July 7, 2022

Old Lyme Residents Unanimously Approve $2.1M in ARPA Spending in Special Town Meeting

Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker presents the recommendations from the American Rescue Plan Committee at Tuesday evening’s Special Town Meeting. Photo by Phil Parcak.

OLD LYME – At Tuesday evening’s Special Town Meeting, Old Lyme taxpayers voted unanimously to approve a final disbursement of $2,120,593 in the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The payout includes over 60 individual disbursements addressing 10 key recommendations such as supporting the economic recovery of Old Lyme’s small businesses and supporting public health services.

The vote came following the June 21, 2022 recommendations of the Town’s Boards of Selectmen and Finance.

The Town previously approved $41,622 at the March 21, 2022 Special Town Meeting. The Town has now allocated its total ARPA funding from the Federal Government, as required within the stated deadline.

In September 2021, the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen appointed a committee of a dozen townspeople representing a cross-section of concerns including health and human services, emergency services, business, and tourism. The “ARP Committee” began its work a month later with one of its first tasks being to conduct a survey of residents and business leaders and develop two application processes.

Subsequently, following the submission of almost 80 economic recovery and community initiative grant applications, the ARP Committee created a set of recommendations for the board of selectmen that included distributing up to $10,000 in ARPA funds to 33 individual businesses and nonprofits for economic recovery, and more than 30 initiatives that would serve Old Lyme in its ability to move forward from the pandemic, while better preparing for the future.

Approved initiatives include $275,000 for a new ambulance for Old Lyme’s volunteer ambulance organization, $114,160 toward four years of increased mental health services provided through Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau, and $55,000 to repair the Swan Brook outlet’s wood outfall, an issue that has caused flooding in the Miami Beach and Hawks Nest communities.

Old Lyme Town Clerk Vicki Urbowicz read the motion ahead of the vote in the Special Town Meeting held Tuesday evening. Attorney Victoria Lanier (seated at left) moderated the meeting.

Some initiatives receiving funding will result in fun and innovative ways for organizations to provide services to Old Lyme residents. 

The Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library will receive $6,350 to fund a mobile/outdoor children’s library service with the purchase of a Library e-assist Book Bike. The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, a center of the Connecticut Audubon Society, can expect to receive $157,095 toward its anticipated children’s science discovery and environmental learning center.

Initiatives to address the local economy by bringing visitors back to Old Lyme include $137,599 toward renovations to the Sound View Community Center, $30,875 toward Black Hall Outfitter’s targeted tourism marketing to watersport enthusiasts, $8,000 toward the 2023 Midsummer Festival, and $2,700 for additional outreach efforts by the Town’s Economic Development Commission.

The full list of approved economic recovery grants and community initiatives can be found at this link.

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold felt the grants addressed a broad set of ideas and needs. “The American Rescue Plan Committee took into account a broad range of needs and concerns and addressed them in a rational and unprejudiced way.”

Griswold continued, “These recommendations not only bring funding to individual businesses and organizations that make up the fabric of our community, but also help the Town itself move forward from a time that challenged our ability to provide important public services.” 

In addition to the recovery grants and initiative concepts submitted by Town organizations, the ARP Committee voted to recommend to the Town the allocation of $20,000 to the Town’s Social Services Discretionary Fund to help residents during hardship. The Committee also recommended that any funds not expended by a grant recipient or the Town itself by the Federal deadline of December 2026 be redirected to the Discretionary Fund.

The set of recommendations voted on by the Town Tuesday evening also includes up to $20,000 in administrative, outreach, and legal costs associated with the ARPA funding and up to $20,000 in fees to a consultant hired by the Town to review and recommend the economic recovery grants following his appraisal of applicants’ financial losses.

Thomas Gotowka, Old Lyme American Rescue Plan Committee Chairman, said the Committee met the charge put forward and could be proud of its work. “I am very pleased at how well we [the Committee] covered the community landscape. The list reflects Old Lyme’s needs, as seen in responses to our survey; and an objective appraisal of each application or proposed initiative,” Gotowka said.

He further noted that the Committee had in place several safeguards to avoid any conflict of interest and worked to meet “the requirements and mandates of the legislation.”

About 60 Old Lyme residents were in attendance at the Special Town Meeting Tuesday evening. Following Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker’s presentation of the ARP Committee’s recommendations, those in attendance voted unanimously to approve the package.

Griswold noted that grants to businesses and organizations will be made once the Town receives its second and final ARPA installment, which is anticipated shortly. Letters to grant recipients will go out in the coming weeks.

Editor’s Note: This article is based on a press release issued by the ARP Committee.

Old Lyme Special Town Meeting to be Held Tonight; Approval of Disbursement of $2.1M Federal ARPA Funds to 23 OL Small Businesses, 10 Non-Profits & More, on Agenda

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen will hold a Special Town Meeting this evening, Tuesday, July 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Meeting Hall at the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall at 52 Lyme St.

This meeting will consider and act upon the following single agenda item:

Whether to approve the disbursement of $2,120,593 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, as outlined in the report of the Old Lyme American Rescue Plan Committee  (APRC) report dated June 21, 2022, and as recommended by the Old Lyme Boards of Selectmen and Finance on June 21.

The Special Town Meeting will be conducted in person only.

Copies of the proposed ARPA disbursements are available in the Town Clerk’s office and on the Town of Old Lyme website.

In summary, the disbursement recommendations are as follows:-

  1. 23 small businesses (< 500 employees per the US Treasury Department) applied for and met the requirements to receive grants up to $10,000, having substantiated pandemic-related economic loss occurring between March 3, 2021 and April 1, 2022. Twenty-two of the 23 grants recommended are for $10,000.
  2. 10 nonprofit organizations (501c3) applied for and met the requirements to receive grants up to $10,000, having substantiated pandemic-related economic loss occurring between March 3, 2021 and April 1, 2022. Eight of the 10 grants recommended are for $10,000.
    ———————————————————————————————
    Community Initiative Grants are recommended in the following categories:
  3. Investment in and support mental health services or public health services to assist Old Lyme residents (seven projects)
  4. Reinvestment in Old Lyme government services that were deemed essential during the pandemic (such as emergency services) to ensure future preparedness (11 projects)
  5. Investment in current and future infrastructure challenges such as clean water and sewer/waste treatment (two projects)
  6. Investment in town-wide broadband (internet) improvements and/or cell services (one project)
  7. Investment in early childhood care, and education (three projects)
  8. Investment in bringing visitors to our Old Lyme attractions, restaurants, shops, and accommodations (six projects)
  9. Investment in affordable housing to meet the needs of those working and living in Old Lyme (one project)
  10. Provision (direct and indirect) of financial assistance to Old Lyme families and households having difficulty recovering from pandemic losses (two projects)

In addition to the 10 recommendation categories above, the American Rescue Plan Committee has included in its recommendations:

• Reserving up to $20,000 to cover fees by an independent consultant retained to administer the Economic Recovery Grant applications (this expenditure was approved by the Town in its 3/21/22 Town Meeting)

• Reserving up to $20,000 in legal, outreach, and administrative costs associated with the survey and application, and granting processes.

Read the full details of all the proposed projects/beneficiaries to receive grants at this link.

Essex Savings Bank Announces 2022 Community Investment Program Ballot Results, High Hopes of Old Lyme Takes #8 Spot

ESSEX, CT – Essex Savings Bank has announced the results from its recent customer voting efforts in the Bank’s Community Investment Program (CIP). The balloting  portion began Feb. 1, and concluded Feb. 28.

The program, which is now in its 27th year, entitles the Bank’s customers to select up to three charities from this year’s list of 74 qualified non-profit organizations. Fund allocations are awarded based on the results of these  votes.

Since inception in 1996, the ballot portion of the Bank’s CIP has provided nearly $1.6  million to over 200 nonprofit organizations. Of that, over $628,000 has gone to the top 10 recipients, which include vital programs such as the Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry (26  times) and High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. (26 times). 

According to Diane H. Arnold, President & CEO of Essex Savings Bank, a total of $90,235 was  made available through this year’s CIP ballot portion. She commented, “COVID has had a detrimental effect on nonprofit fundraising efforts both locally and nationwide. It has also created and exacerbated hardships for many throughout our community and beyond.”

Arnold continued, “As such, I am especially pleased that  the Bank’s CIP is able to provide over $250,000 in total to support our local nonprofits in fulfilling  their important missions this year.”

Since inception, the program will have provided over $5.25  million to nonprofits throughout the area. 

For more information on the Community Investment Program, the annual ballot and Essex Savings  Bank, visit www.essexsavings.com. 

Results of Essex Savings Bank Customer Balloting Community Investment Program 2022

Organization  Amount Awarded 
The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, Inc.  $8,203
Forgotten Felines, Inc.  $4,525
Valley Shore Animal Welfare League  $4,124
The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Meals on Wheels  $4,102
Essex Fire Engine Company No. 1  $3,009
Old Saybrook Fire Department Number One, Inc.  $2,407
Camp Hazen YMCA  $2,318
High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.  $2,251
Essex Library Association  $2,229
Deep River Ambulance Association, Inc.  $2,185
Visiting Nurses of The Lower Valley, Inc.  $1,939
The Chester Hose Company Incorporated  $1,895
Essex Land Trust, Inc.  $1,761
Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation, Inc.  $1,761
Valley Shore YMCA  $1,739
Vernon A. Tait All Animal Adoption, Preservation and Rescue Fund, Inc.  $1,739
A Little Compassion / The Nest Coffee House  $1,672
Chester Historical Society  $1,672
Ivoryton Library Association  $1,605
Old Lyme Fire Department, Inc.  $1,583
FISH (Friends in Service Here)  $1,538
Connecticut Cancer Foundation, Inc.  $1,315
Friends of Hammonasset, Inc.  $1,271
Essex Historical Society, Inc.  $1,226
Lyme Ambulance Association, Inc.  $1,204
Old Lyme Land Trust, Inc  $1,159
Deep River Historical Society, Inc.  $1,137
Lyme Fire Company  $1,048
Valley Soccer Club Inc.  $1,048
The Connecticut River Foundation at Steamboat Dock  $1,025
Tri-Town Youth Services  $959
Friends of Acton Library  $914
Friends of Chester Public Library  $892
Region 4 Education Foundation, Inc. (R4EF)  $892
Chester Land Trust  $869
Common Good Gardens, Inc.  $869
The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Inc.  $869
Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau  $869
Deep River Land Trust, Inc.  $825
Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association, Inc.  $825

 

Deep River Junior Ancient Fife and Drum Corp. $802 

Old Saybrook Land Trust, Inc.  $780
SARAH, Inc.  $780
Madison Ambulance Assoc., Inc. Dba Madison Emerg. Medical  Svces  $758
Community Music School  $736
Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore CT  $736
Lyme Old Lyme Food Share Garden  $736
Lyme Public Hall & Local History Archives, Inc.  $713
Angel Charities, Inc.  $691
Sister Cities Essex Haiti, Inc.  $646
Essex Winter Series  $624
Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc.  $624
The Ivoryton Village Alliance  $602
Con Brio Choral Society  $557
Essex Community Fund, Inc.  $535
Westbrook Youth and Family Services, Inc.  $535
Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation, Inc.  $513
Sailing Masters Of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps, Inc.  $513
Vista Life Innovations, Inc.  $490
Westbrook Historical Society, Inc.  $446
HOPE Partnership, Inc.  $424
Cappella Cantorum, Inc.  $401
Lyme Art Association, Inc.  $401
Essex Elementary School PTO  $334
Lymes’ Elderly Housing, Inc. (Lymewood)  $334
Old Saybrook Education Foundation  $312
Westbrook Project Graduation, Inc.  $290
Act II Thrift Shop, Inc.  $245
E.C. Scranton Memorial Library  $245
Guilford Youth Mentoring  $245
Brazilian American Youth Cultural Exchange (BRAYCE)  $223
The Country School, Inc.  $201
CT Waverunners  $178
Sound View Beach Association, Inc.  $112
Totals  $90,235

 

Editor’s Note: Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The  Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison,  Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial,  estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Division,  Essex Trust and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., a Registered Investment  Advisor.

Has the Pandemic Affected You or Your Business? Old Lyme Opens Applications for ARPA Grants to Businesses, Nonprofits, Town Entities


OLD LYME –
UPDATED 12:15pm — see changes in red: The Town of Old Lyme has formally announced two new ways for Old Lyme small businesses and nonprofits to seek American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

Today the Town released two grant applications, in which organizations can either seek economic recovery or create community initiatives to address the negative impact of the pandemic.

The deadline for application submissions to either grant is May 2, 2022.

Applicants for the “Economic Recovery Grant” will submit information substantiating any pandemic-related economic losses between March 3, 2021 and April 1, 2022 per the restrictions of the Federal funding. The Economic Recovery application is for small businesses and for 501( c)-3 or 501( c)-19 nonprofit organizations located in Old Lyme.

The maximum amount granted under the Economic Recovery Grant will be $10,000.

A separate grant will be available for businesses and nonprofit organizations, who wish to apply for a “Community Initiative Grant.” This grant is for those organizations seeking funding for programs and initiatives that will help address the negative impact of the pandemic and create new transformative opportunities in Old Lyme.

Initiatives can address issues such as mental health, early childcare, infrastructure, and tourism & business patronage, among others. Funds must be expended and final reports submitted to the Town prior to Dec. 31, 2026.

The Community Initiative Grant is also open to Town of Old Lyme Government Boards, Commissions, and Departments with initiatives that meet the objectives of the funding.

Small businesses and nonprofits can apply for both an Economic Recovery Grant and a Community Initiative Grant.

Outside of these two grants, all pandemic relief services for individuals and households will continue to be coordinated through the Town of Old Lyme Social Services Office.

Old Lyme residents who have suffered economic loss due to the pandemic are encouraged to contact the Town of Old Lyme Social Services Office at 860-434-1605 x228 or socialservices@oldlyme-ct.gov. 

The Economic Recovery Grant applications will be assessed by an outside consultant, who has been hired to oversee the grant process. The consultant has provided a similar oversight process to other Connecticut towns including East Windsor and Somers. 

The Town’s ARPA Committee will finalize the recommendations for both grant categories and submit them to the Town’s Board of Selectmen for approval. The Town will share its grant decisions on its website. 

The two grant programs are just one aspect of the Town’s total spending of the $2.162 million received in ARPA funds. The remaining funds will be allocated to town projects in the coming months. The Town’s ARPA Committee will assess the total volume of requested small business and nonprofit grants before voting on the funding cap for each category.

“The results from last December’s community survey indicated that many Old Lyme organizations had been impacted financially by the pandemic,” said Thomas Gotowka, Chairperson of the Town’s ARPA Committee.

He continued, “We now want to identify those small businesses that were hit the hardest, and those organizations that re-directed their resources in order to help us get through the crisis; and assist them with funds from Old Lyme’s grant programs.”

The fillable-pdf applications are now available at www.OldLyme-ct.gov.

Printed applications are available at the reception desk in the Old Lyme Town Hall foyer entrance.

Applications can be submitted online, postal mailed, or brought to the Town’s secured lockbox via the instructions on the application.

A complete set of rules and regulations governing the funding can be found on the application.

For more information, contact ARPA@oldlyme-ct.gov.

Old Lyme’s EDC Offers Congratulations to ‘The Stumble Inne’ with Celebratory Ribbon-Cutting

Celebrating the ribbon-cutting at The Stumble Inne are (front row, from left to right) Selectman Matthew Ward, EDC Chair Cheryl Poirier, Cyndie Caramante, Kaisea Caramante, Jim Caramante, Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker, First Selectman Tim Griswold, and EDC Member MJ DeRisio. Standing in the back row are (from left to right) EDC Members Wendy Russell and Mona Colwell, and (far right) John Stratton. All photos by Alan Poirier.

OLD LYME — The luck of the Irish held back the rain for Thursday’s ribbon cutting at The Stumble Inne on Halls Road. The Caramante family, who own the sports bar and grille and its new expansion, were celebrated for their investment in the Old Lyme community with their second food establishment in Old Lyme’s business district.

The ribbon cutting was conducted by the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC), who have begun the program to bring attention to new business in town.

First Selectman Tim Griswold and EDC Chair Cheryl Poirier both made short remarks as part of the program, each highlighting the contribution owners Jim and Cyndie Caramante make to the community. Griswold noted the many quiet days the Caramante’s stayed open for “take-out service only” at their restaurant, The Hideaway, during the height of the pandemic.

Owner Jim Caramante prepares to cut the ceremonial ribbon at The Stumble Inne with members of his family, the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen and members of the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC) in attendance. Cheryl Poirier, EDC Chair, holds the Certificate of Appreciation from the EDC that was subsequently presented to the Caramante’s.

Poirier also noted during her remarks that the day marked both the Caramante’s commitment to Old Lyme, as well as the patrons’ commitment to supporting Old Lyme businesses such as The Stumble Inne. “It’s also a testament to all of you here today, supporting our small businesses.”

The Caramante’s have been Old Lyme business owners almost 20 years since they first purchased The Hideaway from the retiring owner, Carl Lutender. Jim worked for the Lutender’s at The Hideaway a number of years before the ownership transition.

 

Cyndi and Jim Caramante pose for a photo with their daughter Kaisea, who is holding the certificate presented by the Economic Development Commission. Mona Colwell, who is a member of the EDC, stands in the rear.

Jim and Cyndie became residents of Old Lyme when their oldest child was just becoming school-aged. “We moved to Old Lyme for the school system, and I started to work for the Lutenders, who were just great people. Now my kids are grown and live here in Old Lyme. We’ve grown roots here. I’ll never leave Old Lyme.”

And when the town went quiet during the long 2020 pandemic shutdown, the Caramante’s experienced the gratitude of the community that they have nurtured here over the years. “Customers were coming in buying thousands of dollars in gift certificates just to show their support,” Jim said. “People would come in just to sit with Cyndie and do puzzles with her while she waited for take-out orders to come in.”

The newly-opened pool room at The Stumble Inne.

When The Public House closed on Halls Road during the pandemic, the Caramante’s saw it as a chance to create a place for a younger crowd than is represented by their loyal customer base at The Hideaway. They soon opened The Stumble Inne featuring live music on the weekends, karaoke and trivia nights, and now a brand new pool room. “It’s a different vibe from The Hideaway and so there is something for everyone, “ Caramante said.

Caramante added, “Everyone’s been so supportive in town of The Stumble. The first night here was madness — it was packed.”

Following the official remarks of the day, a group of about 30 people including the Caramante’s daughter Kaisea and other extended family and friends moved outside for the official ribbon-cutting with Jim Caramante holding the ceremonial scissors. Cyndi then accepted a certificate of appreciation from the EDC.

“The EDC is committed to supporting our businesses in Old Lyme,” said Poirier. “We’re hoping to continue to highlight new businesses with ribbon-cuttings, and are excited to highlight all of our businesses on our new website ExploreOldLyme.com. We are a group of volunteers, appointed by the Town, and will do our best to support our business community.”

Editor’s Note: For more information about The Stumble Inne, visit https://www.restaurantji.com/ct/old-lyme/the-stumble-inne

‘Estuary’ Magazine of Old Lyme Celebrates Second Anniversary with Spring 2022 Edition 

The cover of the Spring 2022 ‘estuary’ magazine.

OLD LYME — Estuary Magazine, Life of the Connecticut River, founded in 2020 by Estuary Ventures of Old Lyme, Conn., celebrates its second anniversary with the publication of its Spring 2022 issue available by subscription or at select retail venues the first week of March. 

Estuary is a unique publication and the only magazine dedicated to the watershed of the Connecticut River, an area twice the size of the state itself.

The source of the 409-mile-long river is near the Canadian border in New Hampshire; it flows down along the border between New Hampshire and Vermont, passing through western Massachusetts and central Connecticut to the estuary, below Middletown, Conn., with Old Saybrook and Essex on the west side, and Old Lyme and East Haddam on the east side. 

Estuary covers the watershed: its history, wildlife, plant life, recreation, conservation, restoration, art and culture.  The people and the future of the Connecticut River are captured in fascinating articles and award-winning photography.

A magazine has thus been created to reflect the rich diversity of the Connecticut River valley, its people, and its potential with content directed to the interests of the more than 2 million people, who live in the watershed. 

“We want our readers to enjoy the Estuary experience and learn through the stories, photographs and other images.,” says Dick Shriver, founder and publisher of the magazine.

He adds, “With regard to conservation and restoration, we believe that as more people learn about the challenges faced by the watershed in lay terms, more people will volunteer and contribute talent and other resources to the care of this special natural resource.”

Estuary’s readership now numbers in the thousands, more than double the number a year ago.  Advertising pages have also more than tripled in the past year.

“Our advertising partners understand and applaud Estuary’s mission and their support demonstrates their commitment to protect, preserve and restore the Connecticut River watershed,” explains Laura Lee Miller, Director of Advertising for estuary.

A story on the Lyme Land Trust can be found in the Spring 2022 edition of ‘estuary’ magazine.

Estuary works closely with the CT River Conservancy (CRC) in Greenfield, Mass.  Headed by Dr. Andrew Fiske, CRC and estuary collaborate to support the work of CRC and other non-profits operating for the benefit of the watershed.  

Thanks to a grant directed to help the magazine, all 700 participants in Lyme Land Trust’s May 22 event, the Tour de Lyme, will receive a free copy of the Spring 2022 issue.  

“The magazine itself is the best marketing tool we have,” notes Shriver, “and the more copies we can put in peoples’ hands, the more support we will have for Estuary and awareness of the work to be done.” 

An example of the type of articles found in estuary is this piece by the late Eleanor Robinson, titled, Meeting of the Waters.

Estuary magazine, is published quarterly and is available in print and online for $40 per year (four issues).  Subscribe now or give as a gift. For either option, visit this link:  https://estuarymagazine.com/subscribe/

High Hopes Appoints New Chief Development Officer

Liz Burton is the new Chief Development Officer at High Hopes.

OLD LYME — High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. has appointed Liz Burton as their new Chief Development Officer in January 2022.  Burton has over 20 years of experience in diverse professional environments, nonprofit leadership and strategic relationship engagement.

Burton’s experience in corporate relationships will be instrumental in supporting existing and fostering new community collaborations.

She looks forward to leading High Hopes in its critical fundraising endeavors as she follows in the footsteps of Sara Qua, who successfully guided the High Hopes Development Team for the past 16 years.

This next year will be one of outreach,  relationship-building and strengthening High Hopes through collaborative partnerships.

High Hopes is located at 36, Town Woods Rd. in Old Lyme, Conn.

Editor’s Note: High Hopes is a premier therapeutic riding center and international instructor-training site, accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) since 1979. It has served people with physical, emotional and developmental disabilities for more than 40 years, offering year-round programs in equine assisted activities, including therapeutic riding, carriage driving and equine learning program.

High Hopes offers experiential learning through outreach programs, an integrated summer camp program and a variety of volunteer opportunities. The organization serves over 1800 people with disabilities each year, underwriting over 70 percent of all lesson costs and providing financial aid to 100 percent of its participants.

To learn more about High Hopes programs and participants or to volunteer, visit www.highhopestr.org.

‘Old Lyme (Formerly Christiansen) Hardware’ Starts New Year With New Name, New Owners, New Hours!

Old Lyme’s newest female business owner, Jessie Talerico, stands with her father, Richard, in the former Christiansen Hardware, now known as Old Lyme Hardware. The store will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. starting tomorrow,  Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. All photos by Suzanne Thompson.

OLD LYME — Transitions are underway this week at Christiansen – make that Old Lyme – Hardware, as previous 26-year owners Bill and Nancy Christiansen hand off the keys to the Talerico family.

“Keeping it COVID!” A celebratory elbow-bump marks the official hand-over of the business from current store owner Nancy Christiansen (left) to new principal owner Jessie Talerico. The Christiansens have owned and operated the store for the past 26 years, but it was held in Nancy’s name following Bill’s official ‘retirement.’

Starting tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, Old Lyme Hardware will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, to see what are the optimal hours to be open for customers and while initial renovations are underway. A soft re-opening is planned for March.

With a background in hospitality and restaurants, Jessie, and her father Richard, who continues working in construction in Connecticut, are looking for Old Lyme Hardware to help customers find solutions – whether it’s tracking down an exotic drawer pull, fixing a screen or window or ordering a special part.

Jessica (Jessie) Talerica will be the new face of the business, getting to know her customers and helping them find what they are looking for in the store.

The new owners have already come up with ideas for original offerings and activities involving other local businesses – from a Saturday morning Coffee with a Handyman, to reconfiguring the back of the store to accommodate a garden center section. They welcome carrying plants grown by local wholesalers, too.

Stop by and say hi to the new owners and let them know what you’re looking for in a local hardware store. They are keen to meet the community’s needs.

It’s a family affair! A photo on the wall of Old Lyme Hardware pictures its new owners, the Talerico’s, from left to right, Jonathan, who is Jessie’s brother and a policeman in Michigan, father Richard, who works in construction in Connecticut, and Jessie who will be running the store.

In coming weeks, keep an eye out for a 1952 Ford F1 Old Lyme Hardware pick-up truck in the parking lot, watch for decorative indoor changes that harken back to hardware stores of the past, and watch carefully to see what else transpires in Old Lyme’s newest ‘old’ business.

Editor’s Note: Many readers will remember Bill Christiansen not only from Christiansen Hardware but also as a talented guitar played (he took up the instrument at age 12) and long-time member of the popular ‘String of Pearls’ band. 

 

 

 

 

Old Lyme’s Hall’s Rd. Improvements Committee Presents an Update for the Community, Offers New ‘Overlay Zone’ to Ease Property Owner Concerns

The Halls Road Improvements Committee is working diligently to create an improved environment for everyone along this stretch of the road between Rte. 156 and Lyme St.

OLD LYME — The Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) is currently working on three key areas of the Halls Road Master Plan, as follows:

  • rezoning the commercial district for future private development
  • grant applications for public improvement
  • signage along Halls Road.

Grants and re-zoning will require some additional funding to pay for outside technical expertise in particular areas. 

Re-zoning:

The initial re-zoning application for the Halls Rd. Village District was withdrawn on Nov. 8, in part to permit the committee to make significant revisions. 

The Village District proposal addressed the recommendations of the Master Plan but created nonconformity issues for existing properties. To meet the concerns of property owners, the committee is adopting a more flexible approach by creating a new Overlay Zone.

This new approach maintains the current C-30s zone, allowing owners to make changes to existing structures within the old regulations. If they wish to take advantage of the new opportunities, they can do so under the Overlay Zone, which permits the development of multi-family residential complexes mixed with commercial properties. 

Elements of the original Village District proposal will be included within the Overlay Zone, such as buildings set close to Halls Rd. with commercial uses on the first floor and residential allowed above or beyond the roadway.

The Overlay Zone offers incentives for residential and commercial development along Halls Rd. that not only yield greater profit for property owners but also increase Old Lyme’s tax base in the district.

Over time, this rezoning will create a vibrant, walkable, bike-able, mixed-use neighborhood focused on serving the retail and small-scale residential needs of Old Lyme. 

Grants:

The grants subcommittee will be applying for several grants to help implement the public improvements for landscaping, sidewalks, bikeways, lighting, and new crosswalks.

The largest grant from the Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP) is state-funded and will be reviewed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CT DOT.)

The BSC Group, which the Town of Old Lyme engaged to create a formal Halls Road Plan, has introduced CT DOT to the plans, but the LOTCIP review will be DOT’s first official review of the HRIC plans.

With the full master plan and engineering details in hand, CT DOT will be prepared to approve or suggest changes to create what they call “complete streets” along Halls Rd.

The committee expects to apply by late 2022 with a goal to secure a grant by 2023-2024.  

Additional grants for trails and connections will be applied for as early as January 2022. These focus on funding for the new pedestrian bridge and trails from Lyme Street and across the Lieutenant River.

Signage:

The signage subcommittee is looking to clean up the roadway signage that has gone untended for many years. This would include straightening out sign posts and/or removing repetitive signs with the goal of making way-finding clear and attractive. 

Funding:

In January, the committee will seek additional funding to cover the cost of legal help (both for zoning language and for easements along the proposed path), and for additional work from BSC Group (again, for both zoning and grants). 

Editor’s Notes: i) The HRIC welcomes comments on these revised proposals at hallsroadcommittee@oldlyme-ct.gov.  Also, if you would like to help with any aspect of the committee’s work, contact the HRIC at hallsroadcommittee@oldlyme-ct.gov.

ii) This article is based on a press release issued by the HRIC.

Christensen’s Hardware Changes Hands After 26 Years, Talericos to Take Ownership in New Year

OLD LYME — After serving the community for more than 26 years, Bill and Nancy Christensen from Christensen’s Hardware located at 54 Halls Rd. in Old Lyme have decided to pass the reins onto new owners Jessica Talerico, her brother Jonathan, and their father Richard.

Editor’s Note: We will have more on this story soon.

Old Lyme Resident Hartmann’s Company, Elm Tree Communities, Breaks Ground on Upscale, 56-Unit Development in Haddam

Jeff Hartmann of Old Lyme (fourth from right) participates in the groundbreaking for the upscale, 56-unit, multifamily community named Blueway Commons in Haddam, which Hartmann’s company, Elm Tree Communities, is planning. Photo credit: Elm Tree Communities.

“We welcome Mr. Hartmann and Elm Tree Communities’ new Blueway Commons development as an integral part of the [economic] growth [that Haddam is experiencing.]” (Haddam First Selectman Robert McGarry)

OLD SAYBROOK Last Friday, Dec. 10, Elm Tree Communities (ETC) announced that it had broken ground on Blueway Commons, an upscale, 56-unit multifamily community in Haddam, Conn.

Old Lyme resident Jeff Hartmann, founder and CEO of Elm Tree Communities. Photo courtesy of J. Hartmann.

Old Lyme resident Jeff Hartmann is the founder and CEO of ETC, a private real estate company headquartered in Old Saybrook.  Elm Tree Communities pursues real estate development and investment opportunities throughout the Northeastern U.S.

With more than two decades in CFO, COO, and CEO capacities, Hartmann now develops, implements, and oversees ETC’s development strategy and all capital markets activities in his capacity as ETC President.

Hartmann’s career, which began at at PricewaterhouseCoopers, spans the landmark casinos of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods in Connecticut and Ocean Casino in New Jersey.

Blueway Commons will consist of three two-story buildings and a state-of-the-art resident clubhouse. The project is slated to open in the winter of 2022, with preleasing to begin in the summer of 2022.

Located east of Exit 7 off Rte. 9 and 12 minutes north of I-95, the development is convenient to the Amtrak and Shoreline East trains. The complex is 15 minutes south of Middletown and I-91.

Blueway Commons is being built on Brookes Court adjacent to Rte. 154, and will consist of 56 upscale apartment homes. Conveniently located near the popular downtown Chester, nearby stores and restaurants include Adams Market, Stop and Shop, CVS, Dunkin, Cumberland Farms, The Blue Oar, Little House Brewing Company, and more.

The development is also located near the iconic Swing Bridge that links Haddam and East Haddam. It will offer residents an outdoor lifestyle near the Connecticut River with kayaking, biking trails, and waterfront dining in the surrounding area.

“This development will offer the first modern apartments in Haddam – with complete lifestyle amenities, like the health and fitness clubhouse, a co-working lounge, a community room for events, and an outdoor patio contribute to the resort-like setting and overall sense of place,” said Hartmann.

Blueway Commons will provide an attractive home for young professionals, families, and empty-nesters no longer needing a large residence. Offering a variety of floor plans to cater to an array of lifestyles, the development will feature one- and two-bedroom options ranging from 815 to 1180 sq. ft. with smart technology throughout the complex.

In 2012, the Connecticut River was declared the first National Blueway, after which Blueway Commons is named, and from which the development draws its inspiration. The upscale development is intended to offer residents a resort experience with innovation, community, wellness, and a connection to the natural environment.

The project will be completed over a 15-month construction period, with the first residents scheduled to move in in the winter of 2022.

Blueway Commons property’s community amenities will include:

  • 2,500 square foot community center.
  • Secure package system for residents.
  • Digital access control systems throughout the community
  • A state-of-the-art fitness center.
  • Co-working spaces and a lounge area.
  • A community gathering room for resident use.
  • An outdoor lounge area with grills and fire pits.
  • The community will be pet-friendly and feature an outdoor pet exercise area.

Haddam First Selectman Robert McGarry commented: “We are excited about the economic growth that Haddam is experiencing, and we welcome Mr. Hartmann and Elm Tree Communities’ new Blueway Commons development as an integral part of that growth.”

Gary Coursey & Associates of Atlanta, Georgia, is the project architect, and The Associated Construction Company of Hartford, Conn., is construction manager. Elm Tree Communities has contracted with Real Page and Lease Labs as the technology partners for the development.

Editor’s Note: This article is based on a press release issued by Elm Tree Communities.

‘The Bowerbird’ Announces Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden as Recipient for 2022 Gift Wrap Donation Program, Presents $3K Check to 2021 Recipient, ‘Safe Futures’

The Bowerbird owner, Chris Kitchings (left) presents a donation check to Margaret Soussloff, C.O.O. of Safe Futures, which is headquartered in New London, Conn.

OLD LYME — The Bowerbird of Old Lyme has selected as the recipient of the proceeds from their 2022 gift-wrap program Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden (LOLFSG). The LOLFSG is a non-profit volunteer organization with a goal of providing fresh produce to reduce food insecurity and support healthy nutrition to local families in Lyme, Old Lyme and surrounding communities.

The Bowerbird donation program runs from Nov. 1, 2021 through Oct. 31, 2022. 

The Bowerbird recently wrapped up their 2021 gift-wrapping campaign to raise funds for Safe Futures based in New London, Conn.  The Bowerbird owner Chris Kitchings recently presented a check in the amount of $3,058.00 representing 2,597 packages wrapped to the organization.

The Bowerbird charges a nominal fee for gift-wrapping purchases and donates 50 percent to local non-profit organizations. 

The Bowerbird pioneered ‘cause’ marketing when they created their gift wrap donation program in 1992. In the past 28 years, The Bowerbird has donated over $101,000 to 33 statewide and local non- profits proving that small businesses can make a difference.

Photo attached; 

For a complete listing of past recipients, visit www.thebowerbird.com.

Desperately Seeking Drivers: National Shortage of School Bus Drivers Impacting Lyme-Old Lyme Schools

The sign says it all.

LYME/OLD LYME — Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser sent out an email Sept. 22, to the school community in which he stated, “There is a national shortage of bus drivers.”

He went on to urge, “… individuals who would like to drive for our [the company which runs the school buses for LOL Schools] bus company, M&J Bus, Inc.,” to consider applying for a position.

Neviaser linked his email to a statement from M&J Bus Inc., which reads as follows:

The Covid 19 pandemic has ravaged the school transportation industry. There is a nationwide shortage of school bus drivers and Connecticut has been hit especially hard. We are seeking potential drivers to become licensed to transport school children. We are also seeking licensed drivers, who would like to earn up to $5000 in signing bonuses.

Many of our current employees, started out driving school buses because they were parents of pre-school or school-aged children and it was a way for them to supplement their family’s income and still be with their young children.

We also have many semi-retired persons that were originally looking for part-time work to stay busy, and college students earning money to get through school. Some of those parents are still with us after 20, 30,and 40 years or more.

Sadly, many of the semi-retired are becoming the fully retired.

We are hoping you see yourself in the descriptions of our drivers above. We offer a full comprehensive training program for those who are not yet licensed. Parents can bring their pre-school aged children (and school-aged children) on the bus with them (thereby saving on day care).

If you would like to drive for the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, please call our main office in Old Saybrook CT, toll-free at
1-877-GO-MJBUS (1-877-466-5287) or, if local to Old Saybrook, at 860-388-6782.

Editor’s Note: For more information about M&J Bus, Inc., visit their website.

Suisman Shapiro Atty. Kyle Zrenda Now a Member of Mohegan Gaming Disputes, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Courts

Attorney Kyle Zrenda of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law.

NEW LONDON/OLD LYME — Attorney Kyle J. Zrenda of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-At-Law was sworn in Aug. 11 as a member of the bar of the Mohegan Gaming Disputes Court. Atty. Zrenda is a resident of Old Lyme, Conn.

As a sovereign Indian Nation, cases related to the gaming enterprise of the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut, including claims for personal injuries that occurred at the Mohegan Sun resort and casino, often need to be brought in the Mohegan Gaming Disputes Court.

Atty. Zrenda is also admitted to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court, which is the tribal court for cases arising from personal injuries that occurred at Foxwoods.

Commenting on his recent admission to Mohegan Gaming Disputes Court, Attorney Zrenda said, “I am excited for the opportunity this new license presents to expand Suisman Shapiro’s tribal law practice and to protect the interests of those working at and visiting the Mohegan Sun.”

Editor’s Note: If you have been injured at either of Connecticut’s resort-casinos, contact Suisman Shapiro for a free consultation to help you navigate the complex legal issues involved with claims arising from injuries that occur on tribal lands.

Greg Shook, Essex Savings Bank President & CEO, to Retire July 31 After 47-Year-Career

Gregory R. Shook, who is retiring as President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank, after 22 years  at the helm.

OLD LYME/ESSEX — Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank, will retire after 22 years at the helm and a career spanning 47 years in banking. He is the longest serving president and CEO in Connecticut and will retire on July 31.

A Westport, Conn., native and  Madison resident, Shook began his career as a management trainee in 1974 in a  subsidiary of Philadelphia National Corporation, Signal Finance and Mortgage, Fairfax,  Va. He managed their Cleveland office and then became a Vice President at State Home Savings in Bowling Green, Ohio.

In December 1984, he joined First Federal Savings of Madison, Conn. In 1987, he joined Branford Savings Bank where he rose to  Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary and was named Interim President and CEO where he found a right’s offering used for manufacturing companies to successfully raise capital to support the bank’s continued existence via a 1991 stock offering.

Highlights of his career include being elected by his peers and serving five years as a Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, a $62 billion bank, from  2015 – 2019. He was also appointed to serve on the first two years of the Federal Reserve of Boston Community Depository Institution Advisory Committee (CDIAC)  mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act to provide input from Banks under $10 billion to the Federal Reserve system.  

Professional associations have included the Connecticut Bankers Association, legislative committee, executive committee and the American Bankers Association Mutual Institutions Advisory Committee. He serves on the Board of Essex Savings Bank and Essex Financial Services. Following his retirement, he will continue to serve on the  Essex Savings Bank Board of Directors.

He is a corporator of the Middlesex Health  Care System (parent of Middlesex Hospital). He is also on the advisory committees of  the Community Music School and the leadership counsel of the Middlesex Coalition on  Housing and Homelessness.  

In 2011 Shook received the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Distinguished  Citizen Award and was elected Chairman in 2016 and continues to serve on its Executive Committee and its Board of Directors.

He has been recognized by numerous organizations for his dedication to community service and has served on non-profit boards and advisory committees. He was a finalist in the New England Division of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year program in 2009. He has been a featured speaker for a variety of seminars and radio shows.  

During his tenure, Essex Savings Bank grew its assets from $110 million to over $525  million, expanded its physical footprint from four to six branches, participated in the  growth of assets under management or administration of Essex Financial Services from $700 million to $3.2 billion and Essex Trust from a de novo to $871 million and has  rolled out new technology and capabilities leading the Bank through the pandemic.

He  is the 17th President since 1851. The Bank is currently celebrating 170 years of service and trust to the community.  

Shook commented, “The best part of Banking is building long term relationships and I am so appreciative of  everyone’s support and trust over the years. I am extremely proud of what we’ve been  able to accomplish together for both our customers and the communities in which we serve. It has been both my great privilege and honor to work with so many dedicated  and talented people – the absolute best.”

Looking to the future, Shook said, “I am confident that Essex Savings Bank will continue to garner new relationships and remain an outstanding business serving the  personal and business banking, trust and investment needs of the community. On Aug. 1, I am pleased to turn the business over to Diane Arnold, formerly our Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer as she will be our 18th President and CEO,  who is poised to lead this business to new heights.”

During the month of July, Shook will be looking forward to wishing many of his customers, friends and colleagues a fond farewell as he embarks on his next voyage.  

Editor’s Notes: i) This article was prepared from a press release issued by Essex Savings Bank.

ii) Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with  six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Division, Essex Trust and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc.

Old Lyme Town Attorneys Suisman Shapiro Name New Managing Partner, Welcome Two Attorneys  

Atty. Eric Callahan of Old Saybrook is the newly-appointed Managing Partner of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

NEW LONDON/OLD LYME — Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law has announced that Eric W. Callahan will serve as the firm’s next  Managing Partner. Callahan joined the firm in 2004 and was elevated to Director in 2011; he was  unanimously appointed to the top leadership position by the board of directors on May 3.

The firm is also  pleased to announce the addition of two new lawyers, Laura A. Raymond and Samuel M. Nassetta, who will  practice in the firm’s litigation department.  

“Eric Callahan is a skilled attorney and demonstrated leader who embodies the institutional values of Suisman  Shapiro and will effectively lead our law firm into the next generation,” said John A. Collins, III, of Old Lyme, former Managing Partner of the firm.  

“We are pleased to welcome Laura Raymond and Sam Nassetta to our litigation team. These new hires  demonstrate the firm’s enduring commitment to outstanding client service,” Eric W. Callahan added. 

Eric W. Callahan, an Old Saybrook resident, concentrates his practice in the areas of business law, municipal law,  commercial transactions and real estate law. Attorney Callahan also practices appellate law and has successfully  briefed and argued numerous appeals before the Connecticut Appellate Court and Connecticut Supreme Court.  

Since 2013, Eric Callahan has been recognized by Super Lawyers for his work in business and corporate law; no  more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected for this honor. 

Laura A. Raymond will focus her practice on general litigation including municipal, commercial and personal injury  law. She received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2018 where she  was the Articles Editor for the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal. Attorney Raymond resides in Norwich and  previously worked as an attorney representing clients in complex medical malpractice, products liability, multi district litigations, premise liability, workers’ compensation, and bad faith actions. 

Samuel M. Nassetta received his J.D. from the Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2020. During law school, he  served as a Legal Aid Intern for the Columbus House Shelter in New Haven, CT, where he worked with clients on  custody cases and misdemeanor charges. He also interned with the Division of Public Defender Services in New  London, Stamford and New Britain courts. Attorney Nassetta lives in New London and was admitted to the  Connecticut bar in December 2020. He represents criminal, employment and workers’ compensation clients. 

Suisman Shapiro is the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut, serving the community for over 75 years with a  wide range of legal services. 

Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law is located at 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591, New London CT 06320 For more information, visit www.suismanshapiro.com or call (860) 442-4416

Big Y Withdraws Application for Gas Station/Convenience Store on Halls Rd., But Another Similar Application May be Planned Nearby

The site of the proposed Big Y Express at the western end of Halls Rd. in Old Lyme.

OLD LYME — In a letter dated May 10, addressed to Rachel Gaudio, Chairman of Old Lyme’s Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission, Ryan Scrittorale, PE, Project Manager at Benesch requested the commission to withdraw the application made on behalf of his client, Big Y Foods, Inc. for the “development at 99 Halls Rd. and 25 Neck Rd.”

The proposal was for a 2,100 sq. ft. convenience mart and a gas station on a site surrounding Essex Savings Bank that is currently vacant and partially cleared. The application stated that the fuel system consists of six dispensers under a protective canopy and two double wall fiberglass underground fuel tanks with electronic monitoring.

Scrittorale’s letter states, “Big Y Foods, Inc. has prided itself on being a Neighborhood Supermarket and is vested in the community of Old Lyme.”

5/12 UPDATE: We are now hearing via a social media post that a Letter of Intent has been signed for the purchase of 100 Halls Rd. with a view to submitting a proposal to construct a gas station/convenience store on that site  We contacted the person, who wrote the post, to verify it. The person does not wish to be identified in this article but states their  source is ‘reliable.’

100 Halls Rd is immediately opposite the 99 Halls Rd./25 Neck Rd. discussed above. If traveling up Halls Rd. from Lyme St., 100 Halls Rd. is the blue building on the left-hand-side of Halls Rd. where it meets Neck Rd. The Big Y proposal was for the right-hand-side of Halls Rd. at the same location. 

We will publish more information as we obtain further details.

 

Registration Open at Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center for Variety of Summer, Fall Programs

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center (OLCLC) at 57 Lyme St. is opening enrollment for the following programs:

Preschool/Kindergarten Summer Experiences: (June 28 -Aug. 6)

A six-week summer program open to children ages 3-6. Families can sign up for any amount of weeks, but programs are limited to 16 per week.  

Each week has a different theme, and events and activities will revolve around that theme.  Themes include: gardening, camping, construction, water fun, zoo and the Olympics. Reading and mathematics are built into all themes, and younger students will be provided with a rest time each day. 

There is also an option of before and/or after care for families who work. 

Programs are filling up quickly, so send your registration paperwork in ASAP. The cost per week is $300.00 for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. care.  

FALL, WINTER & SPRING PROGRAMS

Registration is now being accepted for enrollment into the following programs:

Infant Program:  Six (6) weeks to twelve (12) months

Transition program:  Twelve (12) months to two (2) years

Toddlers:  Two (2) years to four (4) years

For more specifics and to receive OLCLC registration forms, email: office.olclc@gmail.com

Old Lyme’s Inland Wetlands Commission Continues Public Hearing on Big Y’s Controversial Gas Station/Convenience Store Proposal to Next Month

The site of the proposed Big Y Express at the western end of Halls Rd. in Old Lyme. Map courtesy of the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee.

OLD LYME — Around 50 people joined Tuesday’s Public Hearing for the proposal presented by Big Y Foods for a gas station/convenience store at 99 Halls Rd. and 25 Neck Rd., which was hosted Tuesday via Webex by the Old Lyme Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission (IWWC).

According to the application submitted to the IWWC, the proposal is for a 2,100 sq. ft. convenience mart and a gas station on a site surrounding Essex Savings Bank that is currently vacant and partially cleared. The application states that the fuel system consists of six dispensers under a protective canopy and two double wall fiberglass underground fuel tanks with electronic monitoring.

The IWWC’s role is to assess whether there is potential for significant impact to the watercourses located on the property proposed for the development. Commission Chairman Rachael Gaudio stressed both at the Feb. 23 meeting of the IWWC and at this meeting that it is not under this commission’s purview to consider zoning, planning or traffic matters.

The Commission had received written responses from the project engineer for the applicant, Ryan Scrittorale, PE, of Alfred Benesch & Co. to comments by the IWWC engineer Thomas Metcalfe and soil scientist Eric Davison of Davison Environmental. These have been published on the Town website at this link.

Since Martin Brogie, of Martin Brogie, Inc., the applicant’s soil scientist, was not able to attend the meeting due to being hospitalized for COVID, the applicant’s attorney, Robin Pearson, requested that the hearing be continued until next month.

The commission heard testimony from Dr. Michael W. Klemens, who has a PhD in Ecology/Conservation Biology. He was introduced by Marjorie Shansky, the attorney representing the intervenor at  85 Halls Road, LLC.

Krewson said that a major problem he was facing in terms of assessing the environmental impact of the proposed project was that “We don’t know where the boundary of the vernal pool is … we need to understand where the vernal pool is … to determine what is present in the vernal pool.” He noted that the most recent data available is from 2006, but emphasized, “There needs to be a lot more detail.”

He noted, “Wood frogs are a unique and special case. They are actually involved in nutrient recycling,” adding, “We need to see robust data on biodata.” Klemens said he would assume, “The majority of the migration comes from the north,” but stressed again, “We need to know [what is at the vernal pool.]”

The owner of the adjoining property Brain Farnham at 29 Neck Rd. responded to comments that he was not permitting access to his property to inspect the vernal pool. He said, “There are diucks in that pond. It’s their breeding season. That’s why I’m resisting people walking on my property.”

Gaudio countered that, as someone who had obtained two bachelor’s degrees, one in Biological Sciences and the second in Wildlife Conservation and Mangement, prior to attending law school and receiving a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy, she understood Farnham’s concerns. She stated, however, “I don’t think a scientist would go out and be a big impact [on the property or duck nests],” noting the inspection would primarily involve walking around the edge of the pool and looking for evidence of wildlife.

Chairman Gaudio agreed to continue the hearing until Tuesday, April 27, at 6 p.m., when it will be held again via Webex. She urged all parties, including members of the public, to submit any further comments by the end of the day on April 26.

The Public hearing will likely be closed on April 27, but the IWWC will not necessarily vote on the proposal at that meeting.

Editor’s Note: The full Minutes of the meeting have now been published on the Town of Old Lyme website at this link.

 

 

Old Lyme Brokerage Manager Heather Gagnon Named William Pitt–Sotheby’s Realty ‘2020 Manager of the Year’

Heather Gagnon of Old Lyme has been named William Pitt-Sotheby’s 2020 Manager of the Year.

OLD LYME — William Pitt – Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty today announced that Heather Gagnon, manager of the firm’s Old Lyme, Conn., brokerage, has been named the company’s 2020 Manager of the Year.

Gagnon was chosen from among 17 brokerage managers for the honor, winning the award for the first time in her career with the firm and after only one year in the role of Brokerage Manager.

“I am proud to announce Heather Gagnon as our Manager of the Year, an honor well deserved,” said Paul Breunich, President and Chief Executive Officer of William Pitt – Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty.

He continued, “Her skillful approach to disciplines such as training, coaching, business development and social media has enabled her to offer unparalleled support to her agents, helping them in turn to provide the highest level of service to buyers and sellers, as well as target high net worth clients.”

Asked how she felt about receiving the award, Gagnon told LymeLine.com exclusively, “This is such a great honor.”

With 20 years of expertise in real estate, Gagnon took over the position of Brokerage Manager in Old Lyme in March 2020. Since that time she has grown the office by attracting top talent in New London County, including some of the highest producing agents by dollar volume county-wide.

Gagnon first joined William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in 2016 as the Director of Business Development for the firm’s Connecticut Shoreline offices, specializing in training and coaching agents to increase their production levels.

She was promoted to Assistant Manager for the Essex and Old Lyme brokerages in 2019. In that role she helped grow market share and developed a new agent training program that resulted in the offices achieving status as the top producing brokerages company-wide for new to business agents for two years in a row.

Gagnon additionally owns a real estate school in Connecticut that focuses on educating future real estate professionals throughout the state.

Editor’s Notes: i) This is article is based on a press release issued by William Pitt – Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty.
ii) Founded in 1949, William Pitt – Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty manages a $5.9 billion portfolio with more than 1,100 sales associates in 26 brokerages spanning Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Westchester County, N.Y. The company is one of the largest Sotheby’s International Realty(R) affiliates globally and the 37th-largest real estate by sales volume in the United States. For more information, visit williampitt.com.