City Council Minutes
April 16, 2001
The City Council met in regular session on April 16, 2001, 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.
Brenda Bramble led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Atkinson led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Rob Collison announced that Council met in Executive Session at 6:30 pm to discuss personnel matters. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the April 9, 2001 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Rippons read a proclamation recognizing April 2001 as Troy Brohawn Month in Cambridge, Maryland. Troy Brohawn, a Cambridge native, excelled in many sports while at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School and is now a Major League pitcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The proclamation was presented to his parents.
Discussion on Sailwinds Park-As a member of the Board of Directors of Sailwinds, Mayor Rippons excused himself in chairing this portion of the meeting. Commissioner Atkinson, as Chair, requested the citizens of Cambridge to comment on the City of Cambridge signing a lease for the operation (not purchase) of Sailwinds Park. A brief summary of their comments follows:
Phil Reed portrayed a vision of outdoor concerts, high school proms, sailboats and cruise ships in the background on the Choptank River, wedding receptions, sunsets, festivals, etc. He believes the drawing card is the location and that Governors Hall is going to become an entertainment hub of our community. He appreciates the Council's willingness to take over Sailwinds.
Kim Seward, Chairman of the Board of Bay Country Festival, Inc., gave a brief history of the Bay Country Festival. The yearly attendance is between 10,000 and 15,000 people and welcomes tourists as well as local residents. The Board would like to thank the Council for stepping forward and supporting Governors Hall and the festival grounds. They feel the hall and festival grounds should remain in its current location. Bands that travel the world comment on the beautiful location of the festival grounds on the Choptank River.
Rick Travers, who has been part of many activities at Sailwinds, spoke on the excellent job the Mayor and Commissioners have done in heading in the right direction with Sailwinds. He has heard many comments about the view from the grounds from visitors who contribute money back into the community. He feels there are other waterfront locations that a developer can utilize. If run properly, and with the right grants to work to enhance the facility on the property, Cambridge can have our own "civic center" with a view that cannot be found in Salisbury.
Sewell Fitzhugh, Chief of the Nause Waiwash Band of Indians, was asked to move their festival to Sailwinds. It has been a benefit to them and to the community. Most centers, like Sailwinds, throughout the country usually break even or lose money but the overall community benefits. He gave examples of tourists who visited the area and then bought property here. He stressed that Council take a serious look at Sailwinds for the benefit of future generations.
John Coleman agrees with what everyone else has already said. He would like conventions to be held in Cambridge rather than being bypassed for Ocean City.
Marjorie Hull, a member of the West End Citizens Association, has been involved with the Historic District tours originating at the Seafood Feast-I-Val, Dorchester Showcase, and Senior Celebration. It amazes her the number of people who have taken the tour and are in awe of what Cambridge has. It seems as though we are the best-kept secret of Maryland and Sailwinds Park is an anchor for growth for our City. The size and location are unique. Lack of air conditioning and kitchen facilities may have put some limits on the use of the building. She supports the City taking over the lease for that piece of property and the surrounding grounds. She cautions them not to remove such a facility.
Bruce McWilliams, Chairman of the Seafood Feast-I-Val, is 100 percent behind the City assuming responsibility of the Feast-I-Val. In a Baltimore Sun article last year, it was stated that Sailwinds was not necessarily an events-driven facility. He feels the only way Sailwinds will survive is by being an events-driven facility because without events, how would income come in? Wicomico Youth and Civic Center has just started making a profit after many years that they have been in existence. He is 100 percent behind the City taking over because of all the events that take place at Sailwinds that attract both local citizens and tourists.
Rob Collison stated that the City was under the belief that the issue of the lease had to be resolved before this coming Wednesday when it would be addressed by the Board of Public Works. The Board of Public Works will not address it until May 9, 2001. The City has until then to resolve any issues and make a decision on this matter. The City would accept the lease between Sailwinds and the Maryland Port Administration, which would run until July 2009. Negotiations have been going on and he feels the major issue, the termination provision, looks like it will be resolved. There most likely will not be an early termination provision unless the City agrees to it. Most of the comments tonight have been in favor of the City accepting the lease. The concern is keeping the present location. This will come up with regard to selecting a development plan for the site if there is one ever developed. Maryland Port Administration, in cooperation with Maryland Department of Transportation, is issuing a Request For Information (RFI) to see what type of ideas may come for the site. It appears very likely that the City, because it is moving forward in considering the assignment of the lease, will be a player at the table. The lease cannot be terminated and a developer allowed to go in without the City's consent.
Wini Roche-Smith, Director of Tourism for Dorchester County, is wholly supportive of the City taking over the lease for the port property and to continue the management of Governors Hall and the festival grounds. She would like to know why they are looking for new options for uses for the property. She feels the community is satisfied with the present use as an events venue, a community center, a concert pavilion, a tour hub, a total activity center, etc. to benefit both the community and visitors. Rob Collison responded that the State, as owner of the property, made the decision to issue the RFI and they have the ability to develop the property subject to the lease. As it stands now, legally, the Maryland Port Administration could go ahead and request RFI's, find a proposal that is acceptable to them and if Sailwinds, Inc. (the lessee) is willing to give up its lease, they could develop the property. The advantage the assignment would bring is that if there is an agreement entered between the Maryland Port Administration and the City, there cannot be a termination unless the City agrees to it. Therefore, there is some local control on any development occurring and the type of development that could occur.
Wini Roche-Smith would like the community to form a plan for what the community would like to see on that property and then ask the Port Administration to issue an RFI that suits our needs. She feels the Port Administration is very interested in what the community would like to see. She applauds the City for being pro-active. She would like to go back to the drawing board and look at all the uses and benefits and decide how the public investment put in Sailwinds Park over the years can be maximized for the whole Dorchester County community. The City and County have committed significant dollars to develop a Tourism Management Plan. Her message is planning and to get consensus from the community and to postpone the RFI process.
Calvin Travers, concerned citizen of Dorchester County congratulated the Council for the decisions they have made so far. He thinks the City and County should have taken on the project in combination. Sailwinds is a great asset to Cambridge and Dorchester County.
Susan Kunkel, a newcomer to the community, is excited on everything that is going on here and also confused. As a member of the West End Citizens, they are concerned with community development and keeping everything together so that everyone benefits. She would like to know the goals of the State for the Sailwinds property. Mayor Rippons responded that the State has agreed that before the Public Works meeting on May 9th, they will have a representative at a Council Meeting to go over the same issues. If it is a lengthy meeting, a second meeting will be held.
With no further questions or comments, Commissioner Atkinson turned the meeting over to Mayor Rippons. Mayor Rippons asked for any questions to be forwarded to his attention.
Request from Egide to hold picnic at Great Marsh on Friday, June 15th (10 am to 5 pm)-Rob Collison reviewed the standard Release, Indemnification and Hold Harmless Agreement used for large events. This will be forwarded to Egide. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to allow Egide to hold their picnic. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Continue Discussion on Employee Testing & Certification Fees-This discussion will be held next week to give the Department Heads time to compare policies and standardize them.
Continue Discussion on Planning Grant for Public Safety Building-The planning grant for the public safety building must be fully obligated by the end of this month. Jim Michael recommends allocating it to the appraisal and for a portion of the Police Department Facility Study, which would include the Washington Street site. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the recommendation of Jim Michael. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Proclamation for Fair Housing Month (April 2001)-The proclamation was read and signed, and will be forwarded to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for display in the Maryland HUD office.
Request from Dorchester Chamber of Commerce to Salute Pride of Baltimore II with Cannon Salute on April 17th from Great Marsh Park-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the salute. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve PO 1857 (Maryland Municipal League)-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to delay approval until some decisions are made. Commissioner Travers seconded it. During the discussion, Commissioner Weldon stated that to have the registration submitted in a timely manner, the City would pay for his children's events and he will reimburse the City. If that is satisfactory to Commissioner Atkinson, Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve PO 1671 (Atlantic Machinery, Inc.) for DPW-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Bohlen seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Phase I CSO/Paving and Curb Issues-The Department of Public Works had planned to completely re-pave Water Street and Mill Street. At the same time they were going to partially pave only the damaged sections of William Street and Vue de Leau. The construction has done a lot more damage than they had anticipated. They can't incorporate it into the actual contract with Bryan and Sons. DPW's paving schedule for this coming year requests paving those two streets. They would like to pave the streets simultaneously in July. This issue will be further discussed next week along with the issue of the curb and gutter on Mill Street.
The Garden Club is planning to completely redesign the Heron Garden at Long Wharf. They are asking the City for a financial contribution to cover the cost of a cobblestone walkway. This will be discussed next week.
Gerry Boyle asked permission to hold the MS Walk on Sunday. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the MS walk. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:10 p.m.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, April 16, 2001, insofar as I personally am aware.
Brenda Bramble, Financial Specialist for Ed Kinnamon, Clerk Treasurer