CHESTERTOWN — The town council, meeting Monday, May 19, heard a recommendation that the town apply for a permit to install a solar power array at the wastewater plant.
Briggs Cunningham of the Washington College Center for the Environment & Society said the application to Delmarva Power would tell the town how much power it can generate at the plant. He said the amount is limited by what the power lines to the plant can handle. He said the town needs that information to decide what kind of system to install.
The application doesn’t commit the town to action.
Cunningham said there were several plans the town could follow, including owning the plant outright or entering into a power purchase agreement with a commercial supplier who builds the plant on town land.
He said the town would have a better idea of the advantages of each when it knows how much it could generate.
Cunningham said Standard Solar, one of the contractors that might bid on a system for the town, would complete the application at no cost to the town. He said Standard Solar would pay the application fee of $200.
Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said he would prefer for the town to make the application directly, so as not to create a possible conflict. The council voted to make the application and pay the fee itself.
There was some discussion how much power a solar plant could supply to other town facilities. Cunningham said it might be possible for the town to partner with Washington College. He said there has been talk about solar power at the college, but no action yet.
Councilwoman Linda Kuiper said the town should talk to the Kent County commissioners about their experience with solar power. She said it was complicated to figure out what was being saved.
Ingersoll said he had completed a request for proposals for a solar installation at the wastewater plant. A previous RFP, he said, got 11 responses two years ago.
He said the town was currently in a very favorable position for electrical rates, having entered into a three-year agreement at the lowest rate.
He plans to issue the RFP at the end of the month.
Also, Utilities Manager Bob Sipes updated the council on the progress of an oil cleanup agreement with Shore Medical Center at Chestertown. The town has requested revisions to the hospital’s plan to use a surfactant, Ivey-sol, to remove residual oil from the soil around the hospital, he said. He said the town is asking for a bond to cover any cleanup expenses the town faces as a result of the program.
Sipes said the hospital has submitted plans to the Maryland Department of Environment. He said the hospital told him its insurance will cover any damage or other expenses. “We’ll see the plan before the hospital proceeds with it,” he said.
In Other Business:
•Police Chief Adrian Baker gave the April crime report. Police made 16 adult arrests, resulting in 36 separate charges, and three juvenile arrests, with four separate charges filed. Also, Baker said, officers wrote 13 motor vehicle citations and 129 warnings. The RedSpeed camera issued 330 citations.
Councilman Marty Stetson asked Baker about the low amount of foot patrol during the month, 4 percent of the hours logged. Vehicle patrol made up 40 percent of the month’s activity.
Baker said the department was “critically low,” with two unfilled positions and two officers out with injuries during the month. One officer was training for K-9 duty.
He said foot patrol puts officers at a distance from their cars so they may be unable to respond rapidly to incidents elsewhere in the community.
Baker said he had made conditional offers to two police academy students, and expected both to be on the force by the end of summer. The two injured officers are recovering and are expected to return to work.
Baker also updated the council on the investigation of a recent shooting in the 400 block of Calvert Street.
•The council introduced two budget ordinances, for general government and the utilities commission. Ingersoll said the utilities budget includes an 8-percent increase in the rates. He said the increase was needed because of slow growth. He said the council had made the increase as small as it could.
There will be public hearings on the budget ordinances before the June 2 council meeting.
•The council passed a resolution in support of a Community Legacy Grant application for $100,000 by the Sultana Educational Foundation for construction of its educational center. The town is the nominal applicant, but would pass the funds directly to Sultana.
Drew McMullen, president of Sultana, said he would fill out the grant application with the aid of town Zoning Administrator Kees de Mooy.
Mayor Chris Cerino, a Sultana employee, recused himself.
•The council approved permits for a parade and encampment as part of the Caulk’s Field anniversary celebration, Aug. 29-30.
•The council approved a $2,000 donation to the National Music Festival to pay one of the mentors. Councilwoman Liz Gross, a festival board member, recused herself.
•The council heard members of the diversity dialogue group report on a possible community garden off Lynchburg Street. Residents of the area are in favor of the project, and Ingersoll agreed to help get it started.
•Cerino signed a proclamation naming May as Mental Health Month.
•Cerino reminded the council of a charrette to discuss marina issues at 6 p.m. May 28 at the marina.