November 19, 2017

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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Old Lyme Residents Approve Additional Funds for Sound View Project by 26 Votes; Joining Ledge Light Health District by Just Three Votes

Tonight Old Lyme voters approved additional funds for the  Sound View project by 102 to 74 votes. They also approved the town joining the Ledge Light Health District by just three votes, 82-79.

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Old Lyme Selectmen Host Public Hearing on Whether to Join Ledge Light Health District

Ledge_Light-Health_District_logoThe Old Lyme Board of Selectmen has scheduled a public hearing next Monday, Aug. 29, at 7:30 p.m., in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium at 53 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, to receive questions and comments from the public regarding the possibility of the Town of Old Lyme becoming a member of the Ledge Light Health District.

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All Three Items Approved at Old Lyme Special Town Meeting; Sound View Construction to Start Later This Year

From left to right standing, Rob Pinckney of the BSC Group, meeting moderator Attorney Marylin C. Clarke and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder listen attentively to a question from the floor.

From left to right standing, Rob Pinckney of the BSC Group, meeting moderator Attorney Marylin C. Clarke and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder listen attentively to a question from the floor.

More than 200 people crammed into the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium Monday evening for the Old Lyme Special Town Meeting called by the board of selectmen to consider three agenda items. Under presiding moderator Attorney Marylin C. Clarke, all three were subsequently passed on voice votes, but not without leaving some residents questioning the result of the first motion.

That motion was to authorize approval for the construction cost of Rte. 156 Bikeway/Sound View Improvements Project in the amount of $877,000.  This total comprised $595,000 for construction; $151,000 for a combination of inspection and municipal services, plus a contingency amount; $65,500 for Department of Transport materials testing, administrative costs and audits; and an additional amount of $65,000 as a buffer to allow for higher than expected bids.

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder explained that a federal grant being administered by the State Department of Transportation will cover 80 percent of the project construction costs of approximately $701,600, leaving a total cost to the town of $175,400.

In a presentation preceding the vote, Rob Pinckney of the BSC Group that served as project designers, noted the project would “employ the ‘complete street’ concept to accommodate all users and enhance safety.” He said it would provide 6 ft. wide sidewalks to the south of the bocce court on Hartford Ave., which are both safe and ADA compliant, adding that it would also allow for improved stormwater drainage and inclusion of “Sharrow BikeWays” for the whole length of Hartford Ave. These latter are lanes on which road markings are used to indicate a shared lane environment for bicycles and automobiles, which indicate, in Pinckney’s words, that “a bicycle has the right to be on the road.”

Pinckney said the proposal also provides for bumpouts, landscaping, banner poles, benches and bike racks.

Reemsnyder stressed that if the project were not approved, the Town would then be responsible for reimbursing $108,000 for charges the Town had already incurred for planning and design work on the project.  The Town had received a grant from the state that reimbursed 80 percent of these costs, but it was contingent on the project being passed.  She noted that if the project were approved, construction would begin in the fall of 2016.

When the moderator opened the floor to questions, the first was whether the project still included a bike route on Rte. 156.  Reemsnyder said that was not the case. The second question was how the implementation of sewers would affect the project. Reemsnyder replied that “new technology” would allow sewers to be installed without damaging the upper surface and that the engineer responsible for their implementation would “have to get the road back to how it was.”

Another questioner asked whether bathrooms were included.  Reemsnyder responded, “We thought they were when we started,” but she went on to clarify that it had transpired that the grant did not cover them to the extent originally envisaged.  Reemsnyder confirmed the committee was still “trying to find ways to address the issue,” which included discussions with the private beach associations.

A question was raised as to whether the vote would be by paper ballot or hand-count, to which no response was given. There were further questions regarding speed limits on Rte. 156 and Hartford Ave. and then Barbara Crowley asked, “What is the town going to do to encourage growth [in Sound View]?  Are there going to be any incentives to promote businesses?” Using the example of a recent report in Mystic where changes to sidewalks have promoted business growth, Reemsnyder stated, “I think this is supporting a better environment down there — both business and environmental.”

Some confusion reigned when the moderator took a voice vote on whether to call the question while a resident was indicating she still wished to ask a question.  With the voice vote approved to call the question, Clarke then rapidly moved to a voice vote on the proposal, which she immediately deemed a victory for the “Ayes.”

A significant number of those present left after the first vote, many pleased with the result but some unhappy about how the voting process had been handled.

The other two motions on the agenda — to authorize the acceptance of Queen Anne Court as a Town road and to appropriate an amount not to exceed $60,000 to cover excess costs of the Resident Trooper Department from the already approved municipal police budget — were both passed by voice votes.

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July 1 Update: Aquatic Treatment Planned for Rogers Lake, July 5

We received this updated information from the Old Lyme Selectman’s office at 11:05 a.m. this morning:

In accordance with the Connecticut DEEP, Pesticide Division notification requirements, Rogers Lake in Old Lyme & Lyme will be chemically treated on Tuesday, July 5, with the USEPA/CT DEEP registered aquatic herbicide Clipper (flumioxazin) to control the non-native aquatic plants fanwort and variable watermilfoil.

The designated treatment areas will be closed to swimming on the day of treatment as an extra precaution.

Warning posters depicting the treatment areas and the associated water use restrictions will be posted at points of access around the lake.  Additionally, use of the lake water for irrigation purposes will be restricted for a period of five days or until July 11, following treatment.

The work is being performed under contract to the Towns of Old Lyme & Lyme, CT pursuant to a permit issued by the CT DEEP (Permit # AQUA-2016-352). Information regarding this treatment may be obtained from the state licensed firm SOLitude Lake Management. Contact: Keith Gazaille, Regional Director (508) 865-1000

Funding provided by the Aquatic Invasive Species Management Grant and Prevention and Education Program administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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Old Lyme Tree Commission Celebrates Arbor Day

Members of the three groups gather around the new oak tree. From left to right are Kathy Burton, Joanne DiCamillo, Joan Flynn. Anne Bing, Emily Griswold and Barbara Rayel.

Members of the three groups gather around the new oak tree. From left to right are Kathy Burton, Joanne DiCamillo, Joan Flynn. Anne Bing, Emily Griswold and Barbara Rayel.

“One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade” – Chinese proverb

The Old Lyme Tree Commission is pleased to announce the partnership of three community groups who combined their energy and experience to organize and implement the planting of five new trees in town to celebrate Arbor Day and to enhance the landscapes at Town Woods Park and Lyme Street.

Offloading a tree.

Offloading a tree.

Two red maple trees and one copper beech tree were planted behind the playground at Town Woods Park with a goal of providing some much needed shade to the area as they mature. The Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club ‘Love Your Playground’ Project provided the funding for the trees.

From left to right, Emily Griswold, Joanne DiCamillo and Barbara Rayel shovel soil around the beech tree.

From left to right, Emily Griswold, Joanne DiCamillo and Barbara Rayel shovel soil around the beech tree.

The Duck River Garden Club participated in The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut ‘Plant a Connecticut Native Oak’ project. The oak is our state and national tree and one of the finest for sustaining wildlife. The oak tree is located behind the concession building where it will grow into a large, stately specimen. In addition, a new columnar maple tree was planted in front of Town Hall by the Old Lyme Tree Commission.

River End Nursery crew plants a maple at Old Lyme Town Hall.

River End Nursery crew plants a maple at Old Lyme Town Hall.

After two disappointing postponements due to cold and rain, Mother Nature provided a beautiful, cool, sunny morning last week, perfect for tree planting. There was excitement in the air when the carriers from Millane Nursery and Canterbury Nursery arrived at the park with the trees. River End Landscape was onsite to unload them, remove the shipping materials, prepare the holes and set them into the ground. After the last tree was planted in front of Town Hall, they staked and mulched all of the trees.

The Junior Women’s Club and the Garden Club have established a watering schedule at the park. The Tree Commission will water the tree at Town Hall.

It was wonderful to work together on a noteworthy project that brings beauty and longevity to the landscape. The Old Lyme Tree Commission encourages all community members to celebrate this Arbor Day. Plant a tree!

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Presentation of Sound View Improvements Draws Praise, Criticism at Lively Meeting

From left to right, Selctwoman Mary Jo Nosal, Sound View Improvement Committee member Angelo Faenza, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (standing), SVIC member Pappalardo and a memebr of engineering member BSC listen to a question from the audience at Monday night's meeting.

From left to right, Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal, Sound View Improvement Committee (SVIC) member Angelo Faenza, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (standing), SVIC member Frank Pappalardo and a member of engineering firm BSC listen to a question from the audience at Monday night’s meeting.

In a boisterous meeting Monday night held at the Shoreline Community Center on Hartford Ave. Old Lyme, more than 60 people gathered to hear the latest information on the Sound View Improvement Project.  With her fellow members of the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen, members of the Sound View Improvement Committee (SVIC) and representatives of the engineering firm of BSC of Glastonbury seated behind her, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder made a presentation covering where the project stands currently.

Noting that construction is expected to begin after Labor Day this year and continue through early December 2016, then “shut down [and re-start in early 2017] and finish in early spring [2017],” Reemsnyder noted that the final design is “close to going out to bid.”  She anticipates a town meeting this summer on July 16 to approve the Town of Old Lyme’s 20 percent share of the cost of the improvements estimated at $148,000.  The remaining 80 percent of the cost is being funded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT).

The improvements, which originally included a park (named Sound View Green) and upgraded restrooms that have both now been removed from the plan due to budget overruns, 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.  The proposed plans do not include the much discussed bike path on Rte. 156 that is planned to connect the Baldwin Bridge with Sound View because Rte. 156 is a state road and therefore, the state must carry out those upgrades.  Reemsnyder noted, “It is likely the town will finish their portion before the state.”

Question time was lively at Monday's Sound View informational meeting.

There was almost a full house at Monday’s Sound View informational meeting.

Reactions to the project ran the gamut from those who were delighted with the proposals to those who expressed anger and frustration about them. Mary Hyland – a seasonal resident of Portland Ave., which runs parallel to Hartford Avenue, whose family has been in Sound View for 70 years – said, “You’re doing a great job,” adding that she was, “Very, very pleased with what’s going on.” In contrast, Deb Corto, whose son, Lenny, operates, “Lenny’s on the Beach” at the southern end of Hartford Ave., complained she would likely lose $72,000 in business “over the season” due to the reduction in the number of parking spaces  resulting from the proposed plans.  She demanded forcefully, “I want the [eliminated] 22 spaces reinstated.”

Frank Pappalardo, a member of the SVIC, countered Corto’s comments pointing out that the owner of the ‘Lenny’s on the Beach’ property, Frank Noe, had written to the committee in support of the proposals.  Pappalardo quoted from Noe’s letter, saying, “The street is in dire need of new sidewalks, better lighting, … these streetscape improvements are well overdue after many years of neglect.”  Noe concluded in his letter that Pappalardo read, “I urge everyone to strongly support the efforts by the Sound View Improvement Committee.”

In contrast, a town resident opposed to the reduction of parking spots complained that on busy summer days at the beach, even with the current number of parking spots, “I can’t park at my own beach.”  He questioned why the committee had not presented any numbers regarding bike usage at Sound View and stated, “[At} Every meeting, if you don’t like what we say, you shut us down.”

Lenny Corto, who operates “Lenny’s on the beach,” asked Reemsnyder, “How can you maintain a new streetscape when you can’t maintain the current one?” continuing, “It’s clear what you’re doing … it’s totally against all commercial business.”

Reemsnyder responded, “I have to disagree with [Corto’s comment about] Public Works’s ability to maintain things,” adding, “This really was an effort to improve the area.”

Dino Dinino questioned why the sidewalk was being increased from 3 ft. to 6 ft. to which Reemsnyder responded that it was a requirement in order to receive the state funding.

Jim Lampos, another member of the SVIC, expressed his support for the proposals saying, “There is incredible potential here.  The Town hasn’t invested here for years. This [the proposal] is going to benefit everybody.” He commented, “Right now, parking is an issue 10 days a year,” adding, “The parking is half empty the rest of the time.”

When Reemsnyder called for a motion to close the meeting, some members of the audience objected with one shouting, “We’re not done,” but the motion was successfully seconded and approved.

After the meeting, Lenny Corto told LymeLine that he agreed, “The street needs work,” but commented, “They’ve cut out the bathrooms, the park, the lighting and they’re still over budget.  All we’re getting is sidewalks, bike paths and trees.”  Meanwhile, Hyland expressed a different opinion to LymeLine about the proposed plans, saying simply, ”It’s about time.”

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Old Lyme Historic District Commission Hears Bee & Thistle’s Application for Outdoor Seating

The Old Lyme Historic District Commission (HDC) will hold a Public Hearing on Monday, May 2, at 9:45 a.m. in the upstairs conference room at the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall when members will hear and act on a Certificate of Appropriateness application from the Bee and Thistle Inn at 100 Lyme Street. The application is to install a patio on the south side of inn.

The public is invited to attend and express its views. Letters may be sent to the Historic District Commission at 52 Lyme Street, Old Lyme CT 06371.

Supporting material will be available at the May 2 Public Hearing.

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Old Lyme’s Open Space Commission Hosts Talk on Sea Level Rise, Salt Marsh Advance

The Town of Old Lyme’s Open Space Commission invites all interested parties to a workshop by Adam Whelchel, PhD, Director of Science at The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut Chapter.  The workshop will be held on Friday, March 11, at 9 a.m. in the Old Lyme Town Hall.

The title of Whelchel’s workshop will be, “Salt Marsh Advancement and Sea Level Rise in Old Lyme Parcel by Parcel — Introducing the New Coastal Resilience Online Tool.”

The workshop will review:

  • Where and how much conflict will there likely be in the future between the existing built environment (roads, schools, churches, neighborhoods, businesses) and daily tides?
  • Where and how much salt marsh advancement will there be?
  • Where and how much salt marsh advancement occurs on existing protected and unprotected open space?
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