February 19, 2007

A meeting of the Town & Gown Committee took place on Monday, February 19, 2008 in the City Manager's Conference Room.

Members attending included: Jim Flatley, Vance Funk, Deb Hoff, Carl Luft, Casey Patriarco, Hal Prettyman, Marilyn Prime, Cathy Skelley, Ron Smith, Ezra Temko, and Paul Tiernan. Also in attendance was City Councilman Stu Markham from District 6 and several members of the public.

1. The meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm by Chairman Ron Smith. Mr. Smith recognized retiring City Manager Carl Luft and thanked him for all of his assistance to the Committee.

2. Approval of November 19, 2007 Minutes

The minutes were approved as received.

3. Police Reports

City of Newark - Chief Tiernan provided a summary of offenses. Robberies were reduced significantly by about 30%, and Rapes were down by 15%. There was a slight increase in Aggravated Assaults, and Motor Vehicle summonses were up over last year. Mayor Funk commented that service calls were noticeably lower this year. A grant was received from the State for a mobile police station which should be available by the fall according to Chief Tiernan. Plans were for the unit to be parked on Main Street when the students return to school, and crime prevention literature will be offered.
University of Delaware - Chief Flatley reported on two robberies that occurred the same evening. At the Trabant University Center, a female individual stole two purses from a table. The victims chased the suspect, caught up to her and got their purses back. They were able to obtain the license plate number of the vehicle she got into which assisted greatly in the investigation. It appeared the same group then went to Christiana Towers and held up another female student, this time at knifepoint, and took her purse. The driver of the vehicle in the first robbery was arrested, although the female suspect had not been apprehended. The victim from the second robbery was unable to identify the suspect. Chief Flatley also reported that all University of Delaware police officers were now armed on a full time basis. They were currently understaffed but in the process of hiring additional officers and will have between 48-50 officers by this time next year.

Mrs. Jean White expressed concern regarding the carrying of firearms and hoped this would not lead to situations in which there would be some type of unforeseen accident. Mr. Luft advised that the training received by the University police officers was exactly the same training provided to the City and County police. Chief Tiernan added that the University police were very well trained, and he was confident in their ability to protect the students while keeping their safety in mind. Ms. Hoff reported the decision was not made lightly by the University, and great consideration was given to all the potential difficulties that might be encountered. She stated on behalf of the administration that this was a prudent decision. Ms. Patriarco attended a forum directed to addressing concerns about the issue, and she felt students left the forum feeling much less apprehensive.

4. Old Business

- Executive Committee Membership and Duties

Prior to tonight's meeting Mr. Smith e-mailed a draft report on the construction of the Executive Committee, what will comprise it, what it was charged to do and when it will meet. This draft was discussed informally by the Executive Committee, and Mr. Smith asked T&G members to provide comments to him for further discussion at the next Executive Committee meeting. A revised version will be presented at the March T&G meeting.

- Recounting Chapel Fest - Views and Future Direction

Mr. Smith wanted to initiate a more in depth conversation regarding Bill No. 07-38 that was drafted to amend Chapter 23 of the Code, by redefining a private social gathering and by providing for required fines and eviction after a second offense.

Ms. Patriarco met with several members of Council and City staff after the first reading to discuss the student perspective and emphasized the bill as drafted would not take care of the issues the bill targeted. She felt an eviction clause would not change anything and due to the nature of Chapelfest and the way the party spread down the street, there was no way to tell which house actually started the party. If this ordinance was implemented, she questioned how would a determination be made as to who should be evicted. Ms. Patriarco commented Chapelfest had become a tradition for students, and it was unfortunate that it was held off campus.

Chief Tiernan advised the main purpose of the ordinance was to give the City the opportunity to plan for security and traffic, to know the number of people attending, and to make sure the students were also prepared. Chief Tiernan felt there was flexibility regarding the eviction provision. He stated the City would not randomly charge or evict students, but rather, would first conduct an investigation to find the responsible party.

Mr. Prettyman, a landlord on North Chapel Street for 30 years said he had tenants who did not want to participate in Chapelfest but had no choice as their properties were literally overrun during the event. Mr. Prettyman said the issue was a real concern from a liability standpoint, and from a landlord's perspective, they were not interested in having Chapelfest. He felt it should be a requirement for landlords to sign permit requests for their properties. Mr. Prettyman tried to stop some of the parties himself, but it was impossible.

Mr. Funk said there was a big difference between the event in 2006 and 2007. In 2006, the Chief called every Chapel Street landlord and met with some of them. Almost all the landlords then met with their tenants. There were additional police officers put on duty, and the City contacted the ABCC who provided manpower as well.

Mr. Smith questioned whether the bill could be tabled indefinitely. Mr. Funk said it would not be brought up until at least the end of April to give the students an opportunity to respond. Further, there was some concern about the 150 person attendance number because there were several Greek organizations whose membership exceeded that number.

Mr. Smith proposed inviting all the stakeholders to a town conversation about this subject in order to arrive at some decision and develop a plan to present to Council.

Ms. Hoff agreed this would be worthwhile only if T&G came up with a recommendation to present to Council when they reconsidered the bill. She expressed concern as to how it evolved and questioned whether it was reviewed with the landlord association or any other involved parties before it was put forward. She remarked the City could not expect to enforce the ordinance without having the landlords on board. Ms. Hoff was also troubled about the bill's impact from a community relations aspect and stated there should have been discussion with various stakeholders, including the University, before it got to this point. Ms. Hoff advised that T&G and groups such as Student Government should designate someone to read the Newark Post to make sure they do not get caught off guard which she felt happened with this bill.

Mr. Luft advised the bill was put together in response to a reaction of Council members who became very concerned about Chapelfest. He stated that staff discussed the regulations with the Acting Police Chief which was later reviewed by the City Solicitor. The ordinance was then sent to Council for a first reading.

Mr. Markham explained there was a standard procedure that was followed, and the bill was advertised in the newspaper and posted on the City website. Further, he said the discussion had to take place in public according to FOIA regulations.

Mr. Temko suggested looking into what happened at Chapelfest to determine what constructive role T&G might play. He explained one of the reasons for more frequent T&G meetings was for the Committee to more promptly respond to Council when an issue was referred to them. Further, one of the Executive Committee's charges was to review upcoming Council legislation.

Ms. Hoff asked Mr. Prettyman if there was anything in his lease to address this issue. His lease stated the tenants were not permitted to have any kegs of beer and could not have a party with more than 15 people. If the tenants ignored the lease and the police made an arrest, he deducted a $300 fine from the security deposit. He noted several other landlords had the same provisions, and the Landlord Association discussed having a uniform clause in their leases.

Mr. Smith proposed the Executive Committee meet and develop a list of people to invite to a town conversation with tentative meeting dates. Ms. Hoff suggested that T&G invite the principals whose interest in the ordinance would have some weight.

5. New Business

- Upcoming Events - U Don't Need It

Ms. Hoff had not yet met to discuss the 2008 event but anticipated a successful event was possible in spite of the unresolved issue regarding the location. She said the Delaware stadium area would probably not be available since commencement would be held there at the same time as the U Don't Need It campaign. Further, Ms. Hoff's involvement with the project would be severely diminished because commencement has been assigned to her office, and that was her top priority. Unfortunately, the funding provided by DNREC last year would not be available this year. Ms. Hoff would like to see this event continue as she felt it was an important outreach for T&G.

The Curtis Paper Mill might be a possible site for the event with the addition of tents or canopies to provide weather protection for the donated items. Mr. Smith asked Committee members to communicate any ideas for possible sites to Ms. Hoff.

Mr. Al Matlack commented on the success of last year's event with 64 tons of materials diverted from the landfill and 55 needy families were helped. He indicated the tonnage diverted could be increased if DSWA provided igloos to handle bottles and cans. He further noted that more volunteers were needed and would like the possibility explored of having a publicly funded intern who could do the legwork in lining up volunteers.

- Newark Volunteer Recognition Event

The proposed date and location for the event is Monday, May 5th at the Trabant University Center Theatre, and Ms. Hoff will confirm the date and space with Maryanne Green. Mr. Smith hoped for good participation from Committee members at the reception.

- Town Anniversary

The 250th Anniversary Parade will be held on Saturday, April 12th at 3:00 p.m. T&G's involvement in the parade and at the banquet was discussed, and Mr. Smith asked Committee members to e-mail him with their suggestions. Several ideas mentioned were marching in the parade with the T&G banner and members wearing their T&G shirts, or Committee members “adopting” the trolley (if Dart agreed to make it available) where the T&G banner could be displayed. This topic will be further discussed by the Executive Committee.

- Friends of Newark Forum Series 2008

Mr. Smith distributed a notice (see attached) on the 2008 forum series, Transforming our Main Street & Strengthening Our Community. This was the outcome of the Friends of Newark's forum ideas and was spoken about by David Robertson at a previous T&G meeting.

6. Public Comments

In regard to Bill No. 07-38, Mrs. Jean White mentioned the first permits required for large gatherings (over 500) came about because of Wilburfest. The threshold was then lowered to 250. Mrs. White felt that future meetings regarding the proposed ordinance should be held publicly, and expressed disappointment that the students chose to focus their attention on this subject.

As an alternative to Chapelfest, Mr. Matlack suggested the administration and student government plan a non-alcoholic get together on the Green.

Mr. Temko recommended at future T&G meetings it would be more time effective for Public Comment to be heard during the individual agenda items.

7. Next Meeting

The next regular meeting will be held Monday, March 17th, at 7:00 p.m. Executive Committee meetings were scheduled for 2/27/08 and 3/5/08.

8. Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

Alice Van Veen

Town & Gown Meeting Agenda

Tuesday, Febuary 19, 2008 - 7 P.M.
City Manager’s Conference Room

1. Call to Order

2. Approval of February 19, 2008 Minutes

3. Summarized Police Reports

4. Updates
Executive Committee meetings
Chapelfest meeting
UDon't Need It
Friends of Newark Forums

5. Old/New Business

6. Public Comments

7. Next Meeting Date

8. Adjournment

The above agenda is intended to be followed, but is subject to changes, deletions, additions, and modifications by motion of the Committee.

If you cannot attend this meeting, please contact Pat Fogg in the City Secretary's Office at 366-7070.

Executive Committee membership & duties