Cerino Looks Back at First Term

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Mayor Chris Cerino gives a retrospective of his first term in office

At the final council meeting of his first term as Mayor of Chestertown, Chris Cerino took a look back at the four years since he took office. It was a remarkable reminder of just how much has happened in just a short span of time.

Gilchrest Rail Trail in Chestertown

At the top of the list were the capital projects the town has taken on, whether on its own or partnering with county and state governments, many of them enhancements to the town’s recreational facilities. The list included extension of the Gilchrest Rail Trail from Lynchburg Street to the top of High Street near Radcliffe Creek, where it connects to Gateway Park, also completed during Cerino’s term. Upgrades to the Kent County Middle School playground, done in conjunction with the school district with state Parks and Playgrounds funding, included a new track and fitness stations and repairs to the basketball and tennis courts. In Fountain Park, sidewalks were widened and a new pathway was created from the High Street side to the fountain; benches were replaced and the turf was resodded. The Ajax basketball court was repaved and playground equipment and benches were added.

Installation of Broad Reach sculpture in Wilmer Park. Photo by Jane Jewell

In Wilmer Park, the new Broad Reach sculpture was installed, initiating the town’s new public art program; also, the brick sidewalk on Queen Street was extended from the vicinity of Sumner Hall to Wilmer Park. Washington Park was upgraded by installing the benches removed in the Fountain Park renovation; there are also grant applications for additional work to upgrade the neighborhood park. And the parking area at Margo Bailey Park was expanded, improving access to the popular dog park as well as the other facilities in the park.

The town moved its police department to a larger, more modern facility at 601 High Street, closing the old police station on Cross Street and eventually selling it to Sultana Educational Foundation. A large solar field was installed at the wastewater plant, providing significant savings in the town’s power bills. The bridge on East Queen Street by Horsey Lane was also repaired, and speed bumps were installed on Calvert Street to slow traffic near Garnet Elementary School. And the holiday lights in the downtown area were upgraded, along with a renovation of Santa’s house, thanks to Yerkes Construction and Washington College’s Habitat for Humanity group.

Progress on the marketing and economic development front began with an upgrade of the town’s website, producing a more user-friendly and visitor-oriented tool for publicizing the town and its events. Cerino also cited several forums where the town heard the concerns of the business community. Designation of the Arts & Entertainment District and appointment of Kay MacIntosh as the district manager were also important steps in giving the town a fresh look, along with the revival of the Main Street Program under MacIntosh. The town also worked with Kent County and the state of Maryland to create an enterprise zone, which has already realized benefits in the form of the KRM development at the north end of town.

Visitors enjoying the Harry Potter Festival

Cerino also listed the new events that have been created to draw visitors to town. Among them were Chester Gras, sponsored by Peoples Bank; Legacy Day, sponsored by the Historical Society; the Harry Potter or HP Festival; the Young Professionals’ Brew Fest; and the Winterfest, which this year morphed into Dickens of a Christmas.

There were two major annexations, including the northeast plot where the KRM development is taking place and the site of the wastewater plant.

The town’s relationship with the hospital was a central issue throughout the term. Issues included an agreement over the oil contamination under the hospital property, under which the hospital agreed to cover the town for any damage caused by possible leakage of the oil into the town’s water supply. Also, the Save the Hospital Group worked hard to counteract reported plans by the University of Maryland Medical System to close or downsize the local hospital; ultimately, Cerino said, efforts by the town and the citizen groups led to the creation of the state’s Rural Health Care Workgroup.

The Chestertown Marina during Downrigging weekend 2017. Drone photo courtesy of ShoreStudio, by Sam Shoge

A major focus of the town’s efforts went into upgrading the town-owned marina, including replacement of bulkheads and piers, raising the level of the parking lot, replacement of the existing marina center with a new building, and an agreement to allow expansion of the Fish Whistle restaurant, which shares the waterfront with the marina.

Washington College also went through a significant period of growth during Cerino’s first term, with a new dormitory building and a new academic center on Washington Avenue. Ground has also been broken for a new boathouse and an environmental center on the college’s riverfront campus.

Cerino also noted the closing of a number of businesses, including Stam’s Drugstore and Chestertown Pharmacy, Paul’s Shoe Store, the Blue Heron restaurant, Radio Shack, Rose’s, and the Washington College Sandbox. But a number of new businesses have sprung up to replace them, including Redner’s, Tractor Supply, the Verizon store, the 7-Eleven, Bad Alfred’s and many more.

Cerino thanked the council members for working together to deal with the large load of work. “It was an honor and a privilege to work with you guys on it,” he said. “Here’s to another four years.”

Council members Liz Gross and Sam Shoge, both attending their final meeting, expressed their thanks to the town staff for making their work on the council go smoothly. Both said they were surprised by the diversity of issues and by how much they learned about the workings of the town during their time in office.

 

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Letters to Editor

  1. Anne Charles says:

    Job(s) well done…….and many thanks to the Town Staff, and departing Council members Liz and Sam….
    Best wishes for a Happy 2018….
    Anne Charles

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