City Council schedules memorial dedication

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Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
The Lighthouse Committee is hoping for enhanced lighting for the Choptank River Lighthouse.

 

CAMBRIDGE — All kinds of groups and individuals come before the commissioners of the City Council seeking needed approval for their projects and reserving days for their ceremonies. Attorney Raymond Simmons started the council session updating his project, the Distinguished Service Cross Monument. He is asked for the city to pencil in May 9 at Long Wharf for the dedication.

The memorial to five soldiers who fought in WWI results from efforts by local Post 88, 29th Division, to honor the soldiers’ bravery in the brutal trench warfare of that war. The monument is two years in the making, with delays caused by variations of the final design. The delivery of the stone for the monument also caused delays. It came from India and will be carved in Georgia. The council approved the May 9 date for the dedication. Mr. Simmons says it will esthetically enhance the Long Wharf circle, draw veterans, and bring Cambridge’s heroes and history to public view. Perhaps it will inspire young people too.

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Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas
Attorney Raymond Simmons presented his project, the Distinguished Service Cross Monument, to be dedicated May 9 at Long Wharf.

Another proposal for the waterfront is a plan for enhanced lighting for the Choptank River Lighthouse at the wharf. The Lighthouse Committee envisions lighting that would make the lighthouse “more spectacular” and more visible from the river, the bridge, and High Street. While the full moon contributes dramatic lighting, (see photo) it is not dependable on a regular basis. The committee says it needs a letter of Mayoral and Council support when a Phase I package is submitted to the Maryland Area Heritage Authority on Feb. 27. The council voted its approval.

Tax incentives for seniors moving to Cambridge and purchasing a home have been extended. The buyer must be 60 years or older and be moving into Cambridge to a principal residence. Ordinance 1043 provides for an incentive for the buyer; three years of real property tax will be reduced by 50 percent. Also eligible for tax incentives are owners of businesses within a designated waterfront redevelopment zone. Under Ordinance 1044, owners must make improvements on real property to be eligible for tax credits and other exemptions. According to Mary Calloway of the Economic Development Department, these incentives and the many attractions of Cambridge should be advertised to bring people here, to retire here, and to start businesses here.

The council allotted $12,000 for a Washington Post advertising package.

Ms. Calloway and David Harp also proposed a renewal of the city’s strategic plan from six years ago. They told the commissioners that it was time to re-evaluate where we are now, what do we do now, and rethink priorities. The Council approved a measure to hire the original planner, not to start from scratch but to examine and reset priorities from six years ago.

The Council had some big purchases to approve, not visible to the public but necessary. That includes work at the Treatment Plant, Core sampling at Sailwinds, and three new police cars to replace three vehicles that shockingly are 14 and 15 years old. Commissioners commented on Chief Dvorak‘s very active role already noticeable in his short period of leadership. New cars are not all he seeks; he’s looking at new connections and new objectives for Cambridge.

The comments from the public covered a wide range. Abe Thatcher of Locust Street spoke of unsubscribed newspapers that litter the sidewalks and the need to be picked up, but the city attorney will check the issue of freedom of the press. Shouldn’t people getting a free paper be able to pick it up off the street? Abe Thatcher, public-spirited citizen told the council that he cares about the appearance of Locust Street and he spent a whole day gathering the littered newspapers. Can the commissioners legislate neatness or pride?

Steve Ryan, also a Cambridge resident wants to know where the petitions of referendum on the issue of City Manager, signed by 1,600 people, stand. They were delivered to the Election Board for verification of the signatures, but the Election Board, says the Mayor, were not willing to certify them. Mayor Jackson-Stanley said the format of these petitions was the same as others that have been certified and she expects to meet with the Election Board and have some answers for Steve Ryan and everyone interested in the referendum process.

Meanwhile others like Marge Hull spoke for the City Manager ordinance and are eager to get that process going. She says many of the complaints that were discussed at the meeting, like shortcomings of the website, would be resolved if there were a city manager overseeing matters.

Council meetings are amazing. Five Commissioners and a Mayor tackle budget items ranging from a thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, they discuss and refine initiatives to make the city more attractive to business and newcomers, they make decisions on the treatment plant as well as a solemn monument for heroes, they issue permits to celebrate oysters, crabs, even cars.

They agree on many items but they can also disagree with civility. Government in action — it’s the best show in town, twice a month, on Mondays at Gay Street.

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