City Council Minutes
April 23, 2001
The City Council met in regular session on April 23, 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. Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Atkinson led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Rippons announced that Council met in Executive Session at 6:30 pm to discuss a personnel issue.
Recommendation to Award Contract No. 01-15/ Refuse Removal-The Department of Public Works received two bids for refuse removal at Long Wharf and the boat ramps. They recommend awarding the bid to the low bidder, BFI Waste Services, LLC for $6,195. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to award the contract to BFI. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discussion on Employee Testing & Certification Fees-David Pritchett provided written information on CDL testing fees. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to accept the recommendation of David Pritchett to pay for the $90 commercial drivers license fee. This is a one-time fee regardless of pass or fail and regardless of how many times the employee takes the test. Everyone who has taken the test so far has passed. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. Mayor Rippons added that other testing is also involved as it relates to the Planning & Zoning Department. Commissioner Atkinson's motion is for the City to reimburse fees after successful completion of the tests and CDL expenses. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Paving William and Vue de Leau Streets-David Pritchett reported that one thing that was not totally anticipated during the Sewer Separation Project was the damage due to the heavy trucks. There are areas along Mill Street that are getting paved in its entirety that have areas of deteriorating curbing and gutter pan. Vue de Leau and William Streets are due to be paved in the 2002 fiscal year. The sewer separation has accelerated the need to pave that street. Bryan and Sons has contracted to patch the strip they have to dig up. DPW would like to request of Council to simultaneously pave William and Vue de Leau Streets while they are paving Water Street (approximately July). Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the paving. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Mill Street Curb and Gutter Replacement-Mill Street is currently being worked on. The curb and gutter is approximately 60 to 70 years old. There are areas in the vicinity of 600 to 700 feet that DPW feels appropriate to replace at this time. Commissioner Weldon announced that this area includes the frontage of his home so he will excuse himself from this discussion and vote. Rob Collison said there has been some concerns raised as to who is responsible for the costs. The present policy of the City is that the adjoining property owner is responsible for 100% of the sidewalk repair and construction, and 50% of the curb cost. George Hyde reported that the contractor is responsible for any damage caused by them. The curbs and streets were videotaped before construction started. He feels the curb was failing before the contractor started. Commissioner Atkinson recommended the City paying half and letting the property owner pay the other half. Commissioner Bohlen would like the City Code to be changed to state that if the curb is damaged as a part of a City project, the City would replace it. Dave Pritchett reported that Water Street residents received new sidewalks because the grade was changed.
Commissioner Bohlen made a motion have Rob Collison prepare an ordinance to present to Council next week. Commissioner Watkins seconded it. Because this issue is broadly based across the City, Mayor Rippons stated that Commissioner Weldon is at liberty to vote on it. The motion passed 4 to1 with Commissioner Atkinson opposed.
Rob Collison stated that in regard to the 600 to 700 feet of curbing on Mill Street, if it is determined that the deterioration is not caused by the contractor's action but by decay, and the Council wishes to proceed with replacement, under the Charter, we need to know the exact cost the one half of the curbing for each property owner. They would need to be published in the newspaper. This would allow the property owners to appear before the vote is taken. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion that the Mill Street curb and gutter replacement be approved and to proceed with advertisement. This is in accordance with the City's current regulations of 50% of the cost to the City and 50% to the property owner. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discussion of Placement of Cobblestone Walkway in Heron Garden at Long Wharf-The Dorchester Garden Club is requesting assistance in redesigning the Heron Garden at Long Wharf. They are requesting the City install the "Cambridge Cobblestone" walkway to the garden that has been estimated at $3,475. Chris Wilke, President of the Garden Club, said they are spending $1,800 on other improvements (plants). Commissioner Weldon suggested the project be structured as a matching fund. Commissioner Atkinson asked them to come up with an additional $800 and suggested that the City would come up with $2,600. Commissioner Bohlen suggested requesting funds from Dorchester County. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to authorize 50% (up to $2,600) of the overall project pending matching monies from the Garden Club. Commissioner Atkinson seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Bill Watkins to Discuss ALS Funding with County-A Task Force, organized at the request of the County Commissioners, looked at ALS considerations within the County. The document they formulated mainly addresses revenue and funding streams. Under the proposed plan, the City of Cambridge EMS operationally would not change. Funding would go to the County and the County would disperse money to the City each month for all the calls they answer. The large write-off that the City currently has would not occur anymore. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve Dr. Alcorda's plan as outlined. Commissioner Atkinson seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Jeff Hurley (RFC), Bill Watkins (CEMS), and Chief Wroten (CPD) to Discuss the 911 System-The issue of communications was discussed at the Police Board meeting last month. Mayor Rippons asked the three Chiefs to speak to inform the citizens to understand what the function of 911 is and how it relates to safety considerations. Jeff Hurley reported an on-going problem with the County's radio communication system and 911 Center. A County-appointed Task Force consisting of several members from other counties is looking into problems at the Center. A 911 Advisory Board is made up from the same Advisory Board to the Dorchester County Fireman's Association. Several recommendations made in April of 1999 have not been addressed. These are: problems in receiving and transferring calls to the City Police; fire calls are being inappropriately or inadequately dispatched; dispatcher training; security at the 911 Center; and radio and pager systems not properly covering the City of Cambridge and surrounding areas. The biggest concern is that they are going to lose a firefighter, police officer, or EMS personnel because of inappropriate ability to communicate. When they are dispatched on a call, the Cambridge City Police are not being dispatched on every call. State law says two recorders are required for back up of the 911 tapes. It has been broken for several months and not been fixed. Chief Hurley urged the County Commissioners to work closely with the City Commissioners to rectify the situation or the City to move on and create their own dispatch radio system.
Bill Watkins agrees with Chief Hurley; it is an unsafe situation. As EMS Director, he listens to the ambulance and fire calls 24 hours a day/7days a week to protect his people to make sure they are being looked after properly in the field. He was personally dispatched to a murder scene at night with no police protection. When the County 911 Center was established, they were assured that they would have priority dispatching and qualified EMD personnel with medical and/or fire training. That is not the case today. There are continuous radio problems.
Chief Wroten has presented the Council with a query of the 911 calls not being transferred. Sergeant Martin Harring, Communications Supervisor for the Cambridge Police Department, reported that for the Year 2001, CPD has received 10,071 calls for service of which 367 were successful transfers from the 911 Center. They received 256 calls for service were received on their administrative lines from the 911 dispatchers, which were not calls for service. Chief Wroten reported that the service has improved in the last couple weeks. He feels it's a lack of communication more than anything else; nobody is talking to the users. The committee appointed by the County to look into the 911 system and give their recommendations is a giant step in the right direction. If the communications were beefed up with everyone sitting at the table, we could get a lot of issues off the table and give the service to the community that they deserve.
Dr. Tom Flowers, President of the Dorchester County Commissioners, is ashamed of what he has heard Mr. Hurley talk about tonight. He reported that they have had problems with lightening strikes and problems with various pieces of equipment but there are ulterior motives that are in the room. There were the same problems when 911 was in the City and that Chief Wroten told him personally that they had many problems with 911. Chief Wroten responded that the problems were not to this magnitude. The County has reams of quality assurance forms that are constantly filled-in where they have answered Chief Hurley, Chief Wroten, and Mr. Watkins. He feels the City isn't even giving them a chance and doesn't try to work with them. It is a new system with new equipment-some of which didn't work in the beginning. They have tried to work it out. Anytime anyone has a problem, send the papers and his people will answer them to the best of their knowledge. They have appointed a Task Force to get outsiders to evaluate the situation. The picture painted tonight is not fair, not reasonable, and unkind to a lot of people who are really trying to do their best. They do listen and they will listen.
Chief Wroten responded that he does not want the 911 Center back-he wants it to work for the people of Cambridge. Chief Hurley takes severe exception to what Dr. Flowers said. Commissioner Bohlen feels the people are not qualified to operate the system and the equipment is either not functioning or under repair or the people don't know how to operate it. Commissioner Weldon has personal knowledge of the incidences that have been reported.
Mayor Rippons asked the Chiefs to speak tonight because he feels that anytime there is a substandard for the City of Cambridge that the citizens should know about it. He is asking that the City appoint a Task Force to come up with our own recommendations or to formulate the questions that we need to have answered.
Discuss Contractual Consultant for Housing Demolition Process for Planning & Zoning-Jim Michael reported that in March the City advertised for a contractual consultant to supply cost estimates and expert testimony for the demolition process for deteriorated structures in the City. One proposal has been received. As a follow-up, he checked with two other inspection agencies and both were higher in price. The proposal is from General Maintenance Services and their price per unit is $250 plus $35 in ancillary costs if it involves court costs. This will support our current program for condemnation and demolition in the event we need to go to the Housing Board of Review and/or to court. A decision will be made next week.
Approve Financial Statement for March 2001-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the financial statement for March 2001. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for Cambridge EMS-Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to approve the budget amendment from CEMS. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for Planning & Zoning-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for DPW-Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Watkins seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Rob Collison reported they held a meeting on Thursday evening with the residents of Christ Rock with regard to the annexation of that area. The area cannot be annexed without 25 percent of the registered voters within the area requesting annexation. He suggests Council approve notifying the property owners that they would have until June 1, 2001 to contact the Department of Public Works or City Hall to sign the petition that they request annexation. This will get the process started. If the City receives 25 percent of the residents requesting annexation, they will have a public hearing and specify how and at what expenses the services would be extended to that area. Jim Michael will apply for grant funding to help defray the costs. If less than 25 percent of the voters support the annexation, the City cannot proceed. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion for Rob Collison to move ahead with this process. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Rippons announced that Cambridge's application for the Main Street Maryland Project was rejected at this time. Secretary Skinner of the Department of Housing and Community Development will send a letter indicating the process they went through and the next step for the City.
Two individuals who would like to donate benches to be placed at Long Wharf have contacted Commissioner Atkinson. He made a motion to accept the gift of two benches from the two gentlemen and to let Dave Pritchett order and install the benches. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Ed Kinnamon asked Council to approve a purchase order for $7500 for the fireworks display for this coming year. Commissioner Weldon made the motion to approve the deposit. Commissioner Bohlen seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
David Pritchett announced that the Coast Guard is planning to locate in Cambridge at Long Wharf. The City will have to upgrade the power and the water line. The Coast Guard will reimburse the City for these minor expenses. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to have Dave Pritchett proceed with the negotiations. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
David Pritchett requested a 15‑mile per hour speed limit be placed on Water, Vue de Leau and William Streets because of the dust from the construction. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to have the signs posted immediately. Commissioner Watkins seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Arlinda Cornish-Barnes, representing the Cambridge South Dorchester High School Gospel Choir, asked permission to have an "Outreach Gospel Jam" on Saturday, April 28, 2001 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. It will be held on Pine Street between Bethel Street and Cedar Street and they would like the street blocked off from 9:00 am to 4:00 p.m. They are also requesting a variance from the noise ordinance. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to allow the request. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:45 p.m.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, April 23, 2001, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer