13 June 2016 | Approved: 11 July 2016
Mayor Joli McCathran called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:32 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Georgette Cole, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland and Shelley Winkler. Also present were Planning Commission Chair Peter Nagrod, Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts, property owner Dennis Kane and resident Marilynn Frey.
Report from State Delegates:
Mayor McCathran reported the State Delegates were attending a vigil for the victims and families affected by the mass shooting in Orlando Florida. They will attend the July meeting of the Town Council.
Approval of Agenda:
Mayor McCathran added Voice over Internet Phone (VoIP) as number 9 and re-numbered the agenda. The agenda was approved as amended by general consensus.
Peter Nagrod brought up the need for a sense of place for the residents who live along Washington Grove Lane. He cited Strathmore Avenue in Garrett Park as a good example of addressing this issue. There was a general discussion about many ideas such as fencing, archways, getting guidance from M-NCPPC and the Historic Preservation Commission (Georgette will ask the HPC for input), and forming a committee (which Peter offered to chair) to form options. Mayor McCathran and Peter will pursue this suggestion.
Approval of Minutes:
Shelley Winkler moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on May 23, 2016. John McClelland seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0.
Treasurers Report 2016-Maypdf
Audrey Maskery moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for May 2016. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0.
Action on FY 2016 Budget Transfers Resolution No. 2016-09:
Georgette Cole moved to introduce, adopt and enact Resolution 2016-09; Budget Transfers FY 2016. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0.
Approval Draft Records Retention Plan:
Mayor McCathran thanked all involved in this project (Marilynn Frey, Kathy Lehman, and Pat Patula). She asked Marilynn Frey to explain the importance of having a retention plan. She also reported the rules governing what will be accepted in to the State Archives are constantly changing and we should get our documents in as soon as possible. Items on paper may be “almost historic” should go to the Archives first before the regulations change again. Steve Werts suggested building a 10 x 10 climate controlled structure to house Town historic material (which may not be accepted by the MD Archives.)
John McClelland moved to approve the Draft Retention Plan. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0.
Mayor McCathran asked Marilynn Frey to make a proposal for contract labor as the new Records Management Officer. This will start on July 1, 2016.
Voice over Internet Phone (VoIP):
Mayor McCathran asked Marilynn Frey to research on VoIP for use in McCathran Hall. Marilynn explained her findings. Ooma is the best system to fit Town needs. The Town will start a free 60-day trial when Treasurer Mary Challstrom returns from vacation.
Georgette Cole moved to approve the Council Reports for posting on the web. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0.
There were none.
Mayor McCathran announced she had administered the oath of office to Pat Klein prior to the meeting.
Release Forms for Town Events – The Mayor and Council discussed the need for a standard release of liability form to be used for Town events. The form used by the Senior Fit instructor was good but only released the instructor from liability. The form obtained from Local Government Insurance Trust was not appropriate, as it did not apply to our situation. Mayor McCathran and Shelley Winkler will contact the Town attorney to seek a form which better fits Town needs.
McCathran Hall Fee Waiver – John McClelland said if fees for McCathran Hall use were going to be waived, an objective set of criteria should be in place. Currently this does not exist.
Condition of the Commercial Corner – Town Clerk Kathy Lehman expressed her opinion concerning the condition of the area known as the Commercial Corner. Among other things, the grass is not being mowed, the weeds are knee-high, and the concrete is cracking again; just to mention a few maintenance items. John McClelland said he has contacted the property management company about these conditions.
17050 Railroad Street – Audrey Maskery asked if this property was on the market. The answer is yes; Kathi Higdon-Kershaw is the agent.
There being no further new business, the meeting adjourned at 9:03 p.m.
TC REPORTS – July 2016
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Georgette Cole
Review Session: There were no projects for review.
Dog Park: Meredith Horan made an appearance to inform the HPC that a group of residents are pursuing the idea of having a dog park in Town. An informal meeting has taken place to discuss possible locations; however, no plans of any kind have been prepared. Meredith expressed concern about the impact it would have on the Town’s environmental landscape. The HPC concluded they could not comment until a more specific proposal is presented for evaluation.
Design Guidelines: There was an in-depth review and discussion on current HPC design guidelines for exterior changes (Town of Washington Grove Historic Preservation Commission Design Guidelines for Exterior Changes). Elements discussed included: Changes to structures requiring review by the HPC, Criteria for designation of historic or “contributing” structures, Design criteria used to evaluate building applications, Scale and Massing, Siting and Orientation, Materials, Elements and Detailing.
These guidelines will be discussed in more detail at future meetings. The original documentation was adopted March 15, 2005 and there are several additions/changes which need to be made to update the existing criteria.
Bulletin Material: Wendy noted that Pat Patula has prepared the second article in a series devoted to Washington Grove’s early history (based on historical articles that appeared in the Washington Post). The article will be featured in the July Town bulletin.
Vacant Properties: David reported that the task force is working on making distinctions between occupied and unoccupied homes not meeting Montgomery County Code. The group did a house tour in May to physically observe structures that fall in both categories. A report on their findings will be sent to the TC for review.
Clare Kelly Presentation: Clare’s presentation has been confirmed for Friday, October 21st. The Town Hall has been reserved and an announcement will appear in the August and September Town bulletins so residents can mark their calendar accordingly.
PLAYGROUNDS – Georgette Cole
The Playgrounds Committee met on June 15. The current (FY 2017) equipment budget is $24,000. This includes essential drainage improvements. The conclusion: we should continue with removal of old equipment (see saws and yellow/orange climber), then start adding the new pieces. We would also like to remove the large jungle gym damaged by a tree falling on it. The structure has sharp/rusty edges and children are often cut when playing on it. This year we will purchase; Seesaw for 4, Spica 1 In Ground, Spinner Bowl Blue In Ground, and Supernova Blue. The new climbing structure (the Regulus, which is more expensive) is scheduled for FY 2018. Details on the pieces are in the Playground Report the Council received 12 October 2015. In the meantime we will talk to Steve Werts and decide the best location for the play islands with respect to drainage and continue to prepare the park for new equipment.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report
MAPLE LAKE – Patrice Klein
The Recreation Committee sponsored a picnic at the lake on July 2nd from 4 PM to 10 or 11 PM. Great turnout and success! Canada geese are gone with continued use of the blinking light as a deterrent. The 2 corkscrew willows donated by Ed Mroczka are being planted: one behind Nicho’s bench, and the other on the far side of the lake. Additional tree planting at the lake is under consideration. Nicho’s bench was installed. The dedication is scheduled on August 13th.
Swimming Lessons will be conducted 7/5 – 7/29, 12:30 – 5:30 PM. Instructor is Lainey Selby. There are 25 registered swimmers and 6 life guards. No Coverage the last week in August.
• Trimming around edge of lake so life guards can see entire lake. Hole in fence near gate to be patched. Re-installed video surveillance equipment.
• NatureWorksCWA treating for algae & pond weed every 3 weeks. Barley bales also placed in the lake to control algae. Monthly H2O testing for E. coli & other coliforms on the last Monday of each month starting May 23rd. Results of the first test were very good.
• Gate combo has been changed several times and Grove Alert sent out to remind residents not to share lock combination with non-residents.
SAFETY/EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS– Patrice Klein
The Task Force’s final report was approved at our last meeting. The Chair will make a brief presentation at this week’s Town Council meeting.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Pepco/Asplundh topped a dead tree on Brown Street at request of F&B.
The Pepco four-year tree branch pruning has now been completed. A badly damaged Tulip Poplar was also removed from corner of Johnson Alley and McCauley.
After pruning branches around the Sacred Circle, Asplundh’s large truck had difficulty in navigating Seventh Avenue to reach Grove Road. A request was made for smaller trucks to be used in this area.
Ace Tree Movers have checked the large trees planted earlier this year and say they are doing well. The watering of the new trees by Maintenance throughout the summer months, will ensure establishment and continual growth.
Dan York has joined the Forestry & Beautification Committee. Dan has been working on various shrub pruning throughout town. An example of Dan’s handy-work can be seen in Chapel Park; bush honeysuckle and vines have been removed from a large Rhododendron bed.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Grass mowing and tree watering will continue through the summer. A load of gravel has been delivered for the playground drainage project. Guardian Fire has installed new sprinkler heads throughout Town Hall. Flags installed for the Fourth of July and removed after holiday. Clay courts prepared for tennis players use.
Diving board installed at the lake, cut grass in preparation of opening of lake.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
The dedication of Nicho Lembesis bench beside Maple Lake will take place on August 13th.
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
108 Pine Ave – ramp/deck – approved
411 Washington Grove Ln – Replacement of side stair – approved
202 Ridge Rd – Deck with trellis – approved
407 Acorn Ln – Fence – permit on hold/withdrawn
Block Corner Survey: In a joint venture with the Woods Group the PC will pursue bids for surveying the east woods and “deplatting” those same east woods.
Dog Park: A proposal for a dog park located on Town public property was presented to the PC at the request of the Mayor. The particulars of park location, noise, maintenance, management, cost etc… are under review and development.
Dead Zone Cell Towers: The Mayor reported independent contractors offering private property owners payment to install “cell towers” of 20’ tall. (That’s 20’ on top of whatever it is mounted to). The purpose of which is to remove poor cell phone reception areas. The PC will review the current ordinances for possible revision.
Roberts Oxygen: The wood fence along Ridge Rd has been installed. The older chain link fence is to be removed ASAP.
WG House Records: Property information continues to be collected and applied to the Town data base
Block 11: 203 2nd Ave – Reconstruction continues with the interior mechanical systems (electric, plumbing, HVAC etc…) under current installation. The exterior porch height appears to be in line with the original based upon pictures showing both porches (203 2nd Ave and 315 Grove Ave).
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Defibrillators: Will be ordered upon the return of Mary Challstrom
Summer in the Parks: The program has started so no Hall rentals are scheduled for July. Daily cleanup of the main hall as well as the bathrooms and kitchen will be the responsibility of the program’s leaders and participants. Regular cleanup of the lower hall and bathrooms will continue on a weekly basis.
Ants: The ant treatment applied in the spring appears to be holding the insects in check.
WOODS GROUP – Greg Silber
The Council has provided a contract to Snider Associates to survey and mark the westernmost boundary of the West Woods. This work is underway and should be completed soon. In coordination with the Planning Commission, the Woods Group is also discussing a similar contract to survey and mark the eastern boundary of the East Woods and associated areas.
Work is underway to develop a multi-year schedule and secure a contract for the rather large-scale removal and control of invasive plant species in both east and west woods. The Group continues to oversee planting of trees in various locations including in areas near the lake and where invasive plants have been removed in the East Woods. This work will be continuing with an emphasis on fall and winter planting.
The Group’s next meeting is August 1st.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
See “Woods Group” regarding contract to survey the west woods.
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
Carolyn Rapkievian reported that the ballet class trial was successful. She will work with the Recreation Committee and Town Hall schedule to arrange for classes in the fall. By that time we will have a release which can be signed by participants.
News on Labor Day and Bluestober will be coming in a future report. The proposed date for Bluestober is Saturday, October 15, 6-10.
The Summer In The Parks volunteers reported that camp started well on July 5 — with 44 campers, of those 11 are from out-of-town.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
In the next month Steve Werts and I will propose areas of the roads for roadwork, and work on obtaining specific descriptions of work to be done for inclusion in a request for proposals. We will bring that to Council.
There is an exception for historic districts in the new regulations regarding street signs. The HPC will be asked if they can find out more, and if that applies to the Town. This is just to find out what is required, or not, as the Town decides what to do.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
The Mayor and I met with Bill Saar. He uploads information sent to him by certain Town officials to the new website. I am still learning about what has been done and what needs to be done. It is clear that we will need a system for keeping information on the website up-to-date and for migrating older information from the old website to the new one. As a temporary measure, Bill has added a link to the new website which allows access to some older information, such as Town Council meeting minutes and Planning Commission minutes. Understanding what is needed, and putting in place a system for keeping current, will require help from a volunteer with significant professional website experience and I believe we have found that volunteer — to be confirmed soon.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
I attended the Maryland Municipal League (MML) conference, held at Ocean City last month. Programs I attended included Updating and Amending Codes, Natural Play Places, and Hot Button Legal Issues. The Governor hosted a Cabinet Secretary’s Roundtable. I was able to speak with three secretaries. My main questions were about transportation in our area. During the MML Business meeting, former mayor Donald McCathran was cited in memoriam. Personally, I was very touched by this. I also attended the first-time offered, “Tiny Town Discussion Forum,” and was able to bring up questions regarding historic towns and street name signs. Shelley Winkler discovered there may be an exception which allows communities to retain historic street-name signs in historic districts. No one had definite information but a suggestion included working with the Maryland Historic Trust. I also attended a forum on grants for storm water management via the Chesapeake Bay Trust Foundation and picked up some information on grants for small municipalities for the purchase of maintenance equipment. Ken and I along with other members of the MML Communications Committee, of which I am a member, manned the booth in the Municipal Main Street Hall.
During the conference, I attended the Maryland Mayors’ Association luncheon and meeting.
On the Monday evening of the conference, Montgomery County Monthly Chapter held its monthly meeting. I enjoyed dining at the dinner table with colleagues from Gaithersburg and our attorney Suellen Ferguson.
On June 30, I attended the Mayor’s Retirement celebration for Peter Fosselman, Mayor of Kensington. It was delightful to meet incoming Mayor Tracy Furman as well.