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Minutes of March 5, 2001

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Town of Riverdale Park

Mayor and Council Legislative Session

The legislative session of the Mayor and Council was called to order at 8:00pm. Present were Councilmembers Herman, Donaldson, Gross, Davis and Scott. Also present were Police Chief Evans, Public Works Supervisor Donaldson and Administrator Prangley. Councilmember Tiberio was out of town.

Pledge Of Allegiance And Invocation

The Mayor led the pledge of allegiance and read the invocation.

Approval Of Agenda

CM Davis requested that Item 12, Relocation of Barricades on W. Beale Circle, North to EW Highway be removed from the agenda until a meeting could be arranged between the Council and the businesses on Route 1 to discuss differences of opinion about the barricades. A motion was made by CM Herman to approve the agenda with requested amendment. CM Donaldson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approval Of Minutes Of February 5, 2001 Legislative Session

CM Herman made a motion to approve the minutes of the February 5th meeting. CM Davis seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Correspondence Summary

CM Davis requested that letter #4 be read.

Treasurer's Report

Mr. Prangley read the Treasurer's Report. CM Donaldson made a motion to approve the report as presented, subject to audit. CM Davis seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Mayor's Report

The Mayor noted to the Council that residents have asked about the number of recesses taken during meetings. Mayor and Council agreed not to recess until 2 hours had passed.

The Mayor requested that Mr. Prangley read aloud the February 16, 2001 letter from the Riverdale Ethics Commission dismissing complaints brought by Ken Laureys and Ellen Heinicke against Ann Ferguson in her capacity as Mayor. The Mayor asked that the letter be attached to the minutes.

Approximately a year ago, the Town was advised that the State Forestry Division was willing to inventory trees located on private properties. Beth Bader, State Forester, would coordinate the project.

The goal of the program is to inventory the biggest and best trees so residents would know of the treasures in their own backyard.

Individuals from the consulting firm working on the National Registry for Historic District Status will be taking pictures of historic homes in Riverdale Park during the month of March.

Several Riverdale Park homes were featured in a recent issue of the Gazette's Lifestyle insert. The Bond home, The McNabb/Frey home and the Brigham home, complete with photographs, were excellent publicity for the Town.

Public Comment


Action Items

2001-CR-1 - Charter amendment to require majority to elect officials

CM Scott made the motion that the Council adopt Charter Amendment 2001-CR-1 requiring a majority vote to elect officials. CM Herman seconded.

Mr. Thompson was asked to explain the noted change from the 4th Monday of May to the Tuesday following the 4th Monday in May. Mr. Thompson explained that this change was indicated to avoid conflicts when Memorial Day Holiday fell on the 4th Monday of May.

CM Davis and Mayor Ferguson commended Mr. Thompson, Mr. Archer and others who worked on the amendment.

CM Herman noted that if passed, the elections manual will need amendment to reflect the changes. He requested that Mr. Thompson and Mr. Archer attend the next worksession to draft guidelines to reflect changes in the Town Charter.

The motion passed unanimously.

2001-OR-1, Ordinance for publication of The Town Crier

CM Herman made a motion to table the matter until April when it could be worked on in more detail. CM Davis seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

CM Davis noted that a group of residents had volunteered to work with the Council on the matter.

2001-OR-2 Amendments to Chapter 29, to require campaign finance reporting

CM Scott made the motion to adopt 2001-OR-2, an amendment to Chapter 29 requiring campaign finance reporting. CM Donaldson seconded.

CM Davis voiced support but noted that the Council had only been given a week to review the amendment. CM Davis felt the wording was cumbersome and would discourage normal citizens from running for office. She suggested that members take the next month to review the City of Greenbelt's wording and combine that with the spirit of the document sponsored by CM Scott and CM Donaldson to find common ground.

It was noted that this meeting was the last meeting possible to work on the amendment and have it apply to the upcoming May elections. CM Davis expressed concern about imposing passage of legislation on citizens in order to make a deadline. It was also noted that the amendment could be passed and modified or even revoked in its entirety if the Council agreed to it now.

Lengthy discussion followed.

Jack Blades of Ward 4 expressed concern about the tone and comments made by some Councilmembers towards others in their discussions. He noted that these were unnecessary and that they should simply vote for or against a matter without such commentary.

Mr. Thompson asked a question about section 29. 31. A. 1. b.

Cynthia Blaschke of 51st Avenue expressed interest in running for office in Ward 2 but stated that the amendment complicated the process to the point of discouragement. She said she believed that there was too much room for different interpretations in the wording.

Rebecca Feldburg of Sheridan Street asked several questions related to the document stating that she didn't believe there was adequate time for the community to absorb the legislation and felt it would be more appropriate to pass this type of legislation after an election rather than just before one.

Ken Laureys of Riverdale Road inquired about constitutional implications and considerations. He asked about differences in the wording between the one being discussed and the other three used as a model. He asked also if the change would include an accounting of expenditures as well.

Vote: CMS Donaldson, Herman and Scott in favor, CMS Davis and Gross abstained. The motion failed as four affirmative votes are required to approve legislation.

CM Davis asked that a legislative committee meet to discuss the matter at the next worksession so the amendment can be put into a form that can be acted on before it is distributed in the Town Crier for public input.

Request for Special Exception - 5307 -11 Powhattan Road (Ward 6)

Deborah Grade read a prepared statement reviewing their request for a special exception to their property. She asked who had agreed to pay for curb cuts at a previous meeting. She asked questions related to their signing an assurance/covenant related to the ownership of the property if the special exception was allowed, and whether the special exception would be automatically rejected if they decide that signing the requested assurance/covenant is not in their best interest. Mrs. Grade asked what their alternatives were to receiving the special exception if they decided that the assurance/covenant is not in their best interest and the Council required it. She also asked when the assurance/covenant would be submitted for their review and expressed concerns about the timeframe and the 29 days remaining before their hearing with the County.

Discussion followed among the Council about past discussions and calls related to Mrs. Grade's questions and of the special exception request. The Mayor and Council commended Mrs. Grade for her exemplary reputation and assured her that their concerns weren't of how she would conduct the business, rather, how plans for the property would fit into the Town's Master Plan and that the property might not always be owned or managed by the Grade Family. Mayor and Council agreed to a special legislative session on March 21st at 7:00pm.

Installation of "No Parking" signs on north side of Greenway Drive (Ward 6)

CM Scott made a motion to install No Parking signs on the north side of Greenway Drive. CM Davis seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Location of the site and why the signs were needed was explained. Members further noted that a traffic study recommended the signs. CM Scott said she would pass out flyers informing residents of the change prior to installation of the signs.

Appointment of Board of Directors for Pension Plan

Mayor Ferguson reported that the town recently set up a pension plan for which a pension plan board is required by recent legislation. The 5 member board proposed for the Defined Benefit Plan is as follows:

Mr. Patrick Prangley, Town Administrator

Mary Donaldson, Council Representative/Chairperson of the Finance Committee

Theta Zornes, Office Finance Personnel

Christopher Clites, Police Department Representative

David Martin, Investment Business Side Representative

CM Davis made a motion to approve the appointments. CM Herman seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Break 10:05pm

Call to Order 10:15pm

Approval of Fire Department Lease Agreement

CM Davis made a motion approving the Fire Department Lease agreement after amending the agreement to include a 24 hour notice related to inspections as agreed to by the Fire Department. CM Donaldson seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

Committee And Ward Reports


CM Herman explained that discussions are continuing with the Town Engineer about Ward 1 construction projects:

4800 Block of Somerset improvements - representatives from the county will deal with the storm water problem. The Town has applied for funding from the County which should be approved - approximately $96k from the 2001- 2002 fiscal budget if the County approves this budget.

48th & 49th Avenue improvements - if the Town waits for storm water management money to come in on this project they will have to wait until July 2001.

In response to constituents questions about the high cost of natural gas, CM Herman reminded residents of a financial assistance program (WAFF) sponsored by the Gas Company to assist residents in need. Those interested should contact the Gas Company for details.

Mr. Prangley was asked to post the March 21st legislative committee hearings discussing oversight of code enforcement and other legislative issues that might need to be addressed. The meeting will immediately follow the scheduled Council meeting.

Boys and Girls Club spring soccer registration contacts:

Jack Jones, Soccer Commissioner - 301-277-2242

Tom Carpenter, Club President - 301-927-7763

Baseball registration will soon be announced in the paper.


CM Donaldson noted that there was nothing to report from the Finance Committee

CM Donaldson followed CM Herman's information about the Gas Company with an encouragement to residents to read a recent letter from the Gas Company announcing an increase therm from April 2001 through April 2002 if no response was received from customers who could sign up for a hold on the cost.

CM Donaldson noted that residents who notice rats at their residence or in their area can set up traps or call Public Works to do so and they will get to it as soon as possible. Residents are encouraged to clean up debris in yards and remove items such as old tires, high grass, etc., be sure that wood or other items stored are 18" off the ground to avoid nesting space. Also avoid putting out food for birds, other than seed to avoid attracting the rats.


CM Tiberio out of town.


Chief Evans gave the public safety report for last month.

CM Davis explained that she also attended the meeting with the Town Engineer where construction projects were discussed. Updates on Ward 4 construction projects are as follows:

Street improvements are continuing on 44th Avenue - the exact portion to be worked on is still to be determined.

44th place improvements and part 2 of work on Sheridan Street repaving issues are under discussion.

Mr. Prangley is working on the 43rd Avenue repaving issues with the City of Hyattsville and is also working on Rt. 1 corridor grants which would include bus shelter upgrades.

Still waiting on a petition for a speed hump for 44th from Hyattsville and Riverdale Park

Upcoming Meetings:

Traffic Study - March 6, 7:00pm

Riversdale Historical Society - March 7, 7:30pm at the Mansion

Town Center Meeting was rescheduled for March 8, 7:30pm

Tree Committee Meeting - March 15, 7:30pm

Preservation Association of Riverdale Park - April 19, 7:30pm - still working on turning the Town's historic district survey documents.


Lee Donaldson gave the Buildings and Grounds report. Public Works is still waiting for a break in the weather so the concrete will be able to dry to put the trash cans in the playground.

CM Gross apologized to constituents for her absence at meetings which were due to illnesses in her family. She announced that she will not be running for re-election in May.


Lee Donaldson reported on Public Works. Public Works employees have been catching up on indoor work when the winter weather prohibits regular outside work to occur. Work is being done at the police department, litter patrol, etc.

Mr. Donaldson reiterated CM Donaldson's information on rat control in the Town noting also that rats are drawn to dog (or other animal) food that's left out, dog feces, uncovered trash - bags torn open by crows and strewn - in spite of Public Works best efforts to clean up after these situations even crumbs draw them.

CM Scott said that the Ward 6 Winter/Spring notes will soon be distributed.

CM Scott reiterated her support for the Grade appeal for special exception because of Mrs. Grade's outstanding reputation, but noted her concerns for what might happen if the Grade family sold the property outside of their management of the site.

Old Business

Openings for election judges appointments and their alternatives:

JUDGES Ward 1: Alan Thompson, Sheridan Street (replacing recent nomination)

Ward 2: Karen Proctor, Taylor Street

Ward 5: Still Vacant

Ward 6: Marilyn Shoppet, Riverdale Road

ALTERNATES Ward 1: Susan Hines, Ravenswood Road

Ward 5: Simon Plog, Ravenswood Road

Ward 6: Deborah Grade, Powhatan Road

Susan Hines is appointed election chairperson

CM Scott made the motion to approve the nominations for election judges and their alternates. CM Donaldson seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Town Center Redevelopment Committee

CM Scott and CM Davis discussed an email question from a Ward 6 constituent about the dates noted in Resolution OR-3 related to completion and an October court date. CM Davis said she hopes to present the information at the April meeting but would not be able to answer at the present meeting.

Streetscapes Grant

Mr. Prangley informed the Mayor and Council that the Town had recently received a grant application from the county for streetscapes improvements on Route One. The total of the grant is $50k. However the town would need to provide $40k to qualify. The Town Engineer, Mr. Donaldson and the State Highway District Engineer met to discuss possible improvements to the west side of Baltimore Avenue from Queensbury Rd. to EW Hwy. A letter of support was expected from the State Highway District Engineer.

Members discussed where the funds to match the grant could come from and where those available were already committed to. Mayor Ferguson noted that funds could come from the Sarbanes Fund or the new fiscal budget. Mr. Prangley noted that 20 other cities were vying for the $200k in the Sarbanes Fund which were designated for Route 1 improvements. He felt strongly that we would meet the qualifications since they were coming with a big project that was ready to go. He recommended that the Council consider using phase 2 street improvements funds as they were progressing under budget and this impromptu opportunity was one where time was of the essence. CM Davis noted that the Town Engineer indicated we were $25k to the good in this project.

Mayor Ferguson asked CM Donaldson to schedule a single item finance meeting to address the issue on March 12 at around 8:30pm following their meeting with Mr. Hendershot at the Calvert House.

The deadline for receipt of the application and proposal is two weeks away.

New Business

Beale Circle Barriers

CM Davis asked that a meeting be arranged between the Mayor and Council and representatives from the Animal Hospital, the Calvert House and the Dentist's office affected by the barriers. They've asked for the meeting to discuss differences of opinion about the barricades.

It was agreed that they would ask them if they could meet at 6:30pm on March 12th at the Calvert House before the meeting with Mr. Hendershot.

Redevelopment Issue

The Mayor received a package from the Main Street National Trust. She suggested bringing it to the next Town Center Redevelopment Meeting for allocation consideration for next fiscal year. CM Davis noted that they were already using their services in Main Street assessments but was interested in looking into discussing full scale economic development and to hire someone to handle the issues on a full time basis.

Public Comments

Mr. Kiernan spoke in opposition to the Grade request for special exception since he would not be at the March 21st meeting to speak. He noted past experiences with the Dorsey business and Jack Frank's Fortune Telling business as well as another child care center in town.

Motion to adjourn made by CM Davis. Motion seconded by CM Donaldson. The motion passed unanimously.

Meeting adjourned at 11:00pm

Minutes prepared from videotape by Mary Paradiso

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