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Seafood Festival bathrooms, street closures discussed in Havre de Grace

BY BRYNA ZUMER, bzumer@theaegis.com

5:58 PM EST, December 5, 2012

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Bathrooms at the Seafood Festival became a sticky topic for the Havre de Grace City Council Monday.

The proximity of portable toilets to some homes made some residents upset during last year's festival, according to some comments Council President Randy Craig said he got about the festival, which is set to run Aug. 9 to 11 next year.

He proposed relocating the bathrooms, as well as requiring the back fencing to be removed by 10 a.m. Saturday and closing Commerce Street from Union Avenue to the Yacht Basin entrance.

He also said he felt it was more appropriate to move trash containers with the seafood trash into the Yacht Basin instead of by Commerce Street.

Craig said he asked organizer Lori Maslin to prepare an updated map of the festival and she complied.

Joe Fiocchi, who lives on Commerce, said when he woke on the morning of the festival, five toilets were right outside his home.

He also said a tour bus parked in front of his home for nine hours and a storage trailer sat in front of the home for the entire festival.

Fiocchi asked the council to make sure the toilet placement especially complies with sanitary laws.

Councilman David Glenn said he wants to see the bathrooms moved from the playground area or dispersed if possible.

Maslin noted the festival gets seven or eight toilets.

She said that with all due respect to the three neighbors on Commerce who were affected, she has been running the event for years and does not set out to make their lives miserable.

The toilets are placed in a logistically appropriate place, she said.

Council members brought up other festival concerns.

Joe Smith wanted to see more security to prevent drinking outside the festival, which Mayor Wayne Dougherty assured the police would handle.

Maslin said anyone with alcohol will have to wear an armband this year and the event will have specific liquor compliance staff.

"We did have somewhat of a breakdown with people getting through our fencing with alcohol still in a cup," she said. "Our alcohol compliance is going to be at the gates this year."

Councilman Bill Martin, however, thanked the organizers for coordinating the event, which will be in its 33rd year.

"I've always been a big supporter of the seafood festival," he said. "You're always going to have problems when you bring in the general public in those kinds of numbers."

Craig said it was important to raise the issues of the council before the public, and to address the concerns of residents like Fiocchi.

Smith also suggested considering a way to eventually get traffic from the park to downtown, to encourage festival attendees to shop downtown.

Craig announced that The Oak Ridge Boys will be performing at the festival, returning to Havre de Grace to play after 25 years.

He also pointed out the festival is Maryland's oldest running seafood festival.

Annexation

No residents commenting during a public hearing on the annexation of the former Kiwi Shoe Polish can factory property on Post Road.

The annexation plan resolution was introduced and adopted in August on behalf of the current owner, LOSA Corporation, chartered in Delaware but with a corporate address in Annapolis, according to state tax records.

Craig explained at that time that the property, also known as the Susquehanna Metal Box Company proper, is less than a full acre and said many people may not have realized it wasn't already inside the city limits. All the other properties along the street in the industrial park are within the city limits, but this one was not included in the 1977 annexation that brought many of the others inside the city.

War of 1812

A resolution allowing a 15-star American flag, which was flown during the War of 1812, to be flown in the city got rave reviews from the council.

Martin introduced the measure as part of the city's ongoing efforts to commemorate the War of 1812 bicentennial.

He said he hoped to see it fly from Jan. 1 through Christmas Eve of 2014, which was the official end of the war.

Glenn said his father-in-law was a "typical veteran" during his lifetime, participating in every Veterans Day and Memorial Day, so Glenn decided to ask his brother-in-law what he thought his father would have made of the proposal.

"I asked myself the question, what would he say if we flew the 15-star flag at the park?" Glenn said. "His comment was very simple. He said, 'David, I fought for our flag. I didn't fight for a 15-star flag, I didn't fight for a 50-star flag, I fought for the American flag.'"

Glenn said he thinks it would send a "strong message" if every flag was flown consistently at the municipal park.

"I think the park gets a lot of visibility," he said.

Council member Barbara Wagner agreed, saying the park is "a very key location in the city."

"It'll bring a lot of attention to our War of 1812, 1813, celebrations that we're having," she said.

Smith echoed those sentiments.

"The flag is really a symbol of what I think we believe in for this country," he said, noting any flag that is an American flag is appropriate to be flown. "I think it's a proper and an appropriate use of this to commemorate a specific event in our city's history."

Other work

Also at the meeting, the council approved a license agreement for a front porch replacement at 182 Revolution St.

Wagner noted the structure in question "is an old building that has undergone a significant renovation."

"It was an original farmhouse and there was a front porch in the spot where this proposed new front porch will land," she said.

The council re-appointed Robert Lockard to the board of elections, Wardell Stansbury to the planning commission and Joe Kochenderfer to the water and sewer commission.

Jim Reynolds and Brian Eberhardt were recognized for their work on the city's Recreation Committee and Havre de Grace High School's girls cross-country team and boys soccer team were also recognized.

Council members also mentioned the new lights put up on trees around downtown in time for Christmas.