Works the necessary time to study this property. Commissioner Travers seconded the meeting. Commissioner Sydnor said Council discussed this at the last Council meeting when they gave a presentation. Rob Collison said it may have been the second meeting in October. Commissioner Knox asked if the Goodwill property is at the end of a cul-de-sac. There might be a setback rule of 50-feet on high-powered voltage lines which are running along the edge of that property.

Barbara G. Hall, the owner of 1308 Stone Boundary Road, said her property backs up to part of this property. Her property also goes behind the Jones' property. She asked if the City was going to have the property surveyed. Mayor Rippons said the City already has the property description of the lot. Rob Collison said they will have to do a title exam to see if there is a plat of record. Not all City properties have one. Whoever is going to be receiving the land will be responsible for that and then the City would convey it at that time. Ms. Hall said she has an interest in it. She has never seen a marker on the property.

Mike Edgar said he is at the meeting on behalf of Michael Jones, his son-in-law. This property is next door to him. There are high-powered lines going through the property in question. Mike would like to purchase the property from the City if it is deemed excess property for the purpose of giving his children a little bit more play area. They have maintained this City-owned property for the last 3 years by cutting the grass and cleaned the ditches.

Susan Devlin, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Talbot and Dorchester Counties, said the reason Habitat would like to acquire these lots is to provide simple decent housing to God's people in need. In any decision that is made, she would hope Council would keep in mind that their goal is to improve life for the citizens of Cambridge. This is one way for them to do it. Property is expensive. Their families assume a mortgage that includes the cost of the property and if they cannot acquire property at reasonable prices, it prices the people who are working hard in this community out of the homeownership market.

Barbara Hall said she is a great believer in Habitat's projects. She asked if they have plans for this particular lot. Susan Devlin said at this point they do not have any specific plans but the general plan is to build a home for a family that qualifies through the Habitat program who would live in the home and assume the mortgage. They would have to put sweat equity in to build the house and go through a series of courses and workshops about homeownership and community investment. Barbara Hall asked what determines how many homes can go on a property. Mayor Rippons said the size of the lot and what is permitted by the City Code. Commissioner Sydnor asked about the lot sizes for the 2 homes that Habitat has already built. Susan Devlin said they are about 6000 sq. ft. Jackie Noller from Habitat said each of the zones in Cambridge where they have acquired lots has a different minimum square footage. They are currently building their third house where the square footage for a single-family home is 5000 sq.ft. The minimum for the first 2 homes they built was 6500 sq.ft. They would work with all established zoning ordinances and set backs. There is a lot of investigation once this decision that they are excess properties is reached. They will incorporate the character of the neighborhood into what they build. Commissioner Sydnor said the property on Goodwill Avenue is something like 14,000+ sq.ft. He asked if that would accommodate 2 homes. Jackie Noller said the issues that they understand without having spent any time or money to investigate them includes access to the second home. They found a solution on their first 2 lots that were called the 'pipe stem' or 'pan handle' lots. They are skinny lots from the street and they had to development an easement lane that went from Property 1 to Property 2 so the second home could be accessed both by emergency vehicles and the second property owner. They worked within the City's zoning ordinances for that. The homeowner for Habitat never receives land for free. It is all incorporated into the mortgage. If the minimum lot size for that neighborhood in Cambridge is 'x' and this property is '2+x', they would try to accommodate 2 homes if it would pass all the zoning ordinances. If not, they would have to look at the affordability issue for a homeowner. Those are issues and questions they have not totally resolved because they knew at this juncture it was a declaration by City Commissioners that the lots would even be declared excess lots so they could be looked at for being acquired by interested parties. They believe that the lot on High Street Extended has the minimum square footage necessary to build a Habitat home where the gable end side would face the street-not the wide part of the home. That is what they have been doing with the 3 homes they are working on. The lot on Goodwill Avenue would require some planning and investigation and work with the Department of Public Works and the Planning and Zoning staff. Their goal is to give access to homeownership to deserving families in need but also to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods-not to take it in a different direction.

Rob Collison said if the Department of Public Works finds the property is not needed, they may have the City Engineer look to see if possibly the Goodwill Avenue piece could be subdivided with some of it going to Mr. Jones for his needs and enough on another parcel for a single-family home for Habitat.

The motion to allow DPW time to study the possible needs for the parcels passed unanimously. Rob Collison said the City will leave the record open until that report is made at the next Council meeting.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Request from Stanley Institute to Install Culverts on Bayly Road-George Hyde provided Council with a written report after viewing the site with Mr. Johnson. He indicates in the letter that it has been the historic norm that the City provides the manpower and the person or organization making the request provides the cost of the material. Herschel Johnson asked if it would also include putting the fill dirt in. Steve Johnson said basically the property owner would be responsible for any material costs. They estimate those to be about $450. Herschel Johnson said when he talked to Mr. Hyde, Mr. Hyde mentioned about filling in 2 places. At one time the place where the ditches are now located was the property of Stanley Institute and also part of where the road is now located belonged to them. They took part of it. The coal house and the bathrooms were torn down in order to widen the road. When Mr. Hyde came out, he asked if they would need the entire distance of the property filled in or just a driveway. Mr. Hyde suggested that they do it in two different areas. They do not have any place to park and they do not have access to Bayly Road. Steve Johnson said the drawing Mr. Hyde provides indicates about 60 feet of culvert. It does not indicate 2 locations. Mayor Rippons gave a copy of Mr. Hyde's letter to Herschel Johnson. Commissioner Cephas made a motion that the City move forward with the Stanley Institute culvert. Stanley Institute would pay the $450 and the City will provide the labor. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Long Wharf Fountain - Engineering Investigation-Mayor Rippons said that Greg LeBlanc provided Council with written information on this topic. Steve Johnson said the Long Wharf Fountain renovation is a lot more complicated than what they originally expected. There is a possibility that there is substantial sub-base failure. The engineering investigation would identify the exact nature of repairs needed to be made so they can preserve it for a long time into the future. Commissioner Knox made a motion to spend $8,000 for an engineering investigation. This will be done by Conservation Solutions, Inc. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Second Reading and Vote on Ordinance to Amend City Code by Changing the Water Meter Rates for Usage Over 300,000 Gallons per Month, Eliminating the Industrial Rate Category, and Replacing It With a New Manufacturing Rate Category-Rob Collison said this ordinance would change the rates above 300,000 which would go from $0.60 to $1.04 and it would create a manufacturing rate. The industrial rate category would be removed. This ordinance was at the recommendation of Mr. Gary Newcomb and the Municipal Utilities Commission. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the ordinance. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Rob Collison said he believes the rates will take effect in January 2008.

Adoption of Findings of Fact for Request By Vincent And Barbara Youmens to Rezone 3.39± Acres Located on the Corner of Greenwood and Cosby Avenue, Currently Zoned R-1, Rezone To C-1-Rob Collison said the public hearing on this item was held at the last City Council meeting. As indicated, they are alleging that there was a mistake made during the last comprehensive rezoning in May 2003 and it is more appropriate to be C-1 which is Neighborhood Commercial as set forth in the proposed findings of fact. There is C-1 just to the west of this site and some to the southwest of it. There is multi-family residential across the street from it. The applicant is requesting the rezoning from R-1 to C-1. If Council is inclined to approve the request, they would approve the rezoning and adopt the findings of fact. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the rezoning and adopt the findings of fact. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. Commissioner Brooks asked for a role-call vote. Commissioner Knox - yes; Commissioner Sydnor - yes; Commissioner Cephas - yes; Commissioner Brooks abstained by reason that the City lawyer was unclear as to whether the contact that she has with Mr. and Mrs. Youmens would be a potential conflict of interest. Commissioner Travers - yes. The motion passed 4:0 with 1 abstention.

NEW BUSINESS

Request from Dorchester County Public Library for 25 Parking Permits to be Used From January Through April Along Spring Street for the Tax Preparation Assistance Program-Chief Malik said this has been done for a number of years now. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to grant the request. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. Commissioner Knox asked about the time frame of these permits. Chief Malik said it is only when they have the tax preparers in the library. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from Michael L. Jones to Acquire the Piece of City-Owned Property Directly Next to His Property at 1307 Goodwill Avenue-Ed Kinnamon said this item has been discussed during the public hearing.

Approve PO 4573 - Motorola - 1 Mobile Radio, 2 Portable Radios, and Installation Labor ($10,782.07) CEMS-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Budget Amendment for Rescue Fire Company-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 4583 - Administration - Fire Chief ($10,000); PO 4584 - Administration - 1st Assistant Fire Chief ($5,000); PO 4585 - Administration - Assistant Fire Chief ($5,000)-Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the 3 purchase orders. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Financial Statement for October 2007-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the Financial Statement. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from Wal-Mart for Permission for Six Trailers to be Used for Christmas Decoration Merchandise Storage Until the End of December-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

APPOINTMENTS

Deborah Johnson to Give Update on Lead Hazard Control Program-Deborah Johnson gave a brief summary of the status of the lead program that The Corporation for Healthy Homes has been managing on behalf of the City. The expected start date for 612 High Street, 614 High Street, and 616 High Streets is the week of December 17th. The houses at 614 Muir Street and 616 Muir Street have been completed. The houses at 308 West End Avenue and 412 Linden Avenue are in progress. The houses at 517 Robbins Street and 614 Robbins Street have been completed. The house at 616 Robbins Street is in progress. The houses at 820, 822, and 824 Park Lane have not been scheduled yet. The house at 205 Willis Street has been completed. The houses at 508 Goldsborough Avenue and 829 Fairmount Avenue have not been scheduled yet.

Commissioner Knox asked if this program is on schedule as far as deadlines are concerned. Deborah Johnson said the grant period for the State has actually closed. All the money sits with the City. Periodically she provides detailed reports and photographs to Jim McAteer who is with the State. Commissioner Knox asked if the work was moving along relatively well or is the City behind in correcting these problems. Deborah Johnson said progress is moving better. The City is not behind according to any particular schedule. Idealistically, they would have liked to be finished by the end of November but there are 17 units in total. To get all of them treated, cleared, and ready for clearance is an issue. Some of the units were actually occupied when legally they should not have been occupied. Between the process of the tenants moving out of the unit and the contractor getting access to the unit, has slowed things down a little bit. She would say we are making good progress. We are on track. Commissioner Sydnor asked if a house was left off the list. Deborah Johnson said a unit on West End Avenue is a duplex. They both use the same address.

Rob Collison said some time back there was some concerns made from Ms. Virgil Spedden's relative about being qualified for an exemption. He has been in contact with the Attorney General's office. They are the only ones who can issue exemptions. The City will pursue the non-rental registration of the properties until they present an exemption from the MDE. The grant does not include any of these properties.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Rob Collison said the Council approved a dog ordinance a few weeks ago. The author of the ordinance, Carol Embrey, has asked him to announce that there is a television program coming up with regard to cruelty to animals on public television on Thursday, December 13th at 8:00 pm. It will be very informative.

Commissioner Knox said in September he brought up the police substation on Travers Street and Choptank Avenue. The City was in their final year of a 2-year lease. Mr. Keating, the property owner, had expressed a willingness to renew the lease. Commissioner Brooks suggested contacting him to see if he would be interested in extending the lease once the City acquired the handicap ramp. He has agreed to do so. Commissioner Knox made a motion to extend the lease for another year on the police substation on the corner of Choptank and Travers. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Rob Collison said the rent was to be equivalent to the City taxes. This extension would run from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009. Commissioner Cephas said he agrees with the extension but he would like to see longer than 1 year, if possible. Commissioner Knox said they will end up having 2 years. Commissioner Travers asked about the funds to build the ramp. Commissioner Knox said he contacted various people and organizations in the community and we have the funding. The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Sydnor asked about the Christ Rock annexation. Rob Collison said his understanding was that the annexation would become effective when the City receives confirmation of grant funding or funding sources so that everyone there would know what the expense was, if any, to them for the water and sewer extensions. As far as he is aware, that funding has not come through yet. The annexation was approved pending that funding. The neighbors where concerned about the costs. If they feel the cost is too high, they can rescind their consent to it. Steve Johnson said he expects to know something in the spring.

Commissioner Cephas wished everyone happy holidays. He said the City has some committees that have not been filled. The Council received a letter from a gentleman who has resigned from the Housing Board of Review. He asked Council to make an attempt to fill those committees during the next meeting. Mayor Rippons said the appointment that was made at the last meeting was made erroneously. The appointment must be a Mayor's appointment and approved by the Commissioners. Rob Collison said technically that committee is the Mayor's appointment with the consent of the Council. If the Mayor agrees with the appointment that was made, then no action is needed. The way it reads is that they are the Mayor's appointments to make with the consent of the Council. Commissioner Sydnor said they can assume that since he did not descent any of those, then they were in agreement with him so Council voted on them. Rob Collison said since it is after the fact, if he does not have a problem with them, then it is o.k. Mayor Rippons said in the future, he would like to see bios of the people to be consistent. In the matter of some of the vacancies that we have, he brought to Council's attention some of the considerations he has before the Council makes appointments. Commissioner Brooks said the current vacancy is from the Fourth Ward. Mayor Rippons said it is a recommendation from the Mayor. Commissioner Brooks said in the past, Mayor Rippons has asked each Commissioner to give a recommendation from the ward they are serving. They have brought the recommendation to the Mayor and then they have consented and voted on it. That is the way it has been done since 2004. Mayor Rippons said this is the first time that particular board has had vacancies. Commissioner Brooks said they had vacancies in 2004. Rob Collison said the Code was changed approximately 7 years ago. Before they all had to be City residents and now it is a majority. The people the Council nominates do not necessarily have to live in the City. The practice has probably been that they each select someone from their ward. The majority of the members have to be City residents.

Commissioner Brooks said on Sunday she walked through the public safety complex with Commissioner Sydnor. She had some questions as to why only the police department had moved in and why CEMS and RFC had not moved in. She contacted members of the fire department and ended up with the Chief who spent about 4 hours going through the public safety building and then they came and toured the Gay Street facility. At that time they found out that there are still many problems with the public safety building. She asked why they accepted the key and let one department move in when there were so many problems. They have almost 60 pictures that are being put on a disk to be viewed on a projector so everyone to see the problems that they are talking about that we currently have with the new public safety building. With our current fire department which houses our EMS members 24 hours a day, they have to stay there. The boiler has been broken since mid-November. Sunday was the first that they knew anything of this whatsoever. They ladies and men working there are working in sub-standard conditions. They have space heaters and are trying to keep warm. The showers are ice cold. The heater in the shower has to be re-set with a nail. It is her understanding that to re-set this heater, they have to call DPW but they have fires all hours of the night. If they need to take a shower, they would not be able to wait on DPW to come in and reset the one in the shower. They spoke with some of the members and in that short period of time (11:00 am), the breakers had been thrown 3 times. It is probably because the space heaters are more than what the electrical system can handle and there are very minimum spacer heaters in there to keep them warm. It is her understanding that in November it would have cost $2000 to put in a boiler or repair the boiler so they could be working out of conditions that are satisfactory by the Federal government and anybody else who has to work in a work place and sleep all night long which they have to do.

Commissioner Brooks said she did not understand why they did not want to invest that when they had said in the past that once they are finished with this deal, then the back of it (the train garden) would remain for the citizens of Cambridge. Part of the front would be a museum which would house the many trophies that the fire department has collected over the years and other historical artifacts that they have which would be here for tourism as well as the 80-year old pole that they have there.

Commissioner Brooks said she wanted to discuss the bigger problem which is the public safety building. Obviously someone accepted the key. Once we accepted that key, the citizens of Cambridge are paying the mortgage for a building that may be structurally sound, however, it is not complete, it is not secure, and it is not safe for the men and women who will have to work in there. She asked Chief Hurley to briefly describe some of the defects that they saw yesterday.

Commissioner Sydnor said the building is secure. The problem is that if there is a fire, the firemen cannot get into the building without someone opening the door for them. The palm readers are not operational. There are 6 keys for the public safety building. The department heads each have 1 key and there are 2 other keys. The person who is in charge of the building has 1 key and there are 2 other keys. Because of these palm readers, they are designed such that by simply putting your palm on them, the door will open. Once the door is closed, you cannot open that door from the outside. Unless someone is going to stand there and open the door for the firemen each time, they cannot get in the building. There is also a problem with the air hose that the trucks will need in order to maintain the brake pressure. Without these, it will take 3 to 4 minutes in order for them to get the trucks prepared enough to leave the building. This 3- to 4-minute time frame could be a valuable amount of time when someone's life is at hand.

Commissioner Brooks said there was also the issue of the security cameras that are not working at this present time. There are wires hanging down throughout the entire building where the building is still under construction. She believes there was to be a meeting tonight in 1 of the rooms which is the biggest bay and if you go by there at night, you will notice that the light is always on. There is no light switch to turn the lights on and off. The City is paying an unnecessary electric bill because that light does not need to be on 24 hours a day at the present time. In addition to that, the first thing that happened when they walked through the door was a toilet flushed by itself. They do not know how often the toilets are flushing or how many are flushing by themselves but they might hit that 300,000 gallons of water being used a month if this is continuing to happen.

Commissioner Sydnor said they had a walk-through with the contractor. The walk-through at that time was totally different from his walk-through that he had on Sunday. In the command room or meeting room, when they first went through, the panels were up. There were no phones there so you could not see all the phones that we now see on the fire department side that are on the floor and not mounted to a wall as they should be. His main concern was that the department heads were not invited to this walk through. He asked who would be better to look at this punch list and determine what defects we have there other than the department heads themselves, along with Mr. Johnson. He thinks the other department heads should have been included in that walk-through.

Chief Jeff Hurley said he was contacted by Commissioner Brooks on Saturday night saying that she had several calls from her constituents and she was very concerned why they had not moved and what was going on about it. He offered to meet with her on Sunday to show her the issues they have been working on with the Department of Public Works and the subcontractors to try to get them resolved. Tentatively they were told they would move a few days after the police department. Subsequently, after a meeting last Monday with all the department heads, it was determined that the police department felt that they were ready to be moved and that they had contacted the proper people to move the radio equipment, etc. so they could get moved. About a year ago, all the department heads met and decided that they were better in need of a new building at the fire department and that the correct moving order would be for the police to get into the building because they are in charge of the communication center, security for the building, and general control of all the security devices for the doors. It would give them time to get on line and functional, and when they felt good, then the fire department would move immediately behind or at the same time as the EMS department. During the last month, the contractors have been concentrating on the police department side in anticipation that they had to move on December 4th. Now that the police department is in there, they have been concentrating on getting all the little bugs worked out. There is a substantial amount of work that has to be completed in the building in general. He does not think some of it is keeping them from moving in; however, it is not complete and acceptable to their standards. There are several things he pointed out to the Commissioners. The palm readers are not operational. That on its own would not stop them from moving. There is also an intercom system wherever there is a palm reader and a camera there so if the palm reader is not working, you can press the intercom button and it would buzz the police department control room. They would look at the person on the camera and buzz them in the door. That is not working either. As Commissioner Sdynor said, there are 6 keys over and above the Fire Chiefs and building engineer that operate the doors manually if there were to be a complete and total failure of all this equipment. They could also call the police department and ask them to open the door. They should not have to deal with this. He is not ready to move his department out of the current building even though they have severe problems here. They cannot keep the equipment and manpower accessible to the equipment until this is completed. The compressed air lines that keep the air pressure up on the equipment do not work. The contractor has been working to try to get them on line but there is still a substantial amount of work that has to be completed. They are in the process of trying to move their station air compressor and their breathing air compressor. Because of the situation in the Gay Street building, they have been using the training room in the new building. A lot of the ceiling tiles and light grids were down as of yesterday. He assumes the subcontractor is working to get them back into position today for a meeting tonight. There are also several other security and alarm issues that they have been dealing with there which are keeping them from moving in. The lighting matrix which controls their overhead lights and the garage door openers is not on-line. Because these systems are not on-line, there has been absolutely no training yet. Once this is completed, they will need some time to get their personnel up to speed on these systems. As of last Monday, it was agreed that most of this stuff could or should be completed and they would be ready to move on December 17th. The fire department is not fortunate enough to have paid members working on a 24-hour basis so all of their stuff has to be moved at the convenience of their volunteers and their work schedules. When the initial walk-through was done with the contractor, it was more less a charade to show that they thought that the building was complete and ready for substantial completion. There was a punch list at that time of approximately 22 pages that the City's architect engineers had drawn up. The punch list was supposed to have been completed with a walk through with the department representation. Each department was to be represented. Since then there have been some walk-throughs and there have not been any department heads from fire and EMS present. It is his understanding that when they had the walk-through with Whiting & Turner, none of the department heads were present. At the time, he doesn't even think the Department of Public Works was initially aware that there was going to be this tour with the Mayor and the Commissioners. While he thinks the building will be complete eventually, it is their position at this time that the building is not complete enough to move into as bad as they want to be in there. He does not feel confident and safe enough to put their apparatus in there. Once subcontractor said they have continuously told DPW that they need 6 to 8 weeks once the building was accepted from Whiting & Turner to complete their work. They keep being ignored. There is a piece of equipment that will take from 6 to 8 weeks to come on-line. They found this equipment from a different warehouse and it should be here this Wednesday. If that piece of equipment does not work on the security and data parts of this, it could be 4 to 6 more weeks before that part of the building is operational.

Chief Hurley said the palm readers and cameras are functioning on the police department side. That is where they were supposed to concentrate initially to begin with to try to get them on-line to make sure the bugs are worked out. RFC could not move if they were not already in there. He can understand the public wanting to know what is going on. The Commissioners should be kept up to speed but it definitely isn't because RFC and CEMS are not communicating with either DPW or the builders. He appreciates getting a call so the Commissioners can see that it wasn't their fault and see their position on it. The public should know that also. Prior to this, Commissioner Knox had come by to speak to him about the situation. He had not been made aware that the department heads were not asked, as it had continually been done in the past, to work in the finalization of this building.

Commissioner Sydnor asked Ed Kinnamon the amounts that are outstanding with the 2 contractors. Ed Kinnamon said the last Whiting & Turner bill submitted to the City was paid at the end of November in the amount $600,000+ leaving a difference of $500,000+. They are starting to pay the retainage which was $1 million. They have $500,000+ left owing Whiting & Turner based on their paperwork. For John W. Tieder, they have 1 bill that is currently in house that is being reviewed by DPW and that is in the amount of $50,000+ leaving a balance showing of about $47,000 or $48,000. Commissioner Brooks said she thought $1 million was to be held back until the building has been completed. Ed Kinnamon said it is a retainage of 10%. Now they are starting to pay that as it is being billed. Commissioner Brooks asked if they voted that they would withhold this 10% retainer until the building was complete. They had a meeting with Whiting & Turner and that was an agreement that they had that they would withhold that 10% until this building was completed. Steve Johnson said that is not what the contract says. The contract says that after substantial completion, they can recover some retainage. The City still owes approximately $600,000 for retainage. Commissioner Brooks asked who approved it. Steve Johnson said that is the way the contract is written. Commissioner Brooks asked who approved the purchase order. Steve Johnson said it is not a purchase order. Ed Kinnamon said it is a periodic bill. Commissioner Sydnor said someone has to give authorization to pay this bill. Steve Johnson said it is in accordance with the contract. According to the contract terms, you pay the contractor invoices. After substantial completion, you can then reduce the amount you are holding. We are currently holding about $600,000. He said he signed the invoices in accordance with the contract terms. The contract was authorized by the City Council. Commissioner Sydnor said with the situation that we are currently in and we do not know what is going to happen in the next couple of weeks, it would probably be a good idea to really look at these invoices to see if the work has been done rather than although they submit the bill and then paying that bill, it is much easier to have them complete the work before they have their money. Steve Johnson said he fully agrees and that each invoice is looked at. The Council authorized the City Engineer to be the Project Manager. The City Engineer reviews each invoice, makes sure the work has been accomplished and lets him know that the invoice should be approved. He is functioning as a Project Manager. He is a contracting expert, a construction expert, and he was appointed by the City Council to be a Project Manager.

Mayor Rippons asked Steve Johnson if he would like to respond to anything else that was said. Steve Johnson said he was totally not prepared. He did not realize this would be a discussion tonight. There were numerous items brought up. He has answers for each of them but he is not prepared tonight.

Commissioner Brooks asked how they are going to settle how the people are working right now. It is cold out there. When they have to answer a fire call at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, it is cold in there. They have to sleep in the ice cold. Steve Johnson said the people who are sleeping are not ice cold. They have heat in their quarters. Commissioner Brooks said they have little space heaters that keep tripping the electric. It is substandard. Steve Johnson said it might be, and they can move into the new building. Commissioner Brooks asked what they are going to do about the staff that the City of Cambridge has right now that is working in substandard conditions. It is $2000 to fix the boiler. Steve Johnson said it would be a waste of money. That boiler will not be retained in the City Hall renovation. It is closer to $3000 to fix the boiler and it would not be a good expenditure because people can move now into the public safety building or they can definitely move within a couple of weeks. If Council wants to spend $3000 to have the boiler repaired, they can do it. That represents almost one-third or one-quarter of the budget that he has this year for the entire City for maintenance of City buildings. If Council wants to do that, naturally they will do it. What they have attempted to do, was to be fiscally responsible and ensure the best expenditure of the funds. Commissioner Brooks said this building will continue to be used after the fire department moves out. Steve Johnson said the rest of the building is on a different heating system. It is well-heated and they eventually intend to move City Hall out of that building and into the old police department. They will then gut City Hall and rebuild it. Commissioner Brooks said the biggest portion of the building is going without heat which is this portion. Steve Johnson said that is the part that will be vacated in about 2 weeks. Commissioner Brooks said the back portion will continue to be used. Steve Johnson said the end portion will be demolished according to the current plans for City Hall renovations. Commissioner Brooks said she never heard of this part being demolished. Her understanding was that this would be a museum and the train garden would remain. Steve Johnson said if they turn it into a museum, and if the train garden remains, they will not be able to put everyone that they need to into City Hall. They will have to have another building some place else. Commissioner Brooks asked when that discussion took place. Steve Johnson said it has been in every discussion that he has been in on since he has been here. Commissioner Brooks said Tourism was a part of this. Main Street was talked about. All of this has been discussed since she came into office in July 2004. Steve Johnson said in at all the meetings he has been in, they talked about using City Hall to minimize the number of building occupied by the City. Commissioner Brooks asked if it would be Steve Johnson's recommendation for them to continue to remain there for however long, in substandard conditions. Steve Johnson said they could move now. His recommendation is that they move now and get the people out of substandard conditions. They could move into a top-quality first-rate facility and start making use of it. Commissioner Sydnor asked if the palm readers have been fixed as of today. Steve Johnson said he was not prepared for this discussion tonight. His understanding is that Tieder is working on the palm readers. It is not a Whiting & Turner issue. Commissioner Sydnor asked if there are other ways they could enter the building on the fire department side. Steve Johnson said there are. Commissioner Sydnor asked if he had any ideas on how they could do that. Steve Johnson said he is not well-prepared to discuss this issue. He cannot give a specific recommendation. If he gives a recommendation, he wants to be sure he is right.

Commissioner Brooks asked Chief Hurley if using the space heaters the way they are using them is a fire hazard for the personnel sleeping in the building. Chief Hurley said he is not prepared to answer that. Steve Johnson said it meets the building code. They checked that first. Chief Hurley said RFC and CEMS cannot move as the Council is being told. It is impossible. The building is not ready to be occupied by them in an orderly fashion. Security is the utmost for the ambulance situation because the paramedics are responsible for a lot of drugs stored on the premises. They also have to be heated with space heaters because they are required to be kept at a certain temperature so they can be used immediately upon response. There was a meeting that all the department heads were present for that involved this construction along with the Mayor and Council. When Whiting & Turner could not meet their contract deadline and get the building complete when they said there was a meeting, and it was voted upon to hold back $1 million and not let it get below $1 million until all the department heads were happy and the building was complete. Commissioner Brooks said that is what she remembers. Jeff Hurley said all of the department heads were not involved when the building was accepted. The only way he found out that the building was accepted as substantially complete was that he read it in the Star-Democrat. Commissioner Brooks said she is the liaison for City property and nobody informed her that they were moving into this building or that it was even ready.

Commissioner Cephas said he did not go to the walk-through Sunday because it could have been a conflict with the Sunshine Laws. They need to bring some closure to this. His is hearing DPW saying they can move in now and he is hearing RFC saying they cannot move in now. He is hearing that the Project Manager has been going step-by-step with this project and he assumes that the Project Manager is saying they can move in. Steve Johnson said if Council wants to get facts, they need to listen to both parties and allow both parties to prepare for a discussion. He is definitely not prepared tonight. Commissioner Sydnor asked if Steve Johnson could meet with Chief Hurley and Bill Watkins and go through the building. They can either show him a defect or he can give an explanation for it. They will not get resolution at this time. He thinks that would be the best way to remedy the situation. Commissioner Brooks asked Chief Hurley for his opinion and Bill Watkins' opinion as to how they can resolve the problem for the staff that has to stay in the Gay Street building right now.

Commissioner Travers wished everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Ed Kinnamon said Council received a letter from the Bondservants. They have requested a work session on Monday, December 17th. Mayor Rippons said Council could also receive an update on the public safety building at that time. Commissioner Brooks asked for an update on the Gay Street building also. She asked for all department heads to be present that have to deal with the new public safety building. Chief Malik said he will be on vacation but will have a representative attend the work session.

Yvonne Penn said she was speaking representing those persons who cannot be here for themselves. She represents a church membership of over 300 persons. All of the persons are eligible persons to vote in the City of Cambridge and are African-American descendants. She has been in Cambridge for 3½ years and sadly for her, she finds Cambridge to be worse off than when she first appeared here. Many of her parishioners have lost their jobs since she has been in Cambridge and they have no jobs to turn to. Her members are working persons. They are not sitting around waiting for someone to give them a handout. They want to work for themselves. She does not see the City providing any jobs. They still have many persons in Cambridge living in substandard housing. Mayor Rippons has told her that they are working on housing for the elderly and poor persons but she still finds that a lot of persons are living in substandard housing. There are people who do not have shelter in the winter and this concerns her. She has watched the City employ persons and she does not know if there are any African-American department heads yet, but she has watched the City employ persons and if her hearing is correct and those things that she has asked about are correct, one of the last persons she understands that they hired of African-American descent (not CPD or RFC) there are very few African-Americans in managerial positions and one of the last ones that they City hired that might be in a managerial position, two persons were hired, one of African-American descent with a Master's degree and another European-American with a AA degree who she also heard happens to be an ex-sister-in-law of one of the Commissioners. She understands they are competing against a job to see who is going to be the department head and she does not know how it is working out. She hopes it is working out for the City. Last summer she was not at the meeting but lots of African-American churches in the City applied for funds so they could operate summer programs within their churches and it is her understanding that the total Council was not in favor of giving these funds to the African-American churches. Not all persons living in the African-American community can afford to send their children to the Boys Club or the YMCA and so the church is all they have. It was our president that says where city, state, and governmental agencies cannot reach in, then non-profit agencies can reach in such as the church and help those persons to better themselves through funds from the city and other governmental agencies. This summer, St. Luke was able to service over 200 kids. They ran 3 programs. After they did that, the church staff put together a portfolio of what they did. She brought it to the Mayor and Commissioners and she watched very few of them paid attention to it. They are very proud of their work and they want them to know that their money is at work and they are helping kids and the City can depend on them as an African-American community to continue to do that. They want the City to see what they are doing and that is the kind of reaction that she met. Last November she appeared before Council and had tears in her eyes when she left. She brought a situation where she was speaking to an employee of the City who was very rude to her. When she came in, one of the Commissioners said she is not telling the truth because he/she was there and this is not what happened. She asked him/her if he/she heard her say those things, and he/she said no. What the Commissioner really did was call her a liar without even hearing her say what was said. She worked for the state for 20+ years. She supervised on state level. If that had happened in her office and to someone who was a citizen of a community, she is afraid what her supervisor or she would have said. She is appalled at the things that happen in the City. African-American persons vote in the City. African-Americans have a right in the City. They have a voice and want to be heard. They want to be treated fairly. She has worked with Mayor Rippons; she has talked with him and she thanked him for taking time out to talk to her but she sees this as a lot of apathy here that needs to be handled. She sees us going backwards instead of moving ahead. She is listening to what is going on with the new building and nobody can come to an understanding. She was here last year with that same type of problem about what happened to their fire lane and this person did not pass it on to that person. She wonders how much of this is going to continue to go on. She wants to believe that her parishioners count in this City. She wants to believe that they have a fair right. She wants to believe that persons who come into this town have a fair right as African-Americans and do not have to go through a lot of rigermarole. She wants justice in this City and she thinks it starts from the Commissioners and works its way down. She doesn't feel that there is justice in the City of Cambridge-to her, to the persons she is in charge of shepherding in the name of Jesus Christ, and in so many other ways. She is saddened that she has to come and say these things. With what she keeps hearing and witnessing every day, she feels she had to address Council tonight hoping that it will get better. She prays to God that the City will look into some sensitivity training between everybody so they can work in unison with one another. She has asked for this before. She has asked that they do sensitivity training and she has talked with many employees of the City and it has not been done. There are so many agencies that are willing to work these things out.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said today an activity took place that takes place in Cambridge in the C-Safe area. Kids come in and bake cookies and do crafts. This year the event took place in our second C-Safe area which is the Pine Street area. Kids came into the substation and saw that it is not a place to be afraid of. They learned it was a place to come in to learn. Representatives from West End Citizens' Association, Parole and Probation, Juvenile Services, Social Services, and Santa Claus attended the event. She presented Council with some baked goods from the kids and extended holiday greetings. Commissioner Cephas asked Ms. Johnson-Ennels to thank the children. He said Rev. Penn's comments have not gone on deaf ears. He shares some of the things that she said. Sometimes it makes good sense for a community to say what the Commissioners have been saying for a long time as well.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:33 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, December 10, 2007, insofar as I personally am aware.

                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                    Edwin C. Kinnamon

                                                                                    Clerk & Treasurer