City Council Minutes
July 2, 2001
The City Council met in regular session on July 2, 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. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the June 18, 2001 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Lexine Low Pomeroy to Discuss Dorchester Showcase-The Dorchester Arts Center is requesting permission to close High Street from Court Street to Long Wharf on September 23, 2001 between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. They also requested a noise variance from 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to grant these requests. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Dave Wooten of Mallard Bay Care Center to Request Use of Great Marsh Park on Saturday, August 18th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.-Mallard Bay is requesting permission to hold a picnic for their employees and their families. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to grant this request. Commissioner Bohlen seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
David Thompson to Request Use of Cornish Park on July 7th and 8th for a Basketball Tournament-The Tournament will begin at 7:00 a.m. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Duane Parker to Discuss Potential Development of the Property Know As "Cambridge Creek Property"-Mr. Parker was not present.
Representative from ARC to Request Permission to Discharge Firearms During 4th of July Boat Parade-ARC is requesting to discharge two Civil War cannons to salute the Nathan of Dorchester. One will be at Sailwinds Park; the other will be at Long Wharf. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to grant the request. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Decision on Proposed Slip Rates for Trenton Street Dock-David Pritchett reported that after doing a study of the area, the fees are in the low-middle range for the accommodations that are provided at Trenton Street. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the slip rates. Commissioner Bohlen seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Public Input on the Community Legacy Program-The State has introduced a $10 million funding package which differs from CDBG in that it is not as structured in how the funds may be used. The Community itself gets to decide on its needs. The application is due on July 24, 2001. Mayor Rippons asked for the citizens' input.
Gage Thomas, president of ARC, was introduced to the Community Legacy Program when he heard that the Main Street application was not accepted. He would like to apply for funding for a revitalization plan. The City needs to make a commitment to economic development. We need some incentives for existing businesses to improve their properties downtown; incentives to attractive large box stores to fill the now vacant stores; streetscape improvements must be stressed; strategic demolition is needed in addition to what the City has already done; the number of commercial vacancies downtown must be reduced; and finally, we need to work on marketing downtown Cambridge and having better signs.
Commissioner Weldon said that in addition to what Gage Thomas suggested, Mr. Steve DelSordo suggested money for planning to bring a comprehensive view of the downtown corridor and how it can work with the creek corridor. Commissioner Weldon envisions a circular route that includes downtown Race Street, Poplar Street, High Street, across the creek bridge, down Trenton Street and along the waterfront and taking Cedar Street as an entry corridor into the City from Route 50 to complete the loop.
Portia Johnson Ennels (700 Cornish Drive) asked the Council about the application review process. She would like to know how much of the information from the former CDBG grant is going to be used for the Community Legacy grant. Jim Michael responded that Community Legacy is broad-based and doesn't negate what has been submitted in the past. At this point, he is not sure which projects will be prioritized to be submitted for this round. Ms. Johnson Ennels wanted to know if the information gathered for the Main Street application would be used for this grant and if the entire City is a priority area. Mayor Rippons responded that every municipality in the State of Maryland meets the priority funding criteria. Every consideration in the City of Cambridge can be considered in the application. The City will accommodate any group that wishes to have a meeting on this application and the City will accept their input. Mayor Rippons is looking at an Economic Development/Tourism Specialist to address some of the issues about downtown but to tie into the entire package with box industries. The City is looking to make Sailwinds a facility that has more accessibility to the entire community. Additional monies may be requested for additional improvements to Governor's Hall.
Commissioner Weldon would like to build a stall market for Cambridge. This would be a business incubator and an economic development opportunity to redevelop property that is presently an eyesore on the east side of the Creek. It could be done very economically and would be a tremendous attraction.
Commissioner Bohlen said if the Pine Street Committee wants to submit a proposal related to the Empowerment Center, this would be something to look at under the education category.
In answer to a question from Portia Johnson Ennels, Mayor Rippons explained that the City does not technically have to supply funding for the projects. However, if there is local funding, it would show DHCD that the community supports the project.
Jim Michael received a proposal from the Harriet Tubman Organization. It does not have a dollar amount; it details certain areas with regard to their property on Race Street including renovation, equipment, an elevator, personnel, and development of tourist sites. Mayor Rippons asked for numerical figures and supporting documentation from any group suggesting proposals.
At a later time in the meeting, Commissioner Atkinson discussed his concern about the age of the water and sewer pipes underground. He would like to tie the Community Legacy Program into what the City is putting in financially for these systems. Some pipes are over 100 years old with holes in them. Approximately 18 percent of the water we pump cannot be billed because it runs out these holes.
Review Job Description for CEMS/RFC-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the job description. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from The Family Tabernacle of Faith (900 Pine Street) to Hold Church Bazaar on July 7th and 8th and Close Robbins St. Between Pine & Central Between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm on July 7th only. Amplified music from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on both days-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to grant the request and to grant the associated variance from the noise ordinance. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
David Pritchett reported that there have been several security issues at the Yacht Basin. Nine boats were broken into 2 weeks ago. Four individuals have been identified and charged in this incident. The area with repeat incidences is the main wall on the outside. This is in close proximity to the area where everyone fishes. The Department of Public Works has obtained chain-line fence for free and they would like to put it up on the outside wall. This would be locked; however, the boat owners would have the combination to the lock. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to allow this request. Commissioner Travers seconded it. Commissioner Weldon would like to see the gate locked only during the night. The motion was passed unanimously.
The Council received a letter from a downtown business saying that the Historic Preservation Commission is holding up another project. The project in question is Mr. Thomas' outdoor bar at Canvasback. Commissioner Weldon reported that the project was stopped because Mr. Thomas never filed for a building permit and Historic Preservation could not review it without a building permit application being submitted. Jim Michael reported that since then, Mr. Thomas has submitted a building permit application and there is a special HPC meeting on July 3rd to review it.
Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to meet in executive session immediately following the meeting for a legal issue. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Rob Collison reported that it was advertised in the newspaper that tonight was the first of two public comments sessions for the costs assessments for improvements to Mill, Vue de Leau, and William Streets. The addresses of the property, the linear footage that would be affected and whether it was curb cost (50% City - 50% Homeowner) or sidewalk cost which is totally the property owner's expense were listed in the paper. After the public comments, if the Council deems that such action is still warranted, they would impose the assessments on those properties.
Jack Rosemere (609 William Street) owns one of the properties proposed to be assessed for curbing. He asked about the criteria used to designate certain sections of curbing or sidewalks to be replaced. He can't tell the difference between some sections that have been sited and those that have not. David Pritchett reported that he and George Hyde did the assessment. Some areas were worse than others. They did their best to identify sections that were damaged-not due to construction, which is being handled in a different way. Mr. Rosemere said the section of curb that they are talking about along the side of his property was right next to where they trenched for the gas lines. There are new cracks along the curbing that wasn't there before. They could not have dug along his curb and not damaged it. He has pictures showing the backhoe that trenched for the gas lines with its leveling leg down on the concrete about every 4 or 5 feet along when it was trenching. The sidewalks are old but the leveling leg has compressed the sidewalks and what was previously hairline cracks are now big cracks. The sidewalks did not deteriorate like this until the digging started. He feels it is unfair of the City to expect a homeowner to bear the brunt of damage that was done during construction. Mayor Rippons asked David Pritchett to contact the gas company and discuss this with them. He met with Mr. Rosemere and as far as the areas that were assessed; there is some lineal footage that will be adjusted because they are construction related.
Mr. Rosemere would like to know what ordinance set forth that the property owners are responsible for the 50% of the curbing. Rob Collison said it is in the City Charter. Nel Rosemere said on February 22, 1999 the Council accepted the Section 303.3b stating it is the duty and obligation of the City to maintain the property of the City, which includes repair and maintenance of the curbs, gutters, and City streets. This was to clarify the Code. Rob Collison stated that this was in regard to land abutting the sidewalks and the maintenance of the sidewalks. The Charter would pre-empt the ordinances. Section 3-29 states that the Commissioners by ordinance shall provide for the maintaining, paving, and curbing. Subsection B states that up to one half of the cost may be assessed to the abutting property owners.
Commissioner Weldon questioned whether the ordinance Ms. Rosemere was referring to contained language limiting the ordinance to the Maryland Avenue corridor where the particular circumstance was in 1999. Rob Collision said it does not. Commissioner Weldon feels the ordinance supersedes the section of the Charter because the Charter says, "may assess", not shall. Rob Collison will review this further. Because of the age of the area (100 yrs.) Commissioner Weldon discussed the fact if some areas are replaced this year, others will have to be replaced next year. He doesn't have a problem sharing the expense. Basically there are 2 blocks affected. Why not replace all of it now with the expense being shared equally for the homeowner's percentage of the work. It will enhance the value of the homes. The sidewalks will still be the responsibility of the homeowners. This will set the precedent for the rest of the community as we go through the next 5 phases of the project. The gas company is responsible for the areas they destroyed.
Rob Collison said if this will be the course to be followed, DPW will then have to look at the costs and run the advertising again. David Pritchett said this would delay the project and the paving of the entire area approximately 4 months. When the project was started, there was no replacement of curbing and gutter. The funds were not available. It was not part of the engineering study.
Cathy Ridgley (122 Mill St.) feels that poor planning on someone's part should not become an emergency on the homeowners' part. Not everyone gets the Daily Banner. She feels they should have been notified in a different way such as by mail. Everyone in the neighborhood wants it to look nice. She feels like it should all be taken care of now. At the May 21st meeting it was stated that there wasn't enough time to go to bid on the work. She doesn't do business that way. She wants the best job for the best price so they don't have to carry the load for someone's poor planning. David Pritchett said this was not in the scope at all. Council asked DPW to look into the possibility of doing the curb and sidewalk while the other work was being done. They were looking at repaving what had been damaged by construction that was much more than they had expected. Where they thought they could trench, they ended up tearing up a whole street. Council agreed to simultaneously pave William Street and Vue de Leau at the same time they are doing Mill and Water Streets. As far as the bid process and doing an addendum to that, the City is into the project for 50% also. That is why they are very comfortable to do an addendum to the contract with Davis Concrete because they know it is as good a price as they are going to get. They have about 5 different contractors they use for curbing and gutter and a standard fee they set as the average. Davis Concrete's price quote was less than the average. It was well within the ballpark and on the lower-end scale of what it would cost in comparison to other contractor's prices.
Commissioner Weldon mentioned earlier discussions on other cities' policies of paying for the curb and gutter pan outright. This is a lot less cumbersome than deciding what section belongs to the homeowner. Rob Collison said it is a policy decision as to whether they wish to continue the policy as to the percentage divisions. The Council can consider that if it were something at the City's request, the City construction, etc. what costs would be borne as opposed to the ASOP.
Ms. Ridgley had a discussion with Commissioner Weldon about totally replacing all the sidewalks. They were under the impression that this was a City project and they would not be affected as homeowners at all. Now they are being notified that they have to replace their curb. The homeowners did not have notice of the fees until Friday when she personally took the newspaper to them.
Portia Johnson Ennels feels if the City has a project and the curb and gutter are damaged, it is the City's responsibility to repair them. After a few years, the City has it down to "the sidewalks belong to the homeowner, the curb and gutter are the City's, or either the company who is doing the work and did the damage".
David Pritchett said this was a sewer project; that's all it was. The only obligation was to re-pave the surface where they had to dig up the street. Because of the costs, the last thing on anyone's mind was revitalization of four more streets. The Contractor will fix for free what they tore up. If the City is going to fix areas that do not look good, they picked out the worst spots. Commissioner Weldon suggested that maybe they can get some Community Legacy money for revitalization. Mayor Rippons said that Community Legacy money must benefit the entire community.
David Pritchett said they could let the contractor fix what was damaged. If the City comes up with money (grants) and wants to comprehensively replace the curb and sidewalks, it can be done with very minimal increased cost due to the paving damage. Delaying the paving would be a nightmare. The flooding cannot be stopped until we finish what we have started.
Jack Helegson (7 Willis St.) said the City has done a great job. There is 100+ years worth of damage. It may be dusty but we are not polluting the Choptank River any more.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:50 p.m.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, July 2, 2001, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer