July 25, 2016

SECoast Launches Petition Against Proposed High-Speed Train Route Through SE Connecticut

UjIKKFwIQ7uwC3W92AMN_dontTreadSECoast, the non-profit group formed primarily to fight the proposed high speed train route through southeast Connecticut, is sponsoring, and Old Lyme resident Jennifer Hillhouse is organizing, a petition drive against the proposed by-pass from Old Saybrook to Kenyon, R.I.

The text of the petition is as follows:

We must not squander a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernize rail travel along the Northeast Corridor, on plans destined either to fail, or to irreparably harm the historic towns, and estuaries of southeastern Connecticut. 

Twice, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a keen supporter of rail travel, called the proposed Kenyon to Saybrook bypass through Old Lyme, “half-baked and harebrained.” We agree. 

We urge you to remove this flawed coastal bypass — both as a mapped route and as a concept — from the NEC Future Preferred Alternative, and from any further planning by the Federal Railroad Administration along the Northeast Corridor.

Copies are currently available to sign at the Florence Griswold Museum, Lyme Art Association, Tax Collector’s Office at Old Lyme Town Hall, Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, and at the Lymes’ Senior Center. There will also be an opportunity to sign at the Old Lyme Midsummer Festival next Saturday, July 30, at the Florence Griswold Museum.

It is also possible to sign the petition online at this link.

If there are volunteers interested in organizing petition drives in neighboring towns, SECoast requests that they make contact via the SECoast Facebook page.

We urge our readers to sign the petition.  Thank you!

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Blumenthal, Murphy, Courtney Stress Opposition to Rail Through Old Lyme; Urge Federal Railroad Administration to Hear Community Concerns

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (D-2) yesterday urged the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to meet with the Old Lyme community before moving forward with any plans for a new rail route through the historic city. The FRA has started a massive, multi-million dollar undertaking called “NEC FUTURE” to develop a vision that will meet the passenger rail needs of the Northeast in 2040, and it currently includes ideas to reroute Amtrak straight through Old Lyme.

In a letter to the FRA dated July 22, the lawmakers reiterated their strong opposition to any proposal that would route a new rail line through Old Lyme and called on the Administration to attend a public forum there so that community leaders can explain how to meet our region’s rail needs while honoring historic preservation and environmental protection priorities.

“As the Federal Railroad Administration continues to develop its framework for critically needed investments in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), known as NEC FUTURE, we write to reiterate our call that you ensure the plan reflects the priorities of the people who live and work in the region. To that end, we express our strong opposition to proposals that would route a new rail line through Old Lyme, Connecticut, and we request that you attend a public forum there so that community leaders can explain how to meet our region’s rail needs while honoring historic preservation and environmental protection priorities.”

The proposed rail line realignment outlined in Alternative 1 of the NEC FUTURE Plan would shift the main rail line northward ahead of the Old Saybrook Station and run through several Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline communities before reconnecting to the existing segment in Kenyon, RI.

Blumenthal, Murphy, and Courtney have been vocal in their opposition of any plan that would reroute rail through Old Lyme. At a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee hearing earlier this month, Blumenthal pressed Amtrak Vice President Stephen Gardner to ditch any plans to build a new route through Southeastern Connecticut that would be strongly opposed by residents of the region.

The text of the letter is available below:

Dear Administrator Feinberg:

As the Federal Railroad Administration continues to develop its framework for critically needed investments in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), known as NEC FUTURE, we write to reiterate our call that you ensure the plan reflects the priorities of the people who live and work in the region. To that end, we express our strong opposition to proposals that would route a new rail line through Old Lyme, Connecticut, and we request that you attend a public forum there so that community leaders can explain how to meet our region’s rail needs while honoring historic preservation and environmental protection priorities.

We strongly support comprehensive, bold efforts to strengthen the NEC rail network, which for too long has subjected our constituents in Connecticut and throughout the Northeast region to daily disruptions and delays on a system that has outlived its useful life. It is time to rebuild the network and ensure it is made safer and more responsive to the needs of the millions who rely on it to live, work and commute each day. In doing so, however, the needs and priorities of the communities that will be impacted by new rail routes must be taken into consideration.

We understand FRA is set to unveil a final Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on various alternatives to improve rail service in Connecticut later this year; state governments, local entities and rail operators may then use the EIS as a springboard for localized, project-specific plans. Unfortunately, the Tier 1 EIS now underway falls short on many fronts. One of the major proposals envisioned by NEC FUTURE would re-route Amtrak through the heart of many historic towns and communities in our state, including Old Lyme. We reject such a proposal, and call on you to ensure the final Tier 1 EIS is absent any scenario that sends rail through Old Lyme. Moreover, whatever alternative is chosen in the EIS must be accompanied by an impact analysis that fairly details the chosen alternative’s impact on the environment, the community, and historical properties.

NEC FUTURE is an important opportunity to comprehensively plan for the investments required to ensure that the Northeast rail corridor—the nation’s busiest—remains safe and viable for decades to come. The FRA is spending considerable resources on this plan, and we are eager to see a final product that is worthy of that investment of time and money. Accordingly, we urge you to put forward a proposal that can be supported by Connecticut and that bolsters historic preservation and environmental conservation instead of undercutting those values. We also ask you to commit to attending a public forum in Old Lyme so FRA and the community can discuss how to develop a long-term plan that reflects the values of our constituents.

We appreciate your attention to this important matter, and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

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FloGris Museum Board Sends Letter to FRA Stating Strong Opposition to Proposed Rail Route Through Old Lyme; Requests Removal of Route, Public Meeting to be Held

Jeffrey Andersen, Director of the Florence Griswold Museum

Jeffrey Andersen, Director of the Florence Griswold Museum

In a week of continuing activity regarding the proposed high speed rail route, the Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, Jeffrey Andersen, and the President of the Board of Trustees of the Museum, Frank (Ted) Hamilton III, sent a letter dated July 15 to Rebecca Reyes-Alicea, the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Program Advisor for the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) expressing their “grave concerns” about recent reports that the proposed high speed train route currently under discussion will pass through Old Lyme.  Significantly, 25 members of the board of trustees had met July 14 and unanimously joined the statement of opposition to the FRA.

The letter refers to the NEC Future Preferred Alternative, which is now expected to be announced in mid-August of this year and anticipates “a high-speed rail corridor to come through the historic center of the Town of Old Lyme,” with what Anderson and Hamilton describe as, “devastating consequences to its significant cultural, historic, and environmental resources.”

Noting the addition of the Old Lyme Historic District to The National Register of Historic Places and the designation of the Florence Griswold House and Museum as a National Historic Landmark (NHL), the letter states unequivocally, “The Board of Trustees and leadership of the Museum are concerned that the essential integrity of the Town of Old Lyme and the reputation of this NHL as the Home of American Impressionism will be violated by the actions proposed by the FRA.”

Citing the recent “acquisition of the final parcel of private land that was once a part of Florence Griswold’s historic estate,” Anderson and Hamilton stress, “The unification of the historic site, and the enhancement of the visitor’s experience for the over 70,000 visitors who come here annually, will be forever diminished if this plan is chosen over other alternatives.”  They conclude forcefully, “The proposed train route will do untold damage to the setting of this National Historic Landmark and, indeed, the Historic District.”

The authors highlight their solid unity with US Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, US House Representative Courtney, State Senator Formica and State Representative Formica against the proposal and make two requests, first that the Old Saybrook to Kenyon by-pass is removed from consideration in the plan, and second that a public meeting is held in southeast Connecticut so that citizens may ask questions and receive responses.

The full text of the letter is given below:

Dear Ms. Reyes-Alicea:

Twenty-five members of the Board of Trustees of the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, CT met on Thursday, July 14, 2016 to unanimously express their grave concerns regarding recent reports that a Kenyon to Saybrook bypass will be included as part of the NEC Future Preferred Alternative expected to be announced in mid-August 2016. As you know, this plan calls for a high-speed rail corridor to come through the historic center of the Town of Old Lyme, with devastating consequences to its significant cultural, historic, and environmental resources.

In 1971, the Old Lyme Historic District was added to The National Register of Historic Places and, in 1993, the Florence Griswold House and Museum was designated a National Historic Landmark in recognition of its significance for all Americans. The Board of Trustees and leadership of the Museum are concerned that the essential integrity of the Town of Old Lyme and the reputation of this NHL as the Home of American Impressionism will be violated by the actions proposed by the FRA. Ironically, at the very time that the town is facing this threat, the Museum has just completed the acquisition of the final parcel of private land that was once a part of Florence Griswold’s historic estate. The unification of the historic site, and the enhancement of the visitor’s experience for the over 70,000 visitors who come here annually, will be forever diminished if this plan is chosen over other alternatives. The proposed train route will do untold damage to the setting of this National Historic Landmark and, indeed, the Historic District.

Our Board of Trustees stands in unity with our United States senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, with our U.S. House Representative Joe Courtney, and with our State Senator Paul Formica and State Representative Devin Carney in opposition to this plan. Further, we respectfully urge the FRA to take the following actions prior to the announcement of the preferred alternative expected in mid-August:

· Take the Kenyon to Saybrook bypass out of the plan for the Preferred Alternative, both as a concept and as a route on the map.
· Agree to hold a public meeting in Southeastern Connecticut, something that Senator Blumenthal and other elected representatives have urged the FRA to do, so that our citizens are given an opportunity to express their concerns and seek responses to many unanswered questions.

We write this letter in good faith and with the belief that you will take our concerns seriously. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Frank W. Hamilton, III, President
Jeffrey Andersen, 
Director

BOARD OF TRUSTEES
FLORENCE GRISWOLD MUSEUM

 

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Formica, Carney & Reemsnyder Request FRA to Host Public Meeting in Old Lyme

In another development regarding the proposed train route, State Senator Paul Formica (R- 20th) sent a letter dated July 14, co-signed by State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder to the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Future Program Manager Rebecca Reyes-Alicea asking her to meet with them in Old Lyme to discuss the “many questions and concerns, which we feel have not been properly addressed by the FRA (Federal Rail Administration).”

The letter continues, “There is much worry in Old Lyme and the surrounding communities regarding the potential disruption this plan provides, which is why we would appreciate a conversation as soon as possible.”  Formica then states, “It is our belief that this bypass proposal is the wrong approach and will create a disturbing level of damage, especially for the people, businesses, history, culture and environment of Southeastern Connecticut, specifically Old Lyme.”

Finally, Formica asks Reyes-Alicea to “attend a public meeting in Old Lyme in the near future to provide information to everyone potentially affected and to answer questions from concerned citizens.”

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No Motion at OL Board of Selectmen to Express Formal Opposition to Train Route

There was significant discussion at the Old Lyme Selectmen’s meeting last Monday, July 11, regarding the meeting the previous week on July 7 in Old Lyme, which First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder had attended along with Connecticut Commissioner of Transport James Redeker; State Senator Paul Formica; State Rep. Devin Carney; Pamela Sucato, DOT; Rob Haramut, RiverCOG; Greg Stroud, SECoast; John Forbis; Bennett (BJ) Bernblum; and representatives from Sen. Blumenthal’s, Sen. Murphy’s and Rep. Courtney’s offices.

Neither of the Old Lyme Selectmen had attended and both expressed concern regarding the level of communication to the community. Selectman Arthur “Skip” Sibley said, “People are starving for information,” that it was time, “To start to make this thing more public,” and that he felt it was, “Better to get as much information out the public as possible.”

Reemsnyder said she would post a full account of the July 7 meeting on the Town website* as soon as it had been agreed by State Senator Formica — State Rep. Carney had already reviewed and agreed it.

Selectwoman MaryJo Nosal suggested they should have a motion to clarify to the public their opposition to the proposed railroad route.  Reemsnyder stated, “I’m opposed to the train going through Old Lyme — aerial or tunnel,” but Sibley noted, “We have a train through Old Lyme currently,” adding, “We shouldn’t have a vote when we don’t know what we’re voting against,” saying again that it was “more important” in his opinion, “to get the information out.”  Reemsnyder agreed, saying, “We have to be careful what we vote against.”  Nosal noted for the record, “I do agree with Senator Blumenthal – the proposal is hare-brained.”

Since the meeting, the letter mentioned above has been sent to the FRA by State Senator Formica, State Rep. Carney and Reemsnyder requesting, in part, a public meeting in Old Lyme.

*Also subsequent to the meeting, the account of the July 7 meeting has been posted on the Town website at this link.

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“Celebrating Lyme’s Beauty” on View at LAA Through Aug. 26

“Reeds Landing” by George F. Bottume c.1850.

“Reeds Landing” by George F. Bottume c.1850.

The 4th Annual “Celebrating Lyme’s Beauty” exhibition, sponsored by the Lyme Land Conservation Trust and the Lyme Art Association (LAA), will be shown in the Goodman Gallery of the LAA

On view will be landscapes created in June 2016 during the “Celebrating Lyme’s Beauty” Paint-Out. The Paint-Out event continues the en plein air tradition established by the early American Impressionists, who founded the Lyme Art Colony over one hundred years ago.

The landscapes will highlight the historic and natural beauty of the Hamburg Bridge Historic District, and the Lyme Preserves that surround it, namely, the Hemlocks and the Czikowsky Preserve

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‘Jazz @ The Vue’ Open Mic Night Tonight in Sound View

The Town of Old Lyme and the Sound View Commission are sponsoring family-friendly events at Sound View Beach this summer.

The next event in the 2016 series will be held tonight, Thursday, July 21, starting at 7 p.m. and will feature Jazz@The Vue — an open mic night for jazz musicians. A $5 donation to the Shoreline Community Center Building Fundis requested.

For more information, call (860) 434-2871

 

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USCG Dixieland Band Play ‘Summer Sounds’ Series at Lymes’ Senior Center, July 28

Come and enjoy a summer evening at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd. for “Summer Sounds” — a five week musical series.  All ages are welcome. Admission is free.

Bring your chairs, blankets, dinner, etc. the performances will be held out on the lawn (weather permitting) or inside if the weather is inclement. 

A free ice cream social will follow all concerts.

The concert schedule is as follows:

July 28 at 7 p.m.
US Coast Guard Dixieland Band
Ice cream social sponsored by the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee

Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.
United States Navy Band
Ice cream social sponsored by the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee

In addition, the Lyme-Old Lyme Lions Club will also be in attendance on Aug. 4, at 6 p.m. selling hot dogs, hamburgers, and other dinner foods.

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102nd Army Band Rock Ensemble Plays at Sound View, July 28

The 102nd Army Band of the CT National Guard will play at Sound View, July 28.

The 102nd Army Band of the CT National Guard will play at Sound View, July 28.

The Town of Old Lyme and the Sound View Commission are sponsoring family-friendly concerts at Sound View Beach this summer.

The next concert in the 2016 series will be held Thursday, July 28, and will feature the 102nd Army Band Rock Ensemble.

The soldier/musicians of the 102nd Army Band CT National Guard are both trained soldiers and versatile professional musicians.  While consistently meeting Army standards in physical fitness, rifle marksmanship and military discipline, these talented musicians perform a wide range of musical styles from the marches of John Philip Sousa to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”!

The free outdoor concerts will take place from 7 through 8.30 p.m., near the flag pole at the end of Hartford Avenue at Sound View Beach.

Bring a blanket or a lawn chair, and settle in for a lovely evening of sunset music. Everyone is welcome to attend these free, family-friendly events.

In the event of rain location, the concert will be held in the Shoreline Community Center at 39 Hartford Ave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rte. 156 Bikeway/Sound View Improvements Proposal: The Case For and The Case Against

At tonight’s Special Town Meeting, residents will vote on whether to approve $877,000 for the construction cost of State Project #104-172: Rte. 156 Bikeway/Sound View Improvements Project. The board of selectmen anticipates the actual project cost may be as low as $812,000.

A federal grant being administered by the State Department of Transportation will cover 80 percent of the project construction costs, approximately $649,600 to $701,600. Although the Town will be responsible for only 20 percent of the final cost (between $162,400 and $175,400, approximately), the board of selectmen is required to approve the total project cost at Town Meeting. (Visit this link for more information from the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen on the proposal.)

We have received statements from, respectively, a supporter of the proposal, Sound View Commission Chairman Frank Pappalardo, and an opponent, Frank Maratta, owner of ‘The Pavilion’ restaurant and bar at Sound View.

In the interests of disseminating information to the public to facilitate an informed vote, we are publishing both unedited.

THE CASE FOR

By Frank Pappalardo

The project has been in the planning stages since 2011 and addresses much needed improvements including:

  • Deteriorating sidewalks
  • Inadequate sidewalks for public safety
  • Lack of handicapped accessibility
  • Inadequate Storm Water Drainage
  • Lack of bicycle facilities
  • Pedestrian amenities
  • Parking

The Town applied for and received a Federal Intermodal Transportation Grant and will receive 80% funding.

2014 Town meeting voted to approve Phase 1 Plan and Design Funding

Planning included:

  • 56 public committee meetings; 3 site walks; 6 Public information meetings
  • 1 Town Meeting
  • Numerous plan reviews with revisions included
  • Numerous Presentations to Board/Commissions including  Sound View Commission; Planning; Zoning; Inland Wetlands; Tree Commission
  • Approval from town officials:  ZEO, Fire Marshal, Fire Chief, Public Safety, Board of Selectmen, etc.
  • Received support from business property owners, developers and the community

Parking analysis

  • Current public parking: 353 Total open to the public
  • Project completion: 331 Total open to the public
  • Net change:  22 parking spaces

Cost analysis:

Construction estimate, Inspections, Municipal Services, testing, contingency:  not to exceed    $877,000

Reimbursement from the grant           (80%)                                                                                      ($701,600)

TOTAL COST TO TOWN:                                                                             not to exceed              $175,400

What happens if the construction is NOT approved?

  • Town will have to pay costs for new ADA and safer sidewalks estimated  – $450,000 to $500,000
  • Town will have to pay costs for Storm water drainage modifications and correction.
  • And most critical the town is required to  reimburse DOT for all received Plan/Design Costs – approx. $108,000

This project is a great value for our town, providing much-needed improvements, better amenities and initiative for progress.

The Sound View area has come a long way in the past 10 years. Please vote to support this important project to keep things moving in the right direction.

This is it!  Every vote matters! Let’s get it done!

THE CASE AGAINST

By Frank Marrata

Hartford Avenue, Soundview’s “Main Street”, has a very interesting history.  What was once a bustling street full of businesses has fallen into disrepair and blight.  Our town government continues to contribute to this downward spiral.  Our representatives think that a $900,000 taxpayer bailout will solve the problems.  This is why this proposed burden to the taxpayers should be voted down:

1.  A bike path grant was given to the town, which included the construction of bathrooms and improvement of lighting.  Streetscape will not see the most important component:  bathrooms.
2.  Promoting biking on an already congested Route 156 goes against any common sense as relating to public safety.  It will only be a matter of time before a tragedy will take place.
3.  Sidewalks are currently being planned and built on Hartford Ave.  Sewers will be needed, and then what happens?  The powers to be will tell us they can tunnel under.  The cost of doing this will be an extra burden to all property owners in the form of  increased assessments.
4.  Soundview and Miami Beach are public beaches.  The taking away of 22 more parking spaces on Hartford Avenue takes access to the beach away from Old Lyme residents and their families.  The Town has plans to reduce Town parking lot capacity to 44 total spaces.
5.  Because of this increased shortage of parking, Old Lyme residents will be burdened with beach goers driving up and down neighborhood streets; looking for parking, creating unnecessary traffic and adding to the public safety problem of traffic weaving in and out of streets off 156.
6.  The original project with bathrooms and sidewalks was estimated to cost $750,000.  How did the price tag skyrocket to $877,000, without bathrooms and lighting?
7.  25% of the cost will go to the construction manager.  This is an intangible that will not be realized to the taxpayer in the form of improvements.  Taxpayers have to pay $200,000 for the overseeing of the sidewalks.  Why can’t town staff do the overseeing of the sidewalks, so that the $200,000 could be used to add to the improvements?
8.  The $877,000 cost does not include the repaving of Hartford Avenue.
9.  In the pipeline is the spot rezoning of Hartford Avenue, to allow more residential zoning to accommodate recent purchase of properties by developers.  Again, the history of the avenue has been one of a vibrant street:  movie theaters, bakeries, jazz clubs, arcades, music halls, ice cream and lemon ice stands, a merry-go-round and more that filled the avenue with activities for families.  Taking away from the business district and adding to the residential designation not only erases a rich history, but adds to the tax burden on town services and school budget.
10.  The loss of parking spaces, which are valued at about $1,100 each per season, that help support beach maintenance will add to the cost of the general fund budget, which will have to be absorbed by the taxpayer.
In closing, we are in support of a major improvement of Hartford Avenue, but we are not getting our money’s worth.  A better solution would be to improve the avenue without further reducing parking so that a lucrative source of income to the general fund is maintained.  Bathrooms are a huge issue, and we are not going to see them.  The bike path on 156 is dangerous, and a public safety threat.  New sidewalks will be a great improvement, but to do it before sewers are installed is totally irresponsible.  Let’s use our money intelligently and with foresight.   We oppose this particular proposal because we can do better!
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Three Items on Tonight’s Old Lyme Special Town Meeting Agenda

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen have announced that a Special  Town Meeting will be held on Monday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium to consider and act upon the following  three items:

Agenda Item #1

To authorize approval for the construction cost of State Project #104-172: Rte. 156 Bikeway/Sound View Improvements Project in the amount of $877,000, as recommended by the boards of selectmen and finance.  The board of selectmen anticipates the actual project cost may be as low as $812,000.

A federal grant being administered by the State Department of Transportation will cover 80 percent of the project construction costs, approximately $649,600 to $701,600. Although the Town will be responsible for only 20 percent of the final cost (between $162,400 and $175,400, approximately), the board of selectmen is required to approve the total project cost at Town Meeting.

The Rte. 156 Bikeway/Sound View Improvements project will construct a Bikeway along Hartford Ave.  When project estimates came in higher than anticipated, the Committee decided to undertake the project in phases, with the first phase being the Bikeway, using transportation funding available through the DOT Grant. Later phases will address a new greenway and restroom facilities.

Click to read a related article, “The Case For and The Case Against” the Sound View Proposal.

Agenda Item #2

To authorize the acceptance of Queen Anne Court as a Town road with the condition that all cracks in the road be repaired to the satisfaction of the Town prior to the deed being filed.

Agenda Item #3

To appropriate an amount not to exceed $60,000 to cover excess costs of the Resident Trooper Department, including annual cost, DWI overtime and other overtime cost. The $60,000 would be transferred from the already approved municipal police budget, and is not a new allocation.

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“SummerSong” Celebrates 19th and 20th Century Music at Christ The King in Free Concert, Today

Cooper Joseph Kendall

Cooper Joseph Kendall

“SummerSong,” a shared vocal recital taking place at Christ the King Church at 4 p.m. this afternoon, will feature two accomplished singers in a varied program of song ranging from 19th century German lieder to 20th century American art songs, hymns, and operetta.

Cooper Joseph Kendall, a member of the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Class of 2014 and now a student at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music, and Lindsay Ryan Botticello, who studied voice at Purchase College and University of Massachusetts at Amherst, will both perform repertoire in the free concert.

Both Kendall and Botticello have been associated with Christ the King’s music ministry since they were very young. Kendall was a member of the Christ the King Church Youth Choir until eighth grade, and then sang with the church’s Adult Choir while a student at Lyme-Old Lyme High School and during college. He studies with renowned dramatic soprano Jane Eaglen at New England Conservatory, where he is also a member of the Undergraduate Opera Studio. In April he was an ensemble member in NEC’s Agrippina, and in June he attended SongFest, a one-month intensive program at the Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles. Kendall will begin his third year at NEC this fall.

Lindsay Botticello

Lindsay Botticello

Botticello has been active in music ministry at Christ the King Church since elementary school, most notably in her role as a cantor for the past two decades. Before attending law school, she studied in the voice conservatory at Purchase College under the instruction of Kaori Sato, and at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst under the instruction of Marjorie Melnick, where she was a winner of the 2006 Concerto Competition. After choosing for many years to devote most of her energy to furthering her legal career, Botticello recently returned to the stage as the Witch in Into the Woods with the Opera House Players in Broadbrook, Conn.

The program for “SummerSong” includes works by Schumann, Bernstein, Barber, Walters, and others. During the concert, a free-will offering will be accepted in support of music ministries at Christ the King Church. The concert will be followed by a reception. 

For more information, visit www.christthekingchurch.net, or email christthekingchurcholdlyme@gmail.com.

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Acclaimed Local Contemporary Artist Judy Friday Opens Gallery in Old Lyme

'February Sunrise' by Judy Friday.

‘February Sunrise’ by Judy Friday.

One of the area’s best known contemporary artists has opened her own gallery in Old Lyme. Judy Friday Gallery, full of Friday’s paintings, photography, weavings and sculptures, can be found at 10 Lyme Street.

Friday, a resident of Old Saybrook, explains that she opened the new gallery for a number of reasons, noting, “The first is that the space is so perfect for a gallery and studio combined.”

She says the second reason for opening her own gallery is, “… that I had too much work accumulating in my studio at home and I love organizing paintings and my hooked rug pillows in a clean, organized way.”

Friday adds, “The third reason is that I wanted to be able to show my work year-round versus one month here and there,” commenting, “I appreciate all the shows I’ve been given over the years.”

Judy Friday Gallery is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by chance or appointment. The phone number is 860.581.0116.

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Enjoy ‘An Evening of Broadway’ in Old Lyme Tonight; Benefits Old Lyme Democrats

Lyme-Old Lyme High School alumnus Dan Kurpaska will be the pianist at "An Evening of Broadway."

Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) alumnus Dan Kurpaska will be the pianist at “An Evening of Broadway.”

The Old Lyme Democratic Committee is sponsoring An Evening of Broadway this Saturday, July 16, in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium at 7 p.m.  The event will showcase an evening of music and song performed by recent graduates of New York City’s Circle in the Square Theater School — a two year musical theatre program — followed by a dessert hour.

Another LOLHS alumna, Cait Kelly, will perform at Saturday's event.

Another LOLHS alumna, Cait Kelly, will perform at Saturday’s event.

The actors are volunteering their independent talents to entertain the community and see Connecticut as they hail from all over the country and Canada. They will be performing and dancing to current or recent Broadway shows like Hamilton, She Loves Me, The Color Purple, Frozen, Fun House and Beautiful.

Two graduates of Regional School District 18 are featured, Cait Kelly — daughter of Old Lyme Selectwoman MaryJo Nosal — and Dan Kurpaska, who will serve as the pianist.

Tickets are $40 per person or $100 per family.  To reserve tickets, call 860.434.5414 or email oldtcevents@gmail.com. Payment can also be made at the door or by check payable to OLDTC and mailed to the OLDTC at PO Box 402, Old Lyme, CT 06371.

All proceeds will benefit the Old Lyme Democratic Committee.

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Opening Reception Tonight at Old Lyme Library for ‘Touching Water’ Exhibit by Roxanne Steed

'Looking South on the Connecticut River at Old Lyme' is the signature painting of the 'Touching Water' exhibition opening Friday at the Old Lyme Library.

‘Looking South on the Connecticut River at Old Lyme’ is the signature painting of the ‘Touching Water’ exhibition opening Friday at the Old Lyme Library.

The Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library is currently hosting a new exhibition titled Touching Water featuring artwork by Roxanne Steed.

Steed has lived in some of the most beautiful towns on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as traveled to Hawaii, Singapore, Italy, France, England and Ireland.  Always in pursuit of new challenges, her works explore the local waterways painted en plein air.

Steed pursued her formal art education along the way at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Conn.; The Art League School in Alexandria, Va.; and Watts Atelier in Encinitas, Calif.  Recent studies with colorists Leif Nilsson, and Camille Przewodek, students of renowned teacher Henry Hensche have enabled her to pursue the ever-intriguing study of the effects light on color.

The works of the American Impressionists have had a great influence on her work, particularly those of New England and California. Steed says, “There is nothing quite so satisfying as painting from life in the great outdoors. I find the textural quality of paint an exciting element of painting as much as design, composition, and color. Evoking an emotional response to a ‘sense of place’ is a great thrill; that connection with my viewer is priceless.”

Steed’s professional affiliations include Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society, Lyme Art Association, Mystic Art Center, CT Plein Air Painters Society and DailyPainters.com.

Her paintings are in private collections across the United States, as well as Canada, Ireland, UK, Germany, South Korea, Australia, and Dubai. Her most recent corporate collector is Bank of Hampton Roads (Virginia).

The exhibition will run until Aug. 31.

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Blumenthal Presses Amtrak VP to Ditch Any Plans to Build High Speed Train Route Through SE Connecticut, Mentioning Specifically Old Lyme

Senator Richard Blumenthal (File photo)

Senator Richard Blumenthal (File photo)

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) pressed Amtrak Vice President Stephen Gardner to ditch any plans to build a route through Southeastern Connecticut, such as Old Lyme, at a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee hearing yesterday afternoon.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has started a massive, multi-million dollar undertaking called “NEC FUTURE” to develop a vision that will meet the passenger rail needs of the Northeast in 2040. Some of the ideas included in the plan include rerouting Amtrak straight through Old Lyme.

“Unfortunately, some of the ideas the FRA has proposed are frankly half-baked, hare-brained notions that will never come to fruition – including rerouting Amtrak straight through the community of Old Lyme, Connecticut and other shoreline communities where there is strong, understandable, and well merited opposition, ” Blumenthal said.

He continued, “The FRA’s time and money in my view would be better spent improving rail rather than on plans that have no realistic notion. I hope you will agree with me that the tracks of Amtrak would never go through Old Lyme, Connecticut.”

The proposed rail line realignment outlined in Alternative 1 of the NEC FUTURE Plan would shift the main rail line northward ahead of the Old Saybrook Station and run through several Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline communities before reconnecting to the existing segment in Kenyon, RI. Blumenthal has been a vocal advocate against this idea.

He sent a letter with Senator Murphy and Representative Courtney in February calling on the FRA to meet with Connecticut citizens along the shoreline to hear local concerns about how this proposal would impact their communities.

A clip of the Senator’s remarks are available here, and broadcast-quality video of his remarks can be downloaded here.

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Play Beach Blanket Bingo Tonight at White Sand Beach!

Beach_Blanket_BingoPlay Beach Blanket Bingo this evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at White Sand Beach.

Hosted by Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB), the price for this fun, family evening is $5 per person or $20 per family. All are welcome.

A pizza dinner is included and prizes will be awarded to Bingo! winners.

Bring your beach blanket, bug spray … and your appetite!

This event is open to all Lyme-Old Lyme families.  Check the LYSB website or Facebook page after 5 p.m. for possible weather postponements.

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30th Anniversary of Old Lyme’s Midsummer Festival, July 30; Evening Kick-off Concert with Braiden Sunshine, July 29

The crowd settles in to enjoy the Friday night concert at the Florence Griswold Museum.

The crowd settles in to enjoy the Friday night concert at the Florence Griswold Museum.

The 30th anniversary of the Old Lyme Midsummer Festival, a summertime favorite for thousands that has now become a signature event in the lower Connecticut River Valley, takes place Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30. The event opens with a Kickoff Concert Friday, July 29, and follows up with daytime festivities Saturday, July 30, on Lyme Street in the historic Old Lyme village center. The Festival promotes the arts, music, and culture, drawing on Old Lyme’s history as a home to a number of artists including those in the original Lyme Art Colony.

Art exhibitions, art demonstrations, and musical performances are just part of the celebration, with specialty shopping, children’s activities, and a wide variety of food vendors rounding out the offerings.

The Midsummer Festival was first held in 1986 as a way to celebrate the local arts during the height of the summer season. Jeff Andersen, Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, approached institutional neighbors including the Lyme Art Association, the Bee & Thistle Inn, the Old Lyme Inn, and the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, to provide a festival that included art shows, a “Stars and Stripes” concert, artist demonstrations and a “Turn of the Century Fair” complete with lawn games and a Victorian ice cream cart.

Now in its 30th year, the Midsummer Festival has 13 community partners, including the Town of Old Lyme. “Even as the festival has grown in visitation and offerings, it has stayed true to its mission of highlighting the cultural identity of Old Lyme,” notes Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeff Andersen. “There is always a great mix of new events with everyone’s favorites.”

Visitors to this year’s festival will find perennial festival favorites including art sales, hands-on activities for children, a dog show, and musical performances, while enjoying new offerings including a vendor market by the Chamber of Commerce, a fashion show in a sculpture garden and a guided tour of the Town Hall’s art collection.  A full schedule of events and list of vendors can be found at OldLymeMidsummerFestival.com

Friday, July 29 festivities

Old Lyme's own Braiden Sunshine will perform in the Festival's free Kick-off Concert at the Florence Griswold Museum on Friday, July 29.

Old Lyme’s own Braiden Sunshine will perform in the Festival’s free Kick-off Concert at the Florence Griswold Museum on Friday, July 29.

The traditional kickoff concert takes place Friday, July 29, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Florence Griswold Museum. This year’s concert features The Voice sensation 16-year old singer/song writer Braiden Sunshine and his band Silver Hammer. With a national following as a semi-finalist on Season 9 of NBC’s The Voice, Sunshine brings to the stage his version of much-loved rock classics as well as his own original compositions.

Visitors can find their spot on the lawn along the Lieutenant River and enjoy an evening of free music. Concert-goers are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner or purchase food from Rough House Food Truck and NoRA Cupcake Truck, both on-site for the evening. The concert is sponsored by All Pro Tire Automotive and the Graybill Family.

Prior to the concert, the Florence Griswold Museum is open for free from 5 to 7 p.m. Visitors can enjoy the summer exhibition, The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement and tour the historic Florence Griswold boardinghouse.

Saturday, July 30 festivities

There's always a vast array of flowers, fruit and vegetables at the 'En Plein Air' market on Saturday at the Florence Griswold Museum.

There’s always a vast array of flowers, fruit and vegetables at the ‘En Plein Air’ market on Saturday at the Florence Griswold Museum.

On Saturday, June 30, the festival spans 11 locations along Lyme Street, the heart of Old Lyme’s historic district – the Florence Griswold Museum, the Lyme Art Association, the Old Lyme Inn, the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts of the University of New Haven, Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds, the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce vendor fair at 77 Lyme Street, the Old Lyme Historical Society, Patricia Spratt for the Home, the “Plein Air Fence Painters” on Center School lawn, Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall, Inc., and the Old Lyme-PGN Library.

Festival Partner High Hopes Therapeutic Riding will be at the Museum’s site providing an educational, equine-themed arts and crafts children’s activity. Festival Partner Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau will be the host site for a morning 5K run.

Sponsors of the Festival include premium sponsors Essex Savings Bank/Essex Financial Services, Pasta Vita, Inc., and Yale New Haven Health/Yale New Haven Hospital. Media sponsors include The Day Publishing Company and Shoreline Web News, LLC, publisher of LymeLine.com and ValleyNewsNow.com.

Enjoy the artwork of the 'Plein Air' artists in front of Center School.

Enjoy the artwork of the ‘Plein Air’ artists in front of Center School.

Each location will offer a variety of events and activities. In addition to art exhibitions and art sales at six of the locations, food vendors and specialty food trucks will provide a wide-range of options at each location. Artisans will market their wares at locations including the OL-PGN Library, the Chamber of Commerce vendor market, and the traditional French-styled market and artisan fair at the Florence Griswold Museum. New partner Patricia Spratt for the Home will offer its popular warehouse sale of table linens and pillows.

Children’s activities are a popular way for families to stop and enjoy the festival offerings, and can be enjoyed at multiple locations. There will be musical performances at the Chamber’s music stage, Lyme Academy and at the Old Lyme Inn where Mass-Conn-Fusion will perform with refreshments for sale under the tent.

New events this year include a fashion show by Hygienic Art resident artist Susan Hickman and acclaimed designer Anna Lucas at Studio 80, tours of Town Hall’s art collection, weaving demonstrations at the Old Lyme Historical Society, a visit from Rey to meet future Jedi-in-training at the OL-PGN Library, and a display of snakes and turtles by Linda Krulikowski (known as Old Lyme’s “Snake Lady”) at the Lyme Art Association.

Meet the oxen from Cranberry Meadow Farm on the lawn of the Lyme Art Association.

Meet the oxen from Cranberry Meadow Farm on the lawn of the Lyme Art Association.

Art demonstrations including sculpture and painting will take place throughout the day at Lyme Academy. Details and times for special events including a dog talent show, and an impressive roster of musical performances throughout the day can be found at www.OldLymeMidsummerFestival.com.

Most activities begin at 9 a.m. and continue through 4 p.m. Parking is available at Old Lyme Marketplace (46 Halls Rd.), Florence Griswold Museum (special festival parking entrance at 5 Halls Rd.), and the Lyme-Old Lyme High School (69 Lyme St.) Two shuttle buses run between these locations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information and a schedule of events, visit  www.OldLymeMidsummerFestival.com.

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Bargains Galore at Final Day of White Elephant Sale Today; Opens at 8am Prompt

Patiently waiting for the bell to chime.

Patiently waiting for the bell to chime.

This is a very special year for the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme because the Ladies Benevolent Society is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the perennially popular White Elephant Sale (WES). The sale will be held on Friday, July 8, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday, July 9, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Always a big draw are the huge number of bikes for sale at bargain prices.

Always a big draw are the huge number of bikes for sale at bargain prices.

The first rummage sale was held in one room of the church in 1920 and raised $200, which was a surprisingly large amount of money at the time.  In 1936, the name White Elephant Sale was given to the annual event and has been used ever since thus creating this 80th anniversary.  During the 1950s, the sale briefly expanded to include a country fair, horse show, and square dance, but, in recent decades, the sale adopted its current format and has become the two-day tradition we know today.

For those new to the town or folk who have never participated, this is one of the main events on both the town and church calendars.  It all starts with the intake period when unwanted items from your house or yard – perhaps your basement, attic or closets — can be dropped off at the church.  For a full list of items that can be accepted and also, those that cannot, visit the church’s website at www.fccol.org and click on White Elephant Sale and then Intake List.

Intake begins this year on Thursday, June 23, and runs daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday, July 1.  There will also be three evening intake sessions from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, Tuesday, June 28, and Thursday, June 30.

And they're off! The annual White Elephant Sale starts each year on the first strike of 9 a.m. on the designated Friday.

And they’re off! The annual White Elephant Sale starts each year on the first strike of 9 a.m. on the designated Friday.

Garage, tag and rummage sales may be every day affairs, but few – if any — can match the size and color of this one.  The sale items are organized into some 24 departments with everything from sporting goods to boutique items, books to furniture, art to electronics, dishes to shoes, clothes and toys to antiques and tools – all spread out in separate departments in tents and inside the church.

The WES has grown so large that it has become a true “community event” since many of the donations are from non-church members and a significant number of the volunteers are also from outside the church. Large crowds line up to wait for the church’s bell to strike at 9 a.m. on the Friday when the sale begins. The second day starts earlier at 8 a.m. but still draws a substantial crowd since most departments offer their remaining items at half-price on the Saturday.

The sale raises an extraordinary amount of money — almost $80,000 in 2015 — for missions and good works both locally and throughout the world.  Some of the beneficiaries include food pantries, health organizations, family support centers, children’s programs, literacy volunteers, affordable housing, and disaster relief worldwide.

For more information about the sale, to arrange pick-up of large items  or if you would like to volunteer to help in any capacity — whether with intake, the sale itself, or clean-up — call the church office at 860.434.8686.

See you at The Sale!

For more information about the church or Ladies’ Benevolent Society, contact 860.434.8686 or fccol@fccol.org or visit orwww.fccol.org

Editor’s Note: Following is a summary of items that are / are not accepted by the White Elephant Sale.

Items that WILL NOT be accepted:

  • Dirty or Broken Items or Junk
  • Appliances (Large):
  •  Air Conditioners
  • Refrigerators & Stoves
  • Freezers
  • Washers & Dryers
  • Bike helmets [used]
  • Books
    Technical or Textbooks,
    Encyclopedias
  • Car Seats
  • Chemicals
  • Computer monitors [unless flat screen]
  • Luggage [hard sided]
  • Fuel cans with Gasoline or Kerosene
  • Guns, Knives, Weapons
  • Magazines, Newspapers
  • Mattresses, and Box Springs
  • Paint
  • Particle board furniture
  • Rugs
  • Sewing Machines
  • Skis – old style downhill
  • Stuffed sofas / sofa beds
  • Tires
  • Treadmills [more than 5-years-old]
  • TVs [unless flat screen]

Items that will GLADLY be accepted   [Quality Please]

  • Antiques, Fine China, Silver
  • Appliances, Small (Working)
  • Art, Sculpture, Posters, Frames
  • Automobiles, Trucks [call church]
  • Baskets
  • Bedding, Linens
  • Boats, Canoes, Kayaks
  • Bicycles, Tricycles
  • Books: Child’s’, Non-Fiction, Fiction
  • Clothes:
    Child’s, Men’s, Women’s
    Fine, Fashion
    Vintage, Costume & Accessories
  • Collections
  • Computer Hardware (working)
  • Christmas Decorations
  • Curtains, Drapes
  • Electronics (Working)
  • Furniture, Indoor & Outdoor [call church]
  • Gifts, Sundries, Knickknacks
  • Jewelry: Costume & Fine
  • Kitchen Items (Appliances, Dishes, Cookware)
  • Lamps (Working)
  • Luggage [soft side or Steamer trunks only]
  • Musical Instruments
  • Plants, Containers
  • Shoes
  • Skis – downhill must be “shape” style
  • Sporting Goods [good condition]
  • Tools (House & Garden)
  • Toys,  Stuffed Animals
  • VHS, DVDs (Family Content)
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