• 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

August 26, 2002
 

he City Council met in regular session on Monday, August 26, 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 August 19, 2002 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   

APPOINTMENTS

Daniel Cada, Richardson Maritime Museum, Requesting a Resolution to Approve Tax Credits Under the Neighborhood Partnership Program-The Museum is requesting Council pass a resolution supporting their project on their new Maryland Avenue property.  They are planning to renovate the boat works building to allow them to use it for hands-on wood boat building instruction and restoration of the woodwork boats and the other boats that they may acquire in the future.  This is part of the museum's program to move its capabilities and expand what it is doing as an attraction to Cambridge and to maintain the heritage of this area.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the resolution.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Buffy Ellis, KFH Group, to Discuss Transportation Plan for Cambridge and Dorchester County-Buffy Ellis said the KFH Group is a transportation-planning firm in Montgomery County.  They worked closely with the staff at Delmarva Community Services and the staff at the Maryland Transit Administration.  They also worked with the County's Transportation Advisory Committee including Mayor Rippons, Commissioner Bohlen, and Commissioner Travers.  The Transportation Development Plan (TDP) is required to be performed by locally operated transit systems in Maryland.  They reviewed the existing services in the City and County and then assessed the transit needs.  They conducted an on-board survey of existing transit services to get direct input from the riders.  Additionally, they interviewed a broad range of community organizations.  A five-year plan was developed to improve transit.  It is presently in draft form. 

In terms of their recommendations for Cambridge, Ms. Ellis feels it is the heart of the study.  What they are proposing has the potential to really become an integral part of the community to help with other community objectives such as economic development and tourism.  They are recommending implementation of a traditional fixed route, fixed scheduled service that would operate 12 hours per day on weekdays and 10 hours a day on Saturdays.  The service would use two vehicles that would operate three different routes.  To meet the very early needs of workers, they have proposed a single route operating with one vehicle that would focus on the industrial park.  It would run from 5:30 am until 6:30 pm.  They have estimated that such a service would carry over 54,000 passenger trips on an annual basis.  If the fixed route service is implemented, they have an obligation under the Federal Americans with Disabilities Acts to also operate ADA transit.  They have estimated that much of this can be provided existing demand response services.  There may need to be some additional resources allocated to this special service for disabled riders. 

They also looked at improving services Countywide for the elderly and disabled and improving regional services for better inter-county travel.  They will make a formal presentation to the County Commissioners and will be holding a public hearing to receive public input.  Then they will move forward with implementation.  They will hopefully have something on the street in late fall or early winter. Ms. Ellis can be reached at [email protected] or (301) 951-8660.

John General, Maryland Upper Shore Transit, said their goal is to successfully demonstrate the feasibility and cost effectiveness of a coordinated regional transportation system.  Transit services are provided by U*Star, Queen Anne's County Ride and DDUST.  Their fares are reasonable ($1 for most people; 50¢ for seniors and disabled citizens) and their services cover the entire Eastern Shore by linking with the Lower Shore Transit Systems.   It is a higher level of service with a focus on the general public.  They can be reached at www.mustbus.info or 1-866-330-6878. 

Commissioner Bohlen said it was a pleasure to work with the folks on the Transportation Advisory Board.  He found the meetings enlightening and informative.  He thinks with the new MUST Plan in place, the Shore is going to see transportation connections the likes of which it hasn't seen the days of steam and railroads.  Mayor Rippons said they would like to recognize Jerome Stanley and Sandy Grande of Delmarva Community Services for their assistance.  Sandy Grande introduced Lenny Howard who is our regional representative at Mass Transit of the Maryland Transit Administration.  Mayor Rippons thanked Buffy and the gentlemen for their effort that goes to advance and service the citizens of Cambridge.

Unstoppables Marching Unit to Request Variance from the Noise Ordinance to Practice at the St. Clair School Parking Lot from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm on August 27, 29, 30 and September 2, 3, 5, and 6 (Practice for Hyatt Parade)-Leo King and Isaac Luke formed a group called the Unstoppables to keep the kids and youth off the street.  They would like to get a permit to practice so they can participate in all the events in Cambridge.  Right now they are practicing at Great Marsh but are looking for an inside place to practice.  Tonight they are requesting a variance from the noise ordinance to practice at the St. Clair School parking lot.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the noise variance pending notification to Mr. Kinnamon that approval of use of the parking lot has been attained.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   Mayor Rippons thanked the Unstoppables for their efforts in our community.

Public Hearing - Proposed Arts and Entertainment District-Mayor Rippons said there is a conception that has come before the City to have an Arts and Entertainment District that gives some benefits derived both from the State and local governments.  Joy Staniforth and Greg Vande Visser are co-chairpersons of the committee working to develop an application to the State for Cambridge to be designated as an Arts and Entertainment District.  The main purpose is to give a jump-start to Cambridge in the downtown area.  It is a perfect town according to the State representative where there are so many empty storefronts.  It will help get things moving. 

Greg Vande Visser provided a map of the proposed boundaries.  An Arts and Entertainment District is a well-recognized, well-labeled mixed-use area of the city in which a high concentration of arts and cultural facilities serve as an anchor attraction.  Nationally, they can be found in cities and towns of all sizes.  Each one uniquely reflects the local mission, history, and cultural development.  Successful features include thoughtful landscaping, signage, renovation of existing buildings, and attracting complimentary businesses.  The components of a successful Arts and Entertainment District are its location, its management, content, and funding.  Some of the benefits offered to select districts include property tax credits for renovation of certain buildings that create a live/work space for artists and/or space for arts and entertainment enterprises, an income tax subtraction modification for income derived from artistic work sold by qualify residing artists, an exemption from admission and amusement tax levied by an Arts and Entertainment enterprise or qualified residing artist within the district.  Arts and Entertainment will further the goals of Smart Growth by relocating within Priority Funding area and carefully coordinating with local plans and policies for economic development.

Commissioner Weldon asked if the entertainment tax could be abated (reduced rate) rather than a total exemption.  Joy said her understanding is that it would be an exemption within the district.  Greg agreed with this. 

Mayor Rippons asked if there were any questions from the audience.  Joy verbally outlined the proposed district.  The boundaries were established based on arts and enterprises located within that area including the Empowerment Center, the Dorchester County Arts Council, Sailwinds Park, and various enterprises such as that. 

Greg said the next step is to request a resolution from the City of Cambridge.  Based on receiving the application, they will submit the application to the State of Maryland.  It is due by October 1, 2002.  Joy said in addition to the support of the City of Cambridge, they need the support of Dorchester County.  Mayor Rippons said Jim Michael has been working on the application with the committee.  Commissioner Bohlen said the resolution would include the matter concerning the tax incentive.  Commissioner Weldon said during the meeting last week, a representative from Cumberland was present.  They have turned this program into quite a successful development project.  He would like to get some statistics from them in terms of what revenues they are seeing in return for the abatements and exemptions.  Joy said this might be a little difficult because they have just received their designation.  This is a very new program.  Maryland is the only state that is actually doing this designation.  There are entertainment districts in different states but the State of Maryland is the only State doing the designation as a State designation.  Commissioner Weldon said if we can't see hard facts from that, maybe we can get some information in terms of what their mean properties have done, etc. just so we have a handle that it can work here.   He is very interested in seeing it work.   Greg said in addition to that, they will supply the Council with tax abatement strategy suggestions and benefits.  Commissioner Weldon said he will continue to work with the committee on the project as much as possible and he appreciates the work they have done so far. 

Mayor Rippons asked if they had prototype abatement agreements for the other established districts.  Joy said they would get them for Council.  Because nobody else asked to speak, the public hearing was closed. 

A Proclamation to Celebrate the American Character-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation.  Mayor Rippons signed it.  Commissioner Weldon said he appreciates the proclamation and asked that Mayor Rippons present it to Chief Malik in recognition of the public service of the Police Department because that is certainly one of the issues as September 11th draws near.  George Ames, a volunteer for Character Counts!, was also present for the presentation.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Council to Vote on Community Legacy Grant Application Projects-Jim Michael outlined the projects that Council discussed last week:

  • The streetscape expansion would be a continuation of the $53,000 Cambridge received from the first phase of Streetscape. This would include new lights for the area of Poplar Street and Race Street to Muir Street. The approximate cost would be approximately $150,000 to $175,000.
  • The urban renewal project would incorporate the Schoolhouse Lane area to Cross and Bethel Streets including Streeters Pub. It would consist of acquisition and demolition. It would expand the current block grant proposal. He does not have a dollar amount yet.
  • The Downtown Commercial Grant Program would provide renovation funds to an amount not to exceed $20,000 per applicant to improve commercial space in downtown Cambridge. They are proposing $200,000 for this project.
  • The Arts and Entertainment and Main Street Economic Development Coordinator position would administer these two programs plus provide economic development support for the City plus provide allocation of funds for other projects. This would be approximately $50,000 per operating year with a potential of three years maximum.
  • A City Market Project would be a business incubator in the downtown area.

Jim Michael said he thinks it is wise for Council to prioritize the projects.  Commissioner Weldon asked if it were possible under the City Market Project, instead of a bricks and mortar capital expenditure, to apply for a planning amount to develop that into a full-fledged proposal.  Jim Michael said it is possible.

Jim Michael said since Cambridge already has been awarded a streetscape project, he would suggest this being the City's first priority.   Hopefully, the City's community development block grant will be approved shortly; therefore, he thinks the urban renewal project should come second.  The State is looking at on-going projects.  He would always put a position last.  Typically, he thinks planning grants are more palatable for awards because they are looking toward the future. 

Commissioner Weldon asked if it would be more appropriate to ask for the funding the administrative person once Cambridge has a solid Main Street proposal and the Arts and Entertainment District is adopted.  Jim said he thinks they should ask for it.  The worst-case scenario is that the State can say no.  Mayor Rippons said everything is explained in the narrative including successful and pending grants.  A staff person is very integral to these programs once they are approved. 

Mayor Rippons asked if Council or the audience had any comments, questions, or suggestions.  Hearing none, he called for a motion.   Commissioner Weldon made a motion that Council accept Jim Michael's recommendation and advance that in the form of an application.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS

Award Bid for Furnishing and Installing Playground Equipment at Cornish Park-David Pritchett reported that the low bidder was West Recreation, Inc.  They submitted two bids; however, their low bid did not meet specifications.  He recommends that the contract be awarded to West Recreation for their other bid.  Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to award the bid to West Recreation, Inc.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Award Bid for Furnishing and Installing a Pavilion at Cornish Park-David Pritchett said they were allowed only $50,000 in the grant.  Since they couldn't use the low bid for the playground, they are over by almost $3,000 to do the entire project.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to re-bid the pavilion.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Approve PO 02581 Funk & Bolton ($3,227.34)-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve PO 02581.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

Approve Financial Statement for July 2002-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the Financial Statement for July 2002.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to cancel the meeting next Monday, which is Labor Day.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Ed Kinnamon said the City received an offer to join other communities and businesses in commemorating September 11th by placing a display in the Star-Democrat.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to have Ed Kinnamon check with other communities and come up with an appropriate ad.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Chief Sewell Winterhawk Fitzhugh has requested a noise variance for the Native American Festival on September 14 and 15 at Sailwinds Park between the hours of 11:00 am and 7:00 pm.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to grant the variance.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Chief Sewell Winterhawk Fitzhugh is asking for a donation.  He recognized that the City gave the Powerboat Regatta $2500.  He is asking for a donation to help with the expenses of their 10th annual festival.  Commissioner Weldon asked that Council review this and discuss it further at the next scheduled meeting.

Commissioner Travers thanked David Pritchett for a job well done on Maryland Avenue in cleaning up all the grass on the street. 

Commissioner Atkinson made a motion that Council approve the job description of Planning and Zoning Coordinator which has been revised and make it effective today.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Commissioner Weldon said on September 20, which is the same day as the opening of the Dorchester Showcase on High Street, the Heritage Tourism Steering Committee is planning to celebrate our certification in the program.  Among the festivities that are proposed are: some historical figures will be walking the streets in costume; a reception that evening at the Visitor's Center for dignitaries and people who have been involved in this process; and to celebrate publicly, they are working on a proposal to offer a display of fireworks.  The budgeted amount they are looking at is $6,000 and they are looking to partner a majority of it from the private sector.  The Tourism Director is in Hurlock tonight asking them for a donation.  Commissioner Weldon asked Council to contribute $1,000 toward the fireworks.  It will be celebration of not only the Heritage Tourism Program but the emergence of the Hyatt and the overwhelming number of positive things that he has heard recently.  He made a motion to donate $1000.  Commissioner Watkins asked if it is in the budget.  He has no problem seconding the motion if money is available.  Mayor Rippons reminded Council they are operating the City at a deficit.  Commissioner Weldon said their goal is to leverage the entire amount from the private sector if they can.  Ed Kinnamon said it is not in the budget; however, there are areas they can pull it from for instance, economic development.  He will look at the budget and make a recommendation for the next meeting.

Commissioner Bohlen said as people may recall, he and Commissioner Travers went to Baltimore in June and looked at the Christmas light display at the Baltimore Zoo.  The City was presented with an opportunity to buy the display at a very reasonable cost.  Commissioner Bohlen made a motion that the City move ahead and sponsor the Christmas display.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  He feels they could raise at least 98 percent of this money from the outside.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Rob Collison reported that the Council met at 6:30 pm this evening in closed executive session to discuss several personnel matters. 

Rob Collison has been coordinating the public hearing for the rezoning of the property along Trenton Street and Cedar Street and Green Street for the Deep Harbour Project.  The earliest available date in order to comply with both the State and City Codes is September 16, 2002.  This is a scheduled work session; therefore, he is asking Council's permission to hold a regular session for a portion of that meeting.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to have a general meeting during the session on September 16, 2002.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Mayor Rippons reported that the Hyatt will be open to the public on August 29 at 3:00 pm for tours. 

Tom Collins, President of the Dorchester County Historical Society, said the Society is in the process of firming up their plans for their Fall Festival on September 14th.  They are asking permission to have a train ride during the festival to go from their property (904 LaGrange Avenue) to go down to the corner, turn left on Crusader Road, go down a block, right on Talisman, down a block, and come around the block on Smith Street.  The train is owned by one of their members and is fully insured.  The insurance of the Society would be above and beyond that.  They are planning the festival from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm.  They are asking for a permit to operate this train for children's rides from the hours of 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.  They will work out the logistics with the Police Department.  Chief Malik said he didn't see any problem with it.  Rob Collison and David Pritchett didn't see any problems with the train. Rob Collison said there would be no need to close off vehicular traffic.  Chief Malik said they will have sufficient personnel there to direct traffic.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to grant the Historical Society permission to use the said City streets to operate the train rides on September 14th.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:00 p.m.  I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, August 26, 2002, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer