City Council Minutes
January 28, 2009
January 28, 2009
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, January 28, 2008 in 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 Knox, Sydnor, Cephas, Brooks, and Travers.
Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the January 14, 2008 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Herm Kramer to Give Report on Governor's Housing Conference-Herm Kramer reported that he and Portia Johnson-Ennels attended the conference representing the Housing Task Force. They met government representatives and discussed how other communities are handling their housing problems and opportunities. They received information regarding available funding. Cambridge is in a unique position because of the new housing developments to apply for funding because there is a great need to make more housing available to low- and moderate-income residents. The current State administration seems to be receptive to assisting a city or area in working with them to assist with funding, planning, and training to achieve these goals. Cambridge needs to take better advantage of this to help make Cambridge a better city for all residents. The quality of our overall housing reflects on all residents regardless of neighborhoods and where we live in the City.
Ann Strauss to Request City to Waive Docking Fees at Long Wharf for 1 Night for the Schooner Virginia (Non-Profit Educational Vessel)-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Rob Collison said the date is March 11, 2008. The motion passed unanimously.
William Jackson to Request Noise Variance and Police Security at Obama Rally at Sailwinds Park on February 10, 2008 From 3:00 pm Until 6:00 pm-William Jackson said the request for police security was a mistake. Mr. Obama will have his own security. The Eastern Shore counties are holding the rally at Sailwinds Park. They hope to bring in between 1 and 2 thousand people. They have not yet received direct information about Mr. Obama's appearance. They are asking for a noise variance in case Mr. Obama is able to attend the rally and they have to open the doors and proceed outside so everyone can hear his message. They are requesting the City's assistance with traffic control because of the number of people who will attend this affair. Commissioner Cephas asked about the length of time. He said when O'Malley came, it was longer than 3 hours. William Jackson said the time is approximate and they are hoping the City will bear with them. Senator Obama's campaign committee is not making any obligations past Super Tuesday. They will know more on February 5th or 6th. Any leeway on time would be greatly appreciated. Commissioner Cephas said he is looking at 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm based on past experiences. Chief Malik said they will be prepared for any traffic. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to grant a noise variance from approximately 2:00 pm until 7:00 pm. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Representatives from Main Street to Give Update on Status of 448 Race Street-Chad Malkus, President Elect of Cambridge Main Street, thanked everyone for participating in the session held earlier in the day. He thought it was a very productive session with various Secretaries from the different departments across the State. One of the most productive things that came out of the meeting was a discussion with the Secretary of DBED. They are prepared to commit funding for a marketing plan to work with Economic Development as well as Dorchester County Tourism to formulate a plan in conjunction with our downtown merchants to basically say that Cambridge is open for business. The plan will be going forward very soon. Main Street will probably be fronting some the money to cover it with reimbursement from the State at a later date. One of the things that was asked of him several different times is the situation with the street closures. If there is any way possible, they are asking if they can at least open the sidewalk along the side of the street that Orange Blossoms, Sports Society, Colortyme, and several other businesses are located. That would alleviate some of the strain. They are also asking that the parking lot next to Cambridge Grill be open. It is currently being used for through traffic. There can be parallel parking without too much impact.
As to the specifics of the Race Street property, he thinks the City had a very good update today. Commissioner Sydnor asked when they will have the structural engineer's report. Brett Summers said he will be meeting with the structural engineer tomorrow around noon with Steve Johnson and another gentleman who has experience in bracing façades. At that time, they will have preliminary drawings and a preliminary report. They want Steve Johnson's input on it before they finalize the drawings for a permit. They hope to have the drawings for a permit on Wednesday. Commissioner Cephas asked if they have a timetable for shoring up the front part of the façade so Race Street could be opened. Brett Summers said as part of the agreement they are negotiating with the City, they are agreeing to get the facades permanently braced by February 15th. At that time they will open up the street. They are looking to get the permit this week so they can start the bracing after they submit the drawings. They have identified a company, Shamrock Millworks, who has experience in doing this type of bracing. He is prepared to start immediately under a time and materials type contract. He would like to see the bracing done and the street opened as soon as possible. He has never done bracing for a façade and does not how long it would take to do it. Hopefully it is not too long. Commissioner Sydnor asked if someone could explain the concern with the security that we have there. He asked why they have to be there 24 hours a day. Steve Johnson said there are 3 components to provide for public safety in this situation. One component is the fencing; the second is the concrete barrier; and the third is bracing the façade against collapse. Only two components are in place. Until the third is in place, the sidewalk cannot be open. Depending on how the third is put into place, DPW will determine when the street can be open. Commissioner Sydnor said with the costs being incurred for the security, the City will eventually have to appropriate some funds to our police department. He asked if the City can recoup these funds. Rob Collison said the City has put it in terms of any agreements that we have consented. We put in on the records Friday during the court hearing that it be a term in the court's orders. After the TRO is lifted, he doesn't know the answer. It is running about $13,000 a week. The TRO expires 1 week from today. They are planning to put it in the agreement for the suspension of the EDO, putting it on the property owner as it currently is in the court order. That would take them through February 15th. He does not know is there is some less-expensive route. If the sidewalk can be blocked similar to the fence with just an officer visiting there once in a while as opposed to 2 officers sitting there full time, 24/7, then that is something they might want to talk to Chief Malik about after tonight's meeting. Steve Johnson said until the façade is braced, they need police security. Façade bracing removes the requirement for police security. Public safety is the paramount issue. Commissioner Sydnor asked when the City will enter into the agreement with those parties. Rob Collison said he has a meeting tomorrow with Mr. Summers' attorney. After that meeting, there will probably be some revisions to it and then it will be presented to the Mayor to disseminate to Council. Mayor Rippons said they are working with the State agencies to outline the additional costs to them, not only as it relates to security, but other costs.
Commissioner Sydnor said there were some costs that came up today that really surprised him. He asked Chief Hurley if the City was going to have to incur them. He is concerned with a $96,000 cost for the ladder. Chief Hurly said it was estimated that there was $65,000 damage to the aerial truck. It is still in service for any operations. There was smoke, heat, and water damage to the front of the truck. The City has insurance on it. Mr. Wheeler was notified the day after the fire for the adjustor to go over it. They have made some emergency repairs to lines, etc. so it could go back into operation the next morning. Except for the $1,000 deductible on the insurance policy for the City, it should be covered by insurance. He does not know who they will seek reimbursement from. Rescue Fire Company carries an insurance policy with a $250 deductible on the small equipment that was damaged. The majority of it should be picked up. The ladder truck that was at the back of the structure got a lot of smoke damage and it also sucked some hot embers down the air-intake and burnt the air cleaner up on it which did some damage to the engine. They have insurance also and it has already been looked at. He does not know what their deductible is and what damages they will be seeking. Out-of-pocket, we should have around $1250 between the City's deductible and RFC's deductible. They do not have insurance on some of the small items. They had to pay additional for that. He has money in his budget to cover those items. That is why the fire company does not spend the money in their budget until the last few months of the year. They try to get through their worst fire season. You never can tell when something like this will happen.
Commissioner Sydnor said Ed Kinnamon gave them a total of approximately $121,000. He asked if this included the fire truck. Ed Kinnamon said it included Cambridge's fire truck. Mayor Rippons said the other items were security, EMS, DPW expenses, etc.
Commissioner Cephas said he visited the site this afternoon and then visited some merchants. The merchants expressed a concern that they are actually loosing funds as a result of the street being closed. He understands there have been donations given to somebody. He asked if the merchants could receive some type of assistance. Chad Malkus said Main Street has collected at least $2500 into their fire restoration fund. There is a committee that is being established that will be made up of several business owners who were not directly impacted by the fire, members of the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street, and a few other people. They will formulate a system for distribution of the funds. He discussed this in some of the conversations he had with several of the Secretaries today. He asked if the lot near Cambridge Grill could be opened up. Steve Johnson said he will talk to Chief Malik about it and then contact Chad Malkus.
Jamie Monroe of Orange Blossom Flower Shop said she understands the City has a really hard task ahead of them but they are talking about shoring up the façades by February 15th. Her biggest day is February 14th. If the street is not open, she is going to lose 85% of her business. Customers leave because there is no parking. Chad Malkus said everyone is working as fast as they can in a very difficult situation. They have all tried to balance out a very difficult situation. He doesn't think it will be in anybody's best interest if we have a big gaping whole sitting there. Short-term it is very painful and it hurts a lot of people. From Main Street's perspective, they have been doing everything they possible can to get funds to try to address all the concerns. If the lot near Cambridge Grill is opened, that will alleviate some of the parking problems. Brett Summers said if the agreement is signed, and if there is any way possible they can open the sidewalk along the west side of the street using another layer of barricades along the fence, that is something he would be willing to do. From Main Street's prospective and in the conversations they had with many of the Secretaries, they think there are a lot of different funding sources available so it would not be a cost to the City. Obviously it is a difficult situation but if we can all take a deep breath over the next few weeks, be as patient as possible, and try to patronize those businesses, then he thinks we will all come out of this much better for it.
Rob Collison said they are in a bit of an information void until they see the engineers' plans and what the time schedule is, but Council may wish to have a formal work session next Monday or some time after today's date. If not, maybe he, Steve Johnson, and Chief Malik could meet with some of the business owners because there are so many affected. They could then present their time schedule. Mayor Rippons said he thinks they want to know as soon as possible and asked if there is a convenient night for the store owners. The owner of the Cambridge Grill said they can meet at the Grill any night. Rob Collison said the City will arrange it, give the information to Main Street, post it at the Cambridge Grill, and give the information to the radio. They will schedule it for Thursday or Friday.
Enez Grubb said it needs to be done as soon as possible. We are talking about livelihoods. It needs to be done prior to February 15th or there will be another gaping whole with another empty store.
Commissioner Sydnor said if they made the traffic going through the lot next to Cambridge Grill one-way traffic, they may be able to allow parking along Race Street on both sides up to the barricade. Chad Malkus agreed. He thinks the City has done an excellent job in addressing public safety concerns.
Brett Summers said he shares the concerns because he has buildings downtown. He will eventually be paying for the fencing and concrete barriers that are in place. Just looking at it, if you add another layer of concrete barriers to what is there now, there should not be any reason why you cannot open the sidewalk. Steve Johnson said you must have the bracing in place. Mayor Rippons said this can be discussed further at the meeting tomorrow.
Revisit Compensation to City Board Members-Commissioner Sydnor said at the last meeting Council agreed that the committee members would be paid $50 per month. Looking back, we are currently paying the Planning and Zoning Commission $50 for each meeting. To be consistent with that, he made a motion that Council pay the committee members $50 per meeting. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Steve Johnson said it was formerly $50 per meeting. On November 19th Council decided that it would be better to pay $50 per month. That is why in the recent proposal that he and Rob Collison put together for Council, they recommended $50 per month. Predominantly Planning and Zoning was the only committee that was getting paid for meetings and meeting twice a month. He then raised the question as to what Council really wanted to do because the Housing Board of Review was not getting compensation and there was some discussion about exactly what constituted a meeting. Council decided it should only be regular public meetings. At the end of that meeting, it was mentioned that it really should be 1 payment per month provided that there was at least 1 qualifying meeting that month. That was then put into the proposal that he and Rob Collison drafted.
Commissioner Cephas said he assumes the reason the question came up is because of what happens at Planning and Zoning. It should be consistent. Commissioner Sydnor said when he talked to Steve Johnson that discussion came up. They concluded that it would be once a month. When he talked to Ed Kinnamon to find some research on it from the meeting, they were not able to find it. In talking to some of the previous Commissioners, it was their intent to do it for $50 per meeting. That is consistent with what the City was doing with Planning and Zoning. This is why he is making the correction to rectify the situation.
Commissioner Cephas asked who schedules the appointments when an appeal has been filed. Steve Johnson said DPW schedules the meetings. They have a regular meeting night. In January there was no need for a meeting. He is not sure if there is a need for a meeting in February. Commissioner Cephas said if there is not a meeting in January or February, then there would not be any compensation. Commissioner Sydnor said they should keep in mind that at the beginning of the fiscal year, Council approved an increase in many of the permit fees that would cover this situation. The appeal fee was increased from $35 to $200. Many of the other permit fees were increased also so that would cover the compensation fees paid to these committee members. Commissioner Knox reminded Council that if the members do not attend the meetings, they do not get paid.
Will Hunt said he used to do the billing for the committees. At one time the committee members were not paid. The Historic Preservation Commission unanimously voluntarily gave up any compensation. He thinks they should be thanked for that. They do it out of the goodness of their heart as part of their civic duty. When committee members were not paid, there was an attendance issue. It was suggested that paying the members would encourage them to attend the meetings. This worked. A lot more meetings took place because of the number of new buildings being constructed. He agrees with Mr. Johnson that they should be paid once a month.
The motion to pay the committee members $50 per meeting passed unanimously.
Approve Contract for Sale of MUC Building-Rob Collison asked that this item be deferred to DPW for an opinion regarding parking lot access.
Discuss Phone System for Academy Street Building-Ed Kinnamon said the question raised at the last meeting concerned the source of money for this project. It was discussed that the proceeds could come from the sale of the MUC building; however, the sale could fall through. He spoke to Gary Newcomb and he said his department could initially pay for the phone system. He would like to have the funds reimbursed when the building was sold. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to proceed with the phone system for the Academy Street building allowing MUC to upfront the funds for it. Upon the sale of the MUC building, the City would reimburse the MUC account. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Discuss Lockers for CEMS and RFC in the Public Safety Building-Ed Kinnamon said he presented Council with written information at the last meeting. Council asked for additional information. Commissioner Sydnor asked if the funds would be coming from an existing account or if there would have to be an appropriation for this. Chief Jeff Hurley when they were working on the design of the building, Ed Kinnamon appropriated monies. The plans were then revisited for some value reductions for different furnishings and equipment for the building. This item is within that budgeted amount for the furnishings and finishing the building. Commissioner Knox said it is his understanding that we have wall lockers for EMS that are located in the hall. Chief Hurley said apparently EMS does not have any lockers. Because they did not have any personnel lockers in there, they were assigned 10 lockers from RFC. Then they put in portable storage cabinets next to their ambulances to store their daily supplies for each ambulance. The bunkroom was originally designed for 50 bunks. When they were looking at value cutback, they combined the bunkrooms and decided on 26 bunks. Between the bunks there will be a table to be shared by 2 beds. On the other side of the beds there would have to be lockers or racks to hang uniforms, store changes of clothes, and store pillows and sheets for the beds. It was brought to their attention that there is an industrial-type unit that can be built. It is about $250 cheaper than buying the cheapest thing you could find as far as furnishings. It has a longer life expectancy. To conserve money, that was their recommendation. There is a local vendor. Instead of have 25 units, they decided on 12 units. Eventually it will be 1 unit for every 4 positions because it will be a stacked bunk arrangement. Commissioner Knox asked how often Chief Hurley thinks these lockers will be used by RFC. He asked if RFC members stayed in the building 24/7. Chief Hurley said currently they cannot because they do not have any bunks. There are only 4 temporary beds because the beds will not be delivered until Wednesday. He said there are duty crews who want to stay there. Each engine will be assigned a duty crew per night and they will already be at the station. There will be no charge except for them staying there. Commissioner Cephas said with the rash of fires we have been having lately and the work that RFC and CEMS have been doing, he thinks we should make it as comfortable as possible for them. If guys want to spend the night there in case there is a fire, he thinks we should make it available to them. He applauds them for coming up with a solution to make the cost cheaper. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor said their concern was whether the money was already appropriated. The question has been answered that it has been appropriated. The motion passed unanimously.
Ed Kinnamon said as a volunteer fireman for many years, there were times they would stay all night in the Gay Street building. They would stay in a chair or on a sofa. He has even slept on the back of a hose bed during a disaster such as a hurricane. It happens occasionally. With what can be available at the new station, this would be a definite plus. He is glad they have chosen to do it.
Discuss Slip Fee Payment Schedule for Marina-Ed Kinnamon said at the last Council meeting it was brought to his attention that there was a provision in the City Code where the City could accept semiannual billing. He was not familiar with it. Due to the circumstances that we are under currently regarding the wave action problem, the depths issues, and obstructions, he would recommend that if it would assist, he would request that Council at least honor that under the following conditions: Allow the City to still receive the total revenue. The first payment would be due this week and the second payment would be due no later than June 1st. That would allow the City to receive its projected revenue for the year to take care of its debt and other services that we have budgeted. Until these issues are handled and corrected, he would recommend that the City follow through with this. Once these issues are corrected, he would recommend going back to annual billing. Commissioner Sydnor said it is an enterprise fund which has to be self-sufficient. Ed Kinnamon said it has to be revenue neutral. Commissioner Sydnor said if we make any changes and those funds are not in the 2008 timeframe, then we will really affect that budget. Ed Kinnamon said it will affect our cash flow and then he will have to start borrowing money within our own funds which is not the best way to go. We need to collect these revenues to take care of our obligations. Commissioner Sydnor asked if after this year's budget we could look at some type of rebate if we find that we have funds that we did not need. Ed Kinnamon said it is possible. Our budget was so tight this year that we would have to have 100% of the slips rented. They are not all rented so that would cause a negativity. He expects to be in the red to some degree. The debt service will be in place for at least 25 years. Commissioner Sydnor asked about the billing. Ed Kinnamon said the annual bills have been sent out for this year. They are due the 31st of this Monday which is Thursday. Council could allow that one-half of it be due at this time. The rest of it would be due no later than June 1st. We would probably send out another billing on May 1st. Commissioner Cephas asked about the transient renters. Ed Kinnamon said they are speaking about annual renters. Commissioner Sydnor said there is a 10% discount for City residents. Ed Kinnamon said it is a discount for Dorchester County residents [correction: should be Cambridge residents]. Commissioner Sydnor said there is also a 20% discount for watermen. That will stay in place.
Commissioner Knox made a motion to accept Mr. Kinnamon's recommendation on this matter. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. This will only be for this year. It will be revisited next year. The motion passed unanimously.
Larry Rossi said he thinks it is an equitable arrangement for this year. They are working with Steve Johnson to see how the activity is going to proceed as far as the necessary dredging and sea-wall barriers and the wave action. At the moment, this will give some relief to some people who were surprised by the rate increase. He appreciates the help. Ed Kinnamon said part of the reason that there was such a large increase is because Cambridge has not kept up with local marinas. We are now in line with the area we are in. Since we had not increased the slip rents each year, when we determined what is required, there was a large increase.
Ed Kinnamon said there was some discussion on how to handle transient boaters. Some boaters were talking about dropping their annual arrangement and start renting on a monthly basis. There was a separate fee for that. He said Steve Johnson suggested taking the annual rent and dividing it by 12 as the transient rate. Mayor Rippons said people could just pay for a few months and then leave. Ed Kinnamon said it would be more work for us as well. Commissioner Sydnor said the person would be giving up their right to that particular slip. Ed Kinnamon said they could possible lose access to a slip. If they pay annually, they would have their slip each year. Steve Johnson suggested 15% to cover administration. Commissioner Knox made a motion to set the transient rate at 1/12 of the slip rental rate plus 15% for administration. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Ed Kinnamon said that would be a monthly rate. If someone is coming in for a night or two, they charge by the footage.
Request from First Baptist Church to Use the Grassy Area At Long Wharf of the Sunday Nights of August (August 3, 10, 17, 24, 31) for Their Gospel Concerts from 5:00 pm Through 8:30 pm (Annual Event); Use of Electrical Outlets, Public Restrooms; and Permission to Place a 4' х 8' Plywood Sign at Long Wharf-Rob Collison said if the motion is approved, they need to apply for a sign permit. He thinks there is a temporary permitting process. Commissioner Knox said it will have to go through HPC also. Steve Johnson said if they come into DPW, he will make sure they go in the right direction and get the proper approvals. A 4' х 8' sign is allowed in the temporary sign ordinance. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to allow the request pending them obtaining the necessary permit from HPC. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Request from Tymeka Spicer to Use Great Marsh Park on Saturday, April 5th from 3:00 pm Until 4:30 pm for a Wedding-Commissioner Travers made a motion to grant the request. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Rob Collison suggested that a noise variance be included. Commissioner Knox said that last year they came up with the idea of coming up with some rules for the use of Great Marsh Park. He asked if this will be in place by then. Steve Johnson said they are working on it. The motion passed unanimously.
Order of Demolition of Building at 1014 Pine Street-Steve Johnson said this building needs emergency demolition. He would like permission to spend $4,000 to effect the demolition. The property owner is unable to do the demolition. He would like to use money from the demolition account to effect the demolition. He will then send the homeowner a bill. If they do not pay the bill, it will become a tax lien against the property. Commissioner Sydnor said the infractions against this property go back to 1997. Steve Johnson said the whole back end is off the house. It is in danger of collapsing. It has a twist to it. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the demolition order. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. Steve Johnson said what they meant to do was ask permission to spend the $4,000. The motion passed unanimously.
Discussing Changing Housing Task Force to a Committee-Commissioner Brooks asked Steve Johnson to lead this discussion. Steve Johnson said the Housing Task Force appears to have been established about 2 or 3 years ago as a Housing Rehab Task Force for a special occasion which he is not entirely familiar with. There was a study done and they talked about doing some rehab in the Second and Third Wards. The task force is still meeting. The question arises as to why it is a task force and not a committee, what is the difference, and would it be more effective as a committee. He would like to do more research. There are differences between what our existing committees do and what a task force might do. Our existing committees tend to rule on interpretation of City ordinances. An example would be the Planning and Zoning Commission. They will make an interpretation of a zoning ordinance and then make a recommendation to the Council. The Board of Zoning Appeals is actually a quasi-judicial body that makes a determination. The only appeal after that is going to the court system. The Housing Board of Review is also a quasi-judicial board. They make a determination and then the only appeal after that is the court system. One would want to look at the Task Force and decide if they have a very defined purpose and if so, what is that purpose or should it be a become a City committee similar to the others. They have been making recommendations on what should be done. An example would be tenant rights. He would like more time to evaluate this subject. Commissioner Brooks said this was an introduction so everyone can get an idea of where the Housing Task Force would like to proceed.
Commissioner Cephas said Mr. Kramer and Ms. Johnson-Ennels went to Baltimore to attend a conference. He asked if other areas in the State have committees that govern. Portia Johnson-Ennels said it is not that Mr. Johnson has misunderstood them, but the Housing Task Force was created because of existing housing problems that we were having within Cambridge. At the time the Department of Public Works did not have a Housing Department that was overseeing it. They were dealing mostly with new construction. The Housing Task Force was put together to look at existing construction and problems tenants were having with landlords. Landlords were skimming underneath the wire by just doing basic work to pass an inspection. A group of citizens felt that there was something they could each put forth to help the City. They attended meetings; invited speakers to give them information; passed out information to the community; and at the moment they are in the process of creating a rental handbook which the City does not have the time nor the staff to do the work. Actually they are a group of non-paid City employees that are doing work that the City doesn't have the people or the know-how to do. They are willing to do it for nothing. Normally, after a period of time, a task force becomes a committee. If the City decides it is something they do not want and they can take up the issues concerning the rights of the people who live here, they will have to make it their number one priority. One of the issues that brought them together was the lead issue. Nobody in the City knew about what was happening with the lead issue. The landlords that were repairing their properties knew about it. The City Council could not have answered one question. They did a lot of research to find out what was going on. They found out that people were illegally being evicted because landlords did not want to fix up their property. That is how they came about. From that, they have seen some cleaning up. Cambridge became part of a Federal program to help landlords with lead problems. The City Council is still eligible to carry on with that program without having a broker.
Commissioner Brooks said the Task Force was given a specific agenda item. At that particular time when they met, they dealt with that particular agenda item and came to resolution. They brought some things before the Council and Council voted on and passed some of the things that the task force brought before them. It has gone beyond the scope of a task force because they are no long dealing with that specific issue. They are much broader. They are dealing with a lot of broader topics that constitute a committee. It is no longer a task force. The task they were assigned is in the process of being completed which was with the lead abatement program. They have moved on to much bigger issues. It continues to grow every year. The have developed a mission statement as any committee would do and they are requesting that the Council turn this task force into a committee and at the present time, under the leadership of Portia Johnson-Ennels. Commissioner Brooks said she would be the liaison just like any other City committee.
James Chaney asked what the goals of the committee would be. Commissioner Brooks said the goals were vague. First, they are looking at developing some type of renters' handbook for tenants' rights. At the present time, there are no rights for the tenants whatsoever or there are more rights than what the tenants know. If they can develop a handbook they would not have these issues where the Commissioners get phone calls when a landlord has taken out a water meter from a house which is illegal or have gone into the house when the person was out shopping and changed the locks on the door which is also illegal. Then the police department or the sheriff's department has to get involved. Once they develop the tenants' handbook, which they will draw from HUD, it will become available for everyone. With a committee they will have officers elected. A lot of things will be in place. The City could take on the administrative costs such as printing, etc. They hope to do a lot of bigger and greater things. It is for existing housing-not the new housing. James Chaney asked what kind of authority the committee will have. Commissioner Brooks said that is what Mr. Johnson is going to research. It would have the same type of authority as any other committee in Cambridge. They can suggest that this is something they would like to do. The committee will bring their suggestions to Council and then Council will make a determination on it. They will not have any more authority than any other committee within the City. It would be a little more authority than they have now. It will not be task specific. Mr. Chaney said there are pamphlets on lead paint that by law the landlords have to hand out when they rent a house. It is mandatory by State law. Commissioner Brooks said it may be mandatory but a lot of things do not happen that are mandatory.
Approve PO 1088 - Mid-Atlantic Salt - Road Salt - $2,796.06-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve PO 1091 - Shore Striping - $4,299 - Painting Fire Lines at Public Safety Building-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Resolution for Severn Development Company to Apply to the Community Development Administration for a Loan Under the Low Income Housing Tax Credits-Mayor Rippons said the City received a letter from DHCD's Community Development Administration. The request did not come from the development company. He called Severn Development and told them that the City had some questions about what they were doing. They have not returned his call yet.
Commissioner Brooks said the Lednums would like to come before the City. On behalf of the City she expressed everyone's sincere condolence to them and their family on the loss of their son, David. Over the past week or more, they have listened to people talk about a great tragedy that occurred on Race Street. They were speaking about the building fire. An even greater tragedy occurred on Race Street within that same timeframe. The life of a 10-year-old was taken at a bus stop. While the façade is very important to the City of Cambridge, it can be rebuilt. Life can never be given back. She asked everyone to give the Lednums their undivided attention and put their heads together and as a community if they can work together and try to come up with some areas or ideas where we can help make the streets and bus stops safer for our children, we all will benefit in the end.
Leah Lednum said Commissioner Brooks really did a good job explaining what she wanted to say. She would like the City to put their heads together with transportation and setting up some designated safe bus stops for our children instead of them just standing on the corners waiting for buses. They should have shelters or specified areas where children in a multi-block radius have to meet where they are protected from the traffic on the street. She thought about the cement barricades but that might not be acceptable to do on every curb of the City. The stop signs sit back further then our children do to wait for the bus. She hopes they can put their head together to come up with something to make the streets safer for our children. Commissioner Brooks said she had talked to Chief Malik and has found that Race Street Extended is actually a State road. With it being a State road, the City does not have any power as to where the stop signs are placed, how far back the children can stand, putting up barriers, etc. It all falls between the State and the County. However, as a City Commissioner she would be more than willing to help give Mr. and Mrs. Lednum the right direction to head in to get some answers and to get some action done for what they want. She believes one of the first places will be with the School Board. She offered that they would help the Lednums and go to the meetings with them. She would hope that other citizens would be willing to go to the meeting also. The whole City should be grieving because it could be anybody's child tomorrow.
Mayor Rippons said Council had a work session scheduled for 6:15 pm regarding the sewer line maintenance from the Technology Park. Rob Collison said he and Ed Kinnamon attended a joint meeting with representatives from the County (Jane Baynard, Tom Merryweather, Brad Broadwell and his assistant). They also spoke with George Hyde and Bob Tenanty by telephone. The meeting was held to discuss some of the concerns Council had with the MOU that the County had prepared following the joint meeting in the fall regarding the maintenance obligations of the Jacktown pumping station which is the property of the Dorchester County Sanitary District. The meeting in the fall indicated that the County and City would split the cost of between $3,000 and $5,000 for MES to do routine maintenance and inspection of the pumping station. Nothing else was discussed about any type of maintenance fees by the users. The MOU that was sent to the City for final approval had another provision in addition to the $3,000 to $5,000 shared costs that each end user (customer) would pay an annual assessment of $200 per EDU per year for the operation and maintenance of the entire Sanitary District line that is being used. The Sanitary District is now willing to reduce or eliminate the $200 annual EDU charge for their maintenance. They said it was part of the reorganization agreements about 3 or 4 years ago when we had all of the Sanitary Districts begin paying the same rates. The City has a decision to make. They know the end users are going to be charged a $200 per EDU fee. If they still wish to have MES inspect and maintain that pumping station, then that $200 per user would be on top of the $3,000 to $5,000 that the City and County are sharing. The Sanitary District is obligated to maintain that system. The County said it was the City's request that MES provide those additional services. The choice would be not to require MES to maintain, inspect, and service it in which case they will save $3,000 to $5,000 and let the Sanitary District maintain it or have MES on top of the annual maintenance. The annual maintenance is not going to go away. The Sanitary District says they charge it to everyone else and they are going to charge it here. The City tried to get them to pro-rate it based upon what the cost of that Sanitary District's maintenance was vs. their entire system. They were not willing to entertain that.
Steve Johnson said our feeling is that the only way to ensure that the pump station gets the proper operation and periodic maintenance is if we use MES. The City is responsible and will be providing the sewer service to those customers. It just happens that it will go through that pumping station and then back into our system. Since we are responsible, we want to have control over what occurs. The only way we can do that is if MES is providing the operation and periodic maintenance for that pumping station just like they do for all of our pumping stations. Mayor Rippons asked what additional operation expense the Sanitary District would have. Steve Johnson said he is not really sure. Mayor Rippons asked how they could charge the City to provide a superior product and then charge us again if they are not going to have any maintenance. The Sanitary District would save money because they would no longer have to procure money to maintain that facility because the City would do it for them. Steve Johnson said, in theory, a portion of their pipes will receive flow from our customers. In theory, you could have an EDU charge but it would be far less than the $200 that they charge for everybody else. This is why George Hyde is suggesting that if they pro-rate it. They were supposed to provide him with information but they did not do it. Rob Collison said they agreed to make it uniform throughout the system. Rob Collison said there is a third option. We are on this at the County's request because they are about to lose some significant funding if something does not move forward. The City could allow the connection now and then when we complete the City's expansion of the line out to Bucktown, disconnect from their line and connect to our line. This will be done before you get an end user so there will not be a $200 EDU fee charge. The reason he does not think that was designed or planned was because of some other issues but he does not know how significant they are with regard to capacity. When we complete the expansion of the sewer along Route 50 into where the hotel was going to go, from Route 16 out to Bucktown, it will reach where this line is coming down. They could then disconnect and not tap into the Sanitary District station. It would only be temporary agreement. Mayor Rippons said there would not be a charge because we would not have any end users. It will also be written up that when we discontinue that service, we will no longer provide for the maintenance. Rob Collison said if they do it the way it is currently worded, the amount of gallons that is being used comes off of what is allocated to the Sanitary District. The City has allocated 'x' hundred thousand gallons per day to the Sanitary District which means we have less than that. If these Tech Park users use the Sanitary District's pumping station, it goes on their allocation-not what is left of the City's. He does not think that will be a problem. Steve Johnson said it would not be significant. Rob Collison said other than that, he does not think the City is aware of any other reason why it wasn't designed to be a temporary connection. Steve Johnson said it is a timing factor. It is a whole lot faster to do it this way and get things up and running. Ed Kinnamon said it allows them to continue on so they could get some funding for the Tech Park.
Ed Kinnamon said they discussed taking the word 'inspections' out. The document says that MES will provide operational on maintenance inspection services. It should read "MES will provide operational and preventative maintenance services for the pumping station.". To be added to that "...without any cost to the Sanitary District unless approved by the Sanitary District." He thinks their intent was capital costs such as a major breakdown. Steve Johnson said that would be consistent with what we do in our own system. Ed Kinnamon said MES contacts Steve Johnson before anything like that is done. It would be the same rule. Rob Collison asked if it would be a moot point if we go the route we just suggested. He asked Steve Johnson if we could live without MES services if it takes 2 years to install our lines. Steve Johnson said he recommends against it. Rob Collison asked what the City would be gaining by spending the $3,000 to $5,000 on MES. It does not sound like the City is gaining anything. Mayor Rippons said the City will have a company that he knows from that point forward it is done to the standards that are commiserate with our Engineering Department. Rob Collison said it sounds like if they say they recommend a new pump, the Sanitary District can refuse. Steve Johnson said that is absolutely true. The same thing happens here. If MES recommends a new pump, the City can say yes or no. We usually go with them because we want to ensure a certain level of service. Because the Sanitary District will own that pump station, they will get to make the decision. Unfortunately, that is part of the control we will not have. The control we will have is that we will ensure that the pump station is operating properly, and that it gets periodic maintenance. Steve Johnson said he does not like the language and prefers that it specifies 'capital' expenses. Rob Collison said they should also add that the agreement will only continue until such time as this tech line is incorporated into the City's system.
Commissioner Sydnor asked Rob Collison to meet with them so we will not get a different agreement than what we are discussing now. Rob Collison said the final will have these changes in it. Commissioner Knox said we have to consider that it is being used now and the big new hotel will be using it also. Mayor Rippons asked Steve Johnson if they sent the surcharge for the hotel yet. Steve Johnson said he doesn't know if it has been sent yet, but they have exchanged letters and received agreements. Mayor Rippons said he hasn't seen the check yet.
Commissioner Travers made a motion to direct Mr. Collison to enter into an agreement with the items specified earlier. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Rob Collison asked Council to adopt a resolution for the Cambridge Police Department. They have received a request to execute some documents related to the criminal justice information system. That system has adopted a new requirement that requires Council to provide them with some type of formal document that shows that the Chief of Police is authorized to sign that document. It states that the Cambridge Police Department is an executive department of the City of Cambridge and the Chief of Police is designated as the authorized individual to execute any and all documents from the Police Department including those related to the criminal justice information system and that the Deputy Chief of Police would be authorized to act on behalf of the Police Department in the absence of the Chief. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the resolution. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Rob Collison announced that the Council met in closed executive session at 6:00 pm for personnel and legal matters.
Commissioner Sydnor thanked the Department Heads for the logistics that they utilized in the fires and accident that we had in Cambridge. He asked them to relay to their subordinates that they did a wonderful job.
Mayor Rippons said there was a request from the Department of Public Works to approve a new job description for the Planning and Zoning Assistant and Grants Writer in Pay Grade 8. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Sydnor thanked Mr. Phillips for showing the public safety building to the Watkins Family. They were very impressed and very enthused with the building.
Commissioner Cephas thanked everyone for a good 2007 year. It was a busy year. Everyone was courteous to the City.
Commissioner Brooks said residents on North Drive have the same issue that a part of Race Street Extended had with buzzards. They have moved down there and there are many complaints about the children being afraid of them. It is loaded with buzzards. She knows the City made some suggestions to the residents on Race Street Extended and asked Ed Kinnamon and Steve Johnson to assist the residents on North Drive.
Commissioner Brooks asked about the RFP that was to go in the newspaper on the excess property on Goodwill Avenue. The understanding that the people from the audience had during the public hearing was that it would be in the newspaper within 20 days. We are now on Day 14. Rob Collison said he sent it to the paper today and gave Ed Kinnamon a copy so Kathy Foster could send them to the interested parties. There was another property on Wells Street that the Council found to be excess property. That one will be advertised also. Commissioner Brooks said she knows that one of the interested parties is willing to share the property with someone else. Their family is growing and they need to expand their home. Under of zoning laws, they are not able to expand because they need more property. Rob Collison said it is a basic RFP.
Commissioner Travers thanked Chief Hurley, Chief Malik and the Department of Public Works for the well done job that they did during and after the fire.
Ed Kinnamon said he provided information to Council about a new ambulance that was ordered in October 2006. It will be delivered this year. Since it was budgeted to procure a loan, he asked for permission to secure a loan at the lowest interest rate. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the request. Commission Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Ed Kinnamon said during the fire on January 15th, we had over 200 volunteer firemen assisting us. One fireman from the Madison Fire Company suffered a heart attack. He is now recuperating at home. His family and friends made a large card and asked that the Mayor and Council sign it. Anyone else who would like to sign it is welcome to do so.
Steve Johnson said now that Council has established their desire on payment for the committee members, and voted in November to pay the Housing Board of Review, he would like to know if Council wishes to pay them from September when they started meeting or as of November when the vote was taken. Commissioner Cephas said the motion did not say that payment would be retroactive. Commissioner Brooks said they will start this month. Steve Johnson said the vote was in November. Commissioner Cephas asked how much they would be paid. Steve Johnson said they have all been getting $50. Commissioner Brooks said Council has decided to pay Planning and Zoning and the Housing Board of Review. Back some time ago, she made a statement that we need training. If we are going to pay, she would like it to be mandatory that each board member receive some type of training so they can render effective decisions. It would be more so with Planning and Zoning. The Housing Board of Review may need some things but Planning and Zoning is very vital to the City and there are lots of training sessions that she feels they could attend and the City will benefit from it. Mayor Rippons asked Steve Johnson to look into it.
Chief Malik said he and Steve Johnson are going to look at access to Race Street tomorrow. If they make any changes, he will prepare news releases through the Police Department so the public will know what the changes are. They will be given to the two local newspapers and the radio station. Commissioner Brooks asked Chief Malik to notify her also because it is concerning traffic.
Chief Malik requested permission to go to bid for the annual fireworks. It is a budgeted item. Commissioner Knox made a motion to allow Chief Malik to go to bid for the fireworks display. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Chief Hurley thanked the Mayor and Commissioners for their continued support. They are working on statistics to give Council a final report on the downtown fire and the subsequent fires that week. We are in excess of 2000 hours that were volunteered to the City during the one event. The new station was a tremendously big help in getting our equipment back in service and getting it cleaned up. They also had help this past week from R. Brooks and Sons. They sent manpower over at their expense to help people clean the equipment. They did an excellent job. The Saturday after the heavy week, Easton sent a standby crew of 6 people and an engine to take the burden off our company for that night from 6:00 pm until 12:00 pm to standby to answer any alarms that we may have had so our people could have some time with their families and to themselves. During that time we had enough members that we had 3 engines totally covered with standby crews at the station. We were able to feed them in the kitchen and have a place where they could relax while they were standing by at the station. RFC helped Trappe during a big fire this past week. The support has not gone.
Chief Hurley said RFC has not seen anything from the County about the sewer line going to the Tech Park. They have not reviewed the waterline sizes and extensions to the park. They are working through the County Fire Chiefs' Association, but are going to need a little help from the City, so when the County has new buildings in RFC's fire protection area like the new hotel, they need to review the plans. They will require us to inspect the building along with the State Fire Marshal's Office before it is allowed to be occupied. It would help if that was brought to their attention upfront so there are not any surprises to them or to the builders. He said we need to work out something with the County's Planning and Zoning to send the plans to the Fire Department because we provide fire coverage in the County also. He thanked Council for all their support. Commissioner Knox said he will talk to Joy Loeffler who is the County's liaison to our Planning and Zoning and bring this to her attention.
Eric Queen a former resident of 120 Choptank Avenue Apartment 4 thanked the Fire Department and the Police Department. When he saw the rally on WBOC, he was very upset. It was a rally for the building. He asked about the fire victims. There has not been anything said about the fire victims in the fires. He is all for downtown. In 1997 he decorated vacant buildings when there wasn't anything downtown. His concern is for the victims of the fires. Mayor Rippons said during the rally there were contemplations given by the organizers that there were donation buckets for the victims of the fire and allocations to some of the businesses. The Chamber of Commerce is making efforts to help them also. Eric Queen said he is a victim of the Choptank Avenue fire that happened on January 18th. He is homeless now. Right now he is staying in the hotel. The Red Cross helped out for 3 days. Friends, family, and the community have been supportive but we need to think about individual people. Without people, the downtown is nothing. They should worry about the victims and the people that live in town because without the people, there is no town. Commissioner Brooks said he is 100% correct. We should be, and are concerned about victims of any type of tragedy that occurs within the City of Cambridge. However, the City did not put that rally together. Individuals of Main Street put it together. Eric Queen said they have to worry about the victims because they are Cambridge. It is not the buildings; it is the people.
James Cornish asked how long it will take to clean the mess up on Washington Street. It is a disgrace. Steve Johnson said the property is owned by Norris Taylor. He had a permit to do the demolition within 6 months. He stopped work in November. The City sent him a notice and he applied for a 6-month extension which was granted. If he does not complete the work within the extension time, the City will start fining him. It is a whole lot better to have him bear that expense than for it to fall to the City. They are trying to work with the owner to get it down as expeditiously as they can.
Portia Johnson-Ennels said there was a house that was demolished on High Street. Only part of it was removed. Steve Johnson said he will look at it. Portia Johnson-Ennels said it is in the 400 block.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned the meeting at 8:55 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, January 28, 2008, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon
Clerk & Treasurer