• 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
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
Print this page

City Council Minutes

March 18, 2002
 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, March 18, 2002, in City 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 Bohlen, Watkins, Weldon, Atkinson and Travers.

Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.  Commissioner Atkinson led in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 11, 2002 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   

APPOINTMENTS

Octavene Saunders to Discuss the Pine Street Committee-Brenda Hayward reported that Ms. Saunders could not be present and she read a letter addressed to the Mayor and Commissioners from the Pine Street Committee.  They requested that the Council resume the Empowerment Center contract talks that ended after their last meeting in November 2001.  They requested that the Pine Street Committee and the Council work together collectively to select an arbitrator should there be a stalemate.  The time has come to move to a collective and unified contract agreement.   Their attorney will only be involved when all parties agree upon a final contract as it pertains to the Empowerment Center.  They welcome a meeting with the Mayor and Council so they can get moving with contract negotiations.

Rob Collison reported that they did have a meeting in late November between members of the Council and the Committee.  Both lawyers were present.  They went through the draft of the lease and there were items that were to be addressed and they felt could be worked out.  Their attorney sent some recommended revisions via a letter dated December 3, 2001.  They were incorporated into the City's draft of the lease.  On December 10th he sent additional correspondence back saying the December 3rd amendments were what he had suggested and had received other ones from the Committee and asked that they be incorporated.  All of those items were addressed in the lease revision.  Rob faxed it to the attorney on January 9, 2002 with a statement stating if there were any other changes, to let him know.  He heard nothing from Mr. Alspach.  At then end of January he forwarded the lease to the State for their review and for it to be submitted to the Board of Public Works as required by the bond bill agreement.  He found out last week that some members of the Committee went to the Board of Public Works and apparently it was pulled off the agenda.  He contacted Mr. Alspach on Thursday, March 14, and he advised that he was unaware that the Committee was going up there and he basically felt the last revisions addressed the issues that he had forwarded to Rob and he was unaware of any outstanding issues.  Rob spoke to Mr. Alspach today and he had still not spoken to the Committee.  His last conversation was with Armond Hayward. Mr. Hayward questioned certain things and Mr. Alspach indicated that he felt the latest revision addressed the concerns that were addressed on November 22.

Brenda Hayward, speaking as a member of the Pine Street Committee, is aware that Mr. Alspach faxed corrections that the City had made the first round. Since that time Mr. Alspach was informed that the Pine Street Committee had additional concerns with the last revision of the lease that they saw.  These concerns were not incorporated into the lease that was sent to the Board of Public Works.  The Pine Street Committee, to her knowledge, did not review the lease.  They did not know what version of the lease was sent until Mrs. Saunders called and got a copy of it.  The Pine Street Committee has never approved that lease.  They advised their attorney that they would be getting back to him after they met with the entire Committee.  In the meantime, the City sent the lease to the Board of Public Works without their knowledge. 

Rob Collison said Mr. Alspach advised him that after receiving the latest revision (January 9) that he reviewed it, forwarded it to the Committee, and the reason he did not get right back to Rob was because he had not heard anything from the Committee.  About a month after that, he received some correspondence from them saying that they needed additional time to review it.  He never communicated that to Rob.  Rob emphasized that as soon as a party gets an attorney, legally and under the rules of professional conduct, he cannot negotiate directly with the Committee.  He has to send his correspondence to their attorney.  If he did not send the lease to the Committee, it's not the City's or the Council's fault.  From the City's prospective, everything that was set forth in the letters he received were addressed in the latest revision.  When he did not hear anything back in over a month, we assumed there were no additional revisions.  It was on his coversheet to notify Rob if there were any revisions or modifications.  They were trying to get the Committee into the building by January 1, 2002.  

Rob Collison reported that Mr. Alspach said he was to communicate with Armond Hayward and he had spoken to him several weeks ago.  Mr. Alspach felt all the concerns had been addressed adequately in those revisions.  If there has been something since then, they have not been communicated to Mr. Alspach.  Brenda Hayward interjected that they had not been communicated to Rob Collison but they had been communicated to Mr. Alspach and she believes Mr. Alspach was not aware that the City was going to send the lease to be reviewed by the State.  The Committee was not aware of it until Rob mentioned it at a Council meeting a few weeks ago.  Rob Collison said that's how the entire problem arose.  They knew the Board of Public Works had to approve the lease whenever they came to an agreement.  Brenda Hayward said they had not agreed.  Mr. Alspach may or may not have misunderstood but she is saying that as a member of the Committee she is not aware of that lease being finalized in any way, shape, or form and she is also aware that Mr. Alspach was notified that there would be further consideration by the Committee before they would agree on the lease.  If he did not communicate this to the City, it is a problem in communication.  Rob Collison suggested that she address her concerns to Mr. Alspach. 

Brenda Hayward said her concern (as an individual) is that the lease went to the State as if it were final when the Pine Street Committee had not given its approval.  It may have been due to a misunderstanding but she would like it noted in the record and that is why Mrs. Saunders has written the letter presented tonight.  If there are any other questions on behalf of Council, they should be addressed to Mrs. Saunders in writing. 

Mayor Rippons said the City attorney was brought into a discussion two weeks ago.  Inferences were made.  The Committee relayed information to their attorney, which was not corresponded to the City's attorney.  Every consideration that was brought up at the November meeting and subsequent ones that were relayed to Mr. Collison from Mr. Alspach were addressed in the final document.  He questioned why, after having addressed all questions from Mr. Alspach, would it be against any consideration for the City not to submit the document for approval when there is talk in the community that the City is trying to hold the building up.  Mayor Rippons said it is not a correct statement but it continues to be made.  Now they find out that Mr. Alspach did not correspond about what is going on.  The key would have been ready tonight except that the Pine Street Committee when to Annapolis last Wednesday and made it known that they had not seen the contract.  This caused it to be delayed even more. 

Brenda Hayward said she would like to state that Mrs. Saunders could answer any concerns that Council has.  Mayor Rippons said they would not communicate with her.  The Committee has brought it to a legal matter.  It was established at the November meeting that the Committee would only correspond through the attorneys.  He went on say that there is no consideration that this Council has to entertain the Pine Street Committee as the only group that can go in there.  The waste of time and delays are not with this Council.  Brenda Hayward, speaking personally from her experience on the Committee, has been involved with the Committee since the meeting in November one year ago at the Elks.  At that meeting where the community was asked for their input, everyone was in favor of the Pine Street Committee and the work they had done in planning, getting the grant, doing all of the groundwork, all of the planning and preparation for the Empowerment Center.  It is basically for educational and cultural activities and there is no political side to it.  She has seen what she would call obstructionism on the part of the City.  There was a lease that was signed; rent was paid; grants were given; all before this Council took office.  She personally sees no reason why it wasn't honored and why it would be opened to other organizations because it was the Pine Street Committee's project.  Mayor Rippons said it is a City of Cambridge project.  Brenda Hayward continued that the Committee is sincere, they are honest, honorable, they have not been delaying things, and they have been trying to get their project put forward.  This lease is merely the latest in a series of obstacles.  They reviewed the lease; changes were made; changes were asked for.  Some of the City's changes were not acceptable.  They have been back and forth with the City on the lease several times.  Armond Hayward has been the liaison with the attorney.  She knows for a fact that he did relay to Mr. Alspach that the Pine Street Committee was concerned with the last version of the lease that they saw.  She doesn't know what version they saw and what version was sent to the State but looking at the timeframe, she thinks that possibly their communication to Mr. Alspach was somewhat slightly before this lease was due to be reviewed at the State level.  He was not aware of it being reviewed at the State level.  The Committee was not aware of it being reviewed at the State level and they were in the process of working with Mr. Alspach on further changes that they felt were needed.  The Committee has never officially said they agree with the lease.  They agreed with the original lease two years ago.  It was signed, sealed, and delivered.  The City attorney drew it up.  If it was invalid, there is a problem there.  They have been trying to come up with a lease that is acceptable with both parties and have not reached that point.  They would like to continue negotiations with the City to finalize the lease and if there is a communication problem with Mr. Alspach, it is not from Mr. Alspach not communicating to the Committee any version of the lease.  It is a lack of communication in the sense that Mr. Alspach was not even aware that this lease was being reviewed.  He was aware that it was not finalized but he was going to relay their final thoughts when the time came after they had a chance to get them to him.  The Committee was in a process of continuing to negotiate, and the City was looking at it as finalized and she doesn't think they should have done that. 

Mayor Rippons said Mrs. Hayward said all the work was done by the Pine Street Committee.  If he stipulates and shows them one aspect that was not done, then it invalidates their concern.  He said to look at Ms. Kathy Foster of the City staff. That invalidates that concern.  She said the previous Council signed the lease.  The reason they did not follow up with that lease is because the provisions specify no agreement can be reached or agreed upon without the prior approval of the Board of Public Works.  This could invalidate all of the grant provisions.  The City would then have to pay all the grant monies back because they did not follow the provisions.  To avoid this, the City said they would address the Board of Public Works first. 

Rob Collison suggested that the Committee contact their attorney and have a response back to the City at least by next Monday so they can see what, if anything, needs to be addressed.  The Council can meet in closed executive session to review these issues.  Mayor Rippons said the City will entertain the Committee's correspondence relative to the agreement that was sent to the State about any objections they have to it.  Then, if it's the City wish, they will sit down and either address those issues or will invite the Committee to come together to see what differences can be worked out, if anything. 

Brenda Hayward said it sounds fair to her but she will have to check with Mrs. Saunders and have her either communicate through their attorney or directly.  Mayor Rippons said those are the stipulations.  Reasonable time was given to their attorney to respond before.  Mayor Rippons said the major delays had nothing to do with the present Council.  It had to do with the architect, the engineer, and the construction team that was selected by prior Council.  That ultimately amounted to almost a three-month delay.  It does not seem to him that the City obstructed in any way any consideration for what is going on out there.  If they had the document, the key would have been ready. Mrs. Hayward said the building has been ready for almost nine months.  David Pritchett said there was a five-month delay through the contractor and almost two months due to the architect and problems that had to be re-drafted.  It was to be a 270-day project and extended well over 340 days.  The Empowerment Center utilized almost 20 percent of DPW's resources throughout one complete year.  It was very difficult to get through.  The architect and the contractor turned out to be very difficult. 

Brenda Hayward responded when she said all the work was done by the Committee, she did not mean the arrangements for construction or whatever responsibility the City had, she meant the initial project work of developing the concept of the Empowerment Center, applying for the grants, writing the business plan, etc. Mayor Rippons interjected the grant was applied for through the City.  Brenda said the grant had to be done through the City; the City was a pass-through from her understanding.  Mayor Rippons said relative to the issues, the City has given her their consideration.  All she has to do is go to her attorney and allow the Committee to meet and then forward to Council any revisions they would like to see in the document.  Brenda said they are in the process of doing that now.   The City will be hearing from their attorney.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Final Sale on Dispositioning of Parking Meters-David Pritchett said following last week's meeting, on Tuesday morning the following day, by noon they had 25 requests for 25 meters from local people.  Since that time they have had a request for approximately another 30 meters.  They have a total of 79 units.  He is concerned about whether they can sell or dispense of them locally as a priority.  He feels it would be more than appropriate.  He checked with three different jurisdictions and just as Salisbury has given Cambridge traffic lights and controllers, they were only interested on a "give" basis.   The meters didn't match anyone's metering system.  He knows they can dispense the meters to local people to obtain one or two without going to bid.  Mayor Rippons asked Rob Collison to look at the legal parameters of disposition of these assets and allow Council to have ample time to make their considerations known.

NEW BUSINESS

Introduction of Resolution for Curb and Sidewalk Construction on Glasgow Street-Rob Collison reported that previously the Department of Public Works had recommended curb and sidewalk construction along a section of Glasgow Street.  Under the City Charter, they have to introduce a resolution this evening that will be voted on next week.  If the resolution is passed, it sets forth each of the properties that are affected by the proposed improvements, what the property owner's cost share would be, and that the cost would be assessed as a lien on the property.   An ordinance would be passed eventually confirming that assessment unless the property owners file a petition opposing it. 

Per Diem Rate-Commissioner Bohlen said that currently Dorchester County has the lowest per diem rate that there is.  The rate is the amount the government pays for their employees to stay overnight.  The Dorchester County rate is $55 per night.  There is nowhere in Dorchester County that you can stay for that.  Now that Cambridge has the lodging available, he is requesting a letter be sent to the U.S. Senators and Representative asking for this to be reviewed.  Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to allow Mr. Kinnamon draft the letters for the Mayor's signature.  Commissioner Watkins seconded it.  The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Budget Amendment for DPW-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the budget amendment for DPW.  Commissioner Weldon seconded it.   The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Financial Statement for February 2002- Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the financial statement for February 2002.  Commissioner Weldon seconded it.   The motion passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Mayor Rippons said the City has been looking for a permanent person to hold the title of Chief of Police for the City of Cambridge.  They started with 14 applicants and Council reviewed the final applicants last Friday.  By a unanimous vote of Council, Mayor Rippons introduced Chief Kenneth Malik.  This promotion will become effective April 1, 2002.  Council presented him with the insignia and a new Chief of Police badge.  Kenneth Malik thanked the Mayor and Commissioners for their support during the last 11 weeks and for the confidence they have shown in him for this appointment.  He would also like to thank the community for the support they have given him as Acting Chief and he looks forward to working with the community in the future.

Commissioner Weldon said while they are working this out (Empowerment Center), there are services that need to be rendered and people who need those services and the sooner we can all sit down and get it straight and work with those people that need the help, the better off the community will be.

David Pritchett said last week the Traffic and Safety Committee submitted a report regarding West Appleby and no parking on one side.  They began installing the signs and have found a problem in doing it exactly how it was voted on.  They will be issuing a new report next Monday.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 7:45 p.m.  I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, March 18, 2002, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer