Queenstown talk focuses on hiring police officer
QUEENSTOWN — The idea of the town having its own police officer has been coming up consistently at recent commissioners meetings in reaction to residents’ concerns about problems in the town.
The commissioners haven’t made a decision or even have a definite proposal, but the issue came up again at their meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9. This time, residents voiced concerns about Dudley Avenue, noisy trucks at Royal Farms, and teenagers possibly causing problem at a park the town is planning.
A big problem to having a town officer is cost. Different costs for the police officer were discussed by the commissioners themselves with the highest estimate of $600,000 or at least $120,000 to start things off. Thomas Willis Jr, president of the town commissioners, said the officer would need a car, equipment, and special training. “It’s not just grab someone and tell them to go,” he said.
The town could pay a police officer with the state police or Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office to cover Queenstown. But the problem is the officer has to volunteer for it, Willis said.
Town Commissioner Mike Bowell said the residents pay taxes to the county for police coverage and they do respond.
Joe Kelkowski of Queenstown brought up the issue of law enforcement at the meeting on Nov. 9 in reaction to concerns from residents. He suggested the town get a grant to pay for a part-time police officer.
Kelkowski, who lives on Acre Road, spoke about his opposition to the commissioners’ recent move to close Dudley Avenue to through traffic. Kelkowski wants the road kept completely open. “It was a road when the town was built, and it’s always been like that,’ he said.
The commissioners for 30 days barricaded Dudley Avenue where it intersects with Del Rhodes Avenue to stop motorists from using the road as a through street and speeding. The barricades have since been removed and the road reopened to through traffic.
In the meantime, the town had sent out questionnaires to all residents, asking their opinion about Dudley Avenue. By a 3 to 1 margin, the residents, who responded, preferred to leave Dudley open to through traffic.
The exact results from the questionnaire are as follows: 66 people preferred to leave Dudley as is; 23 wanted to make it one-way; four wanted to close the street; and seven had other suggestions.
The commissioners haven’t decided on a final action for Dudley. But, if a permanent change is proposed, they will hold a public hearing on it since the change would require an ordinance.
Kelkowkski also wanted the town to hold a referendum on a new park planned next to the wastewater treatment plant on Main Street. He said the park will attract teenagers as a place to hang out. “Kids can walk down to the park, drink beer, and hangout,” he said.
But phase one of the park has already been funded by the state Department of Natural Resources with a grant of $120,000. Construction is already planned.
Also at the commissioners’ meeting on Nov. 9, another resident complained about the trucks idling and making noise when they park in back of Royal Farms on Route 301 and Del Rhodes Avenue. The resident, who lives on the street behind the store, calls Royal Farms a “truck stop.”
She said the trucks come and go, but sometimes stay for hours, idling.
In response, the town’s lawyer, Bryna McDivitt Booth, said she would send a letter to Royal Farms, warning the company that the town has a noise ordinance and will write citations for violating it.
There are signs in the back of the store, asking motorists to not idle their engines. And there’s a fence between the property and the houses. The resident said she has complained to the company, but she’s not satisfied.
At the Queenstown Commissioners’ meeting on Nov. 9, Joe Kelkowski of Queenstown suggested the town hire a police officer to address residents’ concerns.