Thank you again to everyone who came to the July Town Meeting to share your views on the potential expansion and removal of park designation of Rt. 295. The council has agreed to officially oppose this proposal and Mayor Callahan is working with the Parkway Mayors to coordinate efforts to oppose this plan. Since the Parkway is currently owned by the Department of the Interior Congress needs to pass legislation to finalize the transfer.
There was a public forum held at Roosevelt HS to share information about the plans for 495 & 270. Since those highways are already owned by the state of Maryland neither need federal input and so this process is going forward first. If you missed the presentation, it is available at this link.
The Council has been waiting for the report to come back from the contractor. As you may recall we had asked them to review the traffic issues in and around St. Ambrose and Spellman as well as those around Gast (Cheese) Park.
The Council reviewed a draft submitted by the contractor and have asked for another round of data collection to capture some information that was missed the first time around. Due to this, we won't be hosting the public forum to release the results until the fall.
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As I mentioned earlier the county has changed the price for towns to bring compost in. Due to this increased cost it is too expensive for the town to run the pilot project. We understand that many people who have signed up for curbside compost are doing so in conjunction with doing backyard composting because commercial compost accepts the meat and dairy products that can't go into backyard compost. Therefore we are still looking into options that can accept this additional compost:
1)Bring in a commercial company like Compost Cab to pick up curbside compost ($35/the first two months and in Falls Church it is $6/month after that.(they do allow for neighbors to pair up if they want to transport their trash to one home and share in the cost)
2) Bring in Compost Cab or someone else to be at the Cheverly Community Market and accept all residential compost. (Including meat and dairy which are currently not allowable compost in the town)
3) Talk to local farms or other municipalities that may be interested in our curbside compost to work out another location for the additional compost to go.
4) Bokashi Composting: It's a residential anaerobic system that allows for the composting of meat and dairy products.
We are looking into these options and since the town is currently subsidizing the cost of backyard composters and may be able to help out with cost reduction for these options as well.
Multi-Use Court Design
The Tennis Courts in Town Park are scheduled to be turned into a multi-use court. The original plan was to have the space transferable from one full basketball court and two half courts to a full soccer field. We received a suggestion to include two pickleball courts in the design as well and after a spirited discussion of what pickleball actually is! If you'd like to learn about it, here is a website all about it.
Unfortunately we aren't able to install an accessible pathway to the court but will look into that for next year's budget. We are going to look into getting an acrylic backboard that was requested by some local residents.
Parental Leave Policies
Town staff looked at how similar sized municipalities handle parental leave policies (specifically ones with fewer than 50 employees and therefore don't qualify for FMLA). They have found that sthese municipalities have similar policies to the Town of Cheverly in that all allow for employees to use paid sick & annual leave and unpaid administrative leave for parental leave. Currently the town does allow for the Town Administrator the ability to advance two weeks of sick leave to supplement any shortage of sick leave for parental leave.
I have been looking into these policies and know that there is a wide range of ways that employers handle leave and would love to get input from folks about what have been good ways to handle this. From my research into this I would like to be able to offer 6 weeks of paid parental leave for the birth/adoption of a child. Additionally, I would like to propose an option for more flexible schedules for employees. What do you think about that? What other suggestions do you have for this policy?
Building Use Discussion
I originally brought up this conversation because I realized that community groups were not able to officially reserve the community center on holidays. The council decided unanimously at this worksession that reservations for holidays will proceed just like they do if it is not a holiday. For example, CPRC will be able to hold regular playgroup on MLK Day, Presidents Day and other Monday Holidays throughout the year.
Additionally we are still working through the insurance requirement for community groups in a way that doesn't limit the groups access to the gym. We are also looking into options to provide an open gym times that we keep hearing residents asking for. We will be discussing this again at future worksessions so please come and help us work through these issues.
Change to Rental License Procedures
The Town has about 100 rental properties (not including Cheverly Station). Each rental property needs to be inspected every year and as it currently stands a handful are out of compliance(have either avoided scheduling or missed out on already scheduled inspections) Currently it is really hard for the town to enforce the inspection requirement so we are going to be introducing an ordinance in August to revoke/deny a rental license if the owner does not comply with the annual inspection requirement.
Police Procedures Discussion
The Police Advisory Board(PAB) and the Chief have been reviewing police procedures. One item that was brought up is the Stop & Frisk Policy. Our current policy is that 'frisk' is permitted "when a police officer has reasonable articulable suspicion that a person committed a crime, is committing a crime, or is about to commit a crime and has a reasonable belief the person may be armed and presently dangerous." The Chief is looking to change the name of this section in order to limit confusion between this policy and the one that was deemed unconstitutional in New York City.
Councilman Ivey asked if the Chief could include the number of times/month that this policy is implemented in our monthly crime report.
The other item that the PAB and Chief discussed was the policy for when an officer reports on pointing his/her service weapon at a subject. They have suggested that reporting should add a new line in the monthly report for 'threat of force'. The chief will provide the council with the current categories when officers are taught to remove their service weapon from the holster.
We will be continuing this discussion at the August Worksession.
The Mayor will be meeting with other Mayors to discuss which vendors they have used to conduct surveys and we will discuss this further.
*These are the personal notes of Council Member Elizabeth MacKenzie and are not official minutes of The Cheverly Town Council*