There will be a dedication ceremony for the Chestertown marina, Nov. 1 at 1 p.m., Mayor Chris Cerino announced at the Sept. 3 town council meeting. The date is the Friday of Downrigging Weekend, so there should be a number of tall ships in the harbor to add an element of spectacle to the occasion. The ceremony will take place at the new marina headquarter building.
Cerino said the renovations for the marina are essentially complete except for some landscaping, and that the town wants to schedule the occasion to honor the “numerous federal and state agencies as well as a lot of private individuals” whose financial support made the work possible. He said the private individuals were rewarded with the opportunity to have various parts of the marina, from engraved paving stones to whole buildings, named for themselves or someone they wished to honor. He said he had decided to hold off on the actual placing of the naming plaques until the project was complete, so as to thank all the supporters at once.
Among the government agencies involved, Cerino mentioned the United States Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He said the town had invited Gov. Larry Hogan and the heads of the state agencies involved. Hogan visited the marina well before the renovations began, when in Cerino’s words, it was “a total dump.” The ceremony would give Hogan, who pushed state agencies to support the renovations, an opportunity to see the finished product, and to assess the economic benefits of the program he was instrumental in supporting, Cerino said.
Cerino also mentioned state Sen. Mike Miller, who was a strong advocate for the project in the senate, which passed a bond bill to support the marina. Sen. Addie Eckart also sponsored the bond bill, he said. “There were really a lot of helpful people at the state level,” Cerino said. He also cited Terry Ferens at USDA, who he said “singlehandedly ushered our USDA grant through the ranks.” And he cited the 600 residents who wrote letters of support, calling it a rarity to get that many people in Chestertown to agree on anything.
Also at the meeting, the council approved a resolution supporting an application for tax credits for the 98 Cannon St. restaurant, which is sited in the town’s enterprise zone. The resolution noted that the owners have spent $250,000 on renovation and $80,000 on new construction. If the application is approved at the state level, the owners would receive an 80% discount on the increased county property tax assessment for the first five years, with a 10% decrease in the discount for the next five years. The property is also eligible for a credit for state income taxes.
Cerino, reading the proclamation, noted that the restaurant is expected to add several new jobs to the local economy, as well as adding to the economy by attracting tourists and other business. He said that “some mayor down the road” will see the benefits of the program in the form of an increase in the town’s tax revenue. He said the town has previously approved tax credits for other businesses in the enterprise zone, including the Lamotte Company’s expansion, the new Dixon Valve headquarters, and the former sites of Stam’s and the Lemon Leaf Restaurant.
Ingersoll asked if there would be any difficulty in getting the application approved in view of the fact that much of the work is already done. Kay MacIntosh of Main Street Chestertown, who is working with county economic development coordinator Jamie Williams to facilitate the application, said the state commerce department, which administers the enterprise zone program, is typically willing to give “some dispensation” for qualifying projects within a reasonable time of the beginning of work.
Cerino announced that there will be a public hearing on the proposed third Bay Bridge on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at Kent County High School. The hearing, at 6 p.m., is for public comment on the proposed routes, one of which would come through Kent County near Rock Hall. Cerino noted that Gov. Hogan has said he will only support a third bridge parallel to the existing ones at Kent Island. He observed that the proposed route through Rock Hall would have to bridge the Chester River near its mouth, where it is 4 or 5 miles wide. He urged residents to put the date on their calendars and make their views known.
Councilman David Foster reported on discussions with the county government about the possibility of restoring a tax differential to compensate the town for services such as police, road maintenance and zoning, which the county does not provide within town limits. He said he is working to find other jurisdictions that could serve as “apples to apples” comparisons to Chestertown. He said he had fruitful conversations with the town manager of Denton, and was scheduled to talk to County Administrator Shelley Heller, who he said had been very cooperative in working to sort out the issues involved in a possible restoration of the differential.