September 23, 2018

Old Lyme Special Town Meeting to be Held Monday to Vote on Pump Station, Solar Facilities

Following on from Wednesday’s (Sept. 19) meeting attended by approximately 75 Old Lyme residents, the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen announced yesterday that a Special Town Meeting will be held Monday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m. to vote on both the proposals that were discussed at Wednesday’s meeting.  The meeting will be held in in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium at 53 Lyme Street,

Around a dozen questions were asked at Wednesday’s meeting and many residents left after the end of the first hearing.

At Monday’s Special Town Meeting, residents will be asked to vote on the proposed lease of a portion of the Town-owned property at 72 Portland Ave. in Old Lyme.  The lease, which was presented by First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder on Wednesday, includes access rights to the leased area, to the Miami Beach Association, the Old Lyme Shores Beach Association, and the Old Colony Beach Association, and to each of their respective Water Pollution Control Authorities (the “Tenants”), for an initial term of 40 years from its commencement date, for the purpose of the construction, operation, and maintenance of a sanitary sewage pump station, underground piping, and related facilities by the Tenants.

The proposed lease terms and a map showing the proposed lease area are available on the WPCA page of the Town website  at www.oldlyme-ct.gov

Residents will also be asked to approve a resolution that the first selectwoman, on terms and conditions deemed by the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen to be commercially reasonable and in the best interests of the Town, and subject to the approval of the Town Attorney as to legality and form, is authorized to negotiate and enter into a Memorandum of Agreement and subsequent lease for an initial term of up to 25 years with a solar energy generation firm.

This firm must be legally qualified to produce and distribute solar energy in the State of Connecticut for the purpose of allowing the tenant to install, own and operate solar photovoltaic generation equipment (“Solar Facilities”) on some or all of the capped portion of the former landfill on the Town-owned property at 109 Four Mile River Road in Old Lyme, together with and for the term of the lease:

(i) an easement over, across and through Town Property outside the leased area as reasonably necessary to allow the tenant, its employees, invitees, agents, contractors and subcontractors to access the leased property and the Solar Facilities by vehicle, foot or otherwise, in such location(s) as shall be reasonably determined by mutual written agreement of the Board of Selectmen and the tenant;

(ii) an easement on Town property outside the leased area, as reasonably necessary for the sole purpose of servicing the solar facilities, to build, maintain, upgrade, install and relocate electrical lines, conduits, and disconnects running to and from the solar facilities and other equipment and communication facilities, including without limitation utility meters and switches, transformers, inverters, disconnects, reclosers, poles and switchboards, all of which shall be reasonably needed to operate the solar facilities, and all of which shall be located where reasonably determined by mutual written agreement of the board of selectmen and the tenant;

(iii) the right, license and privilege to use, as reasonably necessary, up to 15,000 square feet of Town property outside the leased area  as a temporary workspace for the placement and storage of equipment and materials during the construction and the removal of the solar facilities, the specific location of such temporary workspace to be agreed upon by mutual consent of the selectmen and the tenant prior to construction of the solar facilities.

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Old Lyme Selectmen Host Two Public Hearings on Proposed Leases; First Relates to Pump Station, Second to Solar Power

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen are conducting two public hearings Wednesday, Sept. 19, under Connecticut General Statutes section 7-163e. The first will commence at  7 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium at 53 Lyme St., and relates to a proposed lease of a portion of the Town-owned property at 72 Portland Ave., in Old Lyme.

The lease includes access rights to the leased area and to the Miami Beach Association, the Old Lyme Shores Beach Association, and the Old Colony Beach Association, and to each of their respective Water Pollution Control Authorities (the “Tenants”), for an initial term of 40 years from its commencement date. The purpose of obtaining the lease is to allow the construction, operation, and maintenance of a sanitary sewage pump station, underground piping, and related facilities by the Tenants.

Members of the public can review related documents at Old Lyme Town Hall in the selectman’s or town clerk’s office, or on the Town website at this link.

The second Public Hearing will start at  7:30 p.m. tomorrow evening at the same location and relates to a proposal to authorize the board of selectmen to negotiate and the first selectman to execute an MOA and subsequent lease of some or all of the capped portion of the of the Town-owned property at 109 Four Mile River Rd. in Old Lyme. This land is to be used for the installation and operation of solar power generating facilities, to include rights to access the leased area via and to install equipment and facilities necessary to the operation of the solar power facilities on, through and under other portions of the property at 109 Four Mile River Rd.

For more on this story, read Kimberly Drelich’s article published Sept. 18 on theday.com at this link.

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Old Lyme Zoning Hears Final Comments on HOPE’s Affordable Housing Proposal, Decision Now Pending

The Old Lyme Zoning Commission listens to comments from a member of the public at Monday night’s meeting.

More than 250 people filled the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium Monday evening to hear another round of comments from both the applicants and their attorney, and members of the public regarding the proposed 37-unit Affordable Housing development at 18-1 Neck Rd. (formerly 16 Neck Road). The applicants have submitted two separate applications for 23 and 14 dwelling units respectively known as River Oak Commons I and II.

Zoning Commission Chairman Jane Cable  (second from left) consults with a fellow commission member during the hearing.  Photo by Debra Joy.

Public comment was closed around 10:30 p.m. (thus meeting the legal requirement in terms of how long it can be held open) and the meeting ended without the commission taking a vote on either application.

Project Engineer Joe Wren (left) of Indigo Land Design of Old Saybrook makes a point to the attorney for the applicants, David Royston, at the end of the meeting.  Photo by Debra Joy.

The commission now has 65 days from the closing of the public hearing to deliberate and vote.

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After Receiving State Grant, Old Lyme to Undertake Historic Properties Survey

The Town of Old Lyme is planning to conduct a survey of historic properties in the town after receiving a grant of $30,000 from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to support the project.

The Request for Proposals for the project was issued in June of this year and can be viewed at this link.  Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal confirmed yesterday that only one application was received in response to the proposal.

A meeting will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6, at Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall to introduce and discuss the project, at which a SHPO representative will be present.

The board of selectmen first discussed the possibility of undertaking the survey at a Special Meeting held in November 2016.  The issue had been raised by the Old Lyme Historic District Commission, which had made a motion requesting a study of historic properties in the town.  At that time, the board of selectmen did not move forward on the issue.

Read our article published Nov. 21, 2016 about that Special Meeting at this link.

 

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Meeting Hall Packed to Hear, Question Latest Updates on Old Lyme’s Sewer Situation

Old Lyme WPCA Chairman Richard Prendergast, standing center with microphone in the far distance, gives his presentation last night with residents in the foreground standing in the foyer since all seats were taken in the Meeting Room.

More than 100 people packed Old Lyme Town Hall’s Meeting Room last night with some standing around the perimeter of the room and another 25 standing outside in the foyer to listen to the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority’s (WPCA) Chairman Richard Prendergast give a presentation on where things stood currently with the proposed installation of sewers in Old Lyme.

More to follow on this story later today.

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Community Meeting to Discuss Master Plan for Halls Rd. Improvements Held

Aerial view of Halls Rd. and Old Lyme.

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen (BOS) and the Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) have announced a Community Meeting to discuss ‘Improvements for Halls Rd.’ on Wednesday, July 25, at 6:30 p.m. at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.

The BOS and HRIC state in their notice announcing the meeting that, “Feedback at community meetings over the past two years has made it clear that developments along Halls Rd. need to be looked at in an integrated, long-term context. At the recommendation of the Halls Road Improvements Committee, Old Lyme has retained the Yale Urban Design Workshop (YUDW) to help develop a proposed master plan for the area along Halls Rd.”

The notice continues, “In addition, the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC), which is a non-profit government/business joint effort, has offered to help collect economic and market data in support of the planning process,” adding, “The meeting will introduce YUDW and CERC to the public. Group break-out sessions will follow to allow discussion among attendees and presenters. The presenters are attending the meeting both to describe what they can do and also to ask the residents of Old Lyme what they hope to accomplish.”

 

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$1.75M Funding for Old Lyme Library Renovations Passes Easily in Packed Meeting

There was standing room only for some residents attending Monday night’s Special Town Meeting in Old Lyme.

UPDATED 7/24: FULL STORY NOW ADDED — More than 140 people packed into the Meeting Hall at Old Lyme Town Hall Monday evening to cast their votes on whether the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library should receive $1.75 million from the town coffers to fund its planned renovations.

Library Director Katie Huffman explained the library needs in part to be renovated due to the dramatic changes that have occurred in the way people gather information in the past 25 years, when the last renovation took place.  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 said, “More and more people are coming in with their devices … more people are studying remotely.” adding, “people need space for Skype interviews and to take exams.”  She pointed out these changes have resulted in a 70 percent increase in reference questions since the new building opened in 1996, a 90 percent increase in library programs, and a 140 percent increase in attendance at those programs.

Library Building Committee Chairman Ken Biega addresses the audience.

Drayton Fair, a principal architect from LLB Architects in Pawtucket, R.I. opened by saying,”Public libraries are reasserting themselves,” noting, “They should be the best place in town, where everyone is welcome.”  He agreed with Huffman that the increase in programming has been exponential and then went on to describe the proposed changes to the library under the renovation, summing them up as “We kept the best and improved the rest.”

He noted the staff would be moved up to the second floor, there would be “areas for tutoring, private study and Skype,” and a new Young Adult Area, which would be “acoustically separate.”  Fair added the plans also called for “opening up the Children’s Room … consolidating the Reference and Circulation functions at a central desk … and the creation of an outdoor reading terrace.”  He concluded enthusiastically, “I hope you’re all as excited about this as we are.”

Library Building Committee Chairman Ken Biega explained the costs of the project saying 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 and is requesting $1.75 million from the Town of Old Lyme. Biega raised a ripple of laughter in the audience when he commented, “Everyone has a little bit of skin in this game.”

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder discussed the impact of the project on homeowners in Old Lyme.  She said the owner of a house appraised at $347, 200 would pay conservatively an additional $24 per tax year for the next 15 years.  The respective number for a house appraised at $540,200 would be $38.  Reemsnyder cautioned that the Town was “not definitely borrowing the full amount,” and that, if that were the case, Old Lyme taxpayers would pay less.

Library Board Chairman Lynn Fairfield-Sonn answers questions from the audience..

After a couple of quick questions from the audience answered by Library Board Chairman Lynn Fairfield-Sonn, residents voted first in a hand vote that McGarry called in favor of the Ayes.  One resident, however, wanted to know the exact count and so the vote was repeated with residents holding up cards denoting they had been approved as legitimate Old Lyme taxpayers.  When the hand votes had been counted, McGarry announced to loud applause that the motion had passed by 104 votes to 30.

Harbor Commission Chairman Steve Ross proposes the new ordinance, with First Selectwoman Reemsnyder and Attorney McGarry standing behind him.

The second motion established a new ordinance to amend the Town’s Harbor Management Plan.  Harbor Commission Chairman Steve Ross explained the Town “needed a variance if there is a hardship” and 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 in Old Lyme waters.

After Ross had made a motion to approve the ordinance, McGarry called for a show of hands. There was no call for vote count this time and the motion was carried by a convincing margin.

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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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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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