May 25, 2018

Wildcat Boys are Shoreline Lacrosse Champions! OL Fall to N. Branford in Girls’ Final

The Old Lyme Wildcats celebrate their victory in the 2018 Shoreline Championship. Photo by L. Wallace.

The second-seeded Old Lyme boys defeated #4 seeds Valley Regional by a single goal to win the Shoreline Conference championship game Thursday evening at the Indian River Sports Complex in Clinton.  The final score in the thrilling game was 9-8.

Key members of the Wildcats’ victorious 2018 Shoreline Conference Championship team.  Photo by W. Visgilio.

Sadly in the girls’ Shoreline Championship played earlier in the evening, the Old Lyme girls, who were also seeded second, fell 7-10 to top-seeded North Branford.

Wildcat boys’ lacrosse coach JC Flaherty (right) celebrates his team’s victory in the 2018 Shoreline Championship.

Hearty congratulations to boys’ coach JC Flaherty and his team, and commiserations to girls’ coach Emily Maccione and her team!

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Old Lyme Lacrosse Boys, Girls Play in Shoreline Finals Today

The Lady Wildcats take on North Branford at 5 p.m. this afternoon in the Shoreline Conference final. File photo.

Both the girls’ and boys’ Lyme-Old Lyme High School lacrosse teams play in their respective Shoreline Conference finals this afternoon and evening at the Indian River complex in Clinton.

The second-seeded girls meet top seeds North Branford at 5 p.m.  Their coach Emily Maccione told LymeLine, “We are so excited to advance to the Shoreline Final for the fourth straight year and know that it will take a true team effort to defeat North Branford.  We have faced challenging teams both in and out of conference this season, which has prepared us for the games ahead.  We will be taking all of that knowledge and experience with us into tonight’s game, and look forward to the opportunity to play for another Shoreline title.”

The boys, who are also seeded second, face off against #4 seeds Valley Regional at 7 p.m.

Go Wildcats!

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American Legion Post 41 Announces Memorial Day 2018 Essay Winners

Post 41 Lymes of the American Legion has announced its 2018 Memorial Day Essay Contest Winners. In its 33rd year, the Post invites 5th Graders from Lyme and Old Lyme schools to compose an essay concerning what “Memorial Day Means to Me.”  Winners are Honorary Parade Marshalls riding in the front of the parade and recite their essay’s during the Duck River Cemetery ceremonies.  This year’s winners are:

First Place:       Max Novak from Lyme Consolidated School
Second Place:   Justin Bonatti from Mile Creek School
Third Place:      Hannah Johnston from Lyme Consolidated School

The purpose of the Program is to foster awareness in two of the four pillars of American Legion service: “Mentoring the Youth of our Nation” and “Promoting Patriotism and Honor.” In doing so, the Post hopes to promote the importance of the Memorial Day holiday in our students including the history of the name, specific historical events and the knowledge of contribution, sacrifice and service to our Nation of our own Town’s Veterans.

Winners receive a monetary award, an Americanism Medal with certificate and an US Flag flown over our Nation’s Capital.

The Post hopes to engage each year’s winners in a process to educate their neighbors and citizens of our Towns through public speaking and sharing their essay during Memorial Day and school events.

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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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Carney Receives Republican Nomination for Re-Election to the 23rd District

Celebrating Devin Carney’s unanimous endorsement as Republican candidate for the 23rd District are, from left to right, Cathy Carter, Dave Evers, Dan Montano, Carney, and Jackie Miano.

State Representative Devin Carney received the unanimous endorsement of the Republican delegates representing Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and coastal Westbrook at the 23rd District convention on Wednesday, May 16. The convention was held at the Teresa Mulvey Municipal Building in Westbrook.

“It is truly an honor to be nominated for a third term by the Republicans of the 23rd District,” said Carney. “I have worked incredibly hard over the past four years as State Representative and always put the people of the district first. In these past two terms, I have advocated for small businesses and small towns, opposed massive tax increases, and worked across the aisle in order to achieve the best legislative results for the people of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. Connecticut still faces significant budgetary hurdles, so I plan on continuing to work to stabilize government finances while helping  to create an economic environment that provides opportunity for all.”

Carney was nominated by Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna.

“As First Selectman of Old Saybrook, I often interact with the state legislature on issues that affect small towns and I always know I can count on Devin,” Fortuna said. “In these past four years, Devin has always stood up for his municipalities by supporting local education, pushing back against unnecessary unfunded mandates, and opposing legislation that would negatively affect the quality of life in shoreline Connecticut.”

In only his second term, Carney was named the highest ranked House Republican of the Transportation Committee where he has advocated for roadway improvements, local public transportation, and highway safety. In addition, he used that role to campaign against the Federal Railroad Administration’s NEC Future plan bypass, which would have devastated Southeastern Connecticut.

“Serving in leadership on the Transportation Committee has given me the unique opportunity to fight for local transportation concerns, including Shore Line East and 9-Town Transit, and also to call attention to issues that affect the region such as I-95 safety and the FRA’s NEC Future proposal,” added Carney.

Carney also serves on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and the Environment Committee. Last year, Carney was recognized by the Connecticut Counseling Association with their “Legislative Service Award” for his work in support of licensed professional counselors and for supporting efforts to curb elder abuse and to combat the state’s opioid epidemic.

Carney also co-founded the legislature’s bipartisan Young Legislators Caucus and the bipartisan Clean Energy Caucus. Carney is active in many community organizations including serving on the Board of Trustees at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, on the Board of Saye Brook Village senior housing, and as a member of both the Old Saybrook and Lyme-Old Lyme Chambers of Commerce.

“As the next phase of the election begins, I look forward to discussing my accomplishments and bringing my message of fiscal stability and economic growth to each and every doorstep in the 23rd District,” said Carney.

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Pugliese Accepts Democratic Nomination for 23rd District, Will Challenge Carney in November Election

Last Wednesday, delegates from the 23rd District unanimously nominated Matt Pugliese (fourth from right) as the Democratic candidate for the 23rd State House District. Photo by Janis Esty.

On Wednesday, May 16, at a convention held in Old Saybrook at the Vicky Duffy Pavilion, Matt Pugliese accepted the Democratic nomination to represent the 23rd House District in the upcoming November election. The District includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and the southern portion of Westbrook.

Democrat Matt Pugliese will challenge Devin Carney on Nov. 6.

Pugliese, a non-profit arts executive, announced his candidacy in early March. He is challenging incumbent Devin Carney-R, who is running for a third term.

He was formally nominated by Karen Brodeur, a member of the Old Saybrook Board of Education.  In her remarks, Brodeur said, “Matt has experience as a business leader, as a community leader, as a civic volunteer, and as a caring husband and father. Matt is focused, disciplined, hard-worker.  He is an empathetic listener.  Matt cares about his family and he cares about his community.”

In accepting the nomination, Pugliese said, “I’m a Democrat. I’ve always believed that the Democratic party valued everyone, especially those didn’t have a voice. I will represent everyone in our community. I believe in communication, in compromise and consensus building. That is the style of leadership and the values I promise to bring to Hartford.”

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

Pugliese, the Executive Producer and Managing Director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre, serves as the Chair of Old Saybrook’s Economic Development Commission.  He holds his BA in Theatre and his Masters in Public Administration, both from UConn.

Pugliese’s formal nomination drew praise and remarks from others in attendance including Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal and Mary Stone from Lyme, who was herself a candidate for the 23rd District in 2014. The delegates in attendance unanimously voted to select Pugliese as the candidate.

Pugliese, who is participating in the public funding option in the Citizen’s Election Program, announced that he had raised the required funds to qualify.

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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Join the Parade! LYSB Invites “Anyone on Wheels” to March With Them

bike-parade-for-the-little-onesLymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) invites any youth in Lyme and Old Lyme, who are not already participating in the Memorial Day parade down Lyme Street on Monday, to join the parade and march with them.

Participants on bikes, scooters, wagons, strollers … basically anything with wheels (but nothing that’s motorized!) to participate.

Meet at the corner of the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School tennis courts (behind the large blue/white sign “Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools”) at 10:30 a.m. The parade steps off at 11 a.m.

Come and join the fun!

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Old Lyme Residents Approve Town Budget, Tax Rate Set to Increase to 21.91 Mills from Current 21.75

Old Lyme residents unanimously approved both the Town’s proposed $36,301,175 budget, and also an amended and restated retirement plan for the Old Lyme Fire Department, Inc. and Old Lyme South End Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc. at the annual town meeting held last night in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium.

Visit this link for a full report of the meeting written by Kimberly Drelich of The Day and published yesterday evening on theday.com

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Old Lyme Holds Annual Budget Meeting Tonight

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen will host the Annual Budget Meeting on Monday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium at 18, Lyme Street in Old Lyme.  Agenda items, which may be voted on at the meeting, include:

  • The adoption of the budget for the fiscal year July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, as recommended by the Old Lyme Board of Finance.
  • A proposal that taxes in the Town of Old Lyme on Real Property and Personal Property will be paid in two equal semi-annual installments with the first payment due on July 1, of this year and the second payment due on Jan. 1, 2019.  Any taxes of less than $100 for the year will be due in one payment on July 1, of this year and any taxes in any amount owed for vehicles will be due in one payment on Jan. 1, 2019.
  • A proposal that the Old Lyme First Selectwoman is authorized to execute the “Old Lyme Fire Department, Inc. And Old Lyme South End Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc. Retirement Plan,” amended and restated effective Jan. 1, 2018 (“Plan”), and the “Amended And Restated Trust Agreement For The Old Lyme Fire Department Inc. And Old Lyme South End Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc. Retirement Plan” (“Trust”). This proposal also authorizes the First Selectwoman, the Board of Selectmen and the Town of Old Lyme and/or their respective designees, without need for additional approval by the Town Meeting, to exercise all rights and perform all duties given them by the Plan and the Trust, including:
    • appointment of a Pension Committee and of a Trustee(s),
    • making of agreements with the trustee(s),
    • making of amendments to the Plan and/or to the Trust and any agreements made in relation thereto.
  • A proposal that the sum of $80,000 should be appropriated for use by the board of selectmen to pay expenses incurred by the Town as a result of the need to amend and restate the Plan and create the Trust (as defined above.)
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Old Lyme Library Presents Program Today on Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’

‘Starry Night’ by Vincent van Gogh.

The Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library hosts a program presented by Robert Baldwin titled, ‘Van Gogh’s Starry Night: From Spiritualized Nature to Higher Abstraction,’ on Saturday, May 19, at 1 p.m. 

Inspired by Gauguin’s artistic group in Brittany, Vincent van Gogh traveled to the south of France to revitalize his art by returning to his early subject matter – pre-modern landscapes and peasants – now painted with a Post-Impressionist abstraction grounded in the artist’s imagination.

This talk examines Starry Night in the broad picture of larger artistic trends since Romanticism (1790-1850) and the rise of Symbolism as an artistic movement (1888-1915). With its peaceful village, starry skies, and visionary abstraction, Starry Night moved from traditional community to Romantic celestial community to a distinctly modern community of kindred spirits born from shared artistic experience.
Like the mid-19th-century inscription chiseled on the façade of two slightly later art museums, Starry Night goes beyond sublime nature in proclaiming: “Art still has truth, Take refuge there.”
Robert Baldwin is an Associate Professor of Art History at Connecticut College.
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Florence Griswold Museum Hosts Plant Sale Today

Today, Saturday, May 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., join the Florence Griswold Museum’s Garden Gang at the Museum for a sale of beautiful plants and garden specimens, featuring heirloom perennials, roses, herbs, and succulents.

Purchase lovely plants and support the Museum’s garden projects.

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Shred Unwanted Documents During Lyme-Old Lyme HS Class of 2018 Fundraiser, Saturday

On Saturday, May 26, the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Class of 2018 will shred documents for businesses and individuals. Anyone can bring their papers to the Lyme-OId Lyme High School parking lot from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. to shred for a donation.

Many people have unwanted papers sitting in boxes or on desks around their house.  All documents will be shred immediately at the high school  The papers could be old tax returns, bank statements, bills, credit card statements, newspapers or school ditto sheets.  This fundraiser provides the community an opportunity to securely discard unwanted papers from houses or businesses.

“We are excited to hold this Shred-it Fundraiser because the demand for secure document shredding services is growing.  This fundraiser provides a low cost way to accomplish this community service,” said Louis Zubek, a high school math teacher and adviser to the Class of 2018.

Last year, this high school class conducted this same fundraiser.  It collected over 120 bags of unwanted papers and generated over $1,200.

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OLRA/Blood Street Sculls Hosts National ‘Learn to Row Day’ in Old Lyme, June 2

Looking for an excuse to escape the gym and spend time outdoors? Head to Rogers Lake in Old Lyme on Saturday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., when the Old Lyme Rowing Association/Blood Street Sculls will be hosting National Learn to Row Day at their new boathouse at Hains Park.

On this day, more than 75 rowing clubs around the country will open their doors to the public and offer an introduction to the sport of rowing. Learn to Row Day events are not only an ideal opportunity for someone who’s curious about the sport to give it a try, but this regional event is also a chance to build friendships and social networks. Activities vary from club to club, but the day generally includes introductory coaching of the fundamentals of the stroke and basic drills used to coordinate movement.

Organized by USRowing, the national governing body for the sport, National Learn to Row Day is a chance to meet people that will serve as mentors in a fun, pressure-free environment.

Getting in shape, trying something new, enjoying the outdoors or meeting new people in the community – whatever the reason, learning about the sport of rowing can be an unforgettable experience and have the potential to be a life-long endeavor. The organizers note, “Learn to Row Day is a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand what rowing is all about. It’s a great low-impact sport for people of all ages, and all abilities, from those rowing for the first time, to highly skilled rowers.”

For more information, visit www.usrowing.org and/or www.oldlymerowing.org or email mmrowing2004@gmail.com

Register online for Learn to Row Day at this link.

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RTP Estuary Center Hosts Final Spring Lecture This Evening at LAA on “Genius” Roger Tory Peterson

The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is hosting a three-part Spring Lecture Series through May 17.

The third and final lecture in the series will be held Thursday, May 17, at 5 p.m. at Lyme Art Association and is titled Creation of a Genius: Roger Tory Peterson.

Roger Tory Peterson made his home and, as an adult, found inspiration for his monumental work on the banks of the Connecticut River Estuary. But the seeds of his passion for art and conservation were sown in his youth.

Twan Leenders, President of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, N.Y., will focus on Peterson’s early years, his youthful explorations, and how the hidden treasures of his hometown, were to become a passion and eventually lead to inspiring amateur and professional naturalists through generations and throughout the world.  RSVP here.

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University of New Haven Announces $1.1 Million Bequest from Diana Atwood Johnson to Lyme Academy

The late Diana Atwood Johnson.

The University of New Haven announced yesterday that Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, one of the University’s six colleges, has received a $1.1 million bequest from the estate of Diana Atwood Johnson, a longtime benefactor.

The gift will support three initiatives:

  • The Sill House, a historic building encompassing studio space, the Lyme archives, and the Sill House Gallery, will receive $500,000.
  • An additional $500,000 will go toward scholarships that benefit minority students.
  • The remaining $100,000 will support the Diana Atwood Johnson Leadership Award, presented annually to a senior at Lyme who shows great promise and exemplifies the values of the institution.

Atwood Johnson, who died in January, served on Lyme’s Board of Trustees. As chair, she was the driving force in helping Lyme earn its initial accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and she played a key role in initiating the affiliation that made Lyme the University of New Haven’s fifth college.

“Diana Atwood Johnson was a pillar in our community and involved in every element of Lyme over the past three decades,” said Todd Jokl, dean of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. “Her generosity over those decades in both her leadership and her generous financial contributions will enable us to provide support for our diverse student body, attract the strongest art students to Lyme, and continue to support our campus buildings. Most of all, Diana leaves a legacy that will remain a strong part of this institution in perpetuity.”

In addition to this donation, Lyme has received nearly $3 million in gifts in the past five months as part of its capital campaign.

Founded in 1976 in scenic Old Lyme, Conn., Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts is a community of emerging and established artists.

Its Bachelor of Fine Arts program offers drawing, illustration, painting, and sculpture, attracting some of the brightest and most talented artists from around the world. Offering one of the most immersive fine arts educations available, Lyme students grow individually through intensive engagement with their craft and lively, profound exchanges of ideas and work.

For more information, visit www.newhaven.edu/lyme.

The University of New Haven, founded on the Yale campus in 1920, is a private, coeducational university situated on the coast of southern New England. It’s a diverse and vibrant community of more than 7,000 students, with campuses around the country and around the world.

Within its five colleges, students immerse themselves in a transformative, career-focused education across the liberal arts and sciences, fine arts, business, engineering, and public safety and public service. More than 100 academic programs are offered, all grounded in a long-standing commitment to collaborative, interdisciplinary, project-based learning.

For more information, visit www.newhaven.edu.

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Affordable Housing Application Hearings Postponed to June 5

At the request of the applicant, the Public Hearings originally scheduled for Monday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. in Old Lyme Town Hall for the Affordable Housing Applications for 18-1 and 18-2 Neck Road for 23 and 14 units respectively (both formerly known as 16 Neck Rd. and now known respectively as River Oak Commons I and II) have been postponed to Tuesday, June 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

The applicants are Graybill Properties, LLC, and Neck Road HOPE Housing, LLC.

Visit this link to read a related Op-Ed on this topic.

 

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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Duck River Garden Club’s Plant Sale Continues in Old Lyme Opens Today Through 1pm

Geraniums and more will be on sale tomorrow and Saturday at the Duck River Garden Club's Annual Plant Sale.

Geraniums and more will be on sale Friday and Saturday at the Duck River Garden Club’s Annual Plant Sale.

Enjoy a weekend of flowers, plants and more!

The annual fundraising plant sale, sponsored by the Duck River Garden Club of Old Lyme, will be held Friday, May 11, from noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 13, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Old Lyme Shopping Center on Hall’s Road (near The Hideaway Restaurant.)

Pick out that special gift for Mom. Or browse the club’s selection of heirloom tomatoes, annuals, and vegetables, herbs, hanging baskets, geraniums, perennials and shrubs that will be available.

If you are a gardening bargain hunter, check out the 600+ Member’s Plants from member’s own gardens and “The Garden Shed” filled with great Tag Sale items.  There are also new shrubs, trees and rose tables this year.

There will be more than 600 member’s plants as well as heirloom tomatoes, annuals, vegetables, herbs, hanging baskets, shrubs geraniums and a an area of the member’s homemade pastries and hot coffee called,“Delectable Edibles,” to make your shopping  more enjoyable.

Pre-order beautiful geraniums at $5 each in the following colors: red, white, pink, magenta or corral. Call by Thursday, May 10, for pick up Friday, May 11.

All proceeds from the sale go to ongoing civic projects, which include scholarships, senior’s garden therapy program, holiday wreaths for public buildings, baskets for families in need, and maintenance of plants at town locations. The Duck River Garden Club members look forward to seeing you and can help with any questions.

For more information about membership in Duck River Garden Club, call Kathy Burton at 860-434-8024 or president, Barbara Rayel at 860-434-2354.

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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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Musical Masterworks Modern Presents ‘The Percussion Collective’ This Evening at LAA


Experience contemporary chamber music featuring The Percussion Collective — Robert van Sice on Friday, May 11, at 5:30 p.m. at Lyme Art Association. Their distinctly insightful approach to the performance of percussion chamber music challenges the limits of excellence and delights audiences.

Enjoy the sounds – and sights – of Seaborne, The Percussion Collective’s new composition that includes cinematography of the ocean as an integral element of the performance.  A recent concertgoer who saw the world-premiere of Seaborne at Yale in March described her experience thus, “I was so moved by the performance that I left with tears in my eyes, it was very powerful and beautiful – I can’t wait to experience it again.”

The Percussion Collective was formed by Madison resident, Professor Robert van Sice, Chair of the Yale Percussion Department.  The program will begin with Seaborne, a piece by Emmy Award-winning composer Garth Neustadter. In addition to the compelling percussion work for six musicians, Seaborne also contains a video component by marine photographer Kjell van Sice, putting the piece “at the nexus of the percussive art soundscape and the visual celebration of our endangered oceans.”

Neustadter’s mastery of cinematic composition and van Sice’s poetic aquatic images prove to be a powerful collaboration in this new work for percussion sextet.  Seaborne aims to awaken sensibilities in the audience to both the importance and beauty that our oceans possess.

The ensemble will then perform the iconic Sextet by Steve Reich, one of the seminal pieces in the percussion repertoire.  The Percussion Collective — Robert van Sice performed the world-premiere of Seaborne at Yale in March. This concert in Old Lyme represents the continuation of their national tour. 

This special performance has been generously sponsored by The Howard Gilman Foundation.  Howard Gilman believed in the power of the arts to transform lives and the Foundation honoring his legacy supports the most robust, innovative, and promising performing arts organizations.

Admission is $35; Student admission is $10.  Admission includes a reception prior to the concert at 5:30pm; the concert begins at 6:30pm.  After the performance, continue your evening with 10 percent off dinner at Old Lyme Inn, only available to MMModern concertgoers. 

For full details and to purchase tickets, visit Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252. 

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