July 23, 2018

Old Lyme Town Meeting Tonight Includes Vote on Town Contribution of $1.75M for OL-PGN Library Upgrades

A vote on the Town of Old Lyme’s contribution of $1.75 million for renovations and upgrades to the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library is planned for July 23, at a Special Town Meeting.

UPDATED, July 23: A Special Town Meeting will be held tonight, Monday, July 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the Meeting Hall of the Old Lyme Town Hall at 52 Lyme St. to consider a proposal to appropriate $1.75 million towards the cost of the capital construction project being undertaken at the Library by the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association, Inc.  It is anticipated that a vote will be taken on the proposal at the meeting.

Asked why the library needed renovating, OL-PGN Library Director Katie Huffman explains, “The current building was renovated  nearly 25 years ago and many of the mechanical systems are nearing the end of their natural life expectancy. These include several rooftop HVAC units, two boiler pumps, and the lighting fixtures.” She adds, “The carpet, paint, furnishing, and other finishes have likewise not been updated since 1995.”

Huffman also notes that significant changes have occurred in our culture and the way people gather information in the past 25 years.  The advent of social media and smartphones, the decreasing cost of technology, and a dramatic increase in publishing and the availability of information have changed people’s information needs.  She points out that perhaps surprisingly to some, “Rather than decreasing dependence on the Library, these changes have resulted in a 70 percent increase in reference questions since the new building opened in 1996.”

This plan shows the proposed layout of the main floor after the renovation is complete.

She continues, “During this time the Library has already added services, including one-on-one technology assistance, new e-collections, and more programs (a 90 percent increase), which in turn, are attended by even more people (a 140 percent increase).

Finally, Huffman says, “Input from survey and focus groups during long-term planning begun in 2013 identified opportunities to meet patrons’ needs and expectations better.” This means that many of the goals set by the library in response to those needs and expectations require changes to the library’s space.

The total project cost will be $3.05 million.  This cost will include both construction and soft costs, such as furnishings, technology, and shelving.  It also includes a built-in construction contingency fund.  Significantly, the library has secured a $1.0 million construction grant from the Connecticut State Library, thus dramatically reducing the impact of the funding required for the project on Old Lyme taxpayers.  Moreover, the library has committed to raising $300,000 through its own efforts.

The library is requesting $1.75 million from the Town of Old Lyme.  If this request is passed at Monday’s Town Meeting, the impact on the owner of a house appraised at $347, 200 is estimated conservatively at $24 for the 2019-20 tax year.  The respective number for a house appraised at $540,200 is $38.

The site plan of the proposed renovation which shows no change to the current footprint of the library.

It is anticipated that if the request for funding passes this evening, construction will start in early 2019 and be completed by the fall of the same year.

For more information on the library renovation proposal including the opportunity to view the library’s slide show presentation, visit this link.

The second item on the agenda for the Special Town Meeting is a proposed ordinance to amend the Town’s Harbor Management Plan.  This ordinance will create a procedure for the Harbor Management Commission to recommend variances from the Harbor Use Zone Standards of the Plan to a state or local permitting authority acting on an application to conduct activities affecting the waters of Old Lyme.

A copy of the proposed ordinance is posted on the Town’s website and paper copies are available for review in the office of the Town Clerk.  

If approved by the Town Meeting, this ordinance will be effective 15 days after its publication in a newspaper having a circulation in the Town of Old Lyme.

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Old Lyme Residents Approve Town Budget, Tax Rate Set to Increase to 21.91 Mills from Current 21.75

Old Lyme residents unanimously approved both the Town’s proposed $36,301,175 budget, and also an amended and restated retirement plan for the Old Lyme Fire Department, Inc. and Old Lyme South End Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc. at the annual town meeting held last night in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium.

Visit this link for a full report of the meeting written by Kimberly Drelich of The Day and published yesterday evening on theday.com

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Old Lyme Holds Annual Budget Meeting Tonight

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen will host the Annual Budget Meeting on Monday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium at 18, Lyme Street in Old Lyme.  Agenda items, which may be voted on at the meeting, include:

  • The adoption of the budget for the fiscal year July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, as recommended by the Old Lyme Board of Finance.
  • A proposal that taxes in the Town of Old Lyme on Real Property and Personal Property will be paid in two equal semi-annual installments with the first payment due on July 1, of this year and the second payment due on Jan. 1, 2019.  Any taxes of less than $100 for the year will be due in one payment on July 1, of this year and any taxes in any amount owed for vehicles will be due in one payment on Jan. 1, 2019.
  • A proposal that the Old Lyme First Selectwoman is authorized to execute the “Old Lyme Fire Department, Inc. And Old Lyme South End Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc. Retirement Plan,” amended and restated effective Jan. 1, 2018 (“Plan”), and the “Amended And Restated Trust Agreement For The Old Lyme Fire Department Inc. And Old Lyme South End Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc. Retirement Plan” (“Trust”). This proposal also authorizes the First Selectwoman, the Board of Selectmen and the Town of Old Lyme and/or their respective designees, without need for additional approval by the Town Meeting, to exercise all rights and perform all duties given them by the Plan and the Trust, including:
    • appointment of a Pension Committee and of a Trustee(s),
    • making of agreements with the trustee(s),
    • making of amendments to the Plan and/or to the Trust and any agreements made in relation thereto.
  • A proposal that the sum of $80,000 should be appropriated for use by the board of selectmen to pay expenses incurred by the Town as a result of the need to amend and restate the Plan and create the Trust (as defined above.)
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Lyme Holds Annual Budget Meeting Tonight

9:28am Update: Meeting Date Corrected — The Town of Lyme will hold its Annual Budget Meeting tomorrow evening, Thursday, May 17, starting at 7:30 p.m. in Lyme Town Hall at 480 Hamburg Rd.  The agenda includes the following items:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of the Town of Lyme Annual report for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2017.
  2. Acceptance of the Emerson Cemetery property from the Jewett family to the Town of Lyme.
  3. Consider and approve the Town joining an approved Connecticut Health Department or approved Connecticut Health District.
  4. Consider and repeal of the 1968 ordinance relating to Public Health in the Town of Lyme.
  5. Consider and act on estimates and recommendations of the Board of Finance for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2019.

There are expected to be several votes during the meeting.  All residents and citizens qualified to vote in a Town Meeting must be present if they wish to vote.

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Completion of Sound View Streetscape Celebrated with Cake, Pizza, Ribbon-Cutting … and Smiles!

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and Sound View Commission Chairman Frank Pappalardo stand with their ribbon-cutting scissors and symbolic beach construction toys during the celebrations.  Photo by MJ Nosal.

Around 30 people were present yesterday on Hartford Ave. in the Sound View section of Old Lyme to celebrate the completion of the streetscape improvements on Hartford Avenue at Sound View.  The project, for which expenses were refunded up to 80 percent by a federal transportation grant, included new sidewalks, ADA accessible ramps, drainage, a bike lane, bump-outs, decorative posts and paving.

All the members of the Sound View Improvement Committee (SVIC), except Arthur ‘Skip’ Sibley who had a prior engagement, were present.  Chairman Mary Jo Nosal presented each of them — Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, Sound View Commission Chairman and SVIC member FFrank Pappalardo, Angelo Faenza, Jim Lampos, John McDonald and Rob Haramut of RiverCOG — with symbolic beach construction toys.

Old Lyme Selectwoman and Sound View Improvement Committee Chairman Mary Jo Nosal cuts the cake celebrating the completion of the Sound View streetscape.

Other distinguished guests were representatives from the state Department of Transport and the Inspector Engineer from the construction company WMC.

Dee and Jerry Vowles, who are the owners of The Carousel Shop, and Lenny Corto who manages Lenny’s on the Beach, joined a number of other Hartford Ave. residents at the celebrations.

Due to the ongoing threat of rain, after the ceremonial ribbon cutting outside on Hartford Ave., the celebratory speeches and consumption of pizza from Teddy’s and cake had to be relocated to the Shoreline Community Center.  In her speech, Reemsnyder commended Nosal and her committee for their enormous efforts to see the long-awaited project through to completion.

 

 

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Old Lyme Joins 37 Other Towns in 2018 Sustainable CT Challenge

In February 2018, the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen voted to join Sustainable CT, an exciting new initiative to support Connecticut’s cities and towns. The statewide initiative, created by towns for towns, includes a detailed menu of sustainability best practices, tools and resources, peer learning, and recognition.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our community; a chance for representatives from our many organizations to work together toward common goals. The idea has been met with much enthusiasm and we can’t wait to get started,” comments Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

The Sustainable CT platform supports a broad range of actions, such as improving watershed management, supporting arts and creative culture, reducing energy use and increasing renewable energy, implementing “complete streets” (streets that meet the needs of walkers and bikers as well as cars), improving recycling programs, assessing climate vulnerability, supporting local businesses, and providing efficient and diverse housing options. 

Old Lyme has already embraced so many of the key concepts – the Town is already known as an arts community and Sustainable CT will enable Old Lyme to take that support to a new level. There is no cost to participate and communities will voluntarily select actions that meet their unique, local character and long-term vision. After successful implementation of a variety of actions, municipalities will be eligible for Sustainable CT certification.

The initiative was developed under the leadership of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University in partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.  Three Connecticut philanthropies – The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Hampshire Foundation, and the Common Sense Fund – have supported the program’s development and launch.

“We are thrilled that Old Lyme has passed a resolution to join Sustainable CT. The program builds on many current success stories in our communities to create and support more great places to live, work, and play,” said Lynn Stoddard, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy.  “We are looking forward to working with the Town as they pursue Sustainable CT certification.”

If you are interested in working with the Sustainable CT Team in Old Lyme, contact the Selectman’s Office at selectmansoffice@oldlyme-ct.gov.

For more information on Sustainable CT, visit the program’s website at www.sustainablect.org.

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Old Lyme Town Budget Hearing Tonight in Town Hall

The Old Lyme Board of Finance will conduct a public hearing on the proposed town budget for the 2018-19 financial year this evening, Monday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Meeting Hall of the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall at 52 Lyme Street, Old Lyme.

The proposed budget totals $9,957,916, which represents a 1.4 percent increase over the current year’s budget.  Major factors impacting the budget are reduced income from the state and increased healthcare insurance premiums for Town employees.

The two largest expenditure items are $300,000 for the Mile Creek bridge replacement and $230,000 for road overlay projects throughout the town.  Expenditure on the upcoming renovation project for the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library is not included in the budget.

The anticipated increase in the mill rate that would be required under the proposed budget is 0.16 mills from 21.75 to 21.91.  The mill rate is not finalized, however, until after residents have voted on the budget.  That vote is scheduled to take place at a Town Annual Meeting on May 21.  The vote on the Region 18 budget is planned for Tuesday, May 8.

A copy of the proposed town budget can be viewed at this link.

 

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Sincere Thanks to the ‘Key Retrievers’ at Old Lyme Town Hall

To the Editor:

I want to let you know what an amazing job Scott D’Amato and Lawrence Galbo did retrieving my keys from the storm drain in front of Town Hall yesterday. It wasn’t an easy job and I don’t know what I would have done if they didn’t do it. Thank you once again.

Thank you also to the women in Town Hall who contacted Public Works.

Sincerely,

Donna Staab,
Old Lyme.

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Honoring Those Who Serve … or Served

Firing a three-round salute to honor all US Veterans.

Despite the bitterly cold weather last Friday, a brief but touching ceremony to honor the nation’s veterans was held outside Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall led by members of the Lymes’ Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #1467.

Larry Olsen, Commander of Post #1467, (at left in photo above) gave introductory remarks and offered prayers.  He was joined by fellow VFW members in uniform, the newly-re-elected Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (in white jacket in photo above) and a number of local townspeople.

A three-round salute was fired and then a Lyme-Old Lyme High School student (in red jacket in photo below) played ‘Taps’ followed by a second student playing the echo.

Finally, when the ceremony was concluded, the veterans were no doubt relieved to go into the town hall for some well-earned refreshments … and warmth!

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Old Lyme Selectmen to Discuss Blight Ordinance, Pump Station Lease Agreement at Special Meeting This Morning

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen is holding a Special Meeting this morning at 9 a.m. to review the updated draft Blight Ordinance with the town attorney, zoning and building officials, fire marshal and Ledge Light Health District Sanitarian.

The second item on the agenda is to review the review the draft lease agreement for the pump station with town attorney.

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Old Lyme Town Hall Gets a Facelift

Painters from Martinez Painting work on the upper sections of Old Lyme Town Hall.

During 2007-2008, Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall was renovated and an addition built, providing ADA accessibility and mechanical upgrades as well as expanded space. The results pleased both staff and visitors but that was nearly 10 years ago, and in some areas, the paint on the older portion of the facility failed to adhere.

It also became apparent that many of the plantings along the building were too close to the exterior siding and this, in combination with the passage of time, caused a number of areas of rot and deterioration.

The front entrance of the Old Lyme Town Hall is being refreshed with a new coat of paint.

This summer, the exterior of the building was power-washed and the deteriorated skirt and corner boards (which contained lead-based paint) were removed. These latter will be replaced with material that resists rot and is appropriate for use at or near ground level.

All remaining surfaces will be scraped, encapsulated and will receive two coats of fresh paint.

Even the flag pole gets a fresh coat of paint!

The contractor for project, which started Aug. 1 and should be completed by Sept. 10, is Martinez Painters of Clinton, Conn. 

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Mass Dispensing Exercise Held in Old Lyme to Prepare for Bioterrorism Attack

Joanie Bonvicin receives her “medication” from a Visiting Nurse in Old Lyme Town Hall during the Mass Dispensing Exercise held Tuesday.

On Tuesday, June 6, Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall was the site of the first full-scale, mass dispensing exercise in the state. The goal of the exercise was to simulate a realistic outbreak of anthrax, one of the more likely agents to be used in the event of bioterrorism, or any other agent that might be used in such an attack. Old Lyme’s emergency preparedness made great strides through the completion of this exercise, and the Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) along with the Visiting Nurse Association were both vital contributors in the process.

The exercise was successful in that the ‘throughput’ time between someone arriving at town hall and being dispensed with the appropriate medicine was reduced from over six minutes to approximately two during the morning. Some minor hiccups in the process were identified, which, when subsequently eliminated,  enabled the process to be streamlined. Qualified evaluators kept a close eye on the practice, noting at each stage what worked and what needed improvement.

Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) Operations Lead Kris Magnussen (center) answers a question from a volunteer during the Exercise. Mike Caplet, LLHD Region 4 Supervisor in foreground keeps a watchful eye on the process.

Ledge Light Operations Lead Kris Magnussen, who is an Old Lyme resident, explained that measuring the throughput was important because, “It tells you how many people you can handle in an hour.”  This, in turn, enables LLHD to be able to estimate the total number of people that can be dealt with in any specific period and to determine how many dispensing points are needed for a certain size of population.

Magnussen spoke appreciatively of the assistance LLHD had received from Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder in enabling the exercise to take place.  Magnussen commented, “Bonnie is a great supporter.”

Busy times at the Dispensing Desk.

The participants in the exercise were town hall employees who volunteered to assist and seniors who were attending the Lymes’ Senior Center that morning and volunteered to be driven over to town hall to participate.  This latter situation mimicked the likely situation in a real bioterrorism emergency of a group of people arriving together at the same time. Each participant was timed from their arrival in town hall through to their departure. As participants exited, they were asked a series of questions about their experience, with the aim of improving anything that could expedite or facilitate the process for them. 

Louise Wallace sits by the exit doors, where she questioned every participant, marking down their questions, concerns, and suggestions. Photo by J. Ballachino.

I decided to test the process for myself. As I walked in to the town hall, I was quickly greeted and directed to the computer and printer station. Using Dispense Assist, an online screening tool, data regarding my age, weight, gender, and medical information were documented. Upon completion, a voucher was printed out for me to give to the volunteers at the dispensing station.

Submitting this information took a few minutes, but this step can be expedited if the participant completes the form and prints the voucher before arrival. Vouchers can be found at http://www.dispenseassist.net/default.html. Once the voucher was given to the dispensing station, the volunteers quickly provided me an empty tablet container which in a real life situation would have contained the correct prescription of Doxycycline that I would need to take for the next 60 days, had I been exposed to anthrax germs.

The correct “dose” of “medication” is handed to a participant in the Exercise.

By the time I received the medication and exited the exercise, less than five minutes had passed. Magnussen noted, “When the participants came prepared with a printed out voucher, it takes them under two minutes to receive the correct medication.”

An interesting development that transpired during the exercise was that it became clear that in the event of a real emergency, once town hall employees had received their own medication, they could then assist other arriving to navigate the process to obtain their own. Old Lyme Emergency Director David Roberge was on hand to support the exercise and said, “This is a really valuable process … we are learning a great deal.”

Residents of Old Lyme can be pleased that they now are a step up on other areas in regards to emergency preparedness. This mass dispensing exercise demonstrated to the LLHD how the town would be able to deal with a bioterrorism event, and identified which aspects of the exercise need improvement.

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Old Lyme Residents Vote on Town Budget Tonight

The Town of Old Lyme holds its Annual Budget Meeting this evening at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium.  A vote will be taken on the town budget, which includes Old Lyme’s share of the Region 18 school’s budget, which was approved in a referendum on May 2.  The agenda for the meeting is at this link.

There are also board of selectmen meetings in Lyme and Old Lyme at 3:30 and 4 p.m.respectively this afternoon. The agenda for the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen meeting is at this link.

 

 

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Potapaug Presents ‘Bears in CT’ at Old Lyme Town Hall, June 1

Potapaug Audubon presents “Bears in Connecticut” on Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m. at the Old Lyme Town Hall, 52 Lyme St, with guest speaker Paul Colburn, DEEP, Master Wildlife Conservationist.

This talk will focus on the natural history, habitat, diet, behavior, population and reproduction of bears, plus the current research efforts and practical recommendations for coexistence between the black bear and humans.

Black bear artifacts will be on display.

For more information, call 860-710-5811.

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Old Lyme Town Budget Calls for 3.26 Percent Increase, Requires 0.55 Mill Rate Increase to 21.75

Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell presents the Town’s proposed 2017-18 budget at Monday night’s meeting.

Around 30 residents showed up for Monday night’s public hearing in the Old Lyme Town Hall Meeting Room of the Town’s proposed budget of $36,355,031 for the 2017-18 fiscal year.  The proposed budget presented by Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell, which includes $26.5 million for Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools, represents a 3.26 percent increase over the 2016-17 approved budget.

The Towns of Lyme and Old Lyme divide the LOL Schools’ budget of $33,634, 371 between them based on percentages representing the respective number of students that each town has attending LOL Schools. The total LOL Schools budget for both towns reflects a 0.49 percent increase over the current year, but when translated exclusively to the Old Lyme budget, the sum represents a 3.65 percent increase over the current year’s figure.

Old Lyme’s general government and capital budgets, which make up the balance of the Town budget (excluding the school budget), total $9,819,829 representing a 1.84 percent increase over the current year.  This number comprises $8,774,129 for general government and $1,045,700 for capital spending.

Russell summarized key increases and decreases in the the two sections of the budget, noting that regarding grants to non-profits , “The only one to receive an an increase is the Old Lyme Library.”  He commented on the subject of Debt Service that “The only debt that the Town has relates to the Town Hall,” and that the period remaining on the debt is seven years.

The two largest single items in General Government capital expenditures are replacement of the Cross Lane Playground equipment ($150,000) and renovations to the bathrooms at Hains Park (also $150,000.)

The former expense was the reason that many in the audience attended the meeting.  Stacy Winchell, Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club President, which has been working to raise money for the playground, commented in an email after the meeting, “As we have been working diligently for three years in bringing a safe and all-accessible playground to Cross Lane, we wanted to represent to the public that we continue to support and contribute to the return of a playground at Cross Lane.”

Renovations to the Hains Park bathrooms were originally included in the boathouse plans but now needed additional funding.

Another project which received increased funding ($10,000) was a feasibility study to determine the viability of a sidewalk from Town Woods Park to Rte. 1/Boston Post Rd.

Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell answers a question about the Town’s proposed 2017-18 budget at Monday night’s meeting.

Russell said the board of finance was proposing to take, “$800,000 out of surplus to soften the blow to taxpayers,” but adding, “$600,000 was taken out of surplus for each of the last two years … but not needed last year.”  Adding, “We probably won’t need it this year,” he noted that the mill rate for 2017-18 is scheduled to increase from 21.2 to 21.75 mills, an increase of 2.58 percent.

Russell cited three examples of how the mill rate will impact property owners.  The first was for a house appraised at $347,200 and assessed at $243,000.  This homeowner paid $5,152 in property taxes in 2016-17, but will pay $5,285 under the proposed mill rate next year.

His second example related to a house appraised at $540,200 and assessed at $378,100.  This homeowner paid $8,016 in property taxes in 2016-17, but would pay $8,224 next year under the proposed budget.

Russell’s consistent message throughout the presentation was that the board always pursues a course that errs on the conservative side.  As a result, he explained, the town enjoys the highest credit rating possible.  Additionally, he noted that the board uses a predicted collection rate on taxes of 98.25 percent whereas the rate is, in fact, typically over 99 percent.

When public comment opened, one resident asked if the cameras being installed in police cars would be transferable between vehicles and Russell  confirmed they would.

Former Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold, who is now town treasurer,  stated, “The Hains Park bathhouse is a controversial issue.” He agreed the bathrooms “need to be fixed,” but said, “The question should have gone to a Town Meeting … to be aired fully.”  Griswold suggested it was now, “… lost in the budget.”

Russell responded that the question had been much discussed by the board and in the end, members had decided that since, “The Town had approved bathrooms and the boathouse,” the board should now add the necessary funds for the bathrooms into the budget.  David Kelsey commented from the floor that this new sum to fund the bathrooms is now, “… buried in the budget.”  Judith Read also questioned the boathouse project funding asking whether there was a surplus in hand on the boathouse project and if monies for the bathrooms were originally included in the boathouse project.

After the close of public comment, Russell said the proposed budget will now go forward for approval by residents at a town meeting to be held May 15.

Prior to that, Lyme and Old Lyme residents will vote separately in a referendum on the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools $33.6 million budget to be held May 2. Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in both towns and the results from each town are combined to determine if the budget has passed.  Voting in Old Lyme will be held in the Cross Lane Firehouse.

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Letter to the Editor: Old Saybrook Town Officials Says First Priority is Re-Employment of Fortune Plastics Employees

To the Editor:

The announcement by Fortune Plastics of their intended closure in April has left the Old Saybrook and Shoreline Community concerned and disappointed.  Our concern is first and foremost for the over 90 employees of the company who will be losing their employment.  It is also disheartening to see what was once a locally-owned family business leave the State.

Upon hearing the news, our offices began marshaling state and regional resources to work with the company in finding new employment for the workers.  Within a week, the Connecticut Department of Labor Rapid Response Unit organized a Job Fair at Fortune Plastics on March 4.  We also contacted local and regional manufacturers, many with positions to fill.  We will continue to partner with Fortune Plastics to make available any and all human resources in the coming months. 

Fortune Plastic’s 75,000 sf manufacturing facility will also be available for repurpose.  The Town and the Economic Development Commission plan to market the availability of this and other industrial properties so they will be put to back into full and productive use. 

While this is indeed difficult news for all affected employees and the Town, we will continue to be a town that seeks out new business opportunities to benefit workers and residents.

Carl P. Fortuna, Jr. and Susie Beckman
Old Saybrook.

Editor’s Note:  The writers are respectively the First Selectman of Town of Old Saybrook and the
Economic Development Director of the Town of Old Saybrook.

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Town of Old Lyme Sends 82 Pages of Comments on High Speed Rail Proposal to FRA

This past Monday, Feb. 13, Bonnie Reemsnyder, Old Lyme First Selectwoman, sent comments to the NEC Future Policy Advisor, Rebecca Reyes-Alicea, opposing the Old Saybrook, CT to Kenyon, RI bypass. The comments include in-depth remarks about many areas of concern, including

  • Environmental Issues
  • Geologic Features
  • Noise and Vibration
  • Artistic Significance of Old Lyme
  • Old Lyme Historic District
  • Historic Structures
  • Economic Issues.

As the proposed bypass can cause irreparable harm to the economic, cultural and environmental resources of Old Lyme and the other towns along its route, a strategy team was formed that tapped experts on all of these concerns.  The team comprised:

  • Bonnie Reemsnyder, First Selectwoman, Town of Old Lyme
  • Bennett J. Bernblum, Resident and Attorney (Old Lyme Board of Finance)
  • Michael Brown, Resident and Attorney
  • Jack Collins, Resident and Attorney (Town Attorney)
  • Catherine Frank, Executive Assistant to the First Selectwoman
  • Susan Saltonstall Duncan, Resident & Consultant (Rain Making Oasis)
  • David Duncan, Resident and Architect
  • John Forbis, Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center
  • Sam Gold, Executive Director, Lower CT River Council of Governments
  • Russ Todd, Acoustical Scientist and Engineer, A∙ʹku∙stiks Consulting
  • Claudia Weicker, Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

The document includes a lengthy list of references to acknowledge these experts.

Read the cover letter from the Old Lyme First Selectwoman at this link.

Read the 82-page supporting report at this link.  Regarding the report, Reemsnyder notes, “We believe that this document will be a guide for the FRA and NEC Future Team to assure that all areas of concern are fully addressed in Tier 2 of the process.”

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High Speed Train Route Dominates Our 2016 Stories. LymeLine Opinion: Now It’s 2017, What Happens Next?

Rendering by Robin Breeding of the high-speed train in Old Lyme drawn/created to scale.

It’s a New Year, which brings an opportunity to review and reflect on the previous year, and to make plans for the new one. We have covered so many topics throughout 2016 that we decided to enlist the help of Google Analytics to determine which have generated the most interest among our readers.

Our ‘Top 20’ of “Most Viewed Stories” included those covering

But far and away the highest number of pageviews generated in 2016 came from stories related to the proposed high speed rail track. Seven of our ‘Top 20’ stories in 2016 were about one aspect or more of the Federal Rail Authority’s (FRA) high speed train proposal with our 2016 #1 story being Greg Stroud’s Op-Ed piece back in January, which, in our mind, really sparked the whole general awareness of the situation.  That single story generated almost 6,000 pageviews.

This widespread interest in the high speed train route culminated on Dec. 19, 2016 with the announcement by the FRA that, despite more than 1,000 letters of protest from residents of Old Lyme, their Preferred Route was, after all, through Old Lyme … but now in the form of a tunnel. The FRA has, however, also refused to eliminate the possibility of the aerial track that it originally proposed, which seems a likely fall-back position for the FRA since the organization, as far as we know, has done no — yes, that’s zero — research into the practicalities of digging a tunnel under the Connecticut River estuary.

The announcement of the Preferred Route on Dec. 16, 2016 brought with it a 30-day deadline for raising comments, but unlike the comment period that accompanied the initial draft proposal announced back in December 2015, the FRA has no obligation to respond to any of the comments raised.

We know that SECoast.org, the non-profit “organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley,” and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation have together filed for an extension of the 30-day Comment Period by an additional 60 days taking it from Jan. 31 to April 1.  The extension is critical to allow more people to contact the FRA to express their concerns about the route and for more detailed analysis of the proposal to take place.  It is patently clear from the timing of the announcement of the Preferred Route (nine days before Christmas) that the FRA is hoping only a very limited number of people will bother to file comments this time, especially since the FRA is not required to respond to them.  Then they (the FRA) can argue that Old Lyme is not only placated but probably supportive of the proposal.

We also know that our elected representatives US Sen. Richard Blumenthal, US Congressman Joe Courtney, State Sen. Paul Formica (R- 20th), and State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) have all been fully supportive of efforts to persuade the FRA to reconsider the Preferred Route and we are greatly appreciative of their actions.  Similarly, the first selectmen of Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and East Lyme along with some other local state senators and representatives have all publicly denounced the proposal and we much appreciate that too.

There has also recently been a considerable surge of interest and active concern expressed by organizations in Rhode Island.  These include The Nature Conservancy of Rhode Island and the Westerly (R.I) Land Trust.

But what has happened here in our own backyard in terms of specific actions to express concern to the FRA regarding the Preferred Route?  We are fully aware that a great deal is surely happening below the radar regarding train route negotiations and respect the need for that, but in the interests of our readers, we have some questions.

  • Have the boards of selectmen of Old Lyme, East Lyme and Old Saybrook also filed for a 60-day extension to the Comment Period and/or approved motions expressing their deep concerns about the proposed route?
  • Have the Connecticut branches of The Nature Conservancy and Audubon Society, the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center or the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and the Old Lyme Land Trust issued any sort of statement regarding the proposed route and/or requested an extension to the Comment Period?
  • And what about the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce and the numerous art and other non-profit organizations in town — have they each written and requested an extension to the Comment Period?

We do know that a team has been appointed by the Old Lyme First Selectwoman to study the impact of the Preferred Alternative, but we do not know who its members are or the nature of their work. We sense a Town Meeting in Old Lyme might be helpful for residents to come together and hear from the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen (BOS) about the work currently being undertaken by the team and how the BOS intends to respond to the FRA Preferred Alternative.

We continue to be passionate supporters of high-speed rail but each one of us is currently watching as, to quote State Rep. Carney, “a dark cloud” hangs over our beautiful and irreplaceable environment, our property prices drop and our town population declines. Therefore our overarching hope for 2017 is that we all pull together to defeat the current route proposal by openly sharing information and acting as a cohesive, effective force against what Sen. Richard Blumenthal has so aptly described as a, “frankly half-baked, hare-brained notion.”

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Groundbreaking Ceremony Celebrates Start of Long-Anticipated Sound View Improvement Project

From left to right, Sound View Improvement Committee members Bonnie Reemsnyder, Frank Pappalardo, Jim Lampos, and MaryJo Nosal dig a ceremonial shovel in the sand at the groundbreaking on Hartford Ave. held Oct. 3.

From left to right, Sound View Improvement Committee members Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, Sound View Commission Chairman and SVIC member Frank Pappalardo, SVIC members Angelo Faenza, Jim Lampos and Rob Haramut (from RiverCOG), and Old Lyme Selectmen Mary Jo Nosal and Skip Sibley dig a ceremonial shovel in the sand at the groundbreaking on Hartford Ave. held Oct. 3.

The sun shone brightly as town officials, Sound View Improvements Committee (SVIC) members, design and construction personnel and a handful of Sound View residents cheerfully gathered at the flagpole at the foot of Hartford Ave. for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction on the long-awaited project to upgrade the street.

Old Lyme residents originally approved $877,000 for the project back in July of this year but this past Tuesday (Sept. 27) increased the amount approved to $911,100 to allow for the bids having come in higher than expected. The improvements comprise the reinstatement of horizontal parking on Hartford Avenue, sidewalks expanded from 3 ft. to 6 ft., lighting, plantings, bike racks and the addition of curbs and bump-outs.

A view up Hartford Ave. looking north prior to the start of the project.

A view up Hartford Ave. looking north prior to the start of the project.

The town expects to receive 80 percent reimbursement on the current project and is still exploring ways to fund the reinstatement of a park (named Sound View Green) and upgraded restrooms, which were originally included in the plan but have both now been removed due to budget overruns.

Construction is scheduled to start Monday, Oct. 10.

Construction is scheduled to start Monday, Oct. 10.

Asked how she felt now that the start of construction is finally imminent, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who also served on the SVIC, responded enthusiastically, “I’m delighted and can’t wait to see everything accomplished.  It’s going to be wonderful and also a great place to walk.”  She commented, “People have been talking about this since I became a Selectwoman in 2003,” adding, “For decades, we’ve talked about this [Sound View] being a ‘diamond in the rough.’ People are tired of talking about it – they want to see some action.”

The theme that the groundbreaking represented the culmination of years of work by many people was echoed repeatedly with Sound View Commission Chairman and SVIC member Frank Pappalardo saying, “It’s been a long time coming … it’s tremendous that we’re actually starting the project.”  He noted that the project represented, “A lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated people.”

From left to right,Ken Golden from B&W Paving and Landscaping, Sound View Commission Chairman and SVIC member Frank Pappalardo, Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal, Kurt Prochorena Principal and Civil Engineer from the engineering design firm The BSC Group, Stuart Greacen and Ed Steward from WMC-the project inspection firm.

The design and construction project personnel gathered for a photo, from left to right,Ken Golden from B&W Paving and Landscaping, Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal, Kurt Prochorena, Principal and Civil Engineer from the engineering design BSC Group, and Stuart Greacen and Ed Steward from WMC, the project inspection firm.

The project’s designer was the BSC Group of Glastonbury, Conn., and its principal Kurt Prochorena, a civil engineer, also noted the evolution of the project had taken a long time but pointed out, “It’s going to really improve the character of the area.”

Recalling that the eight-member SVIC had started meeting every two weeks back in 2014, SVIC Chairman and Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal said, “I am extremely gratified by all the efforts of the [SVIC] committee, the Sound View Commission, residents, town officials and the BSC Group, who have brought this project to fruition. It’s hopefully the start of other great things in this area.”

Sound View residents (from left to right) Frank and Patty Pappalardo, Shirley Annunziata and Joann Lishing are all smiles at the conclusion of the groundbreaking ceremony.

Sound View residents (from left to right) Frank and Patty Pappalardo, Shirley Annunziata and Joann Lishing are all smiles at the conclusion of the groundbreaking ceremony.

Sound View residents Shirley Annunziata and Joann Lishing, who have both lived in Sound View for many years, were on hand to enjoy the celebrations.  Annunziata mentioned that her family has owned in property in Sound View for some 95 years and was the first of Italian descent to buy in the area. Lishing repeated the much used phrase of the day, “This has been a long time coming,” before noting with a broad smile, “I’m so excited. It’s going to be beautiful!”

 

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Old Lyme Registrars Hold Voter Registration Session Today

The Old Lyme Registrars of Voters, Sylvia Peterson (D) and Don Tapper (R), will hold a Voter Registration Session Tuesday, Oct. 4, from 10 a.m. to 4p.m. in their office at Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall. The purpose of this session will be to complete the Preliminary Registry List for the upcoming Nov. 8 Presidential Election.

Normal office hours for the registrars are Monday 1 to 4 p.m.

People can register to vote Monday through Friday in the Town Clerk’s office if Registrars are not available.
Absentee ballots are available through the Town Clerk’s office, not through the Registrars. For more information, call the Town Clerk at 434-1605, ext. 221

There are two special voter-making sessions before each election: the third Saturday in October from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Tuesday one week before the election from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. This is the last day a person can register and be able to vote in the election.

The only people who can register and be eligible to vote in the election after that date are those turning eighteen, becoming U.S. citizens, and those who have just moved into town.

For more voter registration information, call (860) 434-1605 x 226 or email registrars@oldlyme-ct.gov

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