Mayor Margo G. Bailey called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Thomas A. Gross, Sr., Mabel Mumford-Pautz and J. Brian Kirby, Police Chief Wayne Bradley, W. S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, Joan Merryman, Stenographer, and guests.
Mayor Bailey asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the meeting of August 17, 1998. Mr. Gross moved that the minutes be accepted as presented, was seconded by Mrs. Mumford-Pautz and carried unanimously.
Mayor Bailey called on Chief Bradley for the police report, a copy of which is attached to these minutes. Chief Bradley gave the monthly report and the Hot Spot Patrol Statistics from September 1997 through August 1998. Following his report, Mayor Bailey asked if he could discuss what happened at 513 High Street on Friday. Chief Bradley said the Drug Task Force had a search warrant for that address and the search was successful. He said officers from the Town Police and Sheriff's Department were there and the paperwork was being done.
Mayor Bailey said Mr. Kirby brought up a question at the last meeting regarding the Town having unmarked police cars and cars without bar lights. She asked Chief Bradley to clarify that. Chief Bradley said the Town has one unmarked car which has lights inside and on the grill which may be turned on. He said they have a 1992 Ford which was now used by the Crossing Guard/Traffic Control Officer. He said the three patrol cars are fully marked and he installed all of the lights on the cars. He said they do not have the bar lights on the top and it would cost between $4,000 and $6,000 to replace the bar lights with new ones. He said the State Police was phasing out the exterior bar lights because of the cost. He said the light packages that were put on the cars cost $1695 and they are all interior lights and work effectively.
Mr. Kirby said that answered his question, but he felt some of the information was not entirely correct. He asked how many cars, including K-9 cars, the department has on the road without light bars. Chief Bradley said there are 5. Mr. Kirby said you can buy a reconditioned light bar for about $350 and he did not feel the Town Police was the same as the State Police because of the high speed driving they do. He said he did not feel the visibility factor was the same with the light bars and the interior lights and visibility was the main factor for the Town Police. He said he felt the light bars indicated to people when they were being stopped that it was a police car and that they should stop.
Chief Bradley said the change in the lights was for two reasons: 1) the cost factor and 2) the morale factor for the department as it had been a morale booster for the department. Mayor Bailey said she would defer to the Chief and the members of the police department to determine if this was an effective way to run the police department. Mrs. Mumford-Pautz said it was much easier to find a police car when you need one by seeing the light bar on the top, whether lighted or not.
Detective Richard Beck said that was an advantage he could see as an officer on the road, particularly in the 3rd Ward, was the stealth factor. He said obviously people know the cars are police cars because they are saying they do not have light bars. He said the complaints come in from the public that they see so much going on and they ask why can't the police see it. The stealth factor comes in when you can get close to what goes on and you can't do that in a marked car. He said when the police come in a marked car, they wave a red flag. He said removing the bar lights from the top of the car gives the officers an edge to see what the complaints are about. Chief Bradley asked if the Council would consider a compromise and they could put the bar lights on two cars and see what the difference was. Mr. Kirby said he made his point, and asked how the rest of the Council felt.
Mr. Gross said this was a small town and he was in favor of community policing and he felt the vehicles should be marked and personnel in those marked units should be in uniform. He said he was in favor of the light bars on the marked units. He said unmarked vehicles and people out of uniform should only work on CID or covert operations. Mrs. Mumford-Pautz said she agreed with Mr. Kirby that visibility was the factor and she felt the light bars provided that visibility. Mayor Bailey asked the Council if they wanted to try Chief Bradley's suggestion of putting the light bars on two cars. Mr. Gross said the Chief comes in every month for his report and he should have discussed the change in the lights if he felt it was needed. He said if the light bars had been working, he saw no reason why they should have been changed. Chief Bradley said he will do whatever the Council desires. Mayor Bailey asked if the Council wanted to act or wait until Mr. Bristoll's return from vacation. Mr. Kirby said it had been three weeks since he brought the point up and no one had answered the question. Chief Bradley said Mr. Bristoll had come to him to discuss this matter after the previous meeting. Mayor Bailey said at the previous meeting that it should wait for the meeting when Chief Bradley was present.
Mr. Kirby moved that all the cars be marked and all have light bars on the top and was seconded by Mr. Gross. The vote was three in favor, Mayor Bailey opposed.
The next item on the agenda was Richard Lindsay from the State Highway Administration. He was invited to attend to discuss several matters. Mayor Bailey said the first issue was the street markings on Philosopher's Terrace at the intersection of Rt. 213. She said the problem seems to be with left hand turns onto 213. Mr. Ingersoll said at one point the Town was told that there could not be two lanes approaching 213 as the road was not wide enough. He said after the street was repaved, the State said we could mark the street and put in the turn land. He said, however, that the electronic signalization for the intersection was set for one lane each way. He said the Town does not mark the intersections that adjoin a State highway. He said if the road was wide enough and it would be safe to have a turn lane, the Town needs the State Highway's help in designing and marking the road. Mr. Lindsay said he will get someone from the traffic department to meet with the Town officials and look at the intersection together.
Mayor Bailey the next issue was the intersection of Rt. 20 and 291. She asked Mrs. Mumford-Pautz to discuss those concerns. Mrs. Mumford-Pautz said the traffic load has greatly increased at the intersection because of the businesses and the apartments on Rt. 291. She said a traffic signal was needed to keep traffic moving. She said the other issue at that intersection was the need for street lighting because it was a dark at the intersection. Mr. Lindsay said the State had a proposal for the intersection and that was installation of a mini-roundabout. He explained how it would work and said that he would get an artist's concept to bring back to the Mayor and Council. He said when the Highway Administration has done these in other areas public hearings are held and informational meetings about how to drive on them are held. He said they would also meet with any adjacent property owners affected by the installation of the round-about before proceeding. Mayor Bailey asked the Council if they wanted Mr. Lindsay to take the next step and prepare drawings for the Town. Mrs. Mumford-Pautz moved that the Town authorize the State Highway Administration to move ahead with the next step on round-about for the intersection of Rt. 20 and 291, was seconded by Mr. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mr. Lindsay said that the Rt. 20 and 291 intersection meets the requirements for lighting and that a light would go there.
Mr. Gross asked about the speed limits on Rt. 213 north out past the shopping centers. He said the limit goes from 25 to 40 mph. He asked whether a study could be done to determine whether the speed could be lower in that area. Mr. Lindsay said that was the transition zone and it was studied a year or so ago at the request of the Church. He said if the Town would like a study done and it appears the need was there, they can justify altering the speed limits. Mrs. Mumford-Pautz said the other area where speed limits drop was on 291 coming toward 213. Mr. Lindsay said most Towns like their speeds at 25 and usually the speed limits drop from 40 to 30. He said the speed there goes from 30 to 40 to 45 then to 55. Mr. Kirby said he thought Mrs. Mumford-Pautz's point was that the signage there goes from 25 to 30. Mr. Lindsay said if the Town will write a letter including these requests, he will check on the inconsistencies in Town.
Mr. Gross asked what procedure the Rescue Squad would need to take to control the traffic signal at Rt. 213 and 291 to control the movement eastbound. He said he thought it was controlled by a key pad but they would need permission from the State Highway to access the controls. Mr. Lindsay asked that the Town letter include that request in their letter.
Mr. Lindsay said he knew that Chestertown was upset about the allocation of sidewalk funds for this year in Kent County. He said they were trying to be fair to all the communities in the county and he was optimistic that there will be some money for Chestertown. He asked that Chestertown let them know if there was an area where something needs to be done. He said he felt a lot of good things had been done in Chestertown in his three years here and he would like to continue. Mr. Ingersoll said at the present funding rate, other towns should be able to solve their sidewalk needs while Chestertown will still have large need for long stretches. He said the next area would be from Kent Crossing on Rt. 291 to the shopping center. Mr. Lindsay said he was working to get the money spent in other towns and if the needs of Chestertown are not being addressed, he wants to know and he has some other funding ideas. Mayor Bailey thanked Mr. Lindsay and said we will follow up with our written requests.
Mayor Bailey called on the Town Manager for his report. Mr. Ingersoll said that work on the Cannon Street parking lot was continuing. He said there will be some occasions when the lot will be closed so the contractor can patch the soft spots. He apologized for the short notice on the closing of the lot, but that was all the notice we had from the contractor. He said no meter tickets will be issued on the days when work is being done on the parking lot.
Mr. Ingersoll reported that the power boat races had gone well over the weekend and the noise level was much better than the power boats of 30 years ago. He said he had not received any complaints about the event. The street superintendent reported that there was no trash left, everything was cleaned up and it was an excellent group to work with.
Mr. Ingersoll announced that Art in the Park will be September 12; there will be a housing fair the same day; the following weekend will be the Candlelight Tour; and there are other functions during September. Mayor Bailey said this Saturday the Old Chestertown Neighborhood Association block party will be held at Garnett from noon to 3 p.m.
Mr. Ingersoll asked the Council whether they wish make a decision on the park project and authorize him to proceed with an appraisal. He said he would bring the appraisal to the Council to discuss before meeting with the Hospital Board. Mr. Kirby moved that the Town proceed with the park project and get an appraisal of the property, was seconded by Mrs. Mumford-Pautz and carried unanimously.
Mrs. Mumford-Pautz said people have been asking her about applying for apartments at the Gilman project. Mr. Ingersoll said he will ask the developer for advance application forms as soon as they are released so people can get them here.
Mrs. Mumford-Pautz also asked about the approvals for the building on our roads department yard on Cannon Street. Mr. Ingersoll said the Sultana group got all their approvals from the Town and Historic District Commission for their temporary workshop building.
Mr. Gross asked about the stop signs at the shopping center. Mr. Ingersoll said we have the signs and will install them and asking that Mr. Gross show him exactly where they are needed. He said they will also mark the College Heights alley for one-way traffic.
Mayor Bailey announced the opening of an exhibition at the Chestertown Bank Gallery on Thursday, September 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibition will be Scenes and Scents and will run until October 16, 1998.
Mayor Bailey read and signed a Proclamation declaring the week of September 17 - 23, 1998 as Constitution Week.
There being no further business, Mayor Bailey asked the Council to review the bills. Mrs. Mumford-Pautz moved that the bills be paid as presented, was seconded by Mr. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mr. Kirby moved that the meeting be adjourned at 8:55 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Gross and carried unanimously.
Margo G. Bailey