• 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
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City Council Minutes

July 8, 2002
 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, July 8, 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.

Heidi Adams 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 July 1, 2002 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   

Commander John Dickerson from VFW Post 7460 presented a check in the amount of $2,000 to the City of Cambridge to assist in the purchase of Christmas lights from the City of Baltimore.  Mayor Rippons thanked the VFW saying this was the first donation toward the project.  We are looking to raise $40,000 to cover the cost of the Christmas display.

PUBLIC HEARING

New Public Safety Complex-Mayor Rippons asked for comments from the public.

Erik Straub owns property at the intersection of Woods Road and Chesapeake Drive.  He saw in the paper that the City has an option on property for a new public safety facility.  Mayor Rippons said there is a property on Washington Street that the City has entered an option agreement on.  At this time they have not made any indication as to what they will do at the expiration of the agreement.  The purpose of the public hearing tonight and again next week will be to entertain considerations as it relates to the new public safety building and the location.  Rob Collison said the City entered the option for $5,000.  If they elect to exercise the option, they have 90 days to do so and the $5,000 is applied toward the purchase price of $1 million for 4.4 acres.  The option will expire on August 10, 2002.   The total cost of the proposed project inclusive of the $1 million purchase price for the land acquisition is approximately $10 million.   The building will house the Rescue Fire Company, Cambridge Emergency Medical Services, and the Cambridge Police Department.

Erik Straub said the cost would come to $227,000+ an acre.  The newspaper article said this was a reasonable comparable price for property of this type in the area.  He spoke of other properties in the area that have changed hands in recent times and the existing property that the City has which was purchased for $600,000 and that the City has an additional $790,000 in it.  Mayor Rippons said this is incorrect.  The total consideration on the unit is roughly $790,000.  He said in conversations with the departments that will be utilizing the facility and in an architectural engineering study (feasibility study) that is available to the City, the property at Cedar and Race Streets is an ineffective property.  Mr. Straub said he met with Mayor Rippons in August of last year.  He is appearing tonight because he said he "has a better mousetrap".  Last August he indicated that he had a parcel of property within the City limits that he felt was very well suited for the application that the City was soliciting.  He said at that time Mayor Rippons indicated to him that he was too late because the studies had started.  Mayor Rippons said Mr. Straub was in error.  He said at this point anybody could come in.  Mr. Straub said he offered the City a 7.5-acre lot at the corner of Woods Road and Chesapeake Drive for a lower price then, but he is willing to put it in the paper for $450,000.  That is $59,681 per acre.  The study the City had done is just as applicable to this parcel as it is to the parcel that they are considering.  The parcel that he is offering is less than ¼ mile away from the parcel the City is considering.  The initial cost savings would be $550,000.  There are no infrastructure improvements required.  All the utilities on Woods Road and Chesapeake Drive are new.  Both parcels the City is considering would require deep foundations to build the structure.  His site would not require this.  Test borings would have to be taken at a cost of around $2500 to $3000.  He would be willing to pay the cost of the borings.  He said he was asked to be included in the study initially.  Mayor Rippons said he was included in the initial study.  He thinks the fact that the City's consultants would arrive at is that the property would cost the City about $1 million less.  He would like the community and Council to know that additional opportunities exist with more initial land, which is more flexible.  Mr. Straub said he talked to Jeff Hurley during the same timeframe that he talked to the Mayor.  Mr. Hurley said their primary consideration is the expansion of a fire department facility in order to accommodate the equipment, get it out of the weather, have a communications station, have a locker room, etc.  Mr. Straub said that is not a $10 million facility.  In his opinion, the Police station in Cambridge is more than adequate.  He feels his parcel has better street and highway access with no additional costs and it's cheaper.  It has better site conditions with lower construction costs.  Cost savings will offset expenses of the Cedar Street property, allow resale of the property; it's much bigger than Washington Street and if you don't need all of it, you can declare it surplus and resell it.  He thinks Council has an obligation to evaluate everything there is available before they spend the money.  All he is asking them to do is look at the other alternate site within the study area that the consultants have already done.  It doesn't require a total re-evaluation.  His option does not run out August 10th

Wendell Foxwell asked if a real estate agent was involved.   Mayor Rippons said there was no agent involved but there was an appraisal done.  Commissioner Weldon said the price was negotiated and agreed on by all the Council.   Mayor Rippons said there was a higher price than what is on the table; it was considerably higher and negotiated down.  Mr. Foxwell asked why there wasn't a public meeting held to discuss site and price before the Council made a decision to pay for a 90-day option on the property.  He feels the public should have been involved on a deal of this magnitude.  He feels this Council went the same way as the previous Council did when they purchased the Cedar Street property before getting the public involved.  Rob Collison said they had to lock the seller in at the option price.  If they started discussing it publicly that the City was willing to pay a certain price per acre, someone else may start bidding because the seller wasn't committed to this.  With the option, the seller can't back out of the stated price.  Mr. Foxwell asked about the City's expenses to date for environmental testing, architectural drawings, etc.  Mayor Rippons said the prior Council had engaged the firm of Edmeades & Stromdahl Ltd.  All this Council did was negotiate for their considerations to be placed in a feasibility study regarding the parcels that were available.  His conception is that no new money was endeavored.  Mr. Foxwell thinks the site is o.k. but the price of the property is too high. 

Mayor Rippons said if you looked at what was paid for Wawa (not including demolition) he thinks it may be a fair comparison.  Mr. Straub said it is ground rent; the property was never sold.  Mr. Foxwell asked if the City went down to the Assessment Office to find out the assessed value.  Mayor Rippons said the Council did this.  Mr. Foxwell said the assessment value is now the true market value.  He said for all of the acres (17.83) and all the buildings the appraisal value for July 1, 2002 is $911,700.   He feels it is a long way from $1 million for 4.4 acres.  He thinks Council should go back to the bargaining table and re-negotiate to get a lower price.

Chief Jeff Hurley said the New Station Committee for Rescue Fire Company met concerning the different sites.  After reviewing where the firefighters live, the alarm response area, the egress and ingress, the infrastructure currently at both sites, the studies the previous Council had expended money on, and reviewing six other sites, it was the Committee's vote of 11 out of 14  (one abstaining, one against, and one absent) to go with the Washington Street site.  Mr. Straub's property was brought up to the Committee and they felt that with the traffic in that area and the additional ¼ mile they would have to come back out Route 50, back into the Washington Street or Cedar Street area to get to the second or third wards, they felt the Washington Street site was a much better location.  Edmeades & Stromdahl, with the Council's negotiations, looked into that site.  Paul Edmeades told them that pretty well any site for this heavy construction would have to have pile or pile casings or heavy footers put under it so it would last 75 years. 

Chief Hurley continued that with the 17 acres, there would be room to expand.  There are financing options available through the State depending on which property they go with which may or may not be available at the other sites.  Also, he doesn't feel anyone would sell his or her property for what the County's tax appraisal is.   Currently RFC is running some equipment out of the Washington Street site.  They are building a case history on the response times from the location.  The response time is much better than from headquarters because of getting in and out of the station.  The Committee reviewed Mr. Straub's property in its entirety.  In fact, it was a much lower price that was offered previously.  When they looked at the properties, they tried to let the Council deal with the price negotiations because they didn't know where Council would be with price negotiations.  They tried to look at the best piece of property for the use.

Chief Bill Watkins, CEMS, supports everything Chief Hurley said.  EMS runs over 2000 calls a year.  It would be a traffic hazard to come across Route 50 and come back onto Washington Street even thought they have a mechanism to turn the lights to green for their benefit.  He was on the Committee and they looked at that piece of property (Mr. Straub's property) but it is in the wrong spot. 

Chief Malik, CPD, said the Police Department needs more room.  They have outgrown their building significantly over the last few years.  Right now they store their bicycles in the garage, which means they can't work on their vehicles in there.  They don't have a sally port.  They have to bring prisoners in the garage or in the back door and then take them up the steps, which is a liability to the City and the Police Officers.  Their detention cells are inadequate.  The Federal government, through Juvenile Justice, requires separation of adult and juvenile prisoners at all times by sight and by sound.  Right now they only have two detention cells they use for prisoners because the other two have equipment (records or uniforms) in them.  If they have an adult and a juvenile prisoner, they have to hold the juvenile in either the interview room or squad room which means an officer has to be with them at all times.  Juvenile prisoners are just as violent as adults and that creates a manpower problem.   They don't have any storage area for seized vehicles.  The evidence room is over stacked now.  Detectives are sharing offices.  The Pine Street Substation is just used as a storage area in many cases because they can't put any additional equipment in the police department.  To say that they don't need a new police department is certainly incorrect.  It is his understanding that they would have to move out to renovate the building. 

Commissioner Weldon said in regards to the Woods Road site, he agrees with the staff about the traffic pattern.  He couldn't image response time to the second or third ward, where most of the calls are, being anywhere close to effective coming off Woods Road.  He appreciates the offer and the cost savings, but it is just not the right location. 

Rob Collison said there are two items to be submitted into the record which were submitted in writing.  (1) Koski Enterprises, Inc. submitted a letter offering the City the opportunity to purchase property located at 100 Goodwill Road (the old National Can property) containing 6.582 acres.  The property is priced at $650,000.  (2) Ed Kinnamon, Clerk-Treasurer, submitted a memo outlining the debt service for the Public Safety Building.  The cost of the building has been estimated to be $10 million, not including furnishings.  The funding of this building should come directly from the tax rate.  Any funding needed to be borrowed such as a general obligation bond should be retired by a sinking fund that is funded from the tax revenue.  To satisfy the debt service listed above, it would be necessary to increase property taxes by as little as $0.09 or as much as $0.21 depending on the principle and terms and rate at the time of the bond settlement.  Because of the amount necessary to satisfy this bond, it may be recommended to put this issue to referendum.

Mayor Rippons said before the work session next week, the financial statements and the feasibility study will be available at City Hall. 

Jeff Hurley said in prior meetings with the Budget and Taxation Committee to discuss funding the fire station when it was talked about before, they were willing to give the City $1.5 million at that time.  The Committee wanted them to purchase the property first.  There is a low-interest loan available from the State Firemen's Association.  There is also money available from OneMaryland, and depending on the site location, DBED.  He offered anyone a tour of the current fire station so they can see what RFC has to run out of.  The RFC members save the taxpayers at least $1 million a year in salaries by not having a paid fire department.  He wants to see the project keep moving; they have a great site!

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Discuss Security at the Municipal Yacht Basin-David Pritchett discussed security at the yacht basin during the last few meetings.  They had one or two instances of vandalism this year.  He spoke to Chief Malik and he pulled up data on the overall instances over the last several years.  Mr. Pritchett had originally requested permission to install some gating on the piers.  When you look at the statistics, the marina is very safe.  They have had very little trouble.  Before they install gates, they would like to try having the police patrols increased.   Chief Malik said during the past 5 years the reported crime at the marina is very sporadic; there were only 3 breaking-and-entering of boats, 6 thefts, and 5 malicious destruction of property.  He feels the main problem is juveniles trespassing and he feels they can take care of this problem with increased patrol. 

A gentleman had an occasion to walk down to the marina during the last couple of days.  There is a gate approximately 6-ft high which prevents public access on one end.  He would like to see it removed because it doesn't seem feasible to have it there.  David Pritchett said it was put in place because that was the highest crime area.  The gentlemen said it is public property so it should be open to the public.  David Pritchett said there are signs stating the area is for boat owners only.  Another gentlemen said as taxpayers, they support those areas and they should be made available to the taxpayers for the pleasure of just walking along the water like they have done since they were little kids.  David Pritchett said to his knowledge the gates are opened up during the day and closed during the evening.  The gentlemen said the sign says they are not welcome there.  David Pritchett answered that it very common at most marinas for the dockmaster to ask people who are not boat owners to leave the pier area.  The public is welcome in the park, both sides of Long Wharf, and the yacht club side.  The gentlemen said the boats are not Maryland boats; they are from everywhere else.  It is locking out the taxpayers and the law-abiding citizens.  The fence wouldn't stop anybody and is very un-friendly looking.  As a taxpayer, he doesn't think the sign is appropriate.  David Pritchett said they are working on the repair and replacement of the mole area and something different will be there when the work is complete.  The gentlemen said the boat owners don't pay City taxes so we are providing them with a service at the taxpayers' expense.  David Pritchett said the boat owners pay fees.  Commissioner Weldon said he spends a lot of time at the marina, and one of the reasons they are having the discussion about the increased patrol is because we pay a sizeable part of the budget for an excellent police department and if we can utilize those resources, we don't have to spend $10,000 on gates that don't work.  The reason the gate is near the mole is because the area has significant structural and safety problems.  The two piers going out into the river are off limits because they have deteriorated to such a state.  He agrees it should be open and accessible.  Mayor Rippons said they invite the gentlemen's input as they move forward into Phase 2 of the marina upgrades.

Award Bid for Demolitions of 708 Washington Street, 704 Washington Street, 304 Henry Street, and 817 Phillips Street-Jim Michael said they received five bids for the demolition project.  Two were disqualified because the proposal form was incorrectly completed.  The lowest qualified bidder is Jerol Moore at $24,200.  He recommends awarding the bid to Jerol Moore.    Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve Jim Michael's recommendation.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS

Appointment to Police Advisory Board-Commissioner Atkinson said his appointment to the Police Advisory Board had to resign because of a work conflict.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to appoint Mr. Bill Smith, who is very active in the community, to the Police Advisory Board.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Approve Financial Statement for May 2002-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the financial statement for May 2002.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Rob Collison announced that next week they will have the first reading of a proposed ordinance which would regulate the storage of vehicles under the City's Property Maintenance Code.  It would limit the storage of vehicles for automobile repair and assembly businesses to no more than 50 and likewise, no more than 50 for automobile storage and salvage dealers.

Commissioner Bohlen said the fireworks were excellent--probably, the best yet. 

Commissioner Watkins also thought the fireworks were the best we have had for a long, long time.  He appreciates it.

Commissioner Weldon asked about a provision for the zoning code regarding the public walkway on waterfront development in the PWCD.  Rob Collison said they have had the first reading and the public hearing will be on July 22, 2002.  After the public hearing, the Council can approve it. 

Commissioner Weldon and his family attended the Bay Country Festival on Friday evening.  It was a good time.  They had terrific music and tons of kids were running around having a ball.  When he spoke in favor of the City taking over the operation of the hall, that is what he had in mind.  He wanted to see more of that kind of event.  Hopefully the Management Board will look at the success of this past week and see if there are some other opportunities to do that sort of event. 

Commissioner Weldon said he submitted a piece in the newspaper regarding the proposed tower for the point property.  It is his personal opinion that if the City allows that project to proceed as it is planned, it is going to be a disaster for this community. 

Commissioner Atkinson said he disagrees highly with Commissioner Weldon.  We need to raise our tax base and everything that comes up, Commissioner Weldon wants to kill. 

Commissioner Atkinson said the Humane Society has discontinued services in the City of Cambridge again based on the fact that we did not give them the total amount of funds requested.  We cut all departments.  They requested $22,000 and we budgeted $17,000.  He has asked Rob Collison to look into the situation and see what could be done to make the Dorchester Humane Society continue giving us services.  Most counties finance the Humane Society with county funds.  He doesn't know how Cambridge got into this situation. 

Commissioner Bohlen said he and Commissioner Weldon talked to representatives from many other municipalities during the MML convention and found out that nearly across the board, the counties take care of it and fund it. Commissioner Weldon said it is important to note that most of the humane societies in the other counties raise significant portions of their own funds through private fundraisers, which our humane society is just now starting to plan to do.  Commissioner Bohlen said nearly no municipalities actually pay for services. 

Commissioner Travers thanked the Police Department for the outstanding job they did with the fireworks this year.  It was probably the best he has even seen.

David Pritchett said Rev. Randall Blackman of the First Baptist of Cambridge appeared before Council for permission to hold an event of 125 people at Great Marsh this Sunday (July 14).  He asked to change his hours from 2:00 pm until 7:00 pm.  He is also requesting a variance from the noise ordinance for about 30 minutes for a speaker and very low music.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to grant the request.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:11 p.m.  I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, July 8, 2002, insofar as I personally am aware.

Heidi R. Adams, Executive Assistant