LIVE BLOG: March 5 City Council Meeting
Havre de Grace City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
8:45 p.m.: The meeting adjourns, with council moving into a closed session.
8:43 p.m.: Public comment period begins.
Garrett Lyttle asks residents to attend a fundraiser Friday at Coakley's Pub. From 5 p.m. to close, 10 percent of all sales will be donated to the Independence Celebration Committee—which needs about $75,000 for the annual July 4 festivities.
8:42 p.m.: Council President Bill Martin thanked Councilman Craig for his efforts in working toward the feasibility study and potential new high school.
Martin, a teacher at Aberdeen Middle School, urged parents to talk to their children about the annual Maryland School Assessment—part of No Child Left Behind. All students in grades 3 through 8 will take the test from March 12-16.
"Tell them to do their best, because schools are judged by this test," Martin said. "I'll be the first one to tell you I can teach a kid all year long ... when I administer the test, they just don't want to take the test. It doesn't affect them directly, it doesn't go on their grade."
Martin said the quality of schools will impact a number of things in a community, including home values.
Martin reads a prepared statement noting that City Council, the city attorney, director of administration and director of finance attend the closed session. Council unanimously approves the closed session, to begin after the public comment period.
8:21 p.m.: Councilman Randy Craig said there will be a meeting with the Harford County Board of Education to discuss a feasibility study for a potential new high school. It will be held from 6-8 p.m. on March 21 at the Havre de Grace High School auditorium.
Craig said the meeting will outline a schedule and a scope, rather than for community input to the board.
"Attendance at this presentation is critical to move this project forward," Craig said. "Little community attendance at this meeting will mean the status quo."
"Quality schools make localities more economically competitive," Craig added. "It is indisputable that good schools improve property values."
Craig, an HHS alum, said a magnet program should be an important factor in the feasibility study.
8:19 p.m.: Councilman Jim Miller said he will file for the May election Tuesday, as he previously confirmed to Patch.
Miller said he will recommend a number of members of the planning department staff for "Did You Know Awards" for their recent efforts.
8:17 p.m.: Councilman John Correri expressed his condolences to the Raudenbush family.
Correri said Chief Jeremy Mothershed of the Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps will be in attendance at the next council meeting, and may bring the corps' new vehicle for residents to see.
8:16 p.m.: Councilwoman Barbara Wagner makes mention to the Destination Market Study, handled by the Greater Baltimore Committee, to dissect the tourism potential in Harford County.
Wagner is excited to hear from residents about how the study is viewed within Havre de Grace.
8:12 p.m.: Councilman Fred Cullum said he will file for the May election Tuesday, as he previously confirmed to Patch.
8:10 p.m.: Mayor Dougherty begins his address by passing along condolences to the family of former City Councilman Arnold Raudenbush, who passed away last month.
Dougherty also urged residents to visit McDonald's Tuesday for a fundraiser for the Havre de Grace prom.
Dougherty said the total cost for dredging was $469,200—only $117,300 of which will be paid by the city. FEMA will reimburse $351,900 of that.
Dougherty also revealed the cruise ship "Glory" will anchor in Havre de Grace in May and June at the following times:
- May 10 at 1 p.m.
- May 13 at 8 a.m.
- May 24 at 1 p.m.
- May 27 at 8 a.m.
- June 7 at 8 a.m.
Dougherty adds that one or two blank rounds will be fired from a shotgun around 5 p.m. on March 17 during a demonstration by Ducks Unlimited. The event will take place on the promenade near the Decoy Museum.
Dougherty said Councilwoman Barbara Wagner and the Green Team will oversee a clean-up of hazardous materials at David R. Craig Park on April 21—Earth Day.
Dougherty praised the performance of The Tidewater Players' Of Mice and Men.
Dougherty notes that the election filing period begins Tuesday.
7:48 p.m.: Police Chief Teresa Walter urges residents and visitors to be cautious as the weather warms up—particularly in the area of James R. Harris Stadium.
7:44 p.m.: Larry Parks, director of public works, said a request for bid has been put out for a project to replace Lewis Lane between U.S. Route 40 and the CSX railroad tracks. The request can be found on the Havre de Grace city website.
7:41 p.m.: Neal Mills, director of planning, notes that the staging area for Maryland Transportation Authority during the work on underwater pilings on the Hatem Bridge will be on a vacant lot on Water Street, located across from Price's Seafood.
7:40 p.m: Carol Mathis, director of administration, delivered an update on the Opera House.
Mathis said: "The mortar that was missing from all the bricks has been completed. The chimney has been repaired. We also will continue to do miscellaneous repairs to keep the building in good shape while we’re waiting to secure some funding for the rehabilitation."
7:39 p.m.: Public comment period passes without comment.
7:38 p.m.: Mitch Mitchell addresses council on behalf of the staff and tenants of St. John’s Commons.
Mitchell said the 40 units are 100 percent leased, with only 20 parking spots leased.
After a variance, the project was required to have just 29 spots, rather than the 80 required by city code.
“As you all know, St. John’s Commons was a very questionable project. We worked on it for eight years. … It took us only eight months to build the structure after all that was approved.”
Members of the St. John’s Commons staff joined Mitchell in the council chambers.
Councilman Fred Cullum joked that there are an abundance of loud parties at the building.
“It’s a beautiful building,” Cullum said. “It’s a nice facility, and I’m glad to have it in my neighborhood.”
Council President Bill Martin said he’s proud of the project, adding: “I just really hope I can spend my final years in a city where I raised my family. I hope there’s space for me, and I hope we build another one.”
Mitchell said he has been approached about building another facility.
“Somewhere along the line, there will be another one,” Mitchell said.
7:30 p.m.: Garrett Lyttle, of the Water/Sewer Commission, presents a report as outlined by the city charter.
In the presentation, Lyttle—on behalf of the commission—urges council to consider a four-year proposal made earlier in 2012 to make the water/sewer fund solvent by 2016.
"I hope it gets resolved. I think it will. We have a great plan coming before council, and I hope it gets passed," Lyttle said.
Lyttle and Mayor Dougherty give kudos to Councilman Fred Cullum, who chairs the commission. Cullum thanked the members of the commission.
Cullum urges council to seriously consider the commission's recommendation.
7:24 p.m.: Rick Ferguson, Commander of the Havre de Grace American Legion, and Carol Baker, 3rd Vice Commander, State of MD Dept of American Legion, address City Council to dispel any rumors that may be circulating about the Havre de Grace American Legion Post.
“There are a lot of rumors about the post closing, the doors being locked. Those are not true,” Baker said.
She added that, though the organization is undergoing a reorganization, it will continue to serve the community “for the next few hundred years at least.”
7:18 p.m.: Havre de Grace High School’s Monique Watson is honored with a student of the month award.
Monique has carried a GPA of 3.75 or greater since middle school and is the president of the junior class, HHS principal Pat Walling said. Monique is a member of the all-county orchestra, a choreographer and a member of the school dance team. She also volunteers at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center.
Ranked seventh in her class, she is also a member of the National Honor Society.
She is here with her mother. Her father is in the military and headed to Afghanistan.
7:10 p.m.: Meadowvale Elementary School’s Nicole McFarland is honored with a student of the month award. Nicole is a member of the school chorus, a local cheerleading squad, and is credited with being a role model for her peers.
7:04 p.m.: Council approves an addition to the agenda: a presentation by Mitch Mitchell on St. John's Commons. The presentation will be item C under presentations on the agenda.
7:02 p.m.: Chaplain Nick McDonald of Upper Chesapeake delivers the opening prayer.
7:00 p.m.: The meeting begins.
6:58 p.m.: The council chambers are buzzing with activity tonight. The meeting will begin soon. All council members are in attendance.
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Check out our council meeting preview, which includes a PDF file of the agenda.
NOTE: Lulls in reporting happen from time to time due to wireless internet connectivity inside the council chambers.