11 January 2016 | Approved: 8 February 2016
Mayor Joli McCathran called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:31 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Georgette Cole, Alison Faupel, Audrey Maskery and Bud O’Connor. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom and residents Charlie Challstrom, Marida Hines, Terry Johnson, Dennis Kane, Pat Klein, Joan Mahaffey and Alice Negin.
Approval of Agenda
The agenda was approved by general consensus. Closed Meeting Statement: Mayor McCathran read the following closed meeting statement: The 14 December 2015 meeting of the Town Council in the Council Room in McCathran Hall went to a closed session at 9:50 PM. The meeting was closed under General Provisions Article 3-305(b), (1) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom this public body has jurisdiction. Georgette Cole, Alison Faupel, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland and Bud O’Connor voted to close the meeting. The Mayor and Town Council (minus Greg Silber) attended the closed session. This was a discussion only. No action was taken. There was no recorded vote.
There were no public appearances.
Approval of Minutes
Georgette Cole moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on December 14, 2015. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Treasurers Report 2015-Decemberpdf
Bud O’Connor moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for December 2015. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom referenced her budget process handout. The budget work session is scheduled for March 21, 2016. Vote: 5-0. Georgette Cole moved to transfer $65,000 from savings to checking. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Woods Group Report
Joan Mahaffey presented two (2) handouts; information concerning how the group will spend their remaining balance of FY 2016 allotted funding and information concerning the cost of boundary markers for the West Woods. She announced March 12, 2016 as the next Woods Work Day. Mayor McCathran stated, for the record, how pleased she is with the Forest Stewardship Plan prepared by Bill Bonds from Parkton Woodland Services. The report is highly professional, well done and a very good five (5) year plan.
Affirming Washington Grove’s Tolerance for Differing Religions and Ethnicities and Expressing Support for Refugees
Mayor McCathran read an e-mail from Elizabeth McConnell (10 Maple Ave.) expressing her opposition to signing the Washington Grove’s Tolerance for Differing Religions and Ethnicities and Expressing Support for Refugees Contract for Compassion. She referenced other statements from residents and asked for discussion.
The Mayor and Council discussed
- Removing the word asylum from the proposed language.
- The goal of the proposed language: to go on record as a municipality from the State of Maryland which supports refugee assistance and does not support Governor Hogan’s stance.
- The vetting process for refugees from the country they are departing and when entering the United States.
- An interest in supporting religious freedom.
- Changes to the suggested text published in the January Town Bulletin by the Mayor
- Putting pressure on Saudi Arabia to open their borders.
- Symbolic support.
Mayor McCathran thanked everyone who came to discuss this issue. She suggested the residents spearheading this possible action return in February with language in the form of a resolution for consideration by the Town Council.
Speed Limit Sign
Bud O’Connor distributed a handout showing the cost of the electronic speed notice sign and accessories. He also explained the need to permanently install poles in the places where the electronic sign can be displayed. Bud consulted with Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts about the installation of the poles and concluded it could be done in-house. Treasurer Mary Challstrom stated this was a large purchase for a small municipality (approx. $4,600) and suggested the Town rent or borrow one from another municipality. Mayor McCathran asked for a motion to go through the rental process before buying a unit. There was no motion. There was a brief discussion about the need for additional 15 mph speed limit signs. Charlie Challstrom questioned the validity of the Town’s speed limit signs because he believes there were no traffic orders for enforcement for the speed limit signs. Mayor McCathran obtained the Traffic Orders file and confirmed traffic orders for all the speed limit signs were completed and copies sent to Montgomery County. This allows for enforcement of the speed limit signs in Washington Grove by Montgomery County Police. Additionally, Bud O’Connor volunteered to do a STOP sign inventory. He will ask Steve Werts for assistance.
Georgette Cole moved to approve the January 2016 Council Reports for posting on the Town website. John McClelland seconded the motion. There was a brief mention of an improvement in the driving habits of congregants who attend the Methodist Church. John McClelland brought his report about #8 The Circle to the Mayor and Council’s attention stating he hopes this can be discussed at the Joint Work Session on January 25, 2016. Vote: 5-0.
Bud O’Connor brought forth a proposal for Recreation Committee support for an adult exercise class in McCathran Hall. The classes will be 30 minutes of aerobics and 30 minutes of stretching. The cost is $40.00 per person for an 8 week session. Bud O’Connor moved to approve the adult exercise class. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Mayor McCathran ask about the status of the 2016 Summer in the Parks. Parent volunteers are being asked to volunteer as coordinators for this program. Comcast Franchise Agreement – update: John McClelland moved to introduce Ordinance 2016-02; Comcast Franchise Agreement. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Mayor McCathran reported a Memorandum of Understanding has yet to come from Montgomery County. There was a discussion about asking for the removal of excess telephone poles and wires. Bud O’Connor commented there were no real specifics about how things would look following cable installation. The Public Hearing was set for February 8, 2016 after the discussion with the Town attorney. February Meeting of the Town Council: Mayor McCathran reminded the Council of the change in the meeting time for February 8th. The meeting will start at 6:00PM instead of 7:30PM. The change is to accommodate Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson’s schedule.
Whetstone Spring: There is interest in restoring this area by replacing the spring cap stone. Additionally, downed wood needs to be removed. This would be a joint effort between the Forestry Committee and the Woods Group. There being no further new business, the meeting adjourned at 9:23 PM. John McClelland moved, Georgette Cole seconded the meeting be closed to the public in order to discuss personnel matters. Vote: 5-0. The Mayor and Council went into closed session at 9:25 p.m.
TC REPORTS – February 2016
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Georgette Cole
Archives: A conference call with Christian Skipper (MD State Archives) took place from 8:00-10:00 PM. The goal of this meeting was to gain additional information on questions regarding the Draft Records Management Plan and to establish an agenda in preparation of the joint TC/PC/HPC Work Session scheduled for Monday, January 25, 2016. Bob compiled a rough list of issues and questions that HPC members have regarding the use of the State Archives as the repository of the Town’s official records: Why transfer records What records are and are not appropriate to transfer How to transfer records Where and how are the records kept Who can do the work in preparing these records for the MSA When does this need to happen Bob sent the list to Mr. Skipper for his review prior to the January HPC meeting. This enabled Mr. Skipper to have time to prepare and comment on the issues set forth for discussion during the conference call. Members of the Computer Consulting Team, along with our Town Archivist, were also on hand to provide further information. At the work session on Monday, January 25th, arrangements will be made for a teleconference with Mr. Skipper, who will not be able to attend in person. An agenda for the joint meeting was discussed, as well. Topics for general discussion will include: Review history and background of the project – foundation of law Purpose of the Records Management Plan Simplify the list of issues prepared by the HPC to use as an agenda for the joint work session – all pertinent materials will be included in the group packet
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report.
MAPLE LAKE – Alison Faupel
Nothing to report
PLAYGROUNDS – Alison Faupel
Nothing to report
SAFETY – Alison Faupel
Nothing to report
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Forestry and Beautification: Pine tree fell on house at 317 Brown Street, no damage to house. The tree was removed by W Musser (tree contractor) plus adjacent pine that appeared to be in danger of falling due to root heave and water saturated ground. The next meeting of F&B will be at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, February 17 in the Council room. Woods Group: The January 4th meeting identified priority action items in Parkton Woodland Services Forest Stewardship Plan. Short term:
- West Woods cleanup is scheduled for March 12, with a rain date of March 13 or 19.
- Blow down areas in West/East woods require attention. Steve Werts has suggested cutting up and chipping up fallen trees for accelerated decomposition on forest floor. He will prepare a cost estimate for the work. General agreement that public safety should be addressed and decisions made on ‘case-by-case’ basis on dead trees, including removing upper portions leaving lower trunks in place for wildlife habitat.
- Signage: Charlie reported on types of boundary markers available for our unmarked town lands. Boundary markers along non-fenced boundaries must be installed by a professional surveyor. Charlie will investigate costs. Additional signage noting property use restrictions with appropriate language will be added at a later date.
Longer term: Invasive control: (East/West Woods) to begin in the spring 2016 in accordance with the Forestry Report. Some work to be contracted out, other work may be accomplished by Town efforts such as digging out Japanese barberry and removing MAM (mile-a-minute) and stilt grass identified during its growing season. Wisteria removal will require contractor. Contracted work exceeding $5,000 requires a sealed bid process.
- Develop ‘ball park’ cost estimates for contracted work for presentation at Town Council meeting on January 11th) FY16 Woods Group budget = $34,000. Plan to request same level for FY17. To date, there is $22,000 remaining in FY16 budget. Planned expenses for remaining funds include: (a) $2,500 for boundary markers (and surveyor fees), and (b) contracted bids for invasive removal – pending. Any remaining FY16 funds (up to $5000.00) can be used for new plantings.
- FY17 funds will be used to cover costs for fencing exclosures.
- Nico’s trees – will use existing funds to plant larger indigenous trees following invasive removal, eg. areas where MAM was removed.
The February Meeting of the Woods Group will be on 2/1/16 at 7:30pm in the Council Room. The Group meets monthly on the first Monday.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
- Christmas trees removed from Town roads and taken to the recycling station.
- Removed Christmas decorations from Town Hall, gazebo and train station.
- Reconditioned Town equipment, took Town truck for emissions test (passed).
- Snow blower checked, snow blade checked and hooked up; extra gas purchased ready for heavy snowfall forecasted by local weather stations.
- Removed snow from Town roads, sanded streets and widened intersections & roads. Snow removal started at 2.30am and continued through to 6.30am.
- Repaired Town Hall door and light fixture.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
Rain Water Management:
- Residents of 409 5th Ave expressed concern about the dramatic increase in rain water run off onto their property. The residents have dug a ditch from 5th Ave (front) that travelers along the southern side of their property to 6th Ave. They expressed concern for potential foundation issues and erosion. The removal of brush, honeysuckle, etc… from Wade Park and the restoration of Political Hill were cited as coinciding with the increase in rain water runoff. Steve Werts stated that a solid manhole cover (located on 5th Ave between Wade Park and 409 5th Ave) was substituted for one that had a number of 1” holes. These holes previously drained water directly into the sewer system instead of overflowing onto the mentioned property.
- Montgomery County will be contacted for “natural” storm water management ideas throughout the Town in addition to this area. A map of the various creeks that our runoff runs into will also be sought.
- The Planning Commission recommended that Steve Werts will proceed with the walkway reconstruction utilizing the existing bricks – looking to begin/complete over the next few months depending upon the weather.
- The owner of 8 The Circle will be allowed 60 days after the completion of the walkway to remove the encroaching stairs. A letter to the property owner should be sent by the Mayor with regular follow ups regarding the walkways progress.
Archival Records: David Hix has volunteered to be the PC liaison for this new venture. West Woods: A request for bids regarding the surveying of the west woods boundary and placing boundary markers will be made.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
- Janitorial services are fine
- Defibrillators – nothing new to report
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Bud O’Connor
During, and after the Blizzard of 2016, Steve Werts battled the 30” of snow the Grove received. Roads were cleared very promptly, quite an achievement by Steve. Along with some existing potholes and road irregularities, modest damage did occur during that huge effort. When the roads completely clear of snow, a survey will be done with AB Veirs to identify problem areas with a short term plan and longer term plan created.
WEBSITE – Bud O’Connor
Updating of content continues, more focus will be put on archival Town Council and Planning Commission minutes being reintroduced to the website.
RECREATION – Bud O’Connor
A plan was hatched for Summer in the Park during the last Rec committee meeting. Kids Dance continues. Yoga continues. Afternoon Exercise class is underway.
WOODS GROUP – Greg Silber
A West Woods trash clean-up has been scheduled for Saturday, March 12th with Sunday, March 13th as a rain date. March 19-20 will be alternate dates if both the 12th and 13th are rained out. Arrangements have been made with the Town Crest manager to use their parking lot. Supplies for the clean-up will be ordered through Mary Challstrom. Volunteers are needed and everyone is welcome! As noted earlier, the Woods Group has reviewed Parkton’s “Forest Stewardship Plan for the Town of Washington Grove” and is now working to implement a number of the report’s short-term and long-term recommendations. Among those initiated in this fiscal year are:
- Continued work with Town Maintenance and a contractor to fell potentially dangerous hanging tree limbs and partially blown-down trees, and topping off dead-standing trees along trails for public safety and to protect maturing trees; and
- Issuing a contract RFP to various surveying companies to confirm the westernmost boundary of the West Woods, and to purchase and install markers along this boundary.
Next fiscal year budget planning is underway and will likely include a request for a funding increase to further implement and sustain a number of longer term actions identified in the Stewardship report. These are expected to primarily include invasive plant removal (primarily in the East Woods, but on larger scales than in the past) and planting new trees in some areas after invasive species have been removed. The Woods Group noted that several fire hydrants in the East Woods may be leaking causing excess ponding in the surrounding area, wasting water, and potentially affecting water pressure in other hydrants in the line system. The Group expects to work through the Town to contact WSSC about inspecting and, if needed, repairing the hydrants. This Group meets the first Monday of each month, 7:30PM.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
With January’s heavy snow fall, the Town used a contractor to assist Town Maintenance with a handful of particularly troublesome spots on Town roads.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
I am attending the Maryland Mayor’s Association (MMA) Conference in Annapolis on February 5 and 6, 2016. This conference is to connect with other mayors and support the Maryland Municipal Leagues 2016 Legislative Priorities by meeting with our representatives. MML’s Legislative Committee is proposing to put advocacy behind restoring Highway User Revenue dollars and protecting Project Open Space dollars as well as 3 strategic engagement position statements regarding police body cameras, foreclosures, and tax equity. Of course, I am continuing to seek support for MC 16-23, Closed Swimming Lakes.