August 19, 2018

Ivoryton Hosts ‘Playhouse on the Shore’ at Water’s Edge, See ‘Summer Nights’ Aug. 19 & 26

‘Playhouse at the Shore’ at Water’s Edge features Carly Callahan. Photographs by Ivoryton Playhouse.

After last year’s successful engagement, Ivoryton Playhouse returns by popular demand to Water’s Edge Resort and Spa with six cabaret-style dinner theatre performances written for and performed exclusively at Water’s Edge.

This original series will showcase the professional talent of Ivoryton Playhouse performers and musicians in three unique productions.

La Dolce Vita will be performed July 22 and Aug. 12. Be transported to Italy for an evening of Italian favorites drawn from cinema, the concert stage, the great opera houses and the most celebrated clubs. Sit back, relax and enjoy delicious Italian cuisine complimenting this feast of the senses as performers serenade you with the iconic melodies of Italy.

Summer heats up with Summer Nights Aug. 19 and 26. Get ready to go back in time as the sizzle of hits from the ‘70s is celebrated. Feel free to sing and dance along as the talented cast hosts the hottest night of entertainment on the Shoreline.

Each of these evenings offers a combined entertainment and culinary experience. A cocktail hour, featuring an array of appetizers, is followed by the first set of the show. Then, enjoy a buffet style dinner, dessert, and second round of entertainment.

Schuyler Beeman is both a choreographer and performer in the Ivoryton Playhouse’s Summer Cabaret-Dinner Season at Water’s Edge.

Each evening features a professional cast of performers, in addition to a trio led by Music Director, Eric Trudel.  Cast members include Lili Thomas, Katie Weiser, Carly Callahan, Jamaal Fields-Green, Schuyler Beeman, Max Swarner, Richard Pittsinger, Charlie Widmer, Emily Langford Johnson, Amy Maude Helfer, Kate Hubbard and Devon Perry.

“We are thrilled to build on the success of last season and have put together some great talent for these evenings, including cast members from our season, to give the Water’s Edge audience a night of entertainment that they won’t forget,” said Jacqui Hubbard, Artistic Director of Ivoryton Playhouse.

Tickets are $59 per person plus tax and gratuity, including dinner and the show, and can be purchased by calling Water’s Edge Resort at 860-399-5901.  Tickets are not available through the Ivoryton Playhouse website or theatre box office.

For more information, visit watersedgeresortandspa.com.

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Lyme Farmers Market is Open Saturdays for the Season at Ashlawn

Fresh vegetables galore will be on sale again at Lyme Farmers Market on June 4.

Fresh vegetables galore will be on sale at Lyme Farmers Market  this Saturday.

The Lyme Farmers Market is open today from 9:30 a.m. through 1 p.m. at Ashlawn Farm in Lyme. It is the only market in New London County to be held on a working farm and its mission is to promote sustainable agriculture with locally-grown and -produced food, crafts, and specialty products.

New_logoVendors from the past 15 years will be present, along with several new ones. Market-goers will enjoy high quality organic produce, along with baked goods, seafood, meats, wine, and handcrafts.

There will be live music by The Grays, who play original and standard jazz compositions.

This weeks guest vendors include BeBo Beverage with Kombucha and Seacoast Mushrooms with their locally grown Mystic crop of organic, non GMO and voted Best in CT ‘shrooms. Freak of Nature brings handcrafted soaps and Natural Billy his raw, vegan salad dressings.

Mark Evankow will have stone bowls and bird baths. Handcrafted jewelry and tie dyed items will be sold by Moxie & Mission and the Olive Oil Factory will be back in the field with infused oils and vinegars.

This year’s seasonal vendors include:

Dondero Orchards
Meadowstone Farm
Burgis Brook Farm
Vic’s Guac Shop
Howards Bread
Cold Spring Farm
Pursuit of Pastry
Maple Breeze Farm
Mystery Farms
Peter Giamo Olive Oil
Charter Oak Scanning
Upper Pond Farm
Best of Everything Gourmet
Sunset Hill Vineyard
The Chicken Lady

The market is a non-profit entity, able to accept contributions and apply for grants to promote sustainable agriculture.

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Lost Dog Now Found!


UPDATE: 7/30, 8:54am: We just read a Facebook message posted at 8:52 a.m. that Libby has been found!

This beautiful and much-loved dog named Libby bolted from home during the storm and fireworks last night from Bittersweet Lane in Old Lyme.  Her owners, the Ryans, say she is “a sweet and energetic brindle boxer.”

Please call 860-304-3334 if you have seen her.

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Affordable Housing Public Hearing Deadline Extended Again, This Time to Sept. 10


UPDATED 7/20, FULL REPORT NOW ADDED: Around 270 people showed up at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School Tuesday evening for the third Public Hearing held by the Old Lyme Zoning Commission on the 37-unit Affordable Housing development on Neck Rd. proposed by HOPE and the Women’s Institute.  At the end of the almost three-hour sometimes contentious, sometimes rambling meeting, the commission voted at the applicant’s request to continue the Public Hearing to their next regular meeting on Sept. 10.

The meeting opened with commission member Jane Marsh reading from a letter submitted by Old Lyme Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who was unable to attend the meeting. Reemsnyder had requested the letter be read into the zoning commission’s record.

In her letter, Reemsnyder explained the reason she had felt it necessary to write was because, “There are a range of accusations I feel must be directly addressed.”  She said the first was, “A conflict of interest,” and after explaining her position on the Advisory Council of HOPE was non-voting, she stated, “I have no personal stake in this development nor do I serve on any of the boards that must approve this application. By any standard, this does not even qualify as a perceived conflict of interest.”

The second accusation she cited was,“I brought this to our town.”  In answer to that, Reemsnyder wrote, “I support affordable housing for Old Lyme because it is a serious need and statutory mandates. Hence I have supported the mission of HOPE for years, never being secretive about it.”   She elaborated on the process that has been followed and clarified, “It is my longstanding and consistent policy to maintain the independence of our boards and commissions and to refrain from attempting directly to influence their decisions … I provided no comments, discussions or requests to any land use commission members.”

Finally, Reemsnyder noted she had seen an email stating, “The fix is in” suggesting this proposal is “… not going through the proper process.”  She responded in the letter, saying, “I have no idea what this refers to but if it is an allegation that someone is applying pressure to the zoning commission that would surely be news to me.”  Reemsnyder added, “The rumor that there has been an effort by me to “speed things along” with the town is “categorically untrue,” noting, “It is disturbing to see the misinformation going around about the application and the applicants.”

Reemsnyder concluded, “In the end it is you, the commission members, who have to abide by the rules for approving or denying affordable housing … I support each one of you.”

David Royston, who serves as attorney for HOPE and the Women’s Institute, makes a point during his preamble to a request being made by the Women’s Institute for an extension to the Public Hearing through Sept. 10.

Attorney David Royston, who represents the applicant, namely HOPE and the Women’s Institute, then took close to an hour to explain why he would be requesting an extension to the Public Hearing, primarily because several reports, which required responses from the applicants, had only been received in the last few days.  These included reports from the Old Lyme Fire Marshal David Roberge and the Town Engineer, Tom Metcalf.  Royston added he had also hoped to receive comments regarding the septic approval prior to the meeting, but that had not occurred.

Royston emphasized that “the position of the applicant” is not to “object in any fashion to scrutiny regarding health and safety issues” but rather that, “We understand fully the concerns of the community regarding the access driveway and the safety issues regarding emergency vehicles.” He stressed, “We want to assure you [Zoning Commission members] that every item raised will be addressed.”

Noting that an important concern of Metcalf was the entry driveway, Royston explained the applicant needed more time, “to allow these matters to be fully and professionally addressed.”

Kristen Anderson of the Women’s Institute made the official request for the extension on behalf of the applicant noting that continuing the Public Hearing to the zoning commission’s next regular meeting on Sept. 10 retained the application within the required legal timeline.  The Hearing would have to be closed on that date and a decision then given by the commission within 65 days after the meeting.

Land Use Coordinator Keith Rosenfeld (extreme left) listens intently as Zoning Commission Chairwoman Jane Cable (third from left) solicits input from other members of the commission during Tuesday’s Public Hearing.

Asking the audience to “Be kind” and “Don’t repeat,” Commission Chair Jane Cable then opened the floor to public comment.  Pamela Hamilton spoke first commenting initially on, “the bucolic and historic nature of Old Lyme,” and then noting that she had seen too many towns and villages, which had “frittered away their charm.” She stated firmly, “It is not elitist to treasure charm, history and beauty,” which drew spirited applause, adding, “The people of Old Lyme are a generous lot … they do not want to say,’We do not want affordable housing.’” She maintained their message was simply, “Build in some other location,” while adding in a questioning tone, “One wonders what the motivation is [for this site.]

Before calling the next speaker, Cable reminded the audience that the commission can only consider health and safety aspects of the proposal and urged speakers to restrict their comments to those matters.

An Old Lyme resident then went to the podium and questioned, “Have any of you stood on Sands Dr.? [the road almost opposite the Exit 70 exit ramp on Rte. 156/Neck Rd.] This is a public safety issue …  I just don’t see how this project has got this far.” He added, “You cannot do away with the safety problems it {the proposed development] will cause.  There is just no way.”

Old Lyme former First Selectman Tim Griswold, who noted he had served for 14 years, asked if the Zoning Commission had received a formal recommendation [regarding the proposed development] from the Old Lyme Selectmen’s Office or the State Police in Westbrook since the First Selectwoman and/or the Resident State Trooper “have jurisdiction over speeds, Stop signs.” Commission members indicated this was not case to which Griswold responded, “This is a deficiency that should be corrected.”

Hope’s Board of Directors President Tony Lyons, an Old Saybrook resident, said he wanted “to dispel” a couple of the points that were being communicated about the proposed development. First, he stated it is not “profit-motivated’ and second that HOPE” is looking to help people already here” rather than people from outside the area. He surmised, “Everyone in this room knows someone who has a housing issue … the millennial on your couch, the senior who has no senior housing.”

Lyons prompted jeers when he said, “This is not about traffic … traffic will be negligible.” He asked the audience where they have been for the past four years while HOPE has been looking for a site for affordable housing, saying, “We have been an open book.  We are a completely transparent organization.” Lyons also said the audience should think about the alternative if this project is not approved, speculating that “It will not be 37 units but 137 units,” built by a property developer.

In a more conciliatory tone, he said, “We are looking for help from everyone in this room to make this project the best we can.”

A resident of Wolcott Lane wondered whether additional police would be required for the increased town population resulting from the development.

Old Lyme resident Jill Pilgrim read the Fire Marshal’s letter, which had been submitted the previous day, into the record.  The letter raised nine comments, which required attention by the applicant, and its conclusion was, “Based upon its current submitted design(s) and our noted nonconformance to the Connecticut Fire Safety and Fire Prevention Codes, this Office cannot support this project at this time.”

One speaker noted it is possible to rent in Old Lyme and “you can find places to rent,” while a second commented, “There’s plenty of affordable housing in this own … that needs to be explored a little more.” He also suggested that the rents at River Oak Commons sounded high.

Speaker after speaker urged HOPE to reconsider the location of the development with possible sites proposed at the Ryefield Senior Housing and its environs and also on Hartford Ave. in Sound View. Concerns ranged from whether the end of a school bus picking up students would extend to the foot of the Exit 70 off-ramp, how children are going to cross Rte. 156 in order to reach Hall’s Rd., “a catastrophic accident,” and who will pay for the subsequently needed traffic lights and a rotary.  One resident described the locations “dangerous and absurd.”

Tom Ortoleva, a resident  of Old Lyme and a board member of HOPE, spoke passionately in support of the project noting he had never had difficulty turning right from the Exit 70 off-ramp and that, “Families that want to stay local [in Old Lyme] have to go to other towns … college students are moving away.” He surmised that Old Lyme would not be able to support volunteer Fire or Emergency Medical Technician Departments if this situation continued.

Ortoleva also stressed that concerns the development would turn into a “drug haven” were unfounded.  He had explored with the Old Saybrook Police Chief Mike Spera whether the Affordable Housing development at Ferry Crossing in that town had experienced higher crime rates than other parts of the town and the answer had been a definitive “No.”  Spera said there had been “no violent crimes or drug incidents at Ferry Crossing.”

Wes Swanson, another HOPE board member and pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Old Saybrook, urged the audience to consider the aspect of “health” in relation to River Oak Commons in the context of a “healthy community,” that is, one which is diverse and hospitable.  He submitted that “This proposal will enrich and enhance Old Lyme and contribute to the community’s well-being and growth.”

Dominic Pappa, an abutter of the proposed development, drew applause when he summed up many of the concerns of those objecting saying, “Affordable Housing is needed but it’s obvious to everyone in this room that this site has a health and safety issue.” He urged the commission not to extend the public hearing but rather to have a vote and, “make a decision.”

When evaluating the evidence before making their decision, Michael Fogliano recommended the commission should take care only to consider, “objective data.”

Finally, after more than two and a half hours of testimony and some confusion in the final minutes, the commission voted unanimously to extend the hearing to Sept. 10 as requested by the applicant.

Editor’s Note: Links to our stories on previous meetings regarding this Affordable Housing proposal are respectively at Boisterous Crowd Packs Middle School Auditorium to Listen to, Give Opinions on HOPE’s Affordable Housing Proposal published June 8, and At HOPE’s Request, Old Lyme Zoning Extends Affordable Housing Hearing Deadline to July 17 published June 13. There are also numerous Letters to the Editor on the subject in our Letters section and opinions in our Op-Ed’s section. The articles themselves also stimulated a wide variety of comments.

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Follow the ‘Vision Box’ Trail This Summer!


Through the balance of the summer, the public can follow the trail of Vision Boxes installed at four sites throughout Old Lyme. The boxes are up for three months — at the end of the project, the boxes will be auctioned. Resulting funds will be contributed to programs that bring urban youth to visit wilderness parks or refuges in the local area and give them the opportunity to draw in the field.

Working in collaboration with non-profit land trusts, the Open Space Commission, individual stewards and local artists, Ana Flores designed the Vision Box project.

Flores is the first Schumann Foundation Visiting Artist at the University of New Haven’s Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. She is an award-winning “ecological artist” probing the relationships between the human and natural history in different geographies. One of her goals as an artist is to encourage the public’s awareness of their local landscapes, deepening their connections to place because if we don’t care about something we will not help protect it.

This spring she has been teaching Environmental Art, introducing students to ecological artists and having them create projects that involve ecology, community engagement, and activism. She has also been exploring the unique environment of Old Lyme in preparation for a public art project. The Old Lyme landscape, with its conjunction of river, marshes, fields, and forests served as the inspiration for the American Impressionist movement in the early 20th century. For over three decades, well known painters traveled here to document the estuary landscape with its particular quality of light.

Flores believes there is a connection between the sustained gaze of these artists and the extraordinary efforts in conservation in the area. She says, “The artists gave the land value for its irreplaceable natural beauty and since the mid 1960’s Old Lyme citizens have been working hard to preserve some of the habitat that lured artists here. The Vision Box project reminds us that we cannot take for granted open space, mature trees, or a clean river – they exist only because of visionary stewardship and in the case of Old Lyme, inspiration from artists’ vision.”

There will be an Opening Reception for the Vision Box project Thursday, July 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, 84 Lyme Street, in Old Lyme.  All are welcome.

The Vision Boxes can be found at these locations:

  1. Ferry Landing Park:
    Walk to end of boardwalk, box on viewing platform.
  2. Watch Rock Preserve:
    Entrance at end of Joel Road, take Yellow trail 0.4 mile, box faces West over water.
  3. Lyme Art Association:
    Box faces stream, located near back parking area.
  4. Champlain North:
    Turn on Wyckford Road, go to end. Open space trails are not private. Take Red trail, bear right, 0.4 mile to Barbizon Oak and box.

The project is made possible with support and funding from the Robert F. Schumann Foundation and Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts of the University of New Haven.

Special thanks for their support of the project are given  to:

  • Patricia Shippee,
  • Deborah Quinn-Munson,
  • Sara Drought Nabel,
  • Rosamund Christison

Partners include:

  • Old Lyme Open Space Commission
  • Old Lyme Land Trust
  • CT Dept. of Energy and Environmental

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Courtney Joins Others in Cautioning President Trump Not to Undo 73 Years of European Stability

Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT Second Congressional District)

Yesterday, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, joined 43 other members from the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees in releasing a joint statement regarding President Trump’s attendance at the NATO Summit and his bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“As I have made clear over the last two years, our committees have been briefed by military and diplomatic personnel, as well as outside experts about the non-stop, focused efforts of the Russian government to disrupt the stable, democratic unity that has prevailed in Europe since the end of the Second World War,” said Courtney.“Whether it is election interference, the illegal annexation of Crimea, or the uncalled-for provocations at sea and in the air in the Baltics, Scandinavia, and the Mediterranean, Russian military and intelligence forces are actively undermining the NATO alliance at every turn. My colleagues and I issued this statement to express our strong desire to the president that he should aggressively challenge President Putin on his government’s intentional violation of international law and norms.”

The 44 members said in their joint statement: “President Trump must not seek to undo the work that generations of American men and women have done to help defend and uphold democratic values throughout the transatlantic region. Europe returned from the devastation of the Second World War to prosperity largely due to the North Atlantic community’s commitments to its shared values and to collective defense. 

“The signals regarding potential outcomes that are coming from this administration in advance of the President’s upcoming trip to Europe are deeply concerning. Without question, in his upcoming meetings with NATO and President Putin, President Trump must continue to affirm America’s commitments to our allies, especially Article V of the Atlantic Treaty. He must not praise, condone, or abet any Russian efforts to undermine the sovereignty or democracy of any of our allies and partners. He must take a genuine stand against Russia’s cyber campaigns and its efforts to interfere in our elections. 

“President Trump must recognize the importance that our forward military presence and joint exercises play in deterring Russia and ensuring military readiness. He must not weaken this posture or suspend or cancel these crucial activities, nor emulate Russian propaganda attempting to discredit them.

“He must stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea and against the illegal occupation of Ukrainian territory and maintain sanctions until the conditions in the law are met. He must follow the law passed every year through the National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting military-to-military cooperation with President Putin. And he must continue to stand by NATO’s open-door policy on the admittance of new members. The substance and symbolism of these upcoming meetings will matter. The future of the Atlantic alliance and the international order, which has helped make the world safer and more prosperous is at stake.”

The other 43 members who signed the statement are:

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-PA), Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-CA), Rep. James R. Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Seth Moulton, (D-MA), Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Rep. Theodore E. Deutch (D-FL), Rep.Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. William R. Keating (D-MA), Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX),Rep. Robin L. Kelly (D-IL), Rep. Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA), Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Rep. Bradley S. Schneider (D-IL), Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), and Rep. Ted W. Lieu (D-CA).

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Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce Hosts Annual Dinner, Presents Scholarships, Elects Board Members

The Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce presented Senior Business Leadership Scholarships to Mason Swaney (left) and Amanda Marsh while Brandon Lee (right) was the recipient of the Chamber’s Senior Scholarship for Promise and Achievement in the Arts.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce (LOLCC) held its Annual Dinner at the Old Lyme Country Club Wednesday, June 20.  Fifty-six people were present including state legislators, representatives from the Town of Old Lyme, and scholarship winners from Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS).  It was a memorable evening for all present.

The Senior Business Leadership Scholarship awardees share an amusing moment with  Scholarship Committee Co-Chair Russ Gomes (second from right) and State Senator Paul Formica (R- 20th).

The business section of the meeting opened with the Treasurer’s report by Tim Griswold, followed by LOLCC President Olwen Logan giving a review of the 2017-18 Chamber year. She reported that the four main goals of the year had all been met or surpassed;

  1. Increase Chamber Membership – Logan was pleased to announce membership has  risen from 60 in June 2017 to over 110 one year later.
  2. Publish a new “Chamber Member Directory and Visitor’s Guide” – publication of the new full color, 44-page guide was completed in March.  Copies are available in the Old Lyme Town Hall.
  3. Secure space for the Chamber in Old Lyme Town Hall – achieved with assistance from First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and her Assistant Cathy Frank.  Logan expressed thanks to both on behalf of the Chamber.
  4. Restoration of  the Chamber sponsored sign at the foot of the Exit 70 off-ramp was skillfully and carefully completed by Chamber member Sophie Marsh, who was honored with a bouquet in appreciation of her excellent work.

Logan also highlighted the many events organized throughout the year by the Chamber including Dinner Meetings at local restaurants, Business After Hours at a variety of locations, and Business Breakfasts.  She also mentioned some of the upcoming happenings through the summer, including Business After Hours at Lyme Art Association on July 18 and at the Bee and Thistle Inn on Aug. 15.

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) reads from the State Citation to the Chamber’s Senior Business Leadership Scholarship recipients. From left to right, Mason Swaney, Amanda Marsh, Scholarship Committee Co-Chair Russ Gomes, State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th) and Carney.

Chamber Scholarships were then presented by State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) and State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th).  These were introduced by the Co-Chairs of the Scholarship Committee Russ Gomes and Olwen Logan.

The scholarship winners and their parents gathered together for this photo.

The recipients of LOLCC 2018 Business Leadership Awards were Lyme-Old Lyme High School seniors Mason Swaney and Amanda Marsh. Senior Brandon Lee was awarded the 2018 Scholarship for Promise and Achievement in the Arts. 

The Chamber also honored their Business Students of the Month from the 2017-18 school year at their Annual Dinner. From left to right, State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd), Aoife Hufford, Ann Cote, Alex Montville, Scholarship Committee Co-Chair Russ Gomes, State Senator Paul Formica (R- 20th) and Olwen Logan, Chamber President and Scholarship Committee Co-Chair. Missing from photo is Patrick Looney.

Also honored at the meeting were the Chamber’s four Lyme-Old Lyme High School Business Students of the Month:

  • Patrick Looney,
  • Alex Montville,
  • Ann Cote
  • Aoife Hufford. 

Brandon Lee, winner of the Chamber’s Senior Scholarship for Promise and Achievement in the Arts glances at this high school art teacher and mentor Will Allik. Others in the photo from left to right are State Rep. Devin Carney, Scholarship Committee Co-Chair Russ Gomes, State Senator Paul Formica, Lee, Allik, Old Lyme Selectwoman MaryJo Nosal

The Chamber was honored that the Co-Chair of the LOLHS Business Department Joanne Hedwall and the Chair of the LOLHS Art Department Will Allik were also able to attend the dinner.

Finally, a new slate of board members was presented and then voted into office unanimously.  The officers for the year starting July 1, 2018 are:
Rich Shriver, President
Joann Lishing, Secretary
Tim Griswold, Treasurer. 

The Board of Directors is:
Gene Chmiel
Heather Gagnon
Dan Henderson
Doug LoPresti
Suzanne Thompson
Jean Wilczynski . 

Incoming President Shriver thanked outgoing President Logan for her leadership and many accomplishments and also thanked Gail Stevens for her contributions during her term on the board of directors.

The Old Lyme Country Club served a delicious meal in the beautiful main dining room and an enjoyable evening was had by all.

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Community Comes Out in Force to Support Blood Drive Honoring Lyme-Old Lyme HS Grad Lisa Russell

Mike Russell gives blood at the Blood Drive held yesterday in honor his older sister, Lisa.  All photos by Catherine Frank.

“A grand success,” was how Pam Russell described the response to the Blood Drive held yesterday in Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall, which was organized by her elder daughter Kimberly Russell Thompson (a member of the Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) Class of 2005) in honor of her younger daughter (Kim’s sister), Lisa, who graduated with the LOLHS Class of 2007.  Lisa was seriously injured in the spring by an out-of-control car in Boston and received a significant amount of blood in the immediate aftermath of the accident.

Volunteers help keep hunger and thirst at bay.

More than 120 members of the community including a local legislator, as well as friends and family members showed up and, in fact, so many came that the American Red Cross administrators had to start turning people away in the afternoon.  Some came to donate blood while others were helping out in a variety of ways at the event and still more people  — Pam said “dozens” — donated food and snacks, which were served during the Drive.

Andy Russell chats with State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) at the Blood Drive.

At the end of the day, some 77 pints of urgently needed blood had been donated and some, who were unable to give blood at this event due to the large numbers, signed up to donate at the Blood Drive to be held at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme Sept. 11 .

Attorney Tom McGarry (pictured at the head of the table) joined Jean Wilczynski to serve as Notaries, who volunteered their time to assist with the effort to encourage attendees to consider setting up a Durable Power of Attorney. Rayna and Richard Dakin (seated to right of McGarry) were also volunteers at the event.

During the Blood Drive, Russell Thompson campaigned for people to complete Durable Power of Attorney paperwork — this allows a family member to pay bills and the like, when someone is incapacitated for any reason. It is a document that would have helped Lisa’s family take care of some essentials for Lisa without causing them great difficulty when Lisa was unable to sign anything for herself .

Russell Thompson explained, “We had Notaries available all day … there were several people who completed their important documents at the drive,” adding, “Mostly everyone started having conversations about why these documents are so important.”  She said there was also, “Discussion about continuing to educate [more people] about how important these documents can be and to urge people to start having those tough “what if” conversations with loved ones.”

Event volunteers Pam Russell (left) and Mary Stone sit while Andy Russell stands behind them.

Pam, who is head of the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School Language Arts Department, said that she and her husband, Andy, who serves as chairman of the Old Lyme Board of Finance, ” … were moved by the numbers and the friends who came even from as far as New Hartford to show support. There were coworkers, parents of my students, former students, classmates of Lisa’s, friends of friends.”  She summed up the whole event in just three words, ”  It was amazing!”

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A Perfect Day for a Parade! Lyme Celebrates the Fourth of July Under Sunny Skies

Rowland Ballek, who served as this year’s Grand Marshal, smiles broadly as he fulfills his duty.  Photo by Mike Dickey.

The boom of the musket echoes through the ears of the crowds gathered on either side of Cove Street, patiently awaiting the commencement of the annual Fourth of July Parade in Lyme.

The traditional firing of muskets signals the start of the Lyme Fourth of July Parade. Photo by Michele Dickey.

These fine soldiers then take up their positions at the front of the parade.

‘Vintage’ soldiers march down Cove Rd. Photo by Michele Dickey.

Children sit on the sides of the road with bags in their hands, ready to collect any candy that might be thrown their way. 

Grand Marshal Rowland Ballek rides in style at the head of the annual Lyme Independence Day Parade. Photo by Katie Reid.

The parade begins with the Grand Marshal Rowland J. Ballek, who served as the moderator of Lyme’s Annual Town Meeting for 46 years.

Photo by Katie Reid.

People marching in the parade hold balloons and buckets full of candy, ready to toss the sweets to the youngsters who are watching the parade pass.

Photo by Katie Reid.

Children ride scooters with baskets filled with treats, enthusiastically waving American flags and expressing their patriotism with red, white, and blue skirts and streamers.

Everybody loves a parade! Photo by Michele Dickey.

They came from “Sea to Shining Sea” …

Photo by Michele Dickey.

And also participating are this interesting crew …

Photo by Michele Dickey.

… two bears and a gorilla wearing sunglasses, who seem to take the whole event in their stride!

Photo by Michele Dickey.

Next come the counselors and campers from Camp Claire as they proudly carry their banner and wave to spectators, while cheerfully singing, “It’s a Grand Old Flag.”

Photo by Katie Reid.

The Lyme Garden Club is here …

Photo by Katie Reid.

And the Lyme Cub Scouts make a very special appearance!

Photo by Katie Reid.

People drive by in the coolest cars in town …

… and the coolest tanks!

Bruce Noyes drives the tank while his wife Tammy sits atop the big machine. Photo by Michele Dickey.

And finally the Lyme Ambulance Association closes out the proceedings for another year.

Photo by Katie Reid.

And after all was done, there were smiling faces everywhere, but also some hot and exhausted folks including this four-legged fellow — a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel named Simon and owned by Heather and Tom Richardson.  Perhaps he was waiting for his free ice pop, courtesy of Hamburg Cove Yacht Club?

Photo by Michele Dickey.

Here’s hoping everyone had a happy Independence Day — see you next year!

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Welcome, Katie Reid, our Summer Intern at LymeLine.com!

Katie Reid

We are delighted to welcome Katie Reid of Old Lyme as our summer intern at LymeLine.com. 

She is a rising senior at Lyme-Old Lyme High School and has loved writing since she was 10-years-old.  Katie told us, “I am very excited to have the opportunity to write for LymeLine.com.”

Aside from writing, Katie loves to perform, and participates in not only the high school musicals but also the newly-formed high school show choir, Amped Up!

Katie also plays volleyball and coaches a local T-ball team.

In the future, Katie hopes to pursue her passion for writing by becoming an author, editor, or a journalist.  We hope that her experience here at LymeLine.com helps her realize that dream.

If you see Katie out on assignment for us, stop by and say hello to her — she would love to meet you!

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Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau Acquires an AED Thanks to Donation from CT Trailblazers Facilitated by Critical Skills

Members of CT Trailmixers club celebrate LYSB’s installation of the Automated External Defibrillator with LYSB Director Mary Seidner, standing at right.

Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) has installed an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in their main Activity Center on Lyme Street. The addition of the LYSB’s new AED contributes to the growing number of readily available lifesaving tools and skills that are part of the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s “HEARTSafe Community” award to the Town of Old Lyme.

Critical Skills Education & Training owners Colleen Atkinson and Doug Lo Presti are local Emergency Medical Technicians and American Heart Association Instructors, who have coordinated the Town’s HEARTSafe Community award through three renewals, continuing the placement of AEDs and training of hundreds of individuals who live and work in Old Lyme. Training consists of Adult, Child and Infant CPR, use of an AED and relieving an obstructed airway.

The purchase of the AED for LYSB was funded partially by contributions made by Critical Skills through classes held at LYSB but the principal contribution came from the non-profit group CT Trailmixers, a Southington-based trail-running club, whose members are passionate about sharing the love and use of trails in the state of Connecticut.

The Trailmixers’ mission also includes making donations to a variety of causes and organizations, including the Southington YMCA and the Connecticut Forest & Parks Association. Proceeds also go to the CT Trailmixers’ Shoe Scholarship Program which, in partnership with Fleet Feet West Hartford, gives free shoes to children in need, who wish to run cross-country or track in school.

Michael Lo Presti, CT Trailblazers Founder and President, reached out to Critical Skills on candidates for donations and Lo Presti and Atkinson suggested the idea of an AED for LYSB.

The Trailmixers’ generous donation not only completed but surpassed the fundraising effort and LYSB purchased and installed the AED in May.

The AED purchased is a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) and available to trained and untrained bystanders alike in case of emergency. LYSB is committed to providing services to the people who live, work and play in Old Lyme and has been a central point of service for generations of children. The acquisition of the AED helps to ensure the best care for the existing population and for generations to come.

In addition to LYSB, Public Access Defibrillators in Old Lyme are now located in

  • Old Lyme Town Hall
  • OL-PGN Library
  • Town Woods Park
  • SNAP Fitness
  • Old Lyme Wellness
  • Soundview Community Center
  • Old Lyme Country Club
  • Black Hall Golf Club
  • Mile Creek School
  • Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School
  • Center School
  • Lyme-Old Lyme High School
  • Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church
  • First Congregational Church of Old Lyme
  • L & M Primary Care
  • Lymes’ Senior Center
  • Old Lyme Beach ClubIf you are interested in acquiring an AED or in American Heart Association CPR/AED training, call Critical Skills at 860-304-8471 or 860-391-3779 or visit www.criticalskillseducation.com.
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‘Cities of Peace’ on View at Lyme Academy Through Sept. 8

Lhasa: 10 Directions (Tibet), Cities of Peace, 22-karat gold leaf, egg tempera on Belgian linen, 69 x 104″, 2005, is featured in the ‘Cities of Peace’ exhibition at Lyme Academy.

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts hosts an opening reception this evening in the Chauncey Stillman Gallery from 5 to 7 p.m. for “Cities of Peace: A Living Monument to Cultural Heritage Preservation.’  All are welcome and there is no charge for admission.
This historic exhibition features monumental paintings illuminating the heart and soul of 10 cities around the world that have suffered major conflict and trauma—Baghdad, Beijing, Hiroshima, Jerusalem, Kabul, Lhasa, Monrovia, New York, Sarajevo, Yerevan — and how the community collaboration behind the creation of each of these paintings demonstrates the power of art as cultural diplomacy and ambassadors of peace.
The founder and artistic director of the Cities of Peace project is Ellen Frank, Ph.D. of the Ellen Frank Illumination Arts Foundation, Inc., Cities of Peace®.  The exhibition curator is Christina Mossaides Strassfield.  For more information on the ‘Cities of Peace’ project, visit this link. 
The exhibition sponsors are Connecticut Humanities, Anonymous, Dr. John & Donita Aruny, Becky and Ted Crosby, Clo and Stephen Davis,  Lee and John Pritchard, Saybrook Point Inn/Fresh Salt, and Barbara and Dick Shriver.
The exhibition will be on view through Sept. 8, 2018.
The gallery is open Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
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Death of Old Lyme High School Graduate, Captain Richard John Losea (USCG, Ret.), Announced

Captain Richard John Losea (USCG, Ret.)

Captain Richard John Losea (USCG, Ret.), 71, passed away the day after Memorial Day on May 29, 2018.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, he was the son of the late Howard and Anne Losea.  After graduating from Old Lyme High School, Richard received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, a  Master of Science-Financial Management degree from the Navy Post Graduate School in Monterey, CA, a Master of Arts-International Relations at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI and also graduated from the Naval War College in Newport, RI.

He retired from the United States Coast Guard as a Captain after 26 ½ years of service. He also retired from the Department of Defense Joint Staff after 18 ½ years of service. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War.  Richard was the Commander of the Patrol Boat USCG Point Arena, the Pay and Personnel Center, and the Group Milwaukee.

The late Captain Richard John Losea (USCG, Ret.) and his wife, Patricia, who survives him, on their wedding day.

He also served on the Board of Chesapeake Integrated Behavior Services and the Board at ABNB Federal Credit Union.

Richard was predeceased by Howard Losea and Anne Losea, formerly of Old Lyme.  Left to cherish Richard’s memory: his wife, Patricia Mary Losea and son, Thomas E. Losea of Chesapeake VA; sister, Diane Losea Roeder and her husband, Bill, of Northampton, MA;  brother, Steven Losea of Phoenix, AZ, and niece, Amanda Roeder of Beverly, MA.  

Richard is survived by his aunt, Florence Linskey, and cousins John, Matthew, Steven, Peter and Andrew Linskey, Joan Doherty and Florence Hartman.  He will be dearly missed by his wife Patricia’s niece Dominique Finch Weber of Montz, Louisiana and her family.

Richard’s funeral service was held on Saturday, June 2, 2018, followed by interment with military honors at Chesapeake Memorial Gardens In Chesapeake Virginia.

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Old Lyme Library Presents Information Sessions on Renovation Plans, June 20


The Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Building Committee and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder will host a final Information Session Wednesday, June 20, starting at 7 p.m.in the library’s Community Room, on plans to renovate the library. All are welcome.

The session will include:

  • an overview of how the project came about
  • planned repairs and improvements
  • associated costs and improvements

Participants will be invited on a guided tour of the building.

There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.

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Wayland’s Eagle Project to Construct Boxes for Retired US Flags in Lyme, Old Lyme Draws High Praise

Gathered for a photo after Theodore Wayland’s Eagle project presentation to the VFW Post 1467 last Monday are, from left to right, Post Commander David Griswold, Theodore, State Rep. Devin Carney and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

On Monday, May 29, Life Scout of Troop 26 Boy Scouts Theodore Wayland invited the local VFW Post 1467 to Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall immediately following the Memorial Day parade to present his Eagle project comprising three locally-placed flag repository boxes.

Edward Shyloski, a member of local VFW post 1467, which sponsored the project, congratulates Theodore Wayland on completion of the flag repository boxes,

Wayland’s project was generously sponsored by the VFW Post 1467. This allowed for Theodore and retiring Commander Edward Shyloski to develop a relationship through ongoing communication during the project. When Shyloski noted during the presentation, “He’s a boy raised right, ” it reflected the time and attention to the country’s history, veterans and the local community that Shyloski himself embodies.

From left to right, VFW Post 146 Commander David Griswold stands with Theodore Wayland, State Rep. Devin Carney and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

The young scouts often offer opportunities for VFW members to reflect on their own youth and scouting experiences by sharing experiences with the scouts. An example of this occurred recently when Troop 26 hosted a dinner for the local Post, which has now become an annual tradition for the troop.

Troop 26 Scoutmaster Mark Wayland stands in the foreground with Theodore while the boys of Troop 26 stand behind.

Wayland spoke during the presentation of his goal to continue educating townspeople to dispose properly of retired flags.

Theodore’s parents, Mark and Kathryn Wayland, stand proudly with their son and other dignitaries who attended the presentation.

The photo at left show Wayland standing behind one of the three boxes constructed in which local residents can dispose of retired flags. He worked with his local troop to design and build three boxes to be placed this week at the Lyme Town Hall, Old Lyme Town Hall and the Lymes’ Senior Center.

Wayland’s troop hosts an annual flag retirement ceremony at their local campsite, Camp Emerson each spring and Wayland, along with fellow scouts, will collect flags as the boxes fill.

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) both spoke in support of Wayland’s project and all the notable works local Boy and Girls Scouts accomplish in Lyme and Old Lyme.

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Attorney John A. Collins III of Old Lyme Appointed Judge of Mohegan Gaming Disputes Court

Pictured from left to right are Suisman Shapiro Paralegal Christine Gravelin, Attorney John A. Collins, III, and Paralegal Joanna Lazarus.

On May 15, Attorney John A. Collins, III, was sworn in as a Judge of the Gaming Disputes Court for Mohegan Tribal Court.

In its constitution, the Mohegan Tribe has given exclusive jurisdiction over any dispute involving or arising out of ’Gaming’ to the Gaming Disputes Court which consists of a Trial Court and a Court of Appeals. As used in the Mohegan Constitution, ’Gaming’ includes the development, construction, operation, promotion, financing, regulation and licensing issues, and includes jurisdiction over any associated hotel, resort or entertainment facility on Tribal lands.

This jurisdiction extends to actions of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and disputes involving its employees and customers. The Court may exercise jurisdiction over any person who transacts any business on or affecting the Mohegan Reservation.

Attorney John A. Collins, III, is a Director/Shareholder at Suisman Shapiro, who concentrates in the areas of Personal Injury Law and Civil Litigation. In addition to his role as Judge of the Gaming Disputes Court for Mohegan Tribal Court, Attorney Collins serves as the Managing Partner of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

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Op-Ed: HOPE Explains Background, Process to Their Affordable Housing Proposal in Old Lyme

This Op-Ed was written by Lauren Ashe, Executive Director of HOPE Partnership.

Rendering for planned development at 16 Neck Road, also referred to as River Oak Commons I & II. Photo submitted by HOPE Partnership.

As many are aware, HOPE Partnership with Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development, our development partner, is in the process of seeking the necessary approvals to develop new, affordable housing communities on Neck Road in Old Lyme.  We are writing today to share the story of HOPE and the path that brought us to this point.

In 2001, a group of local faith leaders became aware of a growing problem in the community, children in their homework clubs living in hotels or academic rentals without safe and stable homes.  This realization prompted a call to action for community and faith leaders to provide housing options for the families in the community.   HOPE Partnership, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, was formed  in 2004 with the mission of developing affordable housing  in lower Middlesex County and surrounding towns.  In 2012, HOPE, in partnership with the Women’s Institute, opened Ferry Crossing, an affordable development made up of 16 townhomes, located in Old Saybrook and since that time it has been fully occupied and has a waiting list for individuals hoping to make it their home.

While HOPE was working in Old Saybrook, Old Lyme Affordable Housing (OLAH) was making similar efforts in Old Lyme.  Old Lyme Affordable Housing was also formed by concerned community members with support from the faith community and the town of Old Lyme.  In 2015, OLAH merged with HOPE Partnership to ensure their work would continue.  With this combining of efforts, HOPE pledged to make developing affordable housing in Old Lyme a priority.  As part of HOPE’s efforts, we actively pursued opportunities to meet with community groups to educate and advocate for affordable housing.  We had a table at both the Lion’s Club Car Show and the Mid Summer’s Festival in 2017. Focusing on the need in Old Lyme, we met with members of three Old Lyme churches; Christ the King, Saint Ann’s and the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme as well as the Old Lyme Lions Club.

Every year HOPE hosts a “Friendraiser” to share our efforts in the communities we serve.  In 2016, it was there that the owner of property on Neck Road learned of our work and approached us to discuss working together to solve the issue of the lack of affordable housing in Old Lyme.  Once discussions began it was HOPE’s task to determine the viability of building a community at the location.

Working with local engineers, architects and housing consultants, HOPE and the owner of the property applied for and received a subdivision of the property  into four separate lots in October 2017 from the Town of Old Lyme’s Planning Commission.  HOPE’s plans include the two ”front lots” on Neck Road, while the owner will retain the two “rear” lots closer to the River .  In November 2017, the team invited neighbors as well as stakeholders in the community to discuss the preliminary plans for the properties.

During HOPE’s feasibility process a Phase I Environmental Study and a Hazardous Material Survey were conducted with satisfactory results.   HOPE has conducted multiple soil tests to ensure that septic and water capacity are sufficient to meet the needs of the development and all regulations.  An archeological study was conducted as well as discussions with the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation which  determined there was nothing of historical value in need of protection.   A traffic study was conducted in October 2017. The study is being updated using more current data now available, and an additional study will be conducted over Memorial Day weekend to determine the traffic impact on the area. This impact study will be provided to the Town’s own independent Traffic Engineers in sufficient time for review.  The Town’s Inlands Wetlands and Watercourses unanimously approved HOPE’s application for Lot 1 on May 22nd, with stipulations to add rain gardens in between buildings to capture more water onsite; to require owner to clean and inspect wetlands area and to have a plan to treat invasive species.

With preliminary studies and test results in hand, HOPE and its development partner, Women’s Institute, determined that the property would be a suitable location for affordable housing this past spring.  HOPE officially announced its intention to move forward at its annual Friendraiser at the Old Lyme Country Club in April 2018.  We continue to meet with community groups and have shared our plans with the Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club, the Mentoring Corps for Community Development (MCCD), representatives from the school district, Christ the King Church and First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. What we heard from these organizations was a need to serve incomes of households that would meet community needs – such as young adults who grew up in Old Lyme but cannot afford to move back after college, the volunteer firefighters in the community, or the families sending their students to school in Old Lyme.

We also heard the importance to preserve the cultural entranceway to Old Lyme. We have responded with a design that is set back the length of a football field from the road, mirrors the road patterns of the adjacent neighborhoods, has space for a community room and on-site property management to oversee the ongoing maintenance of the grounds and building, and building designs that reflect the historic aesthetic of Old Lyme.  This new neighborhood will serve to convert an underutilized parcel to a tranquil neighborhood for 37 families, supported by public transportation and contributing to nearby commercial activity.

Affordable housing provides a solid foundation for a strong community.  Residents who live in a home that is affordable have funds to purchase food, provide health care and satisfy other living needs.  Residents of affordable homes also have the economic means to purchase goods and services in their communities creating economic stability.

The exact mix of unit rents and income limits is still being finalized for a number a reasons.  Because we restrict the rents of our housing to ensure that it remains affordable to households who can’t afford a home at market rate in Old Lyme, we need to leverage a variety of private and public sources to provide a mix of debt and equity that will sustain the project for decades to come. Each one of these sources will have different financial and policy goals.

When determining the rental and income limits in a project, we take a three tier approach.  1) We determine the greatest community need, based on local engagement and formal market studies, and examine how this need aligns with the mission of HOPE and our partners; 2) We determine how much income the property will need to make through rents to pay for ongoing expenses, maintenance, and capital improvements so that the development is fiscally responsible and sustainable for the duration of the deed restrictions; and 3) We must meet the various needs of lenders and funders in the project that all have different policy requirements for how they want funds to be used and who they are aiming to serve.  This approach will impact how many apartments will be set aside for families earning very low incomes to meet community or state policy goals, versus how many might be left at market rate to ensure there is greater revenue to offset lower rent limits.  Until all financing is fully committed, these projections will be re-examined continuously.

Thanks to a financial commitment received through Guilford Savings Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston on April 30, 2018, the project will have access to a reduced rate mortgage, which at this time should allow us to preserve 100% of the units as affordable. Affordable is defined by HUD as spending no more than 30% of their income on housing costs.  For these units, the household income ranges will be from $20,000 to $71,000, all based on the area median income in Old Lyme. The remainder of the development will be funded through a variety of sources, private investor equity through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program (LIHTC), energy efficiency rebates through the utility companies, and CT Dept. of Housing bond financing.

River Oak Commons I will consist of 7 residential buildings (23 affordable units) and 1 pump house.  River Oak Commons II will consist of 4 residential buildings (14 affordable units) and 1 community building, including an office for an onsite property manager.

Our next step in the process is to obtain approval for our applications from the Old Lyme Zoning Commission.  The public hearing is set for June 5th at 7:30pm at the Old Lyme Town Hall.

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Op-Ed: SECoast Questions Proposed HOPE Development in Old Lyme

Organization Stresses Support of Affordable Housing

This Op-Ed was written by Gregory Stroud, Executive Director, SECoast

This photograph shows a representation of Hope Partnership’s ‘model’ Ferry Road development six years after completion.  Photo by Gregory Stroud.

No doubt by now, most of you have heard of the Hope Partnership housing development planned for 16 Neck Road. It’s a subdivided property tucked in beside the northbound I-95 exit 70 into Old Lyme, a wooded 12.5 acre lot with a steep entrance road, and a long stretch of deep-water access to the Long Island Sound. The property once assessed for $1.2 million, was purchased by a local developer on December 31, 2015 for a relative song—$455,500.

As things stand today, our expectation is that the purchaser, Graybill Properties, will keep and develop the back two lots for private houses, with river views and water access, and will sell the front two lots facing Neck Road for development as “affordable housing,” all told perhaps 37 or 41 two- three- and four-bedroom units, twelve buildings, and 113 parking spaces.

The development falls under a state law, commonly known as 8-30g, which doesn’t exactly give for-profit and non-profit developers carte blanche, but it does place a heavy burden of proof on local government to stop them, if a town fails to meet a very narrowly-tailored threshold of 10 percent deed-restricted affordable housing stock. Old Lyme currently stands at 1.56 percent, and by this method of counting, it’s not at all clear that the town can or will ever meet or sustain the minimum threshold of affordability.

To be sure, affordable housing has a checkered 30-year history in Connecticut, with often wealthy enclaves successfully gaming the system to shirk their statutory responsibilities, and sometimes unscrupulous developers gaming the system to build luxury apartment complexes, and harvest tax advantages, wherever profitable. In our particular case, we feel confident in saying that neither is the case, but that does not mean our current debate has not been colored on various sides by these broader frictions and frustrations.

Proponents of the project have at times avoided a serious discussion of the project by out-of-hand dismissing legitimate local concerns as NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard)—a form of name-calling rather than logical argument. Opponents of the project have frequently suggested darker motives for the development, without evidence. Town leaders have pitched the project as an effective defense against less scrupulous developers, despite the obvious truth that this project will not nearly allow Old Lyme to meet its near-impossible 10 percent obligation. There has no doubt been anger and ugliness, and more than a few transitory facts and figures in and around the project. We can do better.

Although we have significant and still unaddressed questions concerning the genesis of this project, the methods for choosing and advancing this project, how it fits into broader unstated plans of profit, funding, and development for Old Lyme, nevertheless we are confident that the two primary organizations behind it—Old-Saybrook-based Hope Partnership, and their statewide partner The Women’s Institute—are motived not by profit, but by a genuine, if perhaps overriding, philanthropic mission.

Nor does Old Lyme—despite its reputation among some as a haven of wealth and privilege—have a history of skirting the law or blocking affordable housing projects. In fact, in this case First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal, have invited and actively encouraged the development of this project in Old Lyme. We have little doubt that many in Old Lyme will bend over backwards to help see this project to completion.

But now putting all that aside, we are left with two basic questions: Is this a ‘good’ project? And do our concerns about health, safety, or other legally reviewable matters, clearly outweigh a need for affordable housing?

To the first question, we say largely not. To the second question, we say that it remains unresolved. For this reason, while we have decided to remain neutral at present on this project—we will neither promote, nor actively endeavor to block it—it is our view that the project leaves such substantial details and questions unresolved that it would constitute an act of negligence for zoning, planning, wetlands, or other town commissions to give this project approval, or even conditional approval, without significant additional scrutiny and assurances.

To this end, we spent more than two hours on May 2 with board and staff members of Hope Partnership, and The Women’s Institute, which was followed by numerous hours reviewing evident and serious issues of pedestrian and traffic safety, fire code, environmental, and other concerns. We followed up with an additional nearly hour-long conversation with Kristin Anderson, the development manager for the project, as part of The Women’s Institute. We remain deeply, and sincerely troubled by the project, and the feasibility of addressing these concerns.

We leave our detailed criticism to later public comment, but that said, it is telling we think, that the bulk of assurances which we did receive, regarding the goodness, the compliance with fire code, and the traffic and pedestrian safety of the project, are premised on a series of troubling and doubtful assumptions as follows:

  • that some un-proposed and unfunded redevelopment of Rte. 156 and Halls Road may in the future allow for safe pedestrian access between the development and the nearby Halls Road Shopping District;
  • that the 2018 State Building and Fire Safety Codes would drop a mandate for sprinklers by a vote in the legislature on July 1;
  • that CTDOT will alter the traffic signs and the terminus of Exit 70 in a manner, and time, which will allow for safe vehicle access to the site.

To be frank, all that we are really sure of here, is that this project has sailed through a number of planning, zoning, and wetlands meetings, with the strong backing of elected local officials, an array of ephemeral facts and arguments, an ever-growing scope, and a heck of a lot of good intentions.

But for all the good intent, the stubborn present reality of this project remains an essentially regressive model of suburban tract housing, with no clear safe access on foot, by bicycle, school bus, or public transit, awash in blacktop, skirting requirements of septic within the watershed and at the mouth of the Connecticut River, exempted from requirements of open space for land which will later be developed, and by an Old Lyme Plan of Conservation and Development, which is two sentences from nonexistent.

This is a project, as currently drawn, which reaches toward a lower common denominator of fire code. If requirements for sprinklers are dropped, should we cheer? It’s a plan at present, which encourages children to play inside, and burdens struggling families with the necessity of two cars.

Of course, no project can meet every ideal measure, and many families happily live out their days without sidewalks and within suburban tract housing. Should we hold affordable housing to a higher standard? Aren’t affordability and good intentions, reason enough? It’s an argument more often we’ve seen used for hot dogs and hamburgers in school lunches.

The reality is that 16 Neck Road is not just a housing development, it’s the entrance to the town. 16 Neck Road is the first step, a driving force, a funding source and point of leverage for a much larger unspoken and questionably-coordinated redevelopment of Old Lyme. Are we in such a rush, that without any real detail, this is how we choose to begin? 

Believe me, the public hearing on May 14 isn’t just another hoop, it’s the moment when Hope Partnership and the Town of Old Lyme decide whether to pull the trigger.

We say, yes to affordable housing in Old Lyme, but only with a better affordable plan.

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Own a House in the Old Lyme Historic District? Nominate it for “Homes for the Holidays” Tour, Raise Funds for OLCLC

Calling all homeowners in the Old Lyme Historic District: Does your home have historic significance? Is your home architecturally interesting?  Do you have a knack for interior design? Are you interested helping a valued community non-profit in raising funds?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions, then nominate your home to be featured in “Homes for The Holidays,” The Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center’s (OLCLC) biennial fundraiser on Dec. 8, 2018!

The OLCLC is now accepting applications from Old Lyme Village homeowners who are interested in learning more about this important fundraiser and would like their home to be considered for this year’s tour.

In order for the Home Tour to be a true walking tour, homes should be located on Lyme Street or on any of its side roads north of Rte. 156 between Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts and Johnnycake Hill Road (including Elizabeth Lane, Library Lane, Dunns Lane, Elm Street, Lee Street, Beckwith Lane, Academy Lane, Ferry Road, Lieutenant River Lane, Bittersweet Lane, Duck River Lane, McCurdy Road, Lyme Street, and Johnny Cake Hill Road near McCurdy Road).

Additionally, OLCLC Home Tour search committee members will be visiting Village home owners in May to hand out applications and to solicited homes.

Share your community spirit and help make this year’s Home Tour the best ever by nominating your distinctive home today.

For more information, contact Alison Zanardi at (860) 434-1728, ext. 1 or email alison_baasp@comcast.net.

Editor’s Note: The Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center is a non-profit NAEYC-accredited early childhood school and child care center. OLCLC seeks to provide a secure, safe, and happy environment that fosters the natural development of the whole child from 6 weeks of age to grade five for families in the Lyme/Old Lyme and surrounding communities. For more information visit www.olclc.com.

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District 18 Budget Passes Easily in Both Towns

Voters approved the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools proposed $33.3 million budget by a substantial margin in both Lyme and Old Lyme.  In Lyme, there were 141 Yes votes and 21 No votes while in Old Lyme, 267 residents voted Yes and 90 voted NO.

The total number of votes across both towns supporting the budget was 408 while a total of 111 rejected it, which represents a 78.6 percent majority in favor of the budget and 21.4 percent voting against it.

Ian Neviaser, Superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, stated via e-mail, “We appreciate the continued support of both towns and will continue to work to provide a top notch educational experience for all the students in our district.”

Turnout was exceptionally low in both towns.  In Old Lyme, where there are 5,639 registered voters according to the Democrat Deputy Registrar of Voters Sylvia Peterson, a total of 6.33 percent of registered voters turned out to vote.

The now approved budget for the 2018-19 school year is $34,298,528 representing a 1.97 percent increase over the current year.

Neviaser and LOL Schools Board of Education Chair Mimi Roche stated in the March Focus on Education newsletter to the community that this budget allows for a significant increase in the cost of employee health insurance, “… yet continues to maintain all of our award-winning academic and extracurricular offerings, which are commensurate, and oftentimes superior, to both public and private schools throughout Connecticut.”

Neviaser and Roche said, “This budget supports our commitment to:

  • Continued adherence to class size guidelines. •
  • Reduction of staff to account for an enrollment decline at the elementary and middle school levels. •
  • Continuance of existing academic and extracurricular activities. •
  • Adjustments for anticipated changes in the special education population. •
  • Adequate funding for maintenance and repair of buildings and grounds. •
  • Scheduled replacement of technology and equipment. •
  • Program improvements that are consistent with high academic and operational standards.

Three facilities projects are included in the budget:

  • gaining commission approvals for an artificial turf field
  • replacing the Center School gymnasium floor
  • replacing the Mile Creek fuel oil tank.

Similarly, two program improvements are included:

  • Next Generation Science Standards curricular support/training
  • technology infrastructure advancements.

For further information on the proposed budget, visit this link for a copy of the 2018-19 budget.

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