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City Council Minutes

May 3, 1999

May 3, 1999

Cambridge, Md.

The City Council met in regular session at 7:00 p.m. with Mayor David J. Wooten presiding.

Those Commissioners in attendance were: Commissioners Watkins, Rice, Saunders, Swafford and Vickers.

Mr. Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.

City Attorney Collison advised that at 6:00 p.m. this evening, Council met in closed Executive Session, pursuant to Section 10-508 of State Government Article, regarding the relocation of a new business to the City of Cambridge.

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the minutes of the April 26th City Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.


Major Michael Maloney came to the podium to seek Council's permission to move forward with the upgrade of the communications center at C.P.D. since the move of 911. The electronic aspect of the equipment is to be purchased from the County since it is not compatible with their system. Major Maloney stated that if they move forward with this, he would like it in writing that this equipment is Y2K compatible.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to request the City attorney to work out the particulars in an agreement with the overtime costs ($31,367.41) being an even trade for the console and that this equipment is compatible for Y2K; seconded by Commissioner Rice who stated that Council is referring to overtime that was owed to the City "at the time of the offer." Major Maloney said the overtime costs are for the months of August and September, 1998. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Rice stated that this equipment is so that the Police Department can be the 911 backup. He then said that "it's a shame you could have been the 911 center to begin with and saved the County taxpayers probably two million dollars."

Major Maloney said they have a proposal in writing that the console installation cost is $4,462. The proposal for the furniture, chairs and headsets is around $25,000. Once the installation is made and those charges are paid, then a request can be submitted to the State for reimbursement for $17,985.

Commissioner Saunders then made a motion that within the next two weeks of their regular meetings that Council will have a decision for the Police Department based on this conversion and this acceptance of this equipment. Commissioner Vickers asked if she could add "if the attorney could accomplish that by next Monday, we'll vote on it then." Commissioner Saunders then amended her motion which was seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Bob Vigorito came forward to advise that they will be holding this year's major triathlon sporting event on Sunday, June 6th. They are anticipating about 1,000 athletes this year from around the country including the Caribbean and parts of Europe. There are only fourteen races being conducted this year in the United States, and "Cambridge, Maryland is one of them."

Mr. Vigorito stated that he and his organization are appreciative of all the support and work being done to have this event. They will be utilizing Sailwinds Park and Great Marsh Park and they have been in contact will all the key agencies.

He mentioned the fact that last year he made a contribution of $250. towards the cost for the Emergency Medical Services for their help and he was hoping that Council would support the difference between his $250. and the total cost again this year.

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to that effect to support this event; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Hugh Spencer, Shore Health System's Chief Information officer, came forward to ease everyone's mind about the Y2K problem. They have been addressing this for the past two years at the hospital.

He then gave a presentation showing all of the facilities that are hooked into their computer system and he assured everyone that "on January 1, 2000 you will be able to walk into our hospitals or any of our off sites just as you would do today. There will be no computers down ... all of the clinical equipment will be up and running."

Mr. Spencer said his Department of Information Technology is developing a series of contingency plans for use if difficulties arise at the turn of the century. (i.e., if the elevator fails, if the telephone goes out, what they would do.)

Mayor Wooten then thanked him for his presentation.


Ms. Gail Skinner came forward and gave an up-date of last year's "Relay For Life". There were forty-two teams signed up and they raised over $86,000. This is a fund raising event for the American Cancer Society and teams of eight to twelve people make pledges to try to raise $100. per person and they also pledge to spend the night (or close to 24 hours) camping out at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School and walking relay style on the track. The event is planned this year for Friday, May 14th and Saturday, May 15th.

Another component of the event is a celebration of cancer survivorship whereby cancer survivors will start the actual relay taking the first lap wearing a red sash. Their names are announced as well as the date since their diagnosis. The last component is a luminary ceremony at dusk to honor people who have lost the battle with cancer and also to recognize those that are still fighting and winning the battle.

Since there will be bands and singing during the event, Ms. Skinner requested a variance to the noise ordinance. Commissioner Saunders made a motion that Council grant the variance to the noise ordinance for the twenty four hours of this very important ceremony; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Kinnamon then read aloud the prepared proclamation and Commissioner Watkins moved to authorize the Mayor to sign it; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Keith Henry was present to give Council a more defined proposal of a request he had made in March. Council had asked that he detail his request in writing and to supply photographs of what a dinghy rack actually looked like.

He asked for Council's approval to proceed with the planning of the dinghy rack and asked that the City consider paying for the cost of the materials and the current slipholders would provide the volunteer labor to construct the structure. The dinghy rack would be the possession of the City of Cambridge.

Commissioner Saunders said that she had some concerns that needed to be directed to the City attorney regarding liability. She then made a motion to table this until Council can get further advice from the City attorney; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Henry asked when this would be readdressed and Commissioner Saunders made another motion that Council would have an answer within five weeks from the date of this meeting; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Kinnamon read the proclamation aloud and Commissioner Watkins made a motion that the Mayor be authorized to sign the proclamation; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

The proclamation was then presented to Ms. Henrietta Dashields. On behalf of Mary Thorpe, County Director of Delmarva Community Services, the Mayor and Commissioners were invited to attend a luncheon on Wednesday, May 12th at their, building on Route 16 in celebration of Older Americans Month.


Ms. Ronnessa Stanley came to the podium on behalf of the Bomb Squad Marching Unit, a community organized drill and dance team. They took top honors in the Christmas parade here in Cambridge as well as in Caroline and Wicomico Counties. Originally they practiced with a boom box but they have since been able to purchase drums which are much louder.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion that beginning from the first week in May to the last week of August, from 5:15 p.m. until 7:15 p.m., Council will give a variance to the noise ordinance to allow these people to carry on their work. They will be practicing near the Community Center on Cosby Avenue. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.

Another motion was made by Commissioner Saunders to send a letter to the Cambridge Park East management so they can notify their tenants about the variance and also Cosby Avenue, Leonard Lane and Greenwood Avenue; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. She amended her motion to include that a letter be sent to Ms.' Sylvia Jones at the Cambridge Housing Authority also. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then asked if the marching unit would be willing to do something this Saturday at the Family and Youth Festival whereby Ms. Stanley agreed.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to accept the recommendation from the Department of Public Works that Contract #99-02 be awarded to Dorchester Service Associates; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Watkins feels the fact that one person could veto a change is not right. He would like it amended so that a majority of the people living on, or owning property on, a street could constitute a change.

Commissioner Watkins then made a motion to amend the proposal to say that 75% of the people could constitute a change; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Commissioner Vickers said he would vote against it because he still feels "you do not make changes in street names because when you do you change history." Commissioner Swafford feels there should be two separate sets of guidelines because, as Commissioner Rice brought out, there is commercial and residential. Motion was denied.

Commissioner Watkins then made a motion that further research be done on the proposal for street changes to include enough showing ownership as well as residents; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried 4 to 1 with Commissioner Vickers opposing.


Mr. Collison advised that there have not been any proposed changes to the guidelines and he will have the changes to the By-Laws and Rules of Procedure next week.

Commissioner Vickers made a motion that Council adopt the Historic Guidelines; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried 3 to 1 with Commissioner Swafford opposing and Commissioner Rice abstaining.

Mr. Collison said there is one other pending matter for which there is a public hearing on May 17th with regards to amending the existing proposal that created the commission to clarify the procedures for the commission making referrals of demolition by neglect to the City's Department of Public Works and/or Housing Department.


Gary Newcomb, Manager of M.U.C., came forward and advised Council that they have contracted someone to repaint the interior and exterior of the Fletcher Avenue water tank.

About two years ago, lighting had been installed on the tank and since that time, the name "Cambridge" has been illuminated during the evening hours. He thought that this would he a good time to possibly consider some changes to it to promote Cambridge such as a logo, a slogan with a motto, etc. Mr. Gage Thomas, representing A.R.C., and Mr. Newcomb have had several discussions over the past few years and he has offered to get involved with A.R.C. and have some community input on some possible designs. The final decision would come to Council for approval if they wish to proceed with the request.

Commissioner Saunders feels that if taxpayers money is being used for this, more than one group should be the coordinating factor to get input.

Mayor Wooten agreed with Commissioner Saunders but he feels A.R.C. deserves some gratitude and thanks for taking this initiative on. Commissioner Vickers stated that since the City already has a logo, maybe that should be considered to be put on the tank. Commissioner Rice agreed with Commissioner Vickers but he would like the community involved in getting a slogan of some sort as other towns have ... "the biggest little town on the Eastern Shore"..."a town so big it takes two states to hold it"...etc.

Commissioner Saunders then made a motion to setup a meeting as soon as possible with other organizations to sit down with Gage Thomas and A.R.C. as a committee and have some input; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Mayor Wooten stated his suggestion is, "Cambridge, prepared for progress." Motion carried unanimously. (Commissioner Vickers suggested, "Cambridge, it's all here.")


Ms. Evelyn Townsend stated that this celebration has been carried on by 205 cities for several years and the Harriet Tubman Organization would like to hold their's in Cambridge to not only celebrate freedom from slavery, but freedom from drugs, alcohol and whatever is negative. They would like complete community participation and invite all organizations who wish to participate to help them to gain their goal.

Commissioner Watkins moved to allow the Harriet Tubman Organization to use the Douglas Street Park on June 19th and June 20th between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. to put on a celebration of "June Teenth" holiday for freedom from slavery and other activities and that a noise ordinance variance be allowed during those periods of time; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Watkins made a second motion to allow them to have vendors to serve food; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders pointed out the fact that there is a "no parking" sign on one area of the fence and it will be enforced by the Police Department since it was put there for safety reasons.

Mayor Wooten then mentioned that Dr. McKelvey, who was at the podium with Ms. Townsend, is an accomplished author and he asked her to speak about some of her books. She said that she has written a historical book on the African-American history of Dorchester County covering the first one hundred years. It surprised her that the book is 734 pages long "and I only did the first one hundred years." She is also the author of "The Man With the Smile" about Morgan Dilver. Profit from this book is being used for a scholarship fund.

Commissioner Saunders stated that Dr. McKelvey is also the educational coordinator and planner for off-campus classes for Sojourner Douglas College of Dorchester County. It is an accredited college in the State of Maryland and Dr. McKelvey said that they are initiating a project called "grow your own teachers" to help our own County to get teachers to fill positions when a teacher leaves, especially elementary school teachers.

Mr. Armond Hayward just wanted to say there is going to be an exhibit in Washington of early photographs of the members who went to Liberia from Dorchester County. Most of the presidents of Liberia have been from the United States and the country was far more stable when they came from our descendents. He further stated that there is much history to be recognized from our area.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve all budgeted expenditures over $250; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Pritchett said the paving of Cedar and Academy Streets should be completed on Wednesday. The intersection will be shut down but it should be reopened by the end of the day.

The dockmaster's position has been filled and Chuck Anderson is on the job now.

Race Street from Robbins to Washington Street will be closed Monday, May 12th for a sewer repair. M.U.C. will also be doing some work in that area at the same time.


Commissioner Rice mentioned a request for a handicap parking spot at Wroten's Market and he made a motion to refer this to the Traffic and Safety Committee; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Saunders reminded everyone about the Senior Celebration on May 20th at Sailwinds Park from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Also, on May 8th from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. is the Fifth Annual Family and Youth Festival on Race Street from Muir Street to Craig's Drug Store. The Police Department's Color Guard will be opening the ceremony this year.

She-then reminded the Mayor and Council to have their nominees for the Millennium Commission by next Monday.


Commissioner Watkins said he will be out of town next weekend and will be unable to attend many scheduled activities.


Commissioner Vickers was very disappointed that Commissioner Watkins won't be at the Family and Youth Festival with his biscuits and pies.


Mr. Collison advised that there are several public hearings scheduled for May 17th ... two special use permits for day care centers (one at 417 Robbins Street and the other at 710 Meadow Avenue) and five public hearings on zoning amendments as follows:

1. Create specific criteria for seasonal or temporary development such as produce stands.

2. Granting an exemption to special use permits for bona fide restaurants for "on-premises sale" of alcohol.

3. Amendment to the Historic Preservation Commission on demolition by neglect.

4. The imposition of use permits requiring the obtaining of a use permit from DPW prior to the occupancy or use of land or property.

5. Reducing the period for discontinued use of a non-conforming building from two years to one year.


Mr. Paul Brooks came to the podium stating that he has a boat at Yacht Maintenance and there is a problem with seagulls and pigeons. He wanted permission to shoot a gas gun (one that is used to scare geese out of the fields).

Commissioner Saunders stated that one day this week, she received a phone call from a woman who, along with seven other women, thought Yacht Maintenance was shooting off a gas cannon and they could not comfortably sit on their porches from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. She stated she is not open to making any motion or voting for a noise variance.

It was agreed that this is a unique situation. Commissioner Saunders suggested that possibly a tarp could be put over the boat and Mr. Brooks said that this would not be convenient.

Gage Thomas suggested that chicken wire be put on the bottom side of the rafters to prevent the birds from getting up there.

With no further business, meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, May 3, 1999 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk-Treasurer