August 15, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Parks & Rec. Leaders Challenged Over Use of Old Lyme Ballfields by Private Entity That Brought in Hundreds of Out-of-Towners

To the Editor:

Old Lyme Parks and Rec. Commission has dedicated much of their energy over the last few years, and particularly the last few months, to limiting the activities in Hains Park. Most recently, this has been executed under three guiding principles: limit the use of public property by private entities, limit the use of Old Lyme property by out-of-town people, namely residents of Lyme, CT and control the spread of COVID-19.

On June 27, lifeguards and parking attendants were stationed at Hains Park to control the influx of out of towners, and ensure social distancing, at taxpayer expense. On that particular Saturday, 3 out of town visitors were identified and barred entry, out of a total of 8 park users. Meanwhile, across town, at Cross Lane, chaos reigned. A private entity had commandeered our ball fields and brought in hundreds of ball-players from as far as the COVID epicenter of Westchester County.

Inquiries have not yet revealed a completed Parks Usage Form, as required by Parks and Recreation posted rules. No social distancing practices were detectable. The Emergency Management Director had not been notified, as has been required in May at Hains Park. Parking was so renegade as to impede the egress of Old Lyme emergency vehicles, stationed at that facility. When the situation was brought to the attention of a Park and Rec employee on Saturday, alternative parking was recommended, but the event was allowed to continue on Sunday without any mitigations.

This inconsistency brings into question the integrity of Parks and Recreation leadership. It is time that Old Lyme taxpayers are served by leadership who actually cares about parks and recreation.

Sincerely,

Candace Fuchs,
Old Lyme.

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Comments

  1. Thomas D Gotowka says

    Your use of the descriptors “chaos” and “renegade” has certainly piqued my curiosity. I don’t think that there’s anything here that impugns the integrity of Mr. Bugbee. Please keep us informed as you get answers to your questions.Thank you for the alert.

  2. H. Paynter says

    The Old Lyme beach parking lot attendants don’t record the number of cars they turn away or allow to park at Hains Park (or White Sands). Even so, I’m afraid your numbers on Hains Park usage appear lower than is accurate, painting an over-exaggerated comparison to the event at Cross Lanes.

  3. Michele Dickey says

    I am in agreement with Mr. Gotowka; I hope that you will receive answers and share them with us via LymeLine. Thank you for making us aware of the situation.

  4. Candace Fuchs says

    Please see a correction to the metrics I quoted in my initial letter.

    The information I gave you was specifically about rowers parking at Hains Park for the 6-8am rowing session. It did not apply to the whole day, as those metrics are not collected.

  5. Joe Zrenda says

    I am the individual who ran the baseball event at Cross Lane several weeks ago. We have run baseball events for the past 20 years and have earned a great reputation. On Saturday morning I failed. We submitted a Covid plan and our sir directors were advised of our protocols. We used two fields over the weekend. Teams playing on the upper field were supposed to park at Mile Creek School and not at Cross Lane. As soon as I was aware of the over parking at Cross Lane we posted a site director at the entrance of the Cross Lane and directed traffic to the appropriate lot. This was not Parks and Recreations fault. It is mine. I apologize for any concern I caused the public. In the event we hold an event in future years we will have a site director at the entrance of Cross Lane to ensure total compliance. Again, my apologies. Joe Zrenda

    • Mike Bucior says

      Joe, you did not fail. You did the best you could under difficult circumstances. Please continue to work in the best interest of the kids and do not cave to the “sky is falling” fanatics that complain about everything while never offering a substantive solution.

    • Liz Rubitski says

      Nicely said Joe. Appreciate you taking responsibility and explaining the situation.
      As someone who lives on Rogers Lake and attempts to safely navigate around that area when there is a large rowing event going on, I can understand a need for more control. That being said, I remind myself that, safety aside, the inconvenience on a handful of occasions each year is not a huge deal.
      More of an issue in my opinion is that families and young folks are encouraged to park at Town Woods Park and walk along Town Woods Road to get to the events. There are no sidewalks and it means crossing the road so this doesn’t seem to be a safe solution to the parking issue.
      Once again, it has only happened a handful of times. Should it start to happen more often, it will likelybe a bigger problem.

      • Ellen Cole says

        Liz, the absence of sidewalks along Town Woods Road has long been a concern in my opinion. There was a time when Town Woods Park was being used regularly for high school sporting events as well as town soccer and lacrosse games and the foot traffic from the park to Coffees and Rogers Lake homes was substantial. My kids are older now and I don’t frequent TW Park as much as I used to, so I can’t say whether there is still a lot of such pedestrian use. But it seems worthwhile for the town to look into the feasibility of adding a sidewalk along TW Road from the park to BP Road, rather than wait for a tragedy to occur.

  6. Liz Rubitski says

    Hi Candace, Can you clarify “Most recently, this has been executed under three guiding principles: limit the use of public property by private entities, limit the use of Old Lyme property by out-of-town people, namely residents of Lyme, CT…”? How the use of public property been limited? I follow most of the town meeting minutes as best I can and have not seen anything that would help me understand. The only thing that springs to mind is the 176 BPR property, but that hardly qualifies since it is a land locked property that I presume the purchasers knew was land locked when they bought it. Thanks. Liz

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