- Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 November 2013 13:25
- Published on Wednesday, 06 November 2013 13:25
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The October 24 Colonial Beach Town Council Work Session was customarily long. As usual, it was not without its controversies.
Some members of council were upset over citizen Jay Jarvis’ work on the Boardwalk Vendor Program.
Jarvis, responding to repeated requests from the current council to all citizens to volunteer their expertise to help resolve issues in the town, took charge of researching and inquiries to vendors and business owners to revamp the Boardwalk Vendor Program.
Jarvis planned to present his findings and suggestions to the entire council after coming up with a final draft. Some members of council and a few shop owners aired their frustrations that they had not been involved with the process.
Late attendees were witness to the continuing breakdown of council relations, which seems to be a trend developing with the current council. In the last 17 minutes of the meeting, a few disagreements between council members and the mayor broke out, one lasting after the meeting with a council member continuing to call the mayor names and challenging The Journal to “put THAT in the paper.”
The Journal reported in its October 30 edition the council members’ candid discussions concerning council’s attempt to force Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office to assume full responsibility for the town’s protection by attempting to disband or abolish the Colonial Beach Police Department (CBPD). Talk of exactly with what they would approach the General Assembly was unclear at the October work session.
The council is scheduled to meet with Town Attorney Andrea Erard, who will give legal council on the matter on Thursday, Nov. 14, at 9:30 a.m. Perhaps the council’s intentions will become much clearer. When three or more council members gather to discuss public business, the meetings are, by law, open to the public and press. All interested citizens are encouraged to attend.
Despite the controversies and arguments, the council did manage to discuss a few issues without opposition.
At the Oct. 24 meeting, Councilman Gary Seeber reported that the town has no control over the progress of the road project on Meadows Ave., saying, “The understanding is now, that it will be done no later than Thanksgiving. We want to put a couple of pipes under the street before we pave, to control drainage problems.” Seeber asked for concurrence from the other council members to move forward with $50,000 worth of repairs to solve drainage problems on Meadows Ave. before the paving takes place.
Councilman Tim Curtin presented an idea to council that he said would solve several problems with one solution.
According to Curtin, the town’s revitalization plan calls for approximately $728,000 in Boardwalk improvements, but several things stand in the way of progress.
First, Curtin advised, the current condition of the Boardwalk is rapidly becoming unsafe. Curtin wrote in a handout that there are numerous tripping hazards to pedestrians. Curtin feels the Boardwalk should be brought back to its previous status as the epicenter of the town.
He feels this can be accomplished without raising taxes, by splitting up the project into phases. The phases can be funded with money, which he said totals about $250,000, from previous sales of town-owned properties. However, Curtin did not reveal where these funds are being held currently.
“Failure to successfully obtain a revitalization grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) resulted in a 70-point loss in the area of self-funded capital improvement projects, according to feedback received on the 2013 DHCD grant application,” Curtin told the public.
Curtin believes proceeding with the project with town funds could help show that the town is willing to fix the Boardwalk and make the package score better in the 2014 DHCD block grant application. Curtin continued, “In addition, we will be retiring the bonds used to purchase the Boardwalk properties soon.” Curtin proposed using the funds from those payments when they become available.
Lastly, Curtin referred to a draft Request for Proposal (RFP), whose creation was headed by Councilman Jim Chiarello, on which council planned to give feedback later in the meeting. “Among things currently in the works is an RFP for the town to begin using realtors to market town-held properties for sale. Once this agreement is forged, we can begin disposing of these properties and get them back to work, generating tax revenues,” Curtin wrote in his proposal. He suggests putting funds from the sale of Boardwalk property back into beautifying the Boardwalk.
Curtin asked the council members to review his proposal and get back to him with comments or questions. Council made no significant remarks concerning Curtin’s proposal or Chiarello’s draft RFP.
However, the council did have a few weeks to review the draft RFP, having received it at the previous council meeting. It was agreed that if no issues were brought up at the work session, Chiarello would consider the matter approved by his fellow members. Council members stated they were all in agreement with the document, and the matter moved swiftly without opposition.
Next, the council will seek bids from real estate agents or firms to handle the marketing and sale of town-owned properties. The request for proposals states that interested firms should submit all documents to the Town of Colonial Beach by November 18. No date has been set stating when the council will choose an agent or firm.