January 15, 2019

Letter to the Editor: Who Saved Old Lyme From The Train? An Alternative View

To the Editor:

Make no mistake; a major train project in our community (even if well into the future) is a foremost public concern.  What are distressing are the boisterous claims of credit by our local leaders, when in fact concerned residents in the community raised the alarm.

On November 10, 2015 the Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) wrote personally to First Selectwoman Reemsnyder and RiverCOG (which Reemsnyder chairs) forewarning the NEC Future Plan and inviting public comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  Ms. Reemsnyder spoke against the plan in mid-January 2016 in New Haven.  However, the townspeople of Old Lyme, local officials, cultural organizations, and businesses were not made aware of this federal plan until late January by an alarmed resident who identified the “threat” to our Old Lyme Historic District and initiated a large grassroots campaign along the shoreline that prompted leaders to real action. Before that, most everyone was unaware of the plan or the looming comment deadline for the Draft EIS. 

We need our leaders to be forward thinking, not reactionary.  Is Old Lyme ready for the next big wave, whether the widening of I-95, coerced regionalization, or the replacement of the Connecticut River Bridge?  As it turns out, the FRA on January 5, 2017 concurred with an Environmental Assessment that paves the way for Amtrak to replace the Connecticut River Bridge; yet we have heard nothing about it and no planning details such as construction staging, trucking routes, river operations and mitigation dollars.  In Norwalk, local officials spent two years negotiating the required details to make sure they were not steamrolled by government agencies. 

On November 7th, we need to elect leaders Jude Read and Chris Kerr who recognize early on the risks and opportunities for major state and federal initiatives, and keep residents, boards and commissions informed of what is going on.


Wayne Buchanan,
Old Lyme



  1. Steve Wilson says:

    This article makes a great point. Worthy leaders don’t take credit for successes, they inspire we, the people to take action and speak up. A thousand voices speaking seriously is far more compelling than one voice with all the charisma in the world. The train victory belongs to Old Lyme residents and not to any politician. We need more elected officials who understand this fact and Chris Kerr is one of them.

  2. Diane Mallory says:

    The fact that the Old Saybrook to Kenyon Bypass was not included in the FRA’s July Record of Decision is a victory that would not have happened if not for the engagement of all the communities along the route. This vital engagement was accomplished by the efforts of SECOAST to organize and raise attendance at meetings in virtually every community. The first of the grassroots meetings occurred in March of 2016 and continue to this day. The information shared and the energy at these meetings invited the interest of both the local press and an impressive number of national media publications.

    Each and every person in this community who wrote or attended a meeting deserves enormous credit. But the victory belongs to no one community.

    Dini Mallory

    • Bennett Bernblum says:

      Bonnie Reemsnyder led Old Lyme’s successful effort to defeat the FRA’s recommendation to route high speed rail through our town. She has been gracious in giving credit to the entire community, but it would not have happened without her. In particular, Bonnie’s relationships with our federal and state leaders, including Representative Courtney, Senator Blumenthal, Governor Malloy and DOT Commissioner Redeker were instrumental in mobilizing their opposition to the plan, and they were clearly heard by the FRA.

      Bonnie brought representatives of the FRA to Old Lyme to listen to our concerns, and she traveled to Washington to meet with FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg. In addition, she led a coalition of local experts who compiled a voluminous, compelling report for the FRA on the problems raised by the plan.

      Bonnie is totally committed to the best interests of Old Lyme, and she has the ability, passion and relationships that can make good things happen. We are lucky to have her and we must keep her.

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