At its April 14 meeting, the Hampstead Town Council discussed restrictions on the town’s farmer’s market, a milestone in the Main Street revitalization project and an extended deadline for water bills.
Development projects in the town, as well as work on the Main Street project, are continuing, as construction is categorized as essential business by the state of Maryland while some businesses are closed and other restrictions are in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Town Manager Tammi Ledley said that contractors had finished work on the sidewalk, curb, gutter and landscaping in the northbound lane.
"So if it was a different time, maybe we’d have a little parade, but not right now,” Ledley said.
Next on the to-do list are lamp post installation and removal of the old sidewalk in the southbound lane.
She said town public works employees who maintain the water system are split into two teams who alternate week by week, as are the staff of Carroll’s other municipalities.
Routine maintenance that requires in-person interaction with residents is on hold. Bulk trash pickup and yard waste pickup will continue as scheduled.
Separately, the council voted unanimously to award a bid for street paving and patching in the 1900 block of Upper Forde Lane to C.J. Miller LLC, which submitted the lowest bid.
While Town Hall remains temporarily closed to the public, the town is giving residents an extension on payment times for the first-quarter water bill, which will be delayed two weeks. Bills can be paid online at www.hampsteadmd.gov, or via a check through the mail or the secure drop boxes at town hall. If residents have questions, staff are regularly checking the drop boxes and answer phone calls and emails.
The Town Council expects to be introduced to a proposed budget at their May meeting and vote to approve a budget in June.
“We’re basically running down the road at 50 miles an hour and trying to change a tire while the car is moving that fast,” Mayor Christopher Nevin said of the budget process as things change swiftly because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think the town of Hampstead will be fine, but there’s no extra. It will be a very basic, straightforward budget because, as a result of what’s happened in the last four weeks, there’s definitely a lot of uncertainty that’s been thrown into the equation,” he added.
Ledley also asked citizens to complete their 2020 Census information by phone, online or by mail. Census staff are not visiting homes right now. Census workers will never ask for social security numbers, bank or credit card information, monetary donations or political party information.
Police Chief David Snyder spoke briefly about how the department has seen a reduction in traffic crashes, and is focused on a high-visibility presence, including through checks of areas supermarkets and school meal distributions.
The Hampstead Farmer’s Market, the largest in Carroll County, might look very different this year if current restrictions in Maryland are in place until the opening date on June 6.
Councilwoman Marlene Duff said the state restrictions would limit vendors to just those selling food. Of the 32 who have applied this year, that would eliminate 11. Restrictions also forbid cooked-to-order food like what is sold at Hampstead’s breakfast station, as well as live entertainment.
The farmer’s market team is contacting vendors over the next few weeks to get a better idea of whether the market is still viable and to warn craft vendors, breakfast chefs and musicians that they might not be able to participate.
The Music in the Park events for June through September are also in question, but Councilman Wayne Thomas said they are applying for the permits.
Separately, Hampstead Lions Club announced it has decided to cancel Hampstead Day this year but plans to continue it in 2021.
“The Hampstead Day Committee would like the community to know that all of us on the committee share in the disappointment of not being able to host or attend the event this year,” the Club said in a news release.
In his closing remarks, Nevin said the mayors of Carroll County have been communicating with one another because, “We realize we’re all in this together.”
He encouraged citizens to think of local small businesses when they buy food or other items. “To the extent you can, I urge you to get carryout at these local restaurants. They’ve all taken the steps necessary to social distance and handle your food properly,” he said. And many local businesses have websites and may be an alternative to purchasing items from big-box stores.
With the Carroll County Health Department now showing cases by ZIP code, the 21074 ZIP code area of Hampstead has had 11 confirmed cases as of April 23.
“Overall, our immediate area has been spared the direct impact of this, and our hearts go out to the people in these nursing homes, particularly down in Mount Airy,” Nevin said. “As long as we continue to maintain social distancing, we should be good.”
Nevin continued, “Hopefully the governor sees Carroll County and lets us open up sooner rather than later because there are places closer to [Washington] D.C. and Baltimore County, Baltimore City that are obviously experiencing higher infection rates.”