May 27, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Premise for Clergy’s Call for Compassion to Refugees Questioned

To the Editor:

Ever since I read the letter from the Valley Shore Clergy Association (published in the VNN in February) something has been niggling me. I just reread the letter. Although I agree with the Clergy’s call for compassion with regard to refugees and the undocumented living and working in America, I can’t help wondering why this group did not speak- out between 2009 and 2016 while Barak Obama deported more than two and one half million of the undocumented living in this country? Perhaps I missed their protest. If I did, I apologize.  If there were no protestations from this clergy group before now, I am led to the conclusion that the Genesis of their letter is partisan politics-not the WORD.

While I support a path to legalization for the undocumented living and working in America, I also understand why so many Americans, who have no hint of bias, want those who came here illegally, criminals or not, to be deported; laws are laws they say. It seems schizophrenic to me to kick people out of this country who came here during the Obama “catch and release” program. If I wanted to come into this country to seek a better life and I faced the prospect of waiting in line for years- versus facing a wink and a nod because of America’s border Gestalt, I think, if I had the grit, I would take my chances. It is a bit like a parent telling a child not to smoke pot and then leaving pot on the kitchen table in plain sight.

Sincerely,

Alison Nichols, M.Div.,
Essex.

Share

Letter to the Editor: Valley Shore Clergy Association Stands in Solidarity with Immigrants, Refugees

To the Editor:

We, a group of interfaith clergy from many religious streams and beliefs, feel called to express our support for refugees, immigrants, asylum-seekers, and others who wish to live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Our sacred texts provide the lens through which we view the world around us; these teachings affirm the following shared values across faith traditions:

• Every single human being is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:28), and we support the integrity and sanctity of every individual.
• We heed the teaching of Leviticus: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)
• We are instructed to “Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18),” and thus to treat others how we wish to be treated.
• We are obligated to follow the prophetic call: “And what does the Eternal require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
• We are reminded of basic human kindness and compassion: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35)

We are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants. We have all known what it is to be the stranger. Safety and security of all is critical, and we understand the importance of appropriate and thorough vetting of all those who wish to be part of America. However, fear cannot dictate our values. Rather, we are reminded again and again that, when we reach out in love and righteousness, we are most secure.

We know all too well what religious bigotry has wrought in the past. History is filled with many reminders of the horrific destruction caused by hatred, persecution, and intolerance. Instead, we share a message of solidarity, understanding, and dialogue.

We denounce any laws or orders based on xenophobia, discrimination, or fear which run counter to our national interests. We are proud Americans, and we hold dear our country’s core beliefs in religious diversity, ideological diversity, and cultural diversity.

We call upon people of faith to represent moral conscience, compassion for all, and an overarching sense of justice and righteousness.

Sincerely,
Valley Shore Clergy Association

Rev. Martha Bays
The Congregational Church in Killingworth, UCC

Rabbi Marci Bellows
Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek, Chester, CT

Rev. Robin Blundon, Interim Pastor
Northford Congregational Church

The Rev. Dr. M. Craig Fitzsimmons
United Methodist Church of Clinton

Rev. Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager, Pastor
First Church, East Haddam

The Rev. Dr. Jonathan H. Folts
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, CT

Rev. Dr. Jan Gregory-Charpentier, Pastor
First Congregational Church of Westbrook, CT

Brett Hertzog Betkoski
Trinity Lutheran Church – Centerbrook, CT

Reverend Amy Hollis
Winthrop Baptist Church

Rev. Lee A. Ireland
Interim Pastor, United Church of Chester

Rev Charlotte LaForest
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, CT

Rev. Joy Perkett
First Baptist Church of Essex

Rev. Suzanne Personette
Middlefield Federated Church

Rev. Kenneth Peterkin
First Congregational Church, UCC, Essex, CT

Rev. Geoff Sinibaldo, Pastor
St. Paul Lutheran Church, Old Saybrook, CT

Pastor Les Swenson
St. Mark Lutheran Church, Norwich, CT

Rev. John Van Epps, Pastor
North Guilford Congregational Church UCC

Rev. Cynthia C. Willauer
First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, UCC

Pastor Ryan Young
Living Rock Church of Killingworth

Share

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.

Share

Letter to the Editor: Town Attorney Urges Residents to Review Old Lyme’s Response to FRA’s Tier 1 High Speed Rail Proposal, Send Comments to FRA Before March 1

To the Editor:

On December 16, 2016, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released its Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) concerning NEC Future – the proposed plan to shorten the travel time between Washington, D.C. and Boston via high-speed rail. The FRA’s plan includes building a tunnel under the Connecticut River and Old Lyme and significantly altering routes to straighten out the tracks between Old Saybrook and Kenyon, Rhode Island.  This plan will have devastating impacts on the environment, as well as potential damage to some of our historic buildings and our home and commercial values.

A strategy team was convened by Bonnie Reemsnyder, our First Selectwoman, to build the case for why the proposal included in the Final Tier 1 EIS is an unacceptable option. After many weeks of research with some the country’s leading authorities on the environment, estuary, threatened species, acoustics, vibration and other issues, this team submitted the below-referenced 82-page response to the FRA on February 14, 2017.

I strongly urge Old Lyme residents to review the town’s cover letter and comments to the FRA found at the links given here.

We are totally supportive of infrastructure improvements that will support safe and efficient rail service, but those can and should be achieved without the dramatic route changes proposed in this EIS.  Please consider sending your own comments to the FRA immediately.  The FRA noted that it “will consider feedback received on the Tier 1 Final EIS in developing the Record of Decision (ROD). The FRA will accept and review feedback on the NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Final EIS until the publication of the ROD, which is not anticipated prior to March 1, 2017”.

Please call town hall at (860) 434-1605 x212 if you have further questions.  You may send your comments by email to: info@necfuture.com, or by mail to:

NEC FUTURE
U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration
One Bowling Green Suite 429
New York, NY 10004

It is likely that comments received after March 1st will not be considered so please act quickly!

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Jack Collins, on Behalf of the Old Lyme NEC Future Strategy Team,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author was a member of the Old Lyme NEC Future Strategy Team.

Share

Letter to the Editor: Valley Shore Clergy Association Stands in Solidarity with Immigrants, Refugees

To the Editor:

We, a group of interfaith clergy from many religious streams and beliefs, feel called to express our support for refugees, immigrants, asylum-seekers, and others who wish to live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Our sacred texts provide the lens through which we view the world around us; these teachings affirm the following shared values across faith traditions:

• Every single human being is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:28), and we support the integrity and sanctity of every individual.
• We heed the teaching of Leviticus: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)
• We are instructed to “Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18),” and thus to treat others how we wish to be treated.
• We are obligated to follow the prophetic call: “And what does the Eternal require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
• We are reminded of basic human kindness and compassion: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35)

We are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants. We have all known what it is to be the stranger. Safety and security of all is critical, and we understand the importance of appropriate and thorough vetting of all those who wish to be part of America. However, fear cannot dictate our values. Rather, we are reminded again and again that, when we reach out in love and righteousness, we are most secure.

We know all too well what religious bigotry has wrought in the past. History is filled with many reminders of the horrific destruction caused by hatred, persecution, and intolerance. Instead, we share a message of solidarity, understanding, and dialogue.

We denounce any laws or orders based on xenophobia, discrimination, or fear which run counter to our national interests. We are proud Americans, and we hold dear our country’s core beliefs in religious diversity, ideological diversity, and cultural diversity.

We call upon people of faith to represent moral conscience, compassion for all, and an overarching sense of justice and righteousness.

Sincerely,
Valley Shore Clergy Association

Rev. Martha Bays
The Congregational Church in Killingworth, UCC

Rabbi Marci Bellows
Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek, Chester, CT

Rev. Robin Blundon, Interim Pastor
Northford Congregational Church

The Rev. Dr. M. Craig Fitzsimmons
United Methodist Church of Clinton

Rev. Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager, Pastor
First Church, East Haddam

The Rev. Dr. Jonathan H. Folts
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, CT

Rev. Dr. Jan Gregory-Charpentier, Pastor
First Congregational Church of Westbrook, CT

Brett Hertzog Betkoski
Trinity Lutheran Church – Centerbrook, CT

Reverend Amy Hollis
Winthrop Baptist Church

Rev. Lee A. Ireland
Interim Pastor, United Church of Chester

Rev Charlotte LaForest
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, CT

Rev. Joy Perkett
First Baptist Church of Essex

Rev. Suzanne Personette
Middlefield Federated Church

Rev. Kenneth Peterkin
First Congregational Church, UCC, Essex, CT

Rev. Geoff Sinibaldo, Pastor

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Old Saybrook, CT

Pastor Les Swenson
St. Mark Lutheran Church, Norwich, CT

Rev. John Van Epps, Pastor
North Guilford Congregational Church UCC

Rev. Cynthia C. Willauer
First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, UCC

Pastor Ryan Young
Living Rock Church of Killingworth

Share

Letter to the Editor: Sen. Art Linares Thanks Area Voters

To the Editor:

Representing the people of the 33rd State Senate District at the State Capitol is an incredible honor.

I consider myself so fortunate to be a voice at the State Capitol for the people of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

I will work with anyone from any political party to restore business confidence and hope, to revive Connecticut’s economy, and to make Connecticut the place where families and seniors and retirees want to invest their futures.

I love this state, and I know you do too.  That’s why I am so energized to improve our state’s policies.

Thank you for your continued support, and I encourage you to never hesitate to contact me with your ideas, comments and concerns at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at 800 842-1421.

Sincerely,

Art Linares
Westbrook

Editor’s Note: The author was reelected for a third term to the position of State Senator for the 33rd District on Tuesday.

Share

Letter to the Editor: LVVS Thanks Shoreline Web News (That’s us!) for Supporting Recent Fundraiser

To the Editor:

In our original letter regarding Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore’s Wine and Brew Tasting and Auction benefitting the organization’s tutoring program we set out to thank those responsible for the success of the event. The event, held on September 29th at the Saybrook Point Pavilion netted funds that will help L.V.V.S. continue the mission of eradicating illiteracy in the valley shore area well into 2017.

Many of our sponsors have longstanding relationships with our agency and support the work of eliminating illiteracy through a number of means. It has come to our attention that we inadvertently left off one of the most loyal and steadfast partners from that letter. Nigel and Olwen Logan of Shoreline Web News LLC provided LVVS with coverage and an ad for our fundraiser worth far in excess of the $200 normal ad space charge. We thank them for their continued support and for the fine work they do in covering area news and events.

Our agency exists because volunteers and sponsors, such as Shoreline Web News make it possible for us to raise the funds to help area residents improve their lives. Readers and advertsers can help in that work by supporting those businesses who are committed to causes such as this.

Thank You!

Sincerely,

John J. Ferrara

Editor’s Note: The author is the Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc.

Share

Letter to the Editor: New Trains Not New Tracks

An Open Letter to the Members of the FRA:

I support high speed rail service. This country needs to find the most efficient transportation system possible to make us the most sustainable country on earth. The world is urbanizing at a rapid rate which makes mass transit a critical part of the solution. That means making both local and long distant rail so attractive that people drive and fly much less. This lowers our carbon footprint, increases our productivity and makes our lives easier. When you travel to China you realize we are living 50 years in the past!

I have reviewed the Northeast Corridor EIS and specifically the FRA preferred Alternate 1 and would like to make a counter proposal. I recommend a two part plan that provides a near term solution for improved local and regional Northeast Corridor Rail Service (STEP ONE) and long term solution for dramatically reduced high speed rail travel (STEP TWO).

STEP ONE : NEW TRAINS NOT NEW TRACKS!

Use existing tracks with new trains for improved high speed rail and better commuter rail. This part of the plan is quite simple. To save 30 minutes off the current Acela travel time from NYC to Boston we can spend $65 billion on a major new rail project from Old Saybrook, CT to Kenyon RI, OR we can spend less than $20 billion on completely new high speed trains running from DC to NYC to Boston. We can spend $20 billion or $65 billion to save 30 minutes of time. It seems like an easy decision. Buy new trains for $19.2 billion.

In fact with all new trains we can save a total of 70 minutes from DC to Boston, up to 40 minutes on DC to NYC and 30 minutes from NYC to Boston. By spending $65 billion we also bypass lots of rail dependent towns and destroy numerous historic towns along the way. For $20 billion we make NO changes to the landscape, we just get lighter more fuel efficient trains that are designed to run at higher speeds on curvy tracks. We adopt the same type of trains used in Europe and Asia but precluded for almost a century in the US based on a 1920’s Federal Law. When the Acela’s were built we took efficient lighter weight trains from Europe and overbuilt them which made them too fat and heavy to bank on the curves. And they use more energy to move all that weight.

For more information on the recommended new trains read this article from 2013 titled, “High Speed ‘Trains of the Future’ May Finally be Coming to the Northeast“and recent articles in the NY Times from this past Sunday.

comparison_of_costs_Twining

 

STEP TWO : BUILD A REAL HIGH SPEED TRAIN TO SAVE 90 MINS!

Build a really fast route as the crow flies through NY-CT-MA to allow even the Maglev trains like in Shanghai. This would take a decade and cost a lot but long term it would reduce massive carbon emissions from air travel and car travel. This would be an investment in our future. This is the approach that France took to build the TGV.

We would now have a real high speed line and a very fast intercity rail line along the shoreline.

Please consider my recommended plan.

Sincerely,

Alex Twining,
Old Lyme

Editor’s Notes: i) Alex Twining is President & CEO of [ t ] TwiningProperties of New York, NY, and Cambridge, Mass. www.twiningproperties.com.

ii) This letter has been submitted to the FRA in reference to the public meeting being held Aug. 31, in the Lyme-Old Lyme High School auditorium.

 

Share

Letter to the Editor: Thank You From Organizers of Literacy Volunteers April Fool’s Race

To the Editor:

The 9th Annual Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore April Fool’s Race benefitting tutoring programs for area residents came in like spring this year. A little slow on the starting blocks but run in beautiful weather and finishing with a kick. Racers from all over New England and as far away as Minnesota participated in the festivities to help commemorate the contributions of past volunteers Dot and Erl Nord.

We are especially fortunate to have an extraordinary combination that made this year’s event a rousing success. Special thanks to the Clark Group and Tower Laboratories, our title sponsors. Their generosity reached new heights with their sponsorship, which included the Backward Mile race. AAA Refrigeration answered the call with a Silver Sponsorship this year.

Thanks also to sponsors Edward Jones Investments-Clinton, Andre Prost, Inc., Pasta Vita, Kearney Insurance, Penny Lane Pub, Essex Savings Bank, Guilford Savings Bank and Big Y Supermarkets for their generosity in helping stamp out illiteracy.

A huge thank you to Race Director Elizabeth Steffen, who again worked very hard this year to make this event a success. We greatly appreciate the generous assistance from First Selectman Norm Needleman, the Town of Essex, Essex Police, Essex Parks & Recreation Department, our office staff and our many race volunteers.

Finally, thank you to all our racers and all those who brought “spring” to the race and the cause of literacy.

Sincerely,

John J. Ferrara,
Executive Director Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc. — serving the towns of: Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Guilford, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.
Share

Letter to the Editor: Make Sure FRA Hears Your Opinion on Their “Potentially Catastrophic” Railtrack Proposal

To the Editor:

Since the informative Op-Ed commentary by Dr Gregory Stroud on January 29th outlining the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) alternative proposals for the North East Corridor, there has been considerable concern among Old Lyme residents and others over the potentially catastrophic impact posed by the so-called “Alternative 1” solution.

“Alternative 1” proposes a new rail bridge crossing the Connecticut river diagonally between the I95 highway bridge and the existing old rail bridge.  Apparently, this new route would consist of four tracks and will closely follow the I95 bisecting Lyme Street through the Lyme Art Academy campus and a stone’s throw from other historical properties including the Lyme Art Association, the Old Lyme Inn and the Bee and Thistle Inn.  In addition it appears to obliterate the Hall’s Road shopping center.

One might have expected that the proposed potential destruction of the heart of one of Connecticut’s most treasured historical sites would warrant some prior discussion with the local community.  Amazingly, of the eleven public hearings conducted between mid-December and mid-January none of them were held within 30 miles of Old Lyme – arguably the town most heavily impacted by this proposal.

Our elected officials seem to have been equally unaware of the implications until about a week ago. Did any of them attend the hearings in Hartford or New Haven or were they as much in the dark as the rest of us? Why has the local community not been informed or consulted?

The deadline for public comment has been extended from January 31st to February 16th – I hope that all citizens who treasure the beauty and historical significance of Old Lyme follow Dr Stroud’s advice and contact the FRA at www.necfuture.com  and urge them to adopt an alternative solution.

Sincerely,

Peter Eio,
Old Lyme.

Share

An Open Letter to Old Lyme Land Use Commissions, Related Agencies Regarding Sanitary Wastewater

To the Editor:

An Open Letter to the Several Old Lyme Land Use Commissions and Related Agencies

Subject:  Sanitary Wastewater

It has come to the attention of this Commission that sanitary wastewater treatment in plants sanctioned by the State DEEP [Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] are discharging less than potable fresh water into our rivers flowing eventually to salty Long Island Sound.  The view of the DEEP seems to be based on their opinion that dilution is the solution to pollution.  The Connecticut River is closed to recreational shell fishing because they neglect to tell us, that the treatment plants they supervise are the source of much of this pollution.

With the name they give themselves, it seems to be odd that they, of all people, should control the very sewage treatment plants that pollute these waters.

“Seems to be” in the previous paragraph is there because it is difficult to document the culprit.  This Commission believes that the DEEP (formerly the DEP) [Department of Environmental Protection] is the fox in the henhouse.  They spend public money, but the results of their effort, is far from transparent.

Several years ago, one example came to our attention when an official of the DEP told Old Lyme representatives that a proposed sewage treatment plant in Old Saybrook would discharge treated water into the Connecticut River midway between the Amtrak and the Baldwin Bridges.  He told us not to worry because “The discharge pipe would be fitted with a diffuser.”  When asked what a “diffuser” was, he said, “So it doesn’t all come up in one place.”

For another example, the screens on the discharge at a plant near Middletown clogged up, and the plant operators opened the discharge directly to the River, and raw human waste arrived by tidal flow at Point O’Woods in Old Lyme a few days later.  In this instance, officials in Hartford had the unmitigated gall to say that this human waste originated in Point O’Woods where there are, and were then, no open sewers dumping raw sewage into nearby waters.  None.

One reason why this has been going on is that most people don’t relish talking about human waste.  Another reason is sewage discharges are often located in obscure places like the bottoms of rivers.  We believe the data is all there but “not available”.

There is no denying that in heavily industrialized or densely populated urban areas, conventional septic tank-leach fields are not adequate for the load, but even here the DEEP is abusing both the environment and home owners on lots which are too small for conventional septic tank-leach field treatment.  This is because of still another factor.  The DEEP in this state is in a turf war with the Connecticut State Health Department.  Here, the DEEP holds a monopoly on about all wastewater treatment, except for the old fashioned passive septic tank – leach field, presently the only wastewater treatment available to sanitarians who work under the guidance and rules of the State Health Department.  The result of this situation is that the local Health Directors and local Sanitarians cannot avail themselves of modern, proven systems now in use in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts to digest all septic waste on a small house lot.

So to win this turf war, the Connecticut DEEP resorts to another ploy.  They don’t test the soil.  They simply measure lot size and lump neighborhoods as those having houses too close together.  By a formula that they don’t make public, they declare a lumped discharge of 5000 gallons per day from several sources, and they claim jurisdiction, whereas the State Health Department is limited to control only the individual smaller discharges.  In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, such small individual discharges would get individual treatment with modern technology, thus avoiding the loss of fresh water to the ocean and the costs and hazards of sewage treatment plants and leaky sewers.

So who loses when we have unnecessary sewers?  First, the environment loses ground water.  We exhaust the aquifer and cause dug wells to dry up.  Taxpayers lose as we pay to move wastewater that could easily go back through leach fields into groundwater at no cost to the taxpayers.  Instead, they dump partially treated water into the ocean.

What must be done to correct this situation?  We must get the fox out of the henhouse.  The DEEP should not be permitted to monitor itself.  Data concerning sewage treatment plant discharges for both quantity and quality should be readily available for anyone to scrutinize.  The use of alternative technology for sewage treatment should be made readily available to any registered sanitarian or health director, without any interference by the DEEP.

When sanitary waste water is sewerized and discharged into a river we are throwing away a valuable resource that could, and should be, recycled efficiently to improve our environment and save money too.  Modern technology permits this, but the DEEP prohibits alternative technology for single home installations and hides the data which would indict them.

Sincerely,

The Old Lyme Shellfish Commission

Editor’s Note: This letter was submitted by Mervin Roberts, Old Lyme Shellfish Commission Chairman, on behalf of the commission.

Share

Letter to the Editor: LYSB Gives Thanks to OLPD for Food Drive; Many Benefited, Reflects Community Collaboration

Members of the LYSB Youth Advisory Council stand with Old Lyme Police Officer Martin Lane at the recent Food Drive outside Big Y.

Members of the LYSB Youth Advisory Council stand with Old Lyme Police Officer Martin Lane at the recent Food Drive outside Big Y.

To the Editor:

The Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) wishes to thank the Old Lyme Police Department for holding the recent Thanksgiving Food Drive. The Old Lyme Police officers donated their time to organize the food drive which collected donations on three dates at Old Lyme Marketplace, as well as items donated by residents, groups, and businesses.  Through the kindness of our community, the LYSB was able to distribute food to needy families in Lyme and Old Lyme, including senior citizens, and 97 children.  The food closets at the Lymes’ Senior Center, and the Old Lyme Social Services were also stocked.

The 2015 Thanksgiving Food Drive is an example of how collaboration among organizations can improve the quality of life for our residents.  The Lyme-Old Lyme community has a history of generosity and volunteerism, and for this I am grateful.

On behalf of the LYSB staff and board, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,

Mary Seidner,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author is the Director of Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau.

Share

Letter to the Editor: Still Not Seeing Eye to Eye–Bernblum Challenges Hutchinson’s Latest Argument on Town Spending

To the Editor:

In my letter of November 2 to LymeLine I asserted that Nancy Hutchinson’s letter of November 1, in which she argued that a Reemsnyder administration would mean excessive tax increases for Old Lyme, was based on misleading information.  For example, I pointed out as incorrect her statement that “this year we face a 9.8% increase in Town expenditures,” when the actual increase in “Total Expenditures,” as stated in the Town’s budget, is 3.67%.

Mrs. Hutchinson again wrote to LymeLine on November 6 and claimed that her 9.8% statement was correct.  It was not.  As she admits in this letter, she was not referring to total town expenditures, but only the 28% of those expenditures for “Total General Government and Capital Outlay,” omitting the 72% of the budget going to our schools.

Taxes were the subject of Mrs. Hutchinson’s original letter.  They are a function of the entire budget, not 28%.  When Mrs. Hutchinson referred to “a 9.8% increase in Town expenditures,” she made no mention of the fact that she was talking about only a fraction of those expenditures.  The reader was therefore led to believe that the entire town budget went up 9.8% and, therefore, that taxes would likely rise in a similar amount.  She cannot credibly claim that the phrase “Town expenditures” is the same as “Total General Government and Capital Outlay.”  Her 9.8% phrase as written was not accurate and the message it conveyed was clearly misleading.

Sincerely,

Bennett J. Bernblum,
Old Lyme

Editor’s Note: The author is a member of the Old Lyme Board of Finance, the Democratic Town Committee, and the Halls Road Improvement Committee.

Share

Letter to the Editor: (Post Election) Rebuttal to a Rebuttal — Clarifying the Facts on Town Spending

To the Editor:

The increases in Old Lyme Town expenditures summarized in my original letter published in LymeLine.com Nov. 1 are correct, and taken directly from the Board of Finance presentation made at the Old Lyme Annual Town Meeting on the 2015-16 Budget:

  • Increase in General Governance:                6.84%   ($8,736,432 budgeted)
  • Increase in Capital Outlay:                         44.01%   ($1,006,129 budgeted)
  • TOTAL TOWN BUDGET INCREASE:       9.77%   ($9,742,561 budgeted)

In Mr. Bernblum’s “rebuttal” letter published on LymeLine.com Nov. 2, he does not distinguish between the Town of Old Lyme Budget and the Region 18 School District Budget; one is controlled by the Town of Old Lyme and the other by the Region 18 Board of Education.  The 3.67% increase he refers to is the combined impact of both the Town (9.8%) and School (1.5%) increases.  He also does not mention that the 4.9% Mill Rate increase would have been 6.9% had the Board of Finance not taken $600,000 from the Town Surplus that is carried over year-to-year primarily for emergencies and one-time capital expenditures prioritized as part of the Annual Budgeting process.

The fact that the reduction in the Grand List exacerbated the Mill Rate increase speaks to the issue I raise in my letter:  property values have fallen and many people are struggling financially.  The Selectmen’s decision to champion approval of $405,000 in Town funds for the Boathouse Hains Park Improvement Project without prioritizing this non-emergency, non-budgeted cost versus other town needs (e.g.: road repairs) resulted in nearly half of the 9.8% Town budget increase. Hopefully the re-elected Selectmen will be more cognizant of the financial impacts of their decisions moving forward.

Also the claim that the Boathouse Hains Park Improvement Project costs have been reduced to $600,000 is not true.  This estimate is for only one portion of the project; when one includes costs already spent on the withdrawn plan, this number is closer to $660,000.  Total project costs will be much higher once the remaining project costs are added:  for example, costs for renovating the public restrooms now that new Boathouse will not include toilets. 

Because the remaining costs will be significant, and have yet to be defined, there is a question whether the entire $883,000 budget ($478,000 STEAP grant plus $405,000 in Town funds) will be adequate to fund the total project based on the newest Boathouse plan.  Please recall that when originally approved, the Boathouse project was to be fully funded by the STEAP grant, without any Town funds as discussed in my Op-Ed published on LymeLine.com Oct. 26, 2014. 

Sincerely,

Nancy Hutchinson,
Old Lyme.

Author’s Note: Information Sources:  Information on the 2015/16 Town Budget was derived from materials available from Town Hall upon request; information on the Boathouse Hains Park Improvement Project comes from attending nearly all committee meetings this year and reviewing associated materials. 

Editor’s Note: The author was elected as an Alternate to the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals in Tuesday’s election.

Share

Our Policy Regarding Letters to the Editor

Our Inbox is overflowing with letters to the editor so we thought it would be helpful to clarify our publication policy.

Letters must observe a 400 word limit.

Letter writers must supply their name, address and telephone number for verification purposes.  They also should note any political memberships/affiliations.

We will publish letters related to the Nov. 3 election through midnight on Sunday, Nov. 1.  The only letters published on Monday, Nov. 2 will be those directly related to letters previously published.

No letters related to the election will be published on Nov. 3.

Share

Letter to the Editor: Writer Rebuts Letter Suggesting Reemsnyder Overspends, Says First Selectwoman Controls Expenses

To the Editor:

In Nancy Hutchinson’s letter to LymeLine yesterday, she advises readers, in typical scare tactics, that they should vote for the Republican candidate for First Selectman because re-electing Bonnie Reemsnyder will “result in further financial hardship to hard-working and retired taxpayers.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Bonnie’s administration has been scrupulously careful to avoid any unnecessary tax increases, working in tandem with the Republican-controlled Board of Finance.  Four of the Board’s six members are Republicans.  Two of them serve on the Republican Town Committee, and one Republican alternate is that Committee’s chairman!  The RTC’s campaign literature asks voters to “Maintain the excellent record of cost control by the Board of Finance.”

Mrs. Hutchinson attempts to support her claims with misleading generalizations.  Capital projects, and their costs, evolve as projects develop.  Under Mrs. Reemsnyder’s administration, however, they have been kept within tight financial controls, massively subsidized by state and federal grants.  The Boathouse/Hains Park Project was approved by Old Lyme voters at $883,000 but is now expected to cost $600,000, $478,000 coming from a STEAP grant.  The Sound View improvements project was reconfigured at an estimated cost of $751,000,  $601,000 coming from a federal grant.  The $108,000 of over-budget expenses for the wastewater study commissioned by the WPCA were incurred by the engineers in violation of the terms of their contract and are likely to be paid by Clean Water funds and from bonds to be repaid by the users, not the taxpayers.

It is also true that town expenses, and budgets, vary with the circumstances.  The 2015-16 town budget, which was carefully developed by the Boards of Finance and Selectmen, protects a 3.67% increase in total expenditures, not 9.8% as asserted by Mrs. Hutchinson.  The mill rate increase of 4.88% reflects, in large part, a decrease in the town’s grand list of 3%.  The increase in projected tax revenue is only 1.65%.   Finally, the Board of Finance’s decision to use $600,000 from the town’s accumulated surplus to fund $400,000 of road improvements and $200,000 for removal of gas tanks at the town garage was made possible because, under Bonnie’s leadership, the surplus has grown and, therefore, is available for exactly this kind of purpose–one-time, unexpected, capital expenses.

Please, voters, do not be misled.  Come out to vote tomorrow for Bonnie and Mary Jo.

Sincerely,

Bennett J. Bernblum,
Old Lyme

Editor’s Note: The author is a member of the Old Lyme Board of Finance, running for re-election. He is also a member of the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee.  He has recently been appointed to the Halls Road Improvements Committee.

Share

Letter to the Editor: New Old Lyme First Selectwoman Needed in Difficult Economy to Control Spending

To the Editor:

As an independent, I feel it is important to vote on an individual’s record versus their party affiliation, especially in local elections.  My concern with re-electing Bonnie Reemsnyder is that it will result in further financial hardship to hard-working and retired taxpayers, many of whom are the backbone of our community and have helped to make Old Lyme such a wonderful place to live.  While the current Selectmen may mean well, that is not enough; they have been responsible for overseeing three major projects that have each grossly exceeded the scopes and budgets initially approved by Town vote:  the Boathouse/Hains Park Improvement Project, the Sound View Improvement Project, and the exploration of a Local Sewer Treatment option.

As town leaders, instead of challenging these excesses or admitting that the plans put to Town vote were not adequately developed, the Selectmen supported approving additional Town funds or significant changes to project scope, as well as using the Town surplus to cover large unbudgeted cost overruns, and circumventing prioritization of those costs versus other Town needs.  As a result, this year we face a 9.8% increase in Town expenditures, a 4.9% increase in mill rate, and a $600,000 (8.5%) reduction in our Town surplus!  This seems out of touch with the financial realities of many in our community struggling to make ends meet.

We need a First Selectwoman who can balance the desire to implement multiple large projects against the financial realities of our community, and can ensure that any project brought to a Town vote is sufficiently developed that the community can be confident that it will be implemented as promised.   Please consider bringing a new voice to the Old Lyme decision-making process, regardless of your political affiliation.  Balance is the key to working well for the benefit of all.  Cathy Carter supports a fiscally responsible approach to Town projects, and she brings prior governmental experience and a Master degree in Public Administration to ensure the implementation of the necessary checks and balances to support responsible local governance.

Sincerely,

Nancy Hutchinson,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author is an Independent candidate for the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Share

Letter to the Editor: Old Lyme First Selectwoman Offers Overview of Police Grievance Situation

To the Editor:

In a recent letter to LymeLine, the author asked whether grievances filed by our Police Union members reflected mismanagement.  The answer is no.  Management of our police department has been consistently professional, respectful and objective.  Although details regarding personnel matters may not be publicly discussed, it is appropriate for me to give an overview of the facts.

Serious internal discord arose in our police department which, by last spring required intervention.  An independent consultant was retained to identify the causes of the problem and recommend solutions.  All personnel were interviewed in confidence.

The consultant recommended, in short, that all members of the department should work collaboratively to resolve the issues, and to establish a clear chain of command consistent with our Resident Trooper program. This program is conducted under a contract between the Town and the State of CT for supervision of our police force, with the Resident Trooper in charge.  Other officers may provide assistance with tasks, but they must report to the Resident Trooper.

Our efforts to implement the consultant’s recommendations (i.e., to have the officers work together cooperatively to resolve their issues, under the overall supervision of the Resident Trooper) were met with resistance and refusal by some.  It was therefore necessary to make decisions regarding management of the department, including clarification of the chain of command leading up to the Resident Trooper.  The Resident Trooper then worked closely with this office to prepare for the busy summer, met with concerned citizens, and established criteria for assignments to assure proper performance of duties, compliance with the union contract, and fairness to employees.

Certain officers were unhappy with the changes made, and filed grievances.  In consultation with our labor attorney, these were reviewed by me, and dismissed.  Some were then appealed to the full Board of Selectmen which, at two public meetings, unanimously found them to lack merit.  Several of the grievances have now been appealed to the State Department of Labor, where our attorney expects them to be dismissed again.

In short, problems developed within the police department that could not be allowed to continue.  I and the full Board of Selectmen took the necessary corrective action. Fees incurred were money well spent to assure that order was restored to the department in a careful, fair, open-minded manner.

Sincerely,

Bonnie Reemsnyder,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author is currently First Selectwoman of Old Lyme and also a candidate for the same position in the upcoming election.

Share

Letter to the Editor: Carter Ready, Willing, Able to Lead, Manage Old Lyme

To the Editor:

This is politics.  Media and mailers, resume challenges and even personal grievances are expected.  That being said, one should not diminish a person’s educational background and employment history.  It is this type of judgmental attitude that prevents volunteers from stepping up, feeling that they’re not educated enough, they don’t work/have the right job, or their pedigree is inadequate.  A person’s mind, opinions and capabilities are limitless.  It is the passion one has that will lead to their success.

When you set aside the usual quarreling, tit for tat personal views and opinions the independent thinkers will vote November 3rd that:

Managing a town takes more than simply creating committees.   We have 22 commissions in town, some with sub-committees and some with vacancies or expected vacancies depending on the results of the election.  There are committees to discuss salaries, pension, public works, and even committees that are designated to specific neighborhoods-all listed on the town’s website.  These committees and commissions need a strong and respected manager that can communicate timely and effectively, demands accountability and seeks immediate resolution and solutions to discord.  We depend on our volunteers to help our town be the best it can be.  Volunteers, just like employees, look to our Manager to ensure deadlines are met, costs are monitored, ideas are appreciated and projects and charges are completed. 

Managing a town takes more than borrowing or being awarded free money.  Really, is anything “free” anymore?  Once the money is in, it is how it is spent.  Asking for an accounting is unacceptable.  Monthly reporting to ensure expenses are not incurred beyond a budget is common business practice.  Concerning the WPCA issue, the attorney’s finding was that the additional invoices were not invoices but an “outline of the costs of additional services…not expected to be paid immediately.  So, where will the additional money come from to pay these future costs that are relative to a design study/plan, not the project itself?  Remember, the plan is to design a budget for the work that has been done and needs to be done in order for a project to be approved and/or implemented.  The actual project is subject of “free” money, not the planning process.

Every project needs a manager.  Every town needs a leader.  Cathy Carter is ready, willing and able to be our Selectwoman.

Sincerely,

Stacy Winchell,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author is a Republican candidate for the Region 18 Board of Education.

Share

Letter to the Editor: Despite Claims to Contrary, Carter’s Experience Not Relevant to Old Lyme’s CEO Position

To the Editor:

Proper leadership of Old Lyme requires sound judgment, patience, sensitivity, integrity and experience.  It has been asserted that Cathy Carter has 15 years of experience in government and, therefore, she is ready to lead our town. I have reviewed the facts and determined otherwise.  Rather, it appears that her “experience” has been elaborated only for purposes of the campaign.

The campaign brochure handed out at the Selectmen’s debate on October 29 includes a brief biography of Mrs. Carter.  It refers to her service as a lacrosse coach and a PTO president.  It mentions no government or leadership experience.

Mrs. Carter’s LinkedIn page cites her skill at sales, marketing, public relations and lacrosse coaching.  It makes no mention of any government or leadership experience.  It states that she graduated from high school in 1982 and received a BA in 1986 and an MPA in 1990.

In a letter Cathy has distributed to voters, and in Jim McQuade’s October 30 letter to LymeLine, Cathy’s experience is described as follows:

— Internships in Meriden City Hall and the US Congress in 1983, 1984 and 1985.  Hence these were undoubtedly unpaid internships during her college summer vacations.

— During the period 1986-1993, working for housing authorities in Meriden, Bridgeport and Stamford, and as a housing advocate while serving as a “Governor’s Fellow for the State of New Jersey.”  The letters do not state the scope of this work, let alone why it is relevant to serving as a town’s CEO.

— Working as a sales rep for EnviroMed Services, Inc.–a private environmental consulting firm and not a governmental entity—from 1993 to 1998, presumably trying to sell the company’s services to towns in New Haven and Fairfield counties.

Cathy’s letter lists no positions after 1998.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Cathy has no relevant experience but pretends otherwise.  This is not a good recipe for town leadership.

Bonnie served eight years as Selectwoman before serving four years as our First Selectwoman.  She has done an excellent job and knows it inside out.  Bonnie is, beyond dispute, the better candidate to lead our town.

Sincerely,

Judy Burdick,
Old Lyme.    

Share