Kensington rejects grant for tennis court, lobbies for beer and wine tasting legislation -- Gazette.Net


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Cash-strapped Maryland will have an extra $83,295 after the Kensington Town Council voted Monday to turn down a state grant it had won to install a new tennis court.

Town officials had sought the grant for four years, but discovered after the application was approved that there is nowhere to put the court. It must be constructed within the town and the money cannot be used for any other purpose. Kensington currently does not have its own tennis courts.

Mayor Pete Fosselman proposed to wait and see if a location arose, but council members said that was unlikely to happen.

“This is a lose-lose situation,” Fosselman said. “We are going to look like idiots if we give the money back.”

Town officials wanted to put a court on the south side of St. Paul Park, but discovered after winning the grant that the location was unusable due to a storm drain inlet and storm drain pipes, said Town Manager Sanford Daily. He said no alternate location satisfied town residents.

“I’m not trying to save face, I just think we should look at it from a practical point of view,” said Councilman John Thompson. “I don’t think we have the land.”

In other business, council members also voted to support state legislation that would allow beer and wine tasting in Kensington, a change sought by local businesses including Old Town Market and the Kensington Shopping Center, Daily said.

Kensington had been a dry town since its founding in 1894, until the sale of alcoholic beverages was approved for dine-in restaurant customers in 2007 by state legislators. In 2011, state legislators approved an additional expansion, lobbied for by the town, that allowed stores to sell alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption.

Council members agreed that beer and wine tasting should be allowed, but were not ready to approve the sale of single craft beers, which can cost $10 or more per bottle, or refrigerated alcohol for off-site consumption.

“I think that kind of takes it as far as we need to go right now,” said Councilman Mackie Barch, who pointed out that Fosselman’s leadership has led to the greatest expansion of alcohol sales in town history.

At Old Town Market on Kensington Parkway, profits are driven by food sales because no one wants to buy warm beer, said owner Rob Cooper. He also is prohibited from displaying signs that indicate alcohol sales or selling alcoholic beverages after 8 p.m. County stores are allowed to be open until 9 p.m.

Still, Cooper is excited about the prospect of beer and wine tasting, which with luck, he said, will be approved by state legislators in the spring.

Council members also passed a resolution Monday urging legislation that would restore a single polling place in Kensington for federal, state, and county elections.

Fosselman said Kensington featured a single polling place in Town Hall until redistricting split the municipality into two polling districts. Residents who live north of the CSX tracks vote at Town Hall, which is south of the tracks, according to the resolution. Residents who live south of the tracks vote at Temple Emanuel in Chevy Chase View.

The resolution officially requests that the Montgomery County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly introduces legislation that would enable the Board of Supervisors of Elections to restore a single polling place for all elections in Kensington. A single polling location fosters a strong sense of community and promotes voter turnout, according to the proposed legislation.

The town also will debut a new website next month.

jablamsky@gazette.net