March 28, 2017

Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women Announce ‘Juleps & Jockeys’ Fundraiser, May 6

Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club (LOLJWC) has announced its major fundraiser for 2017.

Come place your bets and watch the Kentucky Derby with the LOLJWC at Juleps & Jockeys, which will be held at the Lyme Art Association on Saturday May 6, from 5:30 p.m.

Drink, eat, dance and, of course, bid on some great silent auction items.  All proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit the Lyme-Old Lyme Love Your Playground Project. Tickets are now available at this link.

Silent auction items are starting to arrive — check out the Juleps & Jockeys page to see all the great items already donated.

Do you have any goods that you would be willing to donate to the silent auction or would you care to be a sponsor?  There is a wide array of sponsorship levels.

Contact LOLJWC at loljrwomensclub@gmail.com for more information.

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Dean Appointed Director of Curriculum & Professional Development at Lyme-Old Lyme Schools

Michelle Dean, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools newly appointed Director of Curriculum & Professional Development.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools have announced the appointment of Michelle Dean as the next Director of Curriculum and Professional Development. Dean, who is currently serving as Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School Principal, will begin her new position on July 1, 2017.

Dean will replace Beth Borden, who is retiring after 17 years with the district and 44 years in the field of education. 

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser commented, “We are pleased to promote Mrs. Dean to this position as she has proven herself time and time again in the roles she has played throughout the district. Her varied background in education, combined with her passion for research and professional development, will allow us to continue the great work that is taking place under Beth Borden’s leadership.”

Dean first came to the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools as Assistant Principal at Lyme-Old Lyme High School. She also has experience as an English teacher and school counselor.

The district has begun advertising for the position of Middle School Principal and encourages high quality applicants to apply at http://www.region18.org.

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LYSB’s 32nd Annual ‘Youth Art Show’ on Show at Lyme Academy Through March 26

“Asparagus and Cupcakes” by Lyme-Old Lyme High School junior Claudia Mergy is the signature painting of the 2017 Youth Art Show.

The opening reception for the 32nd Annual Youth Art Show will be held tomorrow from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Sill House Gallery at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts located at 84 Lyme Street. All are welcome.

Sponsored by Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB), the show features work by more than 150 students in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools from Kindergarten through Grade 12, including many pieces that have recently won impressive awards in state and local competitions.

The show is on view daily except for Sunday, March 19, through Saturday, March 26.  Sill House Gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.  Admission is free. All are welcome.  For more information, contact Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau at 860-434-7208 or visit www.lysb.org

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Stella Swoops in with Heavy Snow, High Winds … and then Rain?

First snow plow of the day … there surely will be many more.

Winter Storm Stella is here.

The Governor has declared a State of Emergency meaning a statewide travel ban is in effect. Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, Lyme and Old Lyme Town Halls and Libraries, the Lymes’ Senior Center and many businesses from the size of Pfizer, Inc. downwards are closed.  Events galore have been cancelled, including recycling and trash pick-up in Old Lyme. A parking ban is in effect on all town roads from 6 a.m. to midnight today.

To reach the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Old Lyme, call 860.598.0120.

The Respite Center at the Lymes’ Senior Center on Town Woods Road and/or the regional Emergency Shelter at the East Lyme High School will be opened if necessary. Information will be available through the EOC and on LymeLine.com, and also will be reported on the Town of Old Lyme’s website and Facebook/Twitter.

State and local officials urge residents to stay off the roads during the storm … and stay safe.

Latest weather reports, however, predict Southeastern Connecticut will not now experience the brunt of the storm with the snow turning first to sleet and then rain later this morning.

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Musical Masterworks Mixes Mozart Originals with 20th Century Adaptations

Edward Aaron and Jeewon Park

Musical Masterworks favorites Jeewon Park, Tessa Lark and Dimitri Murrath join Edward Arron in a performance of Mozart’s piano quartets this afternoon at 3 p.m. in the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

Before each quartet, a late twentieth century work by a Soviet era composer will be performed

The concert opens with Mozart’s String Trio fragment in G Major, K. 562e, Anh. 66, followed by Arvo Pärt’s haunting Mozart-Adagio for Piano Trio (1992/1997), arranged from the slow movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata, K.280.

This precedes Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor, K. 478.

Then Alfred Schnittke’s humorous salute to Mozart in Moz-Art à la Haydn for Violin and Viola (1977) is the prelude to Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 493.

For more informatiion and to purchase tickets, visit http://musicalmasterworks.org/concerts/march-11-12-2017/

 

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Two Roads Closed in Old Lyme This Afternoon

Broken tree limbs, downed wires, and brush fires have closed two roads in Old Lyme this afternoon until 6 p.m. or later.

Emergency crews are on the scene.

Mile Creek Road is closed from Somerset to Flat Rock.

Whippoorwill Road is closed from Jadon Drive to the I-95 overpass.

Residents will be able to reach their homes, but no through traffic will be permitted for safety reasons.

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Visgilio of Old Lyme Wins Silver, Bronze Medals in Vermont Special Olympics

Evan Visgilio of Old Lyme stands on the podium proudly wearing the silver medal that he won in the Vermont Special Olympics.

Evan Visgilio of Old Lyme returned from the Vermont Special Olympic Winter Games held this past weekend (March 3-6) in Woodstock, Vt., with a fourth place ribbon, along with a Bronze and a Silver Medal.

Suicide Six located in Woodstock, Vt., hosted the Vermont Special Olympics Winter and Visgilio, who was a member of the Hermitage at Haystack Team, participated in his first ever Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G events. By the end of the competition, Visgilio had won an impressive collection of awards taking fourth place in Slalom, and winning a Bronze Medal in the Giant Slalom and a Silver Medal in the Super G.

Evan, who is 13-years-old, lives in Old Lyme with his parents John and Wendy Visgilio, along with his siblings Brenna, Will and John. Evan attends Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School where he is in  seventh Grade.

Evan was born with Down Syndrome and has been skiing for seven years. This was Evan’s first year competing in the Vermont Special Olympics. He trains at The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain in Wilmington, Vt., with his coaches Scott Serota, Corey Robinson and Kate Riley.

Many congratulations to our friend and neighbor, Evan, from all of us at LymeLine.com!

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FRA High Speed Train Route Proposal Update: Two Important Letters Released; One From Malloy, Second From All State DOT Heads in Northeast

Governor Dannel Malloy

In what SECoast.org accurately describes as “a flurry of news in the last 24 hours,” a host of letters and newspaper articles has been published regarding the Federal Rail Administration (FRA)’s proposed high speed rail route, which, in combination, offer some reason to be cautiously optimistic about where things are going.

Governor Dannel Malloy has written a four-page letter to the FRA asking, among many other requests, for the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass to be removed from consideration saying, “No specific alignments of of the the existing Connecticut NEC right of way should appear in the ROD” (NEC is the North East Corridor and the ROD is the Record of Decision, which was originally due March 1, but is now expected later in the month). Malloy continues firmly, “Connecticut elected officials and citizens have been very clear about this throughout the EIS process.” (The EIS is the Environmental Impact Statement.)

A second letter  to the FRA signed by the head of every state Department of Transportation in the Northeast (Conn., Del., Maine, DC, Md., Mass., Pa., RI, Vt., and NJ), except New York, which includes the same request regarding the bypass as Malloy’s letter, has also been published .

SECoast.org has published a comprehensive summary, which includes the two letters mentioned above as well as all the remaining press activity, at this link.  We urge our readers to take a look at this extremely informative article.

 

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Help Old Lyme Land Trust Celebrate 50 Years at Their Annual Meeting, April 3

With warm weather’s return, it’s a great time to get out and take a walk!

The John Lohmann Connecticut River Preserve is one of the 13 preserves in Old Lyme owned and managed by the Old Lyme Land Trust, where the public can walk and explore nature.

Thanks to the Old Lyme Land Trust (OLTT), you can do that at any of 13 preserves right here in town. Check out breathtaking views of the water from the shorefront ledges at the Karter Watch Rock Preserve, or stroll through the fields to see the river from Whaleback Rock in the Lohmann Connecticut River Preserve. Look for ladyslipper orchids or listen for frogs – just pick a nearby preserve and you really can’t lose.

Since 1966, OLLT has preserved over 1,000 acres of Old Lyme, and more than 500 of them have marked trails, open to the public. The land trust is a non-profit organization, independent of town government, so it is the people of Old Lyme who have really saved these spaces, through their generous donations of land, time, and money.

The Old Lyme Land Trust invites you to join them as they kick off celebrating 50 years of local conservation, by joining members and friends at the Old Lyme Land Trust Annual Meeting. The event is from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 3, at the Lymes’ Senior Center, at 126 Town Woods Road, in Old Lyme. Photographs from the annual land trusts’ photo contest will be on display and refreshments provided.

This year’s keynote speaker is Glenn Dreyer, Director of the Connecticut College Arboretum. His talk will be on “Invasive Species: Issues and Management”. The Nature Conservancy has stated that the threat of invasive species to global ecosystems rivals that of climate change, yet many folks remain unaware. Most invasive plants are very attractive, but the damage they do to ecosystems is devastating. Prof. Dreyer will discuss the issue and explain what can be done to help stem this increasing problem.

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Nature, Landscape Photographer Speaks at CT Valley Camera Club Meeting

‘Chena River ice’ is an example of Paul Nguyen’s photography. He is the speaker at the next CVCC meeting on March 6.

The March 6 meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will feature a presentation by Paul Nguyen, a Fine Art Nature and Landscape Photographer from Hanson, Mass.  The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, CT.

This is how the photographer describes his presentation: “When the sun goes down, skilled photographers know the fun is just beginning. Long exposures in low light conditions reveal a whole new world of color, texture, and artistry previously hidden to the naked eye, and advances in sensor technology are making it easier to make great night images with every generation of camera.”

Join New England-based professional photographer Paul Nguyen to learn about the principles and camera settings behind several kinds of low light photography: Long exposures of landscapes at twilight; night images of the starry sky; and “star trail” exposures.”

To see more of Nguyen’s work, visit his website at: www.paulnguyenphoto.com

CVCC meeting dates, speakers / topics and other notices are published on the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage/.

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Auditions for ‘The Bizz’ to be Held Today

It’s your time to shine!

Auditions for LYSB’s Youth Talent Show, The Bizz, will be held Monday, March 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. and Tuesday, March 7, from 4 to 7 p.m.

Auditions are open to all musicians, singers, dancers, rappers, bands, comedians, magicians, etc.

Book your audition online at this link or call 860.434.7208.  Click here for full details and audition rules

The Bizz will be held Friday, March 24, at 7 p.m. at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.

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Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce Invites Applications from High School Seniors for Two Scholarships


One Scholarship Recognizes Business Leadership, Second is for Promise and Achievement in the Arts

The Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Chamber of Commerce is offering two scholarships this year to high school seniors who are resident in Lyme or Old Lyme and either currently attending an accredited high school or pursuing a home school program. The two scholarships are the Business Leadership Senior Scholarship and the Senior Scholarship for Promise and Achievement in the Arts.  The Chamber’s intent is to present a single award of $1,000 for each scholarship. The Chamber, however, reserves the right to change the amount of the award and/or to make additional awards if deemed appropriate.

For both scholarships, the applicant must submit the appropriate application form, both of which are available in the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Guidance Office or online on the Chamber’s website at www.visitoldlyme.com.

For the Business Leadership Senior Scholarship, the applicant must have demonstrated achievement in economics, business, technology, or a closely related area; be entering college in fall 2017 to pursue a career in a business-related field, and demonstrate the use of his/her skills in a community setting that requires an ability to balance and integrate academics with community service and/or paid employment: for example, in an internship, a part-time job, a business or a nonprofit organization.

For the Senior Scholarship for Promise and Achievement in the Arts, the applicant must have demonstrated achievement in the arts; be entering college in fall 2017 to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts or equivalent degree at a recognized art school or college, and demonstrate the use of his/her skills in a community setting that requires an ability to balance and integrate art and academics with community service and/or paid employment: for example, in an internship, a part-time job, a business or a non-profit organization.

The LOL Chamber of Commerce Scholarship program has awarded over $33,000 in scholarships and grants to local students since its inception. The Chamber Scholarship Fund is supported through donations to CMRK clothing donation bins located in Lyme and Old Lyme: at the Lyme Firehouse, behind The Bowerbird, at 151 Boston Post Rd., and on Rte. 156 at Shoreline Mowers.

For more information about the scholarship program, contact LOL Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Committee Co-Chairs Russ Gomes at russgo@2289@aol.com or  Olwen Logan at olwenlogan@gmail.com or 860.460.4176.

For more information about the LOL Chamber of Commerce, visit www.visitoldlyme.com.

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‘Bikes for Kids’ Host Fundraising Dinner Tonight

Former Center School teacher David Fowler is now President of Bikes For Kids.

Bikes for Kids, the charity founded by Chuck Graeb of Old Lyme to donate bikes to children in need, hosts a Fundraising Dinner this evening at the Westbrook Elks Lodge from 6 to 11 p.m.

There will be raffles, a silent auction and dancing along with appetizers and a buffet dinner. The dinner includes stuffed sole and chicken.  Live music will feature Buffalo Jr. and Twice 2 Much.

All proceeds will benefit the acquisition of a permanent facility, bikes, helmets, parts and smiles for children in the community.

Tickets are $75 per person and can be reserved by calling 860-388-BIKE ( 2453 ).

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Lyme-Old Lyme HS Achieves Second Highest AP Scores in Connecticut

Students hard at work in a Chinese class at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, where recently released results show the school achieved the second highest AP scores in the state.

The College Board released the Class of 2016 Advanced Placement (AP®) Cohort Data, Feb. 22, which showed that Lyme-Old Lyme Schools came in as the school system in Connecticut with the second highest overall performance. No other Middlesex or New London County school system achieved a ranking higher than 20th

Performance is calculated based on the number of students in the Class of 2016 cohort who participated in at least one AP exam at any time during high school and who scored a ‘3’ or higher on at least one of those exams. Neither students nor exams are counted more than once.

In response to this exceptional news, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser stated, “To be ranked second in the entire state is an incredible achievement and further supports the notion that the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools provide an education which rivals or exceeds both public and private schools throughout the State of Connecticut. This is a credit to the students, staff, and communities of Lyme and Old Lyme to achieve at such a high level in what is a very competitive atmosphere.”

The national AP® report shows an increase in both the participation and passing rates for the high school graduating Class of 2016 showing that equity and excellence can go hand in hand. Neviaser commented, “There is a widespread belief in education that it is impossible to expand access while maintaining high performance. The AP Program tells a different story.”  

This too holds true in Lyme-Old Lyme as the school system ranked 5th in the state in terms of AP® participation. Participation is calculated based on the number students in the Class of 2016 cohort who participated in at least one AP exam at any time during high school. Neither students nor exams are counted more than once.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools accept students from all communities throughout Connecticut. If you would like to become a part of this high performing school system, visit www.region18.org or contact Ian Neviaser, Superintendent of Schools, at neviaseri@region18.org or 860.434.7238 for more information.

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Obituary: Death Announced of Walter Kaylin, Former 52-Year Resident of Old Lyme

Walter Kaylin 06.28.1921 – 02.15.2017

Walter Kaylin, 95, died peacefully on February 15 at Apple Rehab in Guilford, Ct., after a long period of declining health. His two daughters were by his side.

Walter was born in New York City on June 28, 1921 to Rose and Alexander Kaylin. He grew up on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and graduated from Dewitt Clinton High School, then the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served in the Signal Corps during World War II. Walter’s first love was writing: He was anthologized by the Saturday Evening Post and worked for many years at Magazine Management, writing adventure stories for pulp magazines in a stable of writers that included Mario Puzo, Joseph Heller and Alex Austin. He wrote two novels, Another Time, Another Woman and The Power Forward. Walter enjoyed a late-in-life resurgence of his cult popularity with the 2013 publication of two collections featuring his stories: Weasels Ripped My Flesh and He-Men, Bag Men and Nymphos.

Walter was an avid sports fan since his days of visiting Yankee Stadium as a boy, once sending a pep-talk letter to a slumping Lou Gehrig, who sent a note of thanks in return. Years later, he found another hero in Muhammad Ali from the time he was Cassius Clay, not only for his prowess in the boxing ring but for his role in the Civil Rights Movement and his resistance to the Vietnam War. Walter expressed his own staunch opposition to the war in frequent, impassioned, well-informed letters to the editor of the local paper at a time when he was all but a lone voice.

He was a jazz enthusiast and a record collector; at his beachfront home of 52 years in Old Lyme, Ct., he played the piano at least an hour a day before enjoying a cocktail with his wife, Peggy, while gazing out at the waves and invariably remarking, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” He continued to play jazz piano at Apple Rehab, to the delight of his fellow residents, even when his right hand was contorted by arthritis.

Walter was predeceased by Peggy, both parents and his brother, Edward. He is survived by his two daughters, Jennifer Kaylin (Randall Beach), a writer in the communications office of the Yale School of Public Health; Lucy Kaylin (Kimball Higgs), editor of O, The Oprah Magazine; and four grandchildren: Natalie Beach, Charlotte Beach, Sophie Higgs and Owen Higgs.

Walter Kaylin was a charismatic, sharp, devoted, delightful husband, father, grandfather and friend–a man of boundless curiosity, searching intellect and deep social conscience. His family, who will carry him in their hearts forever, are grateful to the staff at Apple Rehab for their compassionate care. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations in Walter’s memory may be made to Doctors Without Borders or the ACLU.

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Lyme-Old Lyme HS Girls Take Second Place at State Gymnastics Championship

Class S State Championship runners-up!

Coach Kim Detuzzi led Lyme-Old Lyme to an amazing second place in the CIAC Class S gymnastics state championship, which was held Saturday at Pomperaug High School in Southbury. This result was the culmination of an extremely successful season during which numerous records were shattered by this talented team.

The contest was won by Woodstock Academy, which triumphed for the fifth time in a row with 151.425 points, while the Wildcats finished with an impressive 132.075 points.

Team members include Mary Bolles, Britney Detuzzi Anna Donato, Caroline Montanaro and Melia Tyrol.

Detuzzi scored 8.925 on both floor exercise and vault, 8.55 on balance beam and 8.2 on uneven bars, achieving the highest score of the team on each event.

The Wildcats, who finished as one of the top four scoring teams in the divisional championships, have now qualified to compete in the open team championship to be held March 4 at New Milford High School.

Congratulations, Wildcats!

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Cub Scouts Explore Historic US Naval Ships During Overnight Trip to Battleship Cove

Cub Scout Pack 27 of Old Lyme gather for a photo on board a battleship at Battleship Cove, Mass.

Cub Scout Pack 27 of Old Lyme recently stepped back in time, walking the decks and sleeping in the cots where Navy sailors once lived while fighting for the United States during World War II. The Pack took an overnight trip on Jan. 28 to Battleship Cove, in Fall River, Mass., to explore the world’s largest collection of historic U.S. naval ships.

Boys in bunks: finding out what sleeping on board a battleship is like.

Bear Scout Alex Glaras, 8, described the sleeping quarters. He said,

“It was huge and had so many canvas beds that I couldn’t count them all. Each column was four bunks tall and I was on the third level. I had to climb the beds like a ladder.” Bear Scout Trevor Buydos, 8, said, “I really liked sleeping high up in the pipe berths with my friends and the ship’s jail was a lot of fun.”

After touring the battleship Massachusetts, destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., submarine Lionfish, PT Boats 617 and 796, and the Russian missile corvette Hiddensee, the Scouts, their parents, and adult leaders, Tom Ortoleva, Peter Turtoro, and Chris Buydos, spent the night on board the famous battleship, the USS Massachusetts.

Watching the sunset from on board the “Massachusetts.”

Glaras said, “There were four decommissioned World War II ships … They were all hugely awesome!” Battleship Cove’s Nautical Nights program included a knot tying class, storyteller, living history presenter, and historical motion picture.

Seeing first hand the power of the battleship guns.

Bear Scout Connor Vautrain, 8, said, “At first I was scared to sleep on a ship all night. But once I got there I realized it wouldn’t move. A funny part about it was that when we got there they told us to go wait by the helicopter. I thought the helicopter would take us onto the ship. But then we just walked there! On the ship we saw a movie about the history of the ship. It was a lucky ship because no on on it ever died. We did a fire drill too. We had to sleep on cots; actually they were really comfortable. Overall, it was a blast!”

Alex Glaras stands on the deck of the ‘Massachusetts.’

Battleship Cove serves as the Commonwealth’s official memorial for Massachusetts citizens of all military branches who lost their lives in World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf conflicts, and most recently the Commonwealth’s victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

This Cub Scout was excited to explore the interior of a battleship.

Preserving five National Historic Landmark naval vessels, Battleship Cove also delivers educational programs that expose a national audience of 60,000 youths to a mission that promotes duty, honor and country. The trip enabled the Scouts to better understand and appreciate the sacrifices made by veterans of all military branches in all wars. “Battleship Cove was really awesome, and I hope to go back soon!” said Glaras.

Aerial view of Battleship Cove.

For over 42 years, Pack 27 of Old Lyme has seen hundreds of Old Lyme’s youth (Kindergarten through fifth grade) enjoy and climb the different ranks of Scouting into young adulthood.

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout oath and law.  Pack meetings are held on the third Thursday each month. All are welcome.

For more information, contact Tom Ortoleva at ortoleva.house@gmail.com or Chris Buydos at cjbuydos@comcast.net.

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CT Trust for Historic Preservation, SECoast, Submit Lengthy Comments Opposing FRA’s Proposed High Speed Railroad Route, Criticizing Planning Process

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut’s statewide historic preservation advocacy organization, and SECoast, their special project dedicated to organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley, have submitted 41 pages of comments to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the  Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which presents the Preferred Alternative of the Old Saybrook – Kenyon, R.I. bypass that runs through Old Lyme.

The powerful cover letter to the comments, the text of which is given below, summarizes the organization’s major ongoing concerns as follows: “We … remain concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration has not acknowledged public, municipal, legislative, or Congressional concerns expressed in two states about their fundamentally flawed planning process, insufficient public outreach, or un-substantiated inclusion of the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass in the F-EIS.”

The cover letter concludes: “No state along the entire Northeast Corridor is as significantly or extensively impacted by the NEC Future planning process as Connecticut. The representative route of the Preferred Alternative … directly impacts numerous historic and environmentally sensitive communities. Singularly and collectively, these are resources that cannot be mitigated or replaced, and the Connecticut Trust is pledged to defend them.”

The full text of the cover letter reads as follows below:

The full text of the 41 pages of comments can be read at this link.

Dear Federal Railroad Administration and NEC Future Project Team:

On behalf of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut’s statewide historic preservation advocacy organization, and SECoast, our special project dedicated to organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley, we submit the following comments to provide feedback on the Preferred Alternative and the contents of the Tier 1 Final EIS for NEC Future. These comments are provided during the Waiting Period prior to development and issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD) for this project.

Since January 2016, the Connecticut Trust and SECoast have worked diligently and effectively to direct significant public attention to the NED Future Tier 1 EIS process. We did so out of grave concern for the impacts of proposed planning on the historic, cultural and environmental resources of Connecticut’s coastal communities. An education campaign that initially centered on Old Lyme, the western gateway of the proposed Old Sayrbook to Kenyon bypass, soon expanded region wide, jumped states to Rhode Island, and now includes Fairfield County communities in western Connecticut as well.

We have organized a notable volume of informed commentary on the NEC Future Plan, but remain concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration has not acknowledged public, municipal, legislative, or Congressional concerns expressed in two states about their fundamentally flawed planning process, insufficient public outreach, or un-substantiated inclusion of the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass in the F-EIS.

No state along the entire Northeast Corridor is as significantly or extensively impacted by the NEC Future planning process as Connecticut. The representative route of the Preferred Alternative identified in the Tier 1 F-EIS directly impacts numerous historic and environmentally sensitive communities. Singularly and collectively, these are resources that cannot be mitigated or replaced, and the Connecticut Trust is pledged to defend them.

Regards,

Daniel Mackay                                                                  Gregory Stroud 
Executive Director                                                           Director of Special Projects 
CT Trust for Historic Preservation                               CT Trust for Historic Preservation

 

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Connecticut Fund for the Environment Send Strong Letter to FRA Opposing Their ‘Preferred Alternative’ High Speed Rail Route

We have been invited to publish the text of a letter sent Feb. 23 from the Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE) to the Federal Rail Authority (FRA), which, while supporting the principle of high speed rail, clearly states the CFE’s opposition to the FRA’s Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the following two headings:

  1. The Current Tier 1 EIS Does Not Sufficiently Describe Why FRA Selected the Preferred Alternative
  2. The Tier 1 EIS Fails to Provide the Public with Adequate Information Concerning the Probable Environmental Impacts and Consequences of the Preferred Alternative

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment is the premier Connecticut-based legal defense for environmental actions. It also has the embedded bi-state organization, Save the Sound.

The letter reads as follows:

RE: Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement for NEC Future High Speed Rail Improvements Through Coastal Connecticut

Dear Acting Administrator,

Connecticut Fund for the Environment (“CFE”) and its bi-state program Save the Sound respectfully submit the following comments on the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) for the NEC Future high speed rail project, specifically those portions of the EIS detailing anticipated impacts to coastal Southeastern Connecticut. CFE is a state and region-wide nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental protection and advocacy that represents more than 4,700 members in both Connecticut and New York.

I. CFE is Major Supporter of High Speed Rail and its Numerous Benefits

High speed rail is critical to the transportation future of both the Northeast region and the country. CFE is a longtime supporter of high speed rail service in the Northeast. High speed rail must be an integral component of our nation’s transportation infrastructure as the United States moves further into the Twenty-First Century. In addition to making long distance travel faster and more convenient, high speed rail can serve as a major economic driver both as the result of its construction and implementation and the transport efficiencies it will provide to business and private citizens. Accessible high speed rail is not only an efficient mass transit alternative for many citizens, but an effective way of decreasing carbon emissions produced by the transportation sector. This is of particular importance to states such as Connecticut, where the largest increasing portion of the state’s greenhouse gas output originates from motor vehicle transportation.(1) Many of Connecticut’s major highways, including I-95 and I-84, become clogged with traffic during normal commute times, increasing the potential for excessive greenhouse gas emissions and inefficient use of fossil fuels. Accordingly, alternative means of transport that would decrease congestion on Connecticut’s highways in major travel corridors are a necessary and much needed public objective. Given the environmental benefits of high speed rail overall, CFE strongly supports proposals to make high speed rail a reality for commuters along the Northeast Corridor. It must, however, been done properly. The current NEC Future EIS provides such scant detail about potential site-specific environmental impacts that CFE is compelled to request that Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) conduct a much more thorough analysis prior to making any committed decisions regarding the NEC Future project. In its current form, the EIS fails to provide any substantive information from which citizens can draw conclusions regarding the potential environmental impacts of the preferred alternative.

II. The Current Tier 1 EIS Does Not Sufficiently Describe Why FRA Selected the Preferred Alternative

As a threshold matter, CFE questions whether FRA and the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) have conducted a sufficient analysis in making the determination that the preferred alternative evaluated the Tier 1 EIS is the most feasible alternative to be pursued in order to increase rail speed along the Northeast Corridor. In regard to Connecticut, the preferred alternative entails following the existing rail corridor with a new track segment from Old Saybrook, Connecticut to Kenyon, Rhode Island and rail improvements to existing track from New Haven, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts. Without meaningful environmental analysis, however, it is impossible to evaluate whether the preferred alternative is, in fact, the best alternative.

In selecting a preferred alternative so early in the process, FRA risks committing a large volume of resources to pursuing an alternative that may, ultimately, be impractical or unduly expensive to implement on the ground. This is particularly so given the preferred alternative at issue, which entails routing a new section of rail through a densely populated portion of the state and includes formidable infrastructure elements, such as a tunnel beneath the Connecticut River, discussed in greater length below. In electing to proceed along the existing coastal rail corridor, CFE is concerned that FRA may have selected convenience at the expense of overall benefit. Although FRA presumably conducted these analyses, the Tier 1 EIS contains very little comparative evaluation of the preferred alternative against the details of some of the other proposed routes through Connecticut. For example, there is no comparison between the Hartford route and the coastal route. Likewise, the EIS does not explore potential issues that may arise in regard to each alternative, such as the difficulty of blazing a brand new segment of rail through rural eastern Connecticut or the potential for the Connecticut River tunnel to be unworkable and replaced with the earlier proposal of an elevated rail bridge. As FRA prepares its final record of decision, CFE urges FRA to seriously explore the pros and cons of the preferred alternative against the routes in some of the other proposals.

III. The Tier 1 EIS Fails to Provide the Public with Adequate Information Concerning the Probable Environmental Impacts and Consequences of the Preferred Alternative

In regard to the preferred alternative as it stands in the Tier 1 EIS, CFE expresses serious concerns about the level of analysis conducted with respect to the proposed new rail bypass between Old Saybrook and Kenyon.(2) In addition to constructing a new segment of rail through a heavily populated and historic portion of the state, the EIS proposes constructing a rail tunnel beneath the Connecticut River estuary.(3) The EIS, however, is devoid of any details or feasibility analyses of such a tunnel. Indeed, there is little that can be determined from the EIS beyond the fact that the preferred alternative contains a tunnel beneath the Connecticut River in Old Lyme, Connecticut. There is no information concerning the design of such a tunnel, whether a tunnel is even feasible in the proposed location, how the tunnel will impact the Connecticut River riverbed, or the presumably extensive environmental impacts that will occur when constructing a subsurface tunnel beneath the largest river estuary in the region. Although the tunnel was ostensibly proposed in order to ameliorate the concerns that the public had with an elevated rail bridge being constructed through the heart of a historic downtown area, as the NEC Future project originally proposed, the lack of meaningful detail about the impacts of constructing such a tunnel leaves open the possibility that will ultimately prove so burdensome and destructive that FRA will fall back on its original rail bridge proposal.

CFE recognizes that the current document is programmatic in scale,(4) yet the analysis of the preferred alternative provides the public with no information other than the fact that FRA anticipates constructing a tunnel and a line on a map where the tunnel will ostensibly be located.(5) Although site specific impacts are relegated to Tier 2 in a tiered EIS process, the decision to do so in the present case leaves numerous communities and citizens in utter uncertainty as to the specifics of FRA’s exact plans in regard to the Old Saybrook-Kenyon bypass. As courts have recognized in the context of other Tiered EIS projects, the broad nature of review at the Tier 1 stage can result in serious ongoing implementation and impact problems at Tier 2 and thereafter.(6) Given the lack of precise detail about the proposed tunnel at this stage, there is a risk that when rigorous analysis of the tunnel occurs during Tier 2, FRA will encounter potential impacts that would have best been evaluated—and perhaps avoided—earlier.

For example, given the information present in the current EIS, it is impossible to know the exact manner in which the tunnel will affect the immediate river environment. The EIS does not state whether the tunnel will be through bedrock below the river or a structure along the river bottom or some other alternative. The Connecticut River estuary is unique among the region’s estuaries because of its extensive wetland and habitat resources.(7) A tunnel has the potential to seriously disrupt the Connecticut River’s natural flow into Long Island Sound and will likely affect the deposition patterns of nutrient rich sediments that flow into the estuary from further upstream. Likewise, if the proposed tunnel’s construction will disrupt the layers of sediment already present on the river bottom, such disruption will have the inevitable effect of unearthing pollutants that have become sealed off by more recent sediment deposition and reintroducing them into the water column, in effect repolluting the ecosystem with old pollutants. Yet none of these details or contingencies are addressed in the Tier 1 EIS, but relegated to later analysis at Tier 2.

Similarly, the Tier 1 EIS does not adequately address the physical impacts that would presumably occur on lands adjacent to the tunnel beneath the Connecticut River. The EIS, for example, is bereft of any meaningful analysis of the potential impacts on the invaluable wetlands that flank the Connecticut River estuary. As previously mentioned, the installation of a rail tunnel on the bottom of the river could, depending on its design and depth, potentially disrupt the historic flow patterns of the Connecticut River, which in turn could lead to the loss of wetlands. Likewise, the actual construction of the tunnel descent on the lands abutting the riverbank could negatively impact or destroy wetlands. Losing wetland acreage in a high population area such as coastal Southeastern Connecticut is a dangerous proposition, given the increased risk of shoreline flooding as climate change ushers in rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events. Given the level of detail in the EIS, however, it is uncertain as to whether any such impacts will occur or how extensive they may be. Due to the high risk that harm to wetland resources may ensue, such analysis should not be delayed to a subsequent stage of the administrative process.

Additionally, the Tier 1 EIS delays appropriate analysis of potential impacts to endangered and threatened species until the Tier 2 stage.(8) As is widely recognized, the Connecticut River estuary serves as invaluable habitat to a large number of species. For example, the estuary is noted as possessing one of the highest diversities of fish species in the Northeast.(9) Likewise, the estuary and river corridor serve as an important resource for numerous migratory bird species.(10) As the EIS notes, many federally endangered species are currently present in the very local ecosystem to be affected, including the Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii), Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), and several species of sea turtle.(11) As a practical matter, putting off the site specific analysis of impacts to endangered species can result in numerous problems either at Tier 2 or during project implementation, should an endangered species stand in the path of the tunnel’s proposed route.(12) The risk of such an occurrence is high, for as the EIS recognizes, Connecticut contains the highest number of endangered and threatened species of all states impact by the overall project.(13) At that point, irretrievable resources and time will have been needlessly spent in vain when an earlier analysis could have avoided such a problem while safeguarding habitat.

CFE also notes its grave concern regarding the earlier proposal for an elevated rail bridge over the Connecticut River that would direct the route of the new spur through the heart of historic Old Lyme and nearby cultural sites such as the Florence Griswold Museum. As the preparation of an environmental impact statement requires the sponsoring agency to consider the effects on the “human environment,” the health and quality of life in communities directly affected by a massive project such as NEC Future should be of paramount importance in FRA’s decision making. Should the Connecticut River tunnel ultimately prove unworkable or overly expensive, CFE shares the concerns of many citizens that FRA will implement the original rail bridge proposal instead, thereby subjecting a historic town center to irreparable damage and a diminution in aesthetic and environmental value. If there is even a remote possibility that FRA may ultimately implement a rail bridge over the Connecticut River as an alternate aspect of the new spur, it must fully present and analyze the expected environmental impacts at the current stage of the process so that the public may be fully and adequately informed of such a possibility.

Overall, CFE recognizes that the NEC Future project is one of enormous scale. Although a Tier 1 EIS is intended to be programmatic in scale, the current document provides directly affected communities and stakeholders with only the merest indications and suppositions as to what actual impacts will entail. In terms of the preferred alternative’s Old Saybrook-Kenyon spur and the subsurface tunnel included therein, the lack of concrete detail leaves local communities in a state of uncertainty as to what such a massive infrastructure project will mean in terms of impacts on the human environment and nearby ecosystem resources. As it is entirely possible that a yet unforeseen environmental impact will prevent actual implementation of the preferred alternative as presented, affected communities and the public are justly concerned that a subsequent, on the ground decision will result in earlier aspects of the proposed project being spontaneously resurrected as a means of quickly avoiding a major environmental impact and moving ahead with the project without additional delay. Given the importance of high speed rail to the future, it is necessary that the environmental impacts of any proposal are fully evaluated and understood by all stakeholders prior to moving forward.

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew W. Minikowski, Esq.
Legal Fellow Connecticut Fund for the Environment
900 Chapel Street, Upper Mezzanine
New Haven, CT 06510
203-787-0646 ex. 108

Supporting notes referenced by number in the text:
1 Acadia Center, “Updated Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for Connecticut: Recent Increases and Underlying Factors,” (June 13, 2016), available at http://acadiacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CT-GHG-EmissionsInventory-Report-2.pdf (last visited Sept. 9, 2016).
2 Federal Railroad Administration, “Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement,” Appendix A, 40–41 (Nov. 2016), available at http://www.necfuture.com/pdfs/tier1_deis/appendix/app_a.pdf (last visited Jan. 30, 2017).
3 Id. at 7.5-7.
4 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, “Guidelines on the Use of Tiered Environmental Impact Statements for Transportation Projects,” 3 (June 2009); see Ilio’ulaokalani Coalition v. Rumsfeld, 464 F.3d 1083, 1094 (9th Cir. 2006).
5 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2.
6 See Hoosier Environmental Council v. U.S. Dept. of Transp., 2007 WL 4302642, *7 (S.D. Ind. Dec. 10, 2007).
7 Jenna Pirotta, “Connecticut River Estuary: Haven for Juvenile Fish and Migratory Fish Highway,” N.O.A.A. FISHERIES GREATER ATLANTIC REGION, available at https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/stories/2012/haven_for_juvenile_fish_and_migratory_fish_highway.h tml (last visited Jan. 30, 2017).
8 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-9.
9 Glenn D. Dreyer and Marcianna Caplis, “Living Resources and Habitats of the Lower Connecticut River,” 56 (Dec. 2001), available at http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1037&context=arbbulletins (last visited Jan. 26, 2017).
10 Id. at 48.
11 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-5.
12 See generally Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 98 S.Ct. 2279, 57 L.Ed.2d 117 (1978).
13 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-3.
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LYSB Hosts Free Screening Tonight of “The Mask You Live In,” Followed by Q & A

Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) hosts a free community screening tonight, Thursday, Feb. 23, at 6:30 p.m. of  the award-winning documentary, The Mask You Live In, in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium.  Doors open at 6 p.m. and members of the public are welcome.  Due to mature content, this event is recommended for ages 14 and up

Safe Futures and the Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut will lead a Q&A session after the screening.

The film follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity.  Research shows that compared to girls, boys in the U.S. are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives.

Boys are pressured by the media, their peer group, and even the adults in their lives.  This film confronts messages encouraging boys to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence.  These gender stereotypes interconnect with race, class, and circumstance, creating a maze of identity issues boys and young men must navigate to become “real” men.

Reviews of the film include the following:

  • “A deeply affecting documentary about how boys are directed to grow up to be “men” — and what it really means to be a man in today’s society.”
  • “The Mask You Live In changed my life. It’s the first documentary I’ve seen that is not only for me, but about me.”
  • “Mandatory viewing for all parents, not just parents of boys. Anyone who works with children will benefit from this thought provoking film.”

Major community sponsors are Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, Safe Futures and the Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut.  Shoreline Web news LLC, publisher of LymeLine.com, is also proud to be a sponsor of the event.

For more information, contact LYSB at 860.434.7208 or visit the LYSB website.

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