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Minutes of July 2, 2001

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Town of Riverdale Park

Mayor and Council Legislative Session

Call To Order

The legislative session of the Mayor and Council was called to order. Present were Councilmember's Feldberg, Blaschke, Tiberio, Davis, and Scott. Also present were Police Chief Evans, and Administrator Prangley.

Pledge Of Allegiance And Moment of Silence

Approval Of Agenda

Motion to approve the agenda was made by CM Tiberio. Seconded by CM Blaschke. No council discussion. No public comment.

Correspondence Summary

Letters 6 through 11 were read aloud as requested. CM Davis read the letters in absence of a secretary.

Town Administrator and Treasurer's Report

Administrator Prangley provided the Town Administrator's report announcing that the Town is the recipient of a $365,000 State of Maryland Neighborhood Conservation Grant. The grant completes the funding source for Riverdale Road. The focus of the leadership and citizens of the Town was to get a more pedestrian friendly Riverdale Road to the MARC train station and our busy transportation network. The grant will enable the Town to complete the project.

Mr. Prangley read the Treasurer's Report

Motion to accept the report was made by CM Tiberio. Seconded by CM Scott. The motion passed unanimously.

Mayor's Report

The Town officially acquired the Town Center parcels on June 11th. The Redevelopment Committee will meet July 11th at 7:30pm at the Town Hall to discuss authorization for a structural engineer to do a survey and the next steps to be taken.

State Highway Administration reports that normal traffic patterns on EW Highway will be in place next week.

The Town is about to embark on an ambitious structural and cosmetic improvement project to the 4700 Block through 5400 block corridor of Riverdale Road which will include lighting, sidewalks, and traffic control improvements. WSSC approached the Town about doing a simultaneous water main system project under Riverdale Road. A Memorandum of Understanding with WSSC permits them an extra work crew to meet an October 15th deadline. As a result of the deadline, a lot of work is being done at one time around Town but it will be worth all the trouble in the end.

There is no word on the outcome of the Group Home application following the June 11th meeting with Ward 4 residents.

The Elks Lodge filed a request on June 20th for a special exemption allowing them to place a telephone relay tower on their property. Residents and Councilmember's will be notified.

The Town is in the process of filing for a State Legacy Grant in the amount of $50k which would be used for economic development on the Kenilworth Ave corridor.

Mayor Herman said residents need to know the real budget numbers stating it was widely reported that there was approximately a $1M cash reserve explaining this was a combination of cash in the bank and the value of land and property held by town to be used at some future date for some alternate purpose (these include ball fields, Town Center bldgs). That was the only rainy day fund town had. The Council had a budget reconciliation meeting a few nights ago. As of Fiscal year ending June 30th: $442,000 deficit (45% of Town reserve or approx 80% of cash reserve) was due to overruns in one department and employment expenses. There had also been a significant shortfall due to construction and the red light camera program. Some of these projected deficits were known months ago, and steps were taken to try to stop some of the spending in the last month or so. With knowledge of this, Mayor Herman entered an Executive Order upon taking office requiring that he be notified of any new hires to help maintain, or keep employment costs at a reasonable amount.

Prior to election, the money for the proposed $447,000 deficit for next fiscal year was to be borrowed from the cash reserve which would have functionally bankrupted the town. Mayor Herman wants residents to know that the Councilmember's met on probably a dozen separate meetings to craft something that reduced the proposed deficit by 90%. Now the proposed use of the town reserve in the adopted budget is only $45k.

The general focus of the MD Municipal League Conference was economic development. Significant time was spent working to bridge common concerns with counterparts in the neighboring communities of College Park and Hyattsville related to the economic development of the Route 1 corridor. Substantive contacts were made with state officials who will provide some of the grant money needed. Time was spent with elected officials speaking about legislation that will help achieve some of those long term objectives.

There will be a brief character generator training session next Monday at 5pm in the Town Hall for those interested in volunteering to do character generation on channel B10. Neither of the two individuals who used to handle this for the Town were available after June 4th. The training is simple but necessary.

Mayor Herman thanked Wilson Biado, Debbie Murphy, Donald Soles, Roger Groomes and Public Works for all they did following yesterday's storm. Work was being done within 20 minutes of trees and branches coming down. The Mayor also thanked the Police and Fire Departments for their work on a live electrical wire at Queensbury Rd and Route 1.

Friends of Preservation, the PG County Historical Trust Newsletter, carried dedication of dependency at Riversdale Mansion on its cover. The Plumber family reunion, led by Rev Fowler, had approximately 100 members attend who were descendents of the Plumber family who served at Riversdale Mansion in slavery. The Mayor also thanked those who served at the mansion for the reunion.

The Mayor announced that Lee Donaldson of Public Works resigned. Given the austere fiscal situation of the Town, it is his hope that the two supervisors there will be able to maintain services without making immediate replacement of a Public Works Director. If that becomes a problem, the hiring process will begin immediately. In the interim, Pat Prangley will serve as acting Director of Public Works. Citizens should continue to contact Public Works as they did before if they need assistance.


Approval of Minutes

Motion to approve minutes for the June 4th Legislative session was made by CM Davis. The motion was seconded by CM Tiberio. No Council discussion. No public comment. The motion passed unanimously.

Motion to approve minutes for the June 11th Special Legislative session was made by CM Tiberio. The motion was seconded by CM Davis. No Council discussion. No public comment. The motion passed unanimously.

Motion to approve minutes for the June 14th Special Legislative session was made by CM Davis. The motion was seconded by CM Tiberio. No Council discussion. No public comment. The motion passed unanimously.

Motion to approve minutes for the June 18th Special Legislative session - the budget adoption meeting was made by CM Davis. The motion was seconded by CM Tiberio. No Council discussion. No public comment. The motion passed unanimously.

Motion to approve minutes for the June 28th Special Legislative session - the budget reconciliation meeting was made by CM Tiberio. The motion was seconded by CM Davis. No Council discussion. No public comment. The motion passed unanimously.

Rules of Order

Mayor Herman noted that at the last meeting it was pointed out that the new Town Council was required to adopt Rules of Order under Section 208 of Town Charter. The Mayor noted that for historical reasons, Roberts Rules of Order have been the prevailing rules of order for the Town Council and in the 8 years he served they never adopted rules of order for themselves.

The motion to adopt Roberts Rules of Order was made by CM Scott. The motion was seconded by CM Feldberg. CM Davis requested as a point of information, that pop out guide accompanying the document be distributed to Councilmember's for referral to in unusual matters such as tabling a matter. The Mayor noted that for these purposes he will act as Parliamentarian in the meetings. No public comment. The motion passed unanimously.

Block Party Road Closure

The motion to close the 6200 block of 43rd Street for a Block Party on July 21st from 11AM to 6PM (with a rain date of July 28th) was made by CM Davis. The motion was seconded by CM Tiberio. There was no public comment. The motion passed unanimously.

Madison Hill Reimbursement

Mayor Herman and CM Blaschke explained the background on the $7k landscaping reimbursement request made by the Madison Hill Homeowners Association. One house designed by Greenhorn & O'Mara had been placed over and above the permissible boundary. Instead of removing the house, Greenhorn & O'Mara placed $7k with the Town in trust for a future project in that development. Though the original project had changed, invoices had been distributed to Councilmember's at a previous meeting for reimbursement of a landscaping project. CM Blaschke made the motion to reimburse the Homeowners Association.

Larry Tice of Silk Tree Drive, acting as the person overseeing common areas and grounds maintenance of Madison Hill, and Sonja Hutchinson-Trask of Silk Tree Drive, Secretary of the Association Board represented the Madison Hill Homeowners Association. They explained improvements including entrance lights, landscaping along Good Luck Rd and public areas inside their community. CM Tiberio clarified that Madison Hills collects association fees to cover landscaping, their own public works services, electrical bills, Post Office Box, Community Day event, and funds to cover problems that might arise. CM Davis pointed out that the original amount provided in 1996 was $7,500, $500 less than the amount discussed tonight. CM Feldberg asked if community had ever been given the option of using Riverdale Park Public Works Department to maintain their streets as in other parts of Town. The answer was no. Mayor Herman pointed out that the public area land would have to be donated to the Town in order for them to maintain it. The topic was open for discussion if Madison Hill residents were interested.

Gerard Kiernan of Riverdale Road expressed past concerns about substandard lighting there which their Homeowners Association was currently paying for. Mayor Herman noted that he'd discussed the matter with Ms Hutchinson-Trask explaining that Pepco is replacing the "substandard" lighting as replacements were needed.

The motion for reimbursement passed unanimously.

Town Center Structural Review

A motion to authorize up to $5k to hire a Structural Engineer to assess the condition of the Town Center properties was made by CM Davis. The motion was seconded by CM Blaschke. CM Davis explained that an inventory of structural problems was needed. Securing the buildings was also needed as soon as it was determined that the buildings were safe for entry. Parameters or guidelines for selection of a firm would be provided to Mr. Prangley from the engineering guidelines used by the Revitalization Committee.

No Public comment. The motion passed unanimously.

Recess 9pm - 9:05

Paper Bag Distribution

Mayor Herman explained the recent discovery that there weren't enough brown paper bags in stock for July distribution. Because of budget issues there was no money to order more. If there was no motion, the issue would die and the bags would not be distributed.

CM Davis made the motion that Riverdale Park discontinue delivery of the free paper bags to residents of Town unless they are on the senior citizen or disabled citizen trash list. CM Tiberio seconded the motion.

Discussion continued about how many are on the senior and disabled citizen list for trash disposal assistance. CM Davis read aloud about the Town's history of brown bag distribution. The Mayor commented that for discussion to continue members needed to determine where the money to provide the bags would come from. CM Davis said citizens in her ward have offered to contribute to a senior citizen fund to continue providing the bags to them.

CM Tiberio voiced concern that though the issue was discussed extensively at work session, the issue was not noted in the Town Crier for citizens to be notified. He continued that delivery was expected by many this month and now the Council is proposing discontinuance of the system. He expressed upset that Public Works hadn't notified the Council that there was a shortage, when only 6,000 are actually available. The Mayor said that either way the Council decided, the Town would continue to sell them to those who wanted them.

CM Blaschke suggested a survey to determine how many use the system. CM Davis said she thought Public Works might have a list available.

CM Tiberio made a motion that the issue be tabled until next month's meeting so that the citizens could be notified of the situation. CM Davis offered to see that the information was published.

CM Davis clarified that in her original motion she was proposing that the free bag distribution program be discontinued except to senior and disabled citizens.

Approval of Recreation Board and Chairperson

Mayor Herman recommended that Tracy Tuscano be appointed to continue in her capacity as Chairperson, and Doris Pullman continue as the at-large appointment for the Board. The Mayor asked if there were other recommended appointments. CM Davis named Susan Hines of Oliver Street from Ward 4, CM Blaschke named Jim Martin of Riverdale Road from Ward 2, and CM Tiberio named Barbara Degrade of Oglethorpe Street from Ward 3. The Mayor noted that appointment to the Board is an ongoing process since the Recreation Board needed as many people involved as possible. Those interested should contact their Councilperson, or just attend a meeting to be involved. The Recreation Board meets the second Monday of each month at the Town Hall.

The names were appointed by unanimous consent

Town Crier Policy

CM Feldberg made the motion to adopt the proposed guideline prepared by Dr. Demato and Dr. Thompson. She felt there had been adequate discussion on the matter and time had been provided for comment. If adopted as a guideline it could be worked on administratively and they could move forward. CM Scott seconded. CM Davis said she couldn't support the guideline that evening noting she felt it was appropriate to set a separate meeting date - legislative committee meeting to discuss the matter as had been previously discussed. CM Tiberio recalled discussion on calling a special meeting to discuss the matter as well.

Dr. Thompson said he understood a special meeting was going to be held but would be delighted if they adopted the guidelines. Discussion followed about AP Style guide, language, policy considerations, ethical issues, guidelines for interpreting documents and the relationship between publisher, editor and established journalistic ethical guidelines. CM Davis expressed her belief that some of the referenced guidelines do not apply to local government and suggested if a style guide were to be chosen it shouldn't be the AP Style guide, but the government printing office style manual and those were the questions she wanted to discuss.

There was no public comment. No further Council discussion. The Council voted; 1 in favor, 4 against. The motion failed. CM Davis proposed a Town Crier Policy meeting for July 16th at 7:30pm. Proposed guidelines will be made available for public comment. Dr. Thompson and Dr. Demato were both confirmed available for the meeting. Mr. Prangley was instructed to notify CM Almirez of the meeting.

Committee and Ward Reports (Report order was reversed as requested by CM Feldberg)

Ward 6

Police Report

Chief Evans provided the Police report. Officer Curry has moved and left the department. Officer Tom Phelps has replaced Officer Curry. Officer Merlyn Whites Babbar has also returned and is filling in on some of Officer Curry's duties.

CM Scott commended the police department's handling Riverdale Rd construction traffic and rerouting of traffic by Lafayette Road.

Fire Department Report

Mr. Sutton provided the Fire Department report. He thanked citizens for not blocking the fire department while traffic is being rerouted around them.

Mr. Sutton reminded citizens that individual fireworks are illegal in PG County.

Mr. Sutton reminded residents that proper installation of infant and child car seats is critical. He read a thank you letter from a father whose son was protected from injury in a car accident due to a car seat properly installed by George Simmons at a Riverdale Fire Department Car Seat Safety Check. Residents needing assistance installing a car seat or who want a safety check on seats already installed are welcome to contact the fire department for assistance or to schedule an appointment at (301) 883-7707.

Complaints were received in June from resident on 54th Ave about spillway blockage for rats and tiger mosquitoes. A PG County Department of Public Works forman came out and did a site assessment but no one has been back since. CM Scott contacted DPW - they're behind because of recent storms.

Residents of Powhattan contacted CM Scott about herbicides sprayed on sidewalks in the area. Chemicals used have been confirmed unsafe for animal consumption. Concerns also exist due to seepage into water systems. CM Scott asked Public Works committee to review chemicals used to ensure everything they're using is safe.

Complaints have been received about cars speeding on Powhattan. School is out for summer and kids are playing in the streets. CM Scott will bring the issue to traffic study. There is also a pending request to have speed humps repainted. CM Scott cautioned drivers to watch for children but also reminded parents to warn their children about the danger of playing in the streets.

Lightning struck the second largest oak tree on Greenway Dr and split it from ground level to approximately 25 ft up. Public Works will assess the damage since the tree is in the Town's right of way.

Ward 5

Councilmember Almirez was absent from the evening's meeting but Mayor Herman noted that the Councilmember had provided Spanish translation on construction notices that will be distributed to area residents.

Ward 4

CM Davis reported that several houses on Queensbury Rd are undergoing major renovation or restoration.

Code issues should be called in to Town Hall until code matters are officially moved to he police dept.

Cleveland Avenue group home licensing issue is still pending.

As stated in the Town Crier, most of Ward 4 will be torn up between August and October. The Town is still negotiation with WSSC to determine how much of that infrastructure will be returned since most of the work is on streets that have brand new overlays that are 3 yrs old or younger.

A drunk driver crashed into the foundation of CM Davis' house around midnight last weekend. She thanked the police dept and neighbors for their help. She thanked the Riverdale Fire Dept for their help in response to her husbands recent heart attack call as well.

The Economic Development meeting at Town Hall on 7/11 at 7:30

The Preservation Association of Riverdale Park will meet this August

Those doing renovation or restoration to a historic home can take items for donation or trade to the New/Old Post Warehouse (name?) at 7600 Jefferson Ave in Landover. Donations are tax deductible.

CM Davis and CM Blaschke gave tours of the Town of Riversdale Park and the Mansion to the Latrobe Architectural Historian Society. Anyone interested in a tour can contact CM Davis.

Work continues on a committee charter for the Economic Development Committee and CM Davis is looking to set up the charters for public information, town marketing and Route 1 corridor.

CM Davis reported that she attended Economic Development meetings at the MML Conference. Quite a few grant opportunities were uncovered. Mr. Prangley is working on a Community Legacy Grant which CM Davis hopes to contribute helpful information to. Many grants are available to Community Development Corporations and the Economic Development Committee will be looking closely at that possibility. Packets of information from the conference will be made available to committee members. CM Davis asked Mr. Prangley to get information to her on outstanding expenses for dinners at the conference for reimbursement to the Town.

Ward 3

CM Tiberio reported that the MML Conference was outstanding. He commended Mr. Prangley on his efforts to save money on Riverdale Road lighting project. CM Tiberio noted that vendors who attended the conference will be useful in accomplishing work being done to the Town. One is sending an expensive free bench as a sample of what they'd like the Town to use.

CM Tiberio reported that there is a Taylor Rd traffic control survey underway. People are avoiding Kenilworth backups by using a Taylor Rd shortcut.

The Town responded to MNCPPC on the use of Riverside Park. A few weeks ago the park was rented out for gatherings but there were 350 - 400 people there with only 65 parking spaces for approximately 200 cars that were counted, not to mention the drinking that occurred. CM Tiberio noted that that Park was intended to be a neighborhood park for nearby residents. He further noted that a 35 year resident whose property backs up to the park put his home up for sale because he can't contend with the activity in the park behind his property.

Finance Committee Report

CM Tiberio reported on the budget reconciliation meeting of June 28th. In the budget there were unanticipated expenditures, but the town also purchased Gateway Park at Rt1 and EW Hwy ($30k), historic grant money was spent but has not been reimbursed yet, legal fees were higher than any previous year, vehicle maintenance and repairs were $15k higher than budgeted, fuel was $10k higher than budgeted - both unanticipated. The Town also recently purchased Town Center buildings. On the revenue side the Town was hurt by the Red light program when some were taken away so money anticipated wasn't obtained. Interest rates went down. Public Utilities who pay tangible property tax (railroads and utilities around town) went to the state behind the Town's back and budgeted amounts were adjusted by the state due to Utilities objections. It's the state's prerogative to adjust these and they did it this year.

Every expenditure will be watched and approved and must be a budget item or it won't be approved.

Ward 2

CM Blaschke thanked the Town for allowing her to attend the MML Conference and reported that she attended planning and zoning, economic development and redrawing wards workshops.

Met with Traffic Study Committee for first time in June. Most issues had to do with new traffic control devices. Putting together a survey for Silk Tree and Good Luck Rd areas. Speed Humps were discussed for some locations. Police involvement with speeding was also discussed.

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the Madison Hill Tot Lot will be held July 21st at 3pm in conjunction with Madison Hill's 4th annual community day.

CM Blaschke pointed out that drawings were on display in back of Town Hall for the new pedestrian entrance to Riverdale Community Park at 51st Ave and Somerset Ave. MNCPPC is looking at option B on the drawings. Work is scheduled for August and September weather permitting. MNCPPC has asked that residents contact CM Blaschke with comments. Option B has ballard at the park's entrance. A new sidewalk will join the Town's current sidewalk, then curve to join the current drive which will be narrowed to a 6-foot width.

CM Blaschke announced her intention to donate her Council salary back to the community for projects. Suggestions are welcome

Legislative Committee Report

Several new ordinances were passed related to increasing business licenses, parking, fire lane, handicapped fines, etc. Due to completion of the 2000 Federal census, ward boundaries will be redrawn before the next election. The committee will be considering significant revisions to the Riverdale Park Towns Charter and Ordinances which are in place now. In addition they'll be evaluating annexation of additional commercial properties and the committee hopes to be able to attend a meeting with Mr. Prangley and other principals involved in that.

Ward 1

Public Works

CM Feldberg met with Public Works. Another meeting is scheduled for later in the week.

CM Feldberg said comments and concerns from her constituents are consistently focused on civility and thoughtfulness between neighbors or the lack thereof. CM Feldberg's neighbors have barbecues on July 4th, progressive dinners, etc. to help with this. It's also important that those operating neighborhood child care sites remind those dropping off and picking up children not to block neighbors. Those interested in gardening and planting trees can get helpful information from the UM Extension service.

CM Feldberg noted the helpfulness of workshops attended at MML.

Unfinished Business


New Business

Mayor Herman read a letter from John Ferguson stating that he will no longer oversee the Riverdale Community Station. MTA requests assistance through their adopt a station program. CM Davis said Donald Nelson of Oglethorpe Street has volunteered. There was no objection. The Mayor asked that the appointment be by unanimous consent.

CM Tiberio asked about a town policy on spraying for mosquitoes. The Mayor said he believe problems with it had to do with toxicity and close proximity to the tributary. CM Tiberio talked to the MD Entomology Department at MML who spray all the time and there are no toxicity problems. CM Feldberg explained the difference between BT Spray and a pesticide which was the harmful method. The Mayor recommended that CM Tiberio contact the individual about the BT Spray for the area he was concerned about since there is money in the budget for it.

Dr. Thompson explained his experience with mosquito spraying in College Park. The spraying didn't affect the mosquito's much but it destroyed the fire fly population.

Mr. Bond suggested CM Tiberio contact Assateaque and Chincoteague representatives since they deal intensely with mosquito problems in their region.

CM Blaschke said residents have expressed interest in establishing a dog park. There is a representative from MNCPPC who is available to evaluate locations within the community. Any other townspeople or Councilmember's who are interested should contact CM Blaschke.

CM Davis reported that applications had been completed and submitted for the Anacostia Trails Heritage area Grants. Amounts ranged from $10k to $700k. Some items put in for support were reimbursement for Gateway Park at the intersection of Route 1 and East West Highway, a similar opportunity on Riverdale at the Wildlife Reclamation Park in Ward 3, a program to paint a mural at Ritton House on the concrete wall that faces the 4700 Block, and support to restore the area down by the river. She thanked Mr. Prangley for the time he's spent working on the applications.

Public Comments


Motion to adjourn made by CM Tiberio, Seconded by CM Davis. The motion passed unanimously.

Meeting adjourned at 10:40pm.

Minutes prepared from videotape by Mary Paradiso

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