August 2, 2021

Lymes’ Senior Center Directors Host Special Meeting, Wednesday; Point One Architects to Lead Workshop Related to Feasibility Study

A workshop to support the feasibility study of the Lymes’ Senior Center on Town Woods Rd. in Old Lyme is planned on Wednesday.

LYME/OLD LYME — The Lymes’ Senior Center Board of Directors will hold a Special Meeting Wednesday, Aug. 4, at 1 p.m. The public is welcome to join the meeting either in person at the Lymes’ Senior Center or virtually — see  instructions for the latter below.

The main purpose of the meeting is for Point One Architects to lead the second workshop related to the feasibility study for the expansion/renovations of the Center.  Workshop participants will include the board of directors and invited stakeholders.

All Covid-19 protocols will be met including social distancing and the wearing of masks.

The agenda is follows:

  1. Call to order /attendance of board and public
  2. Guests – Point One Architects

III. Minutes of June, 2021 meeting – tabled until next regular meeting

  1. Treasurer’s report – Tabled until next regular meeting
  2. Communications – Thank you note
  3. Committee Reports – none

VII. Old Business – none

VIII. New Business

  • Welcome Point One Architects for the second workshop for the feasibility study.  Participants include the Board of Directors and invited stakeholders to conduct this workshop agenda:
  1. Review Workshop I Results
  2. M.E.P. Findings (Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing)
  3. Diagrams
  4. Pro’s and Con’s Discussion
  5. Public Comment –

X.  Adjournment – Any additional meetings needed before September 2021 will be called as special meetings.

Instructions for joining the meeting via Zoom:

Visit this link: https://zoom.us/j/93808736678?pwd=Q2tjdUJTK1V6YjB3cVVtUWNmeUN1Zz09
Meeting ID: 938 0873 6678
Passcode: 095877
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,93808736678#,,,,*095877# US (Chicago)
+19292056099,,93808736678#,,,,*095877# US (New York)
To find your local number, visit https://zoom.us/u/acVzDIdz3X

Halls Rd. Improvement Committee Hosts Open House at Old Lyme Town Hall, Saturday; Members Will Present New Plans, Discuss Next Steps

The boards showing the plans are on display in the front foyer of the Town Hall for members of the public to review at their leisure.

Editor’s Note: We have been asked by the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee to share this June 2021 update with our readers.

OLD LYME — Phase II of the Halls Road Plan has been completed by our consultants the BSC Group. This includes maps and descriptions of the new public right of way improvements, and a look at a range of private development opportunities that will be enabled by the new Village District zoning.

Two key drawings from the final Halls Road Plan are on display in the foyer of Memorial Town Hall and can be viewed during open hours.

Committee members and BSC team will be at Town Hall for another Open House on Sunday, Aug. 8, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. to discuss the plan and answer questions.

The Master Plan Booklet is also available online at this link.

This phase represents the formal conceptual plan for the future Halls Road Village District. BSC will complete additional detailed work in support of the plan (as described below) in the coming weeks.

The Town of Old Lyme is responsible for improvements to the public right of way.

The formal Halls Road Plan will aid the town in securing grants to help offset the costs of construction. The changes in zoning – creating a mixed-use Village District along Halls Road with a supporting set of Design Guidelines – are tools to guide future private development and investment along Halls Road.

Under the current contract, BSC Group will also help with next steps in regulatory approvals, grants, zoning, and design guidelines. 

Visit the Old Lyme Town Hall to review the boards showing the Halls Rd. plans n person.

Next Steps for Public Right of Way Improvements:

  • Obtain approvals from CT DOT and other agencies. (BSC)
  • Provide a comprehensive list of available grants for Public Right of Way construction. (BSC)
  • Provide grant writing assistance to apply for grants. (BSC)
  • Apply for grants. (Town)

Next Steps in Guiding Future Private Investment in the Halls Road Village District:

  • Provide recommended zoning language changes to describe a new mixed-use Village District for the Halls Road area. (BSC)
  • Help those responsible to finalize zoning language for the new Village District. (BSC)
  • Create architectural Design Guidelines to supplement Village District zoning. (BSC)

Lyme DTC Endorses Slate of 14 Candidates for November Elections; Mattson, Kiker Running for Reelection to BOS

Lyme First Selectman Steve Mattson (right) and Lyme Selectman John Kiker, both Democrats, are both running for reelection in November 2021.

LYME – The Lyme Democratic Town Committee (DTC) has announced that, at a local Democratic caucus and committee meeting held July 27, a slate of 14 Democratic candidates was nominated and endorsed to run in the Nov. 2 municipal elections.  

Lyme First Selectman Steven Mattson and Selectman John Kiker received unanimous endorsements  for reelection – as did the other 12 Lyme residents who will be running for public office in November. 

In announcing the candidate slate, Lyme DTC Nominating Committee Chairperson Liz Frankel said,  “For the upcoming election, in addition to Steven and John, who have done a superb job of leading Lyme, we have recruited a select group of individuals who are not only highly qualified, but also extremely interested in serving the town we all love and cherish.” 

Four of the candidates – Anne Littlefield, Jim Miller, Laura Mooney and Alan Sheiness – are running  for public office for the first time, motivated by their love of the town and desire to be of service. 

Endorsed Lyme Democratic candidates for the November 2021 election are, from left to right, John Kiker, Alan Sheiness, Mary Stone, Bob House, Anna James, Toni Phillips, Phyllis Ross, Steve Mattson. Missing: Fred Harger, Ann Littlefield, Jim Miller, Laura Mooney.

Running for election this year will be: 

  • Bob House for Board of Finance 
  • Alan Sheiness for Board of Finance 
  • Jim Miller for Board of Finance Alternate 
  • Mary Stone for Library Board of Directors 
  • Laura Mooney for Library Board of Directors 
  • Phyllis Ross for Planning & Zoning Commission 
  • Mary Stone for Planning & Zoning Commission Alternate 
  • Anne Littlefield for Planning & Zoning Commission Alternate 
  • Anna James for Board of Education 
  • Fred Harger for Zoning Board of Appeals 
  • Toni Phillips for Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate 

Running for reelection will be: 

  • Steven Mattson for First Selectman 
  • John Kiker for Selectman and Zoning Board of Appeals 

The Lyme DTC’s mission is to support and strengthen the Democratic Party in the Town of Lyme  and the State of Connecticut. 

Editor’s Note: This article is based on a press release issued this afternoon, July 28, by the Lyme DTC.

After 10 Years Service, Nosal Explains Her Decision Not to Seek Reelection to Old Lyme BOS; Will Run For Zoning Commission

“It has been a privilege to serve the residents of Old Lyme as a Selectwoman for the past 10 years.” (Mary Jo Nosal)

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal is not seeking reelection. (File photo)

OLD LYME — Mary Jo Nosal has served as Old Lyme Selectman for the past 10 years, but when the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee (OL DTC) announced their slate of candidates for the upcoming November election, her name was against neither the position of Selectman nor First Selectman.

Asked by phone why that was the case, she said simply, “It’s time after 10 years for new ideas.”

She added, “It has been a privilege to serve the residents of Old Lyme as a Selectwoman [for that time.]”

Additionally in an e-mailed statement, Nosal said, “I chose not to run for the Board of Selectmen as I believe it is time for … other qualified individuals to serve.”
Commenting on the OL DTC’s selection of Martha Shoemaker  and Jim Lampos for the top spots, Nosal stated, “I support the exceptionally qualified and enthusiastic candidates endorsed by the OL DTC. Martha Shoemaker for First Selectman and Jim Lampos for the Board of Selectmen are experienced, eminently qualified and know Old Lyme. They will work hard for the community.”
Although not running for the board of selectmen, Nosal’s name is on the slate as a candidate for the Old Lyme Zoning Commission. Asked about that decision, she explained, “I am ready, if elected, to focus my energies on the Zoning Commission.”
Noting in her statement that there is, “Important work facing the Old Lyme Zoning Commission,” she said, “I believe my experience will bring value to the Zoning Commission.”

 

Old Lyme DTC Announces Candidates for November Election; Shoemaker To Challenge Griswold as First Selectman with Lampos as Running Mate

Martha Shoemaker will challenge Time Griswold (R) for the position of First Selectman in November. Photo from Region18.org website.

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee (OL DTC) announced their slate of candidates for the November election in a press release this afternoon.

The announcement was released by Christine Giaquinto, OL DTC Chairman, and read as follows:

‘After thoughtful consideration, the OL DTC is proud to endorse the following candidates for the November 2021 municipal election. All of these candidates are qualified and ready to lead the Town of Old Lyme as we look to the future. They all believe in transparency and accountability in government and they will listen, communicate and advocate for good, equitable and fiscally responsible policy.
First Selectman – Martha H. Shoemaker
11/16/2021-11/21/2023
Selectman – Jim Lampos
11/16/2021-11/21/2023
Board of Assessment Appeals – George C. Finley
11/16/2021-11/18/2025
Board of Finance – Anna S. Reiter
11/16/2021-11/16/2027
Board of Finance – Bradley Mock
11/16/2021-11/16/2027
Board of Finance – Kim Russell Thompson
11/16/2021-11/18/2025 (to fill a vacancy for 4 years)
Board of Finance alternate – Sarah E. Michaelson
11/16/2021-11/21/2023
Board of Finance alternate – Katherine Thuma
11/16/2021-11/21/2023
Planning Commission – Rob McCarthy
11/15/2022-11/16/2027
Planning Commission – Jim Lampos
11/16/2021-11/17/2026
Regional Board of Education – Martha H. Shoemaker
12/1/2021-12/1/2025
Regional Board of Education – Alexander Lowry
12/1/2021-12/1/2025
Regional Board of Education – Jason L. Kemp
12/1/2021-12/1/2025
Regional Board of Education – Marisa Calvi-Rogers
12/1/2021-12/1/2025
Zoning Board of Appeals – Kip Kotzan
11/16/2021-11/17/2026
Zoning Board of Appeals – Russell Fogg
11/15/2022-11/16/2027
Zoning Board of Appeals alternate – Kathleen Tracy
11/16/2021-11/21/2023
Zoning Commission – Maria Martinez
11/16/2021-11/17/2026
Zoning Commission – Mary Jo Nosal
11/15/2022-11/16/2027

UPDATED: Lyme Selectmen Approve Equality Resolution

LYME — Latest Comment Posted 7/16: UPDATED 7/12, 11:30pm, with Lyme Selectman’s comments (in red): According to the published minutes of the Lyme Board of Selectmen’s (BOS) meeting held Tuesday, July 6, the board approved a motion to adopt, “a Resolution supporting equality.”

The Lyme Sustainability Committee had proposed adoption of the Resolution, “both for its affirmative value along with the points awarded for such a resolution adoption as the committee moves forward to gaining state recognition as a Sustainable Community.”

Selectman John Kiker (D) proposed the motion and Selectman Parker Lord (R) seconded it.

Asked by email how he felt about the Lyme BOS approving the Resolution, Selectman Kiker responded, “The resolution is a public reaffirmation of the Town’s longstanding policies and values, which moves us closer to our goal of becoming a SustainableCT community.”

He continued, “Lyme has long had policies in place prohibiting discrimination of any kind, and strives to live up to the promise of those policies,” concluding, “Lyme is a welcoming, inclusive community that believes in the founding American principle that all people are created equal.”

The following is the full text of the Resolution that was passed:

RESOLUTION SUPPORTING EQUALITY FOR ALL 

WHEREAS, racism and racial prejudice have been a part of our nations long history; and 

WHEREAS, racism causes persistent discrimination and disparate outcomes in many areas of life, including housing, education, employment, health status and criminal justice; and 

WHEREAS, our nation was founded on the principal that All Men (and Women) Are Created Equal; and 

WHEREAS, discrimination against any group of people is contrary to our belief in, and our value of, equality; and 

WHEREAS, discrimination in any form carries a social and economic cost; and 

WHEREAS, Lyme considers itself a welcoming and inclusive community

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of the Selectmen of the Town of Lyme hereby

Reaffirms our value and belief that All People are Created Equal

Disavows any words or actions that would discriminate against any group of people, including, but not limited to, discrimination based upon race, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation or identity, disability, or economic status

Declares that the Town and its government will act in ways to prevent and remove discrimination and will not accept discrimination in any form from its employees and volunteers

Supports efforts in the community and schools that will educate on issues of equality

Supports efforts to reduce economic inequality in the Town of Lyme.

Editor’s Note: More to follow on this developing story.

Old Lyme Town Hall Says Farewell to its “Greeter,” who “Performed Admirably … Added New Dimensions” to the Position (Griswold)

Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold stands with Town Hall Greeter Chris Kirk, whom Griswold described as having, “Served admirably.” Kirk left his position Friday to pursue new ventures.

OLD LYME — Chris Kirk, a recent graduate of Lyme-Old Lyme High School, has been serving as the Old Lyme Town Hall “Greeter” since December, 2020. The newly-created position was required due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Kirk left the job last Friday to take up a job at a summer camp in New Hampshire and a celebration in his honor was held in the town hall.

The fact that the celebration was held reflects not only Kirk’s efficiency in his work as the “Greeter,” but also his universal popularity among town hall employees and members of the public with whom he interacted.

Asked to comment on Kirk’s service to the town, Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold said, “He has performed admirably. His polite and friendly manner motivated numerous visitors to Town Hall to tell me how refreshing their experiences were when dealing with him.  He uniformly went beyond what was expected to make sure they received excellent service.”

Griswold continued, “During slow times, Chris was a voracious reader of second-hand books from the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Book Cellar. The books covered a wide variety of subjects and he enjoyed talking eloquently about them.”

Noting that Kirk often exceeded his official job expectations, Griswold mentioned, “During a February snow storm, Chris took it upon himself to grab a snow shovel and cleared the sidewalk leading to Town Hall,” adding with a chuckle,  “That was certainly not part of the job description!”

Speaking on behalf of all the staff at town hall, Griswold wished Kirk, “All success as he moves on to his next endeavor,” noting, “He has added new dimensions to the “Greeter” job description and we thank him for performing so well.”

Large Crowd Approves All Items at Lyme Budget Meeting, Including Restoration of Open Space Funding to $1 Million

More than 200 people gathered on the green in front of Lyme Town Hall for Wednesday evening’s Budget Meeting. Photo submitted.

LYME — Some 225 residents turned out Wednesday wearing masks and carrying their folding chairs to attend the Lyme Annual Budget Meeting, which was held outdoors starting at 5 p.m. on the Lyme Consolidated School playing field.

Don Gerber, standing with microphone, served as Moderator for the meeting. Photo by Emily Bjornberg.

Don Gerber moderated the meeting.

All six items on the agenda were subsequently approved, most unanimously.

The meeting drew an unusually large attendance due to the Open Space issue. Photo by Emily Bjornberg.

The agenda item, which had drawn the huge (by Lyme standards) crowd was Item 5, namely the resolution to re-establish the goal for the Open Space Fund at $1 million for next year and to direct the Board of Finance to provide town contributions to the fund to maintain that level.

Several people spoke in support of Item 5 including Lyme First Selectman Steven Mattson, Open Space Commission member Anthony Irving, Tina West and Judy Schaff.

The Annual Budget Meeting was held outdoors under sunny skies. Photo by Emily Bjornberg.

Those who spoke against the Item 5 motion included Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Dan Hagan and Mary Powell-St.Louis, who is a member of the Region 18 Board of Education.
Agenda item 5 was ultimately approved by a vote of 202-10.

Op-Ed: Since Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Have Been Open All Year, Why Has OL Park & Rec. Summer Camp Been Cancelled?

Editor’s Note: This op-ed was submitted by Melissa Chapps of Old Lyme. It was updated May 10, at 1:40 p.m.

Being the only school district in the region to offer full-time, in-person learning, from the start of the school year, Old Lyme chose to be “all in”. In doing so, we have been the leader in how it is possible to safely reopen. We have been the model, not only to our neighboring towns, but to the State as a whole. We were the example for other towns to follow. We understood that this was vital for our children’s educational, social, and emotional development and pledged to do whatever it took. Hence with the tremendous effort of our entire community – our citizens, administrators, teachers, parents, and, most importantly, our children – we have gone above and beyond to make it happen.

Thus, with Connecticut recording not only its lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in weeks, but also the highest vaccination rates in the country, we were going into summer with a sense of confidence and optimism. The State is reopening, school sports have resumed, restaurant and social gathering restrictions lifted, masks mandates eased. Our new normal was emerging. And after such a challenging year, and the State’s emphasis on local, affordable summer programs, and making the accessibility of such options a top priority, children were looking forward to summer day camps …well, that is, except if you live in Old Lyme.

After being the leader all school year, and after our children proving that they can succeed indoors, Old Lyme now says that the risk of COVID-19 exceeds the benefits of offering its Parks and Recreation Summer Day Camp. The reality of it is they never seriously gave it much consideration to begin with. 

This lack of endeavoring was most evident in the recent Old Lyme’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting as constituents were turned away and told that they could not physically attend a meeting that was listed as public on the town website, with the location listed as Meeting Hall on the town calendar, and verbally told by the Selectmen’s office that they could appear in person. We were shut out, left to watch from the windows, directed that we could only call in, as the Commission met inside, unmasked, in a room filled with empty chairs. To say we were bewildered was an understatement.

We were there for our children to show support in the reinstatement of the Summer Day Camp. And while we are thankful that the Commission insinuated that they are now open to entertaining ideas, it is marked by great skepticism. The fact that the Summer Day Camp program was not a top priority months ago is a shame and a true let-down by our leadership. We never imagined that our town, which proudly stood as a model all school year, would stop now, as the entire rest of the State paves the way. Our communal efforts thrown to the wayside. As parents, the thought that Old Lyme would not run its Summer Day Camp never even crossed our minds. The idea that we would abandon our “all in” philosophy just because the school year is over was unfathomable. That should have been reason enough to make sure it happened. 

While the Commission asserts that the risk of COVID-19 is far too great for the Summer Day Camp, these same concerns are obsolete when it comes to sports. The fact that so much energy has been, and continues to be, focused solely on ensuring the safe resumption of sport programs and the “fair” usage of our town facilities, from lacrosse to soccer to rowing, is hypocritical. The notion and seemingly justification, of having 225 children playing lacrosse, albeit not all together at the same time, but instead having contact with other children, from other communities, in the playing of such games, while advocating for the equal distribution of playing fields, even calling out other town’s “unwillingness”, thus necessitating us to play throughout the region, and then coming back into our schools and our community is “safer” than running our Summer Parks and Rec Day Camp is nonsensical.

And that is just one sport – it does not even take into account all the hundreds of contacts from all the other sports, from players to spectators, and consequential other points of contact from restaurants to stores, wherein the numbers in totality are virtually immeasurable. But then the Commission has the audacity to imply that contact tracing is only an impediment to the Summer Day Camp – this defies logic. It shows a true lack of rationale and undermines what is even of the Commission’s stated concern. 

The Commission then tried to briefly, and selectively, talk COVID facts, again with only reference to its effects on the Summer Day Camp, as if sport programs are somehow immune. They brought up outdated and inaccurate data, while mentioning recent articles in the paper about other towns, the same towns that we play all our sports in and vice versa. Perhaps they did not realize that in doing so they are not only undermining their agenda against the cancellation of the Summer Day Camp, but they are belittling our remarkable accomplishments, for yes, our neighboring towns have struggled, but this should only strengthen the call for our local Summer Day Camp.

And perhaps they are not aware that many of us actually work on the frontlines and know the real data firsthand. They also failed to examine the toll COVID-19 has had on our children’s mental and emotional health – and how the research overwhelming demonstrates that the continuation of social and enrichment programs, such as the Summer Day Camp, is so desperately needed throughout the summer.

As such, we would like to offer some viable options to implement to ensure the successful and safe reopening of our Summer Day Camp. We can look at the actions our schools and of our children who have proven they can do it – and no, we do not have to worry about them “hugging” as one Commission member tried to use as an excuse. Our children have exemplified all school year they have what it takes to make this possible. We can also look to how our neighboring towns, who once looked to us, are running their programs. We present these options as a starting point and welcome the Commission to build upon them:

  • Push back start date and end date by 1 week
  • Reduce/Limit the number of attendees
  • Restrict residency in that Old Lyme Parks and Rec. Summer Day Camp would be for Old Lyme residents only, and Lyme Parks and Rec. would have to run their own program separately for their residents
  • Use cohorts wherein children are grouped together by grade groups with limited number of children per group
  • Utilize all the town facilities, not just the high school, but all schools and parks
  • Have a large pavilion-style tent for rainy days activities while splitting/rotating gymnasium usage at said locations
  • Require that all employees must be vaccinated
  • Utilize and collaborate with the Ledge Light Health District for contact tracing and inquire about PPE needs and availability
  • Require not only that all children wear masks, but they must provide backups
  • Increase enrollment cost – even though our surplus from last year should cover much of any added expense
  • Ask for volunteers and community involvement of participating families; The residents of Old Lyme have a strong communal foundation, and many would happily give their time and/or resources, donate PPE and cleaning supplies, and more – this is supported by the over 130 signatures collected in support of running our Summer Day Camp 

In closing, we think it is important to note that we are in no way trying to suggest that sport programs should not run, but instead we are trying to uphold equality for all programs. The Parks and Recreation Summer Day Camp was the only safe, affordable, and consistent program for the children within the community, to stay within the community all summer long. And the only sustainable option of those children who do not play sports. By sending our children to different weekly camps throughout the region, it is not only significantly more costly, but we are also expanding our exposure and putting our children, their families, and the community at undue risk

As a community we should stand together and acknowledge the social, emotional, and psychological impact that all our local programs have on our youths. They need this now more than ever. 

It is our hope that we can work together for the betterment and empowerment of our collective community.

Let us be “all in” together.

Old Lyme EDC Recommends Declaration of Zoning Approval Moratorium on Halls Rd. Projects

OLD LYME — The following resolution was approved by seven members present at the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission’s regular monthly meeting held Wednesday, May 5. One member, Margaret Jane DeRisio, abstained citing a possible conflict of interest.

The Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC) is tasked with supporting and encouraging a vibrant and sustainable business climate in Old Lyme, scaled to the resources and needs of the town. We seek the optimum development of business opportunities in Old Lyme. The mix of businesses in a particular area such as Halls Road can have a significant impact on the climate for all businesses there, current and future. Planning, therefore, becomes important. 

Because Halls Road connects the northbound and southbound halves of Exit 70 on I-95, its current commercial-only zoning makes it most attractive (in the current business climate) to regional and national chains whose businesses are aimed at highway traffic, and not at the needs of our small town. 

For decades Old Lyme’s planning documents have explicitly said the town should give preference to businesses that support the needs of the town and discourage those aimed at servicing I-95 traffic. They have sought to prevent Halls Road from becoming a series of truck stops and fast-food venues. 

Halls Road has only a limited space that can ever be developed. The town should do what it can to ensure that this limited area is developed in such a way as to best serve the needs of the town and its businesses, present and future. Each new development has an impact on the range of possible future developments. If the Halls Road plan calls for mixed use in a walkable, bicycle-friendly, town-center environment, then each new development in that area must support that long-term goal. Any step in a contrary direction (e.g. toward truck stops, warehouses, factories, big-box stores, etc.) works to prevent the accomplishment of the long-term goal, and should be prohibited or strongly discouraged in this area. These contrary developments are not just sub-optimal uses of a limited resource (buildable land). Their presence significantly reduces the chance of getting the investments we do seek in that area: a mix of smaller-scale market-rate housing combined with shops and restaurants that serve the population of Old Lyme. 

The Halls Road plan is near completion. The next phase includes changing the zoning along Halls Road to reflect the goals of the plan. This will give future investors a clear sense of what types of development are encouraged along Halls Road and which types are not. Clarity is good for business. If Old Lyme does the planning and zoning work correctly, it will attract the kinds of investment we want, and help transform Halls Road into a sustainable, mixed-use, commercial area more in keeping, both visually and functionally, with the small town feel of Old Lyme. Bad developments today obstruct more and better investments in the future. Today, investors interested in mixed-use developments like those envisioned in the town’s plan cannot consider Halls Road because it is zoned “commercial-only.” They are not allowed to compete with truck stops or storage warehouses for the limited property there.

We think it would be wise to declare a moratorium on zoning approvals for projects along Halls Road, effective immediately, pending the completion of the Halls Road plan and any new zoning regulations based on it. It is not fair to our town or to investors to move forward with projects while the rules are in flux. We cannot support near-term projects that would work to prevent or degrade future developments of higher long-term value.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Proposed Budget Passes Easily in Both Towns

LYME/OLD LYME — UPDATED 5/7: The Lyme-Old Lyme Schools proposed $34.87 million budget for 2021-22 was approved by a wide margin of 273 votes Tuesday, with a combined total of 328 Lyme and Old Lyme residents voting for the budgets and only a total of 55 across both towns voting against it.

The percentage of total voters supporting the budget was 85.6 and the number rejecting it was 14.4 percent.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser commented to LymeLine in an electronic message after the result had been announced, “Thank you to the Lyme and Old Lyme communities for their ongoing support of our schools. We could not achieve the level of success that we have without the support of our communities.”

He added, “Support for this budget will allow us to continue providing a top-notch education to the students of Lyme and Old Lyme.”

The results by town were as follows:
Old Lyme
For: 249
Against: 50

Lyme
For: 79
Against: 5

The town numbers above reflect voter turnout in Old Lyme at 4.99 percent based on a total number of 5,992 registered voters, while in Lyme the equivalent percentage was 4.24 based on 1,979 voters.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Hold Budget Referendum Today, Polls Open12-8pm; Griswold Urged BOE to ‘Skip Referendum’

LYME/OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Board of Education (BOE) are holding a referendum today, Tuesday, May 4, on their proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Voting will take place from 12 noon to 8 p.m. at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School for Old Lyme residents and Lyme Town Hall for Lyme residents.

Information on absentee ballot and voter information is available at the following links:

Members of the BOE voted at the Budget Meeting held Monday evening to move the public vote to approve the budget to an in-person referendum scheduled for the following day.

The proposed budget totals $34,874, 548 representing a 0.47 percent increase over the current year’s budget. When this total is combined with last year’s decrease of 1.06 percent, the total change over two years is -0.6 percent or $210,210.

This is the first time in many years that the polls will not open until 12 noon — traditionally voting in both towns begins at 6 a.m.

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold (File photo)

Responding to a question from LymeLine questioning how this time change came about, Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold said by email, “I urged the School Board to vote the budget and skip the referendum because the budget is uncontroversial and actually has a slight decrease.”

He noted, however, “The School Board believes that it is more transparent to have an in person vote.”

Griswold went on to explain his viewpoint further, saying, “Old Lyme has about 400 voters (out of about 6,000) [who vote in the referendum, on average.] Usually, voting occurs during the hours of 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM or 14 hours. That translates to about 29 voters per hour in Old Lyme.”

He noted, “We need about 12 staff to run the polls so the Town would likely need about double that to run two shifts of about seven hours each.”

Adding, “Then, we need to have absentee ballots which means less in person voters.”

Griswold said, “In the end, we discovered this type of vote must be from noon to 8:00 PM or eight hours. Now we are up to about 50 voters per hour.”

“While the cost of running the voting in two towns is a School District expense,” Griswold pointed out, “the Towns fund the District so Old Lyme pays over 80% of the bill.”

In conclusion, he stated, “If the school budget were controversial, in person voting would make sense but this budget is not controversial. We shall see the how many people turn out.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School will not be closed during voting hours — students will be following a regular school day.

Asked how voters would be kept separate from students and faculty during the period when polling station opening times overlap with school being in session, LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained to LymeLine by email, “Voters will enter through the two exterior doors in the north corner of the gymnasium near the multi-purpose room.  They will use those same two doors to exit.  Their access will be limited to the gymnasium only.”

Neviaser said this new timing was initiated because, “the [Lyme-Old Lyme] Board [of Education] adjusted the time at the request of the Town of Old Lyme due to concerns regarding COVID.”

He continued, “Depending on how it goes this year we may consider this new time period for future referendums.  Many other regional school districts use the 12-8 [p.m.] time period.”

Neviaser concluded, “When using the school for voting, the change in time is beneficial in regard to visitor management.”

Halls Rd. Gas Station/Convenience Store Proposal Continued to Old Lyme Inland Wetlands May Meeting

OLD LYME — Tonight’s scheduled Old Lyme Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission (IWWC) meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. is going ahead as planned via Webex. The anticipated continuation of the Public Hearing related to the construction of a new convenience mart and gas station at the junction of 99 Halls Rd. and 25 Neck Rd. will not, however, now take place.

According to a letter submitted to the IWWC by Alter Pearson LLC  (attorneys for the applicant), Big Y Foods/Tony Coppola (the applicant) has requested a continuation of the hearing, “to complete an analysis of an adjoining, off-site, wetland area and revise plans accordingly.”

Following usual procedure, it is expected that the continuation will be granted.

It is now anticipated that the Public Hearing will be included in the IWWC’s next meeting on Tuesday, May 25, when the hearing will likely be closed at its conclusion and the Commission may then take a vote on the proposal at that time.

Alternatively, the commission may defer their vote until a later date.

Visit this link to view the agenda for tonight’s meeting, which includes all the details regarding how to join the meeting via computer or phone.

Visit this link to read our article on the March IWWC meeting when the Public Hearing on the proposed gas station and convenience store was opened.

Visit this link to read a statement from the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee requesting the withdrawal of the proposed gas station/convenience store.

Lyme Board of Finance Hosts Virtual Public Hearing Tonight on Proposed 2021-22 Budget, Concerns Raised About Open Space Fund Goal

LYME — The Lyme Board of Finance hosts a virtual Public Hearing this evening at 6:30 p.m. on their proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Requests for the Zoom link to access the meeting must be made before 4 p.m. this afternoon.

The proposed budget can be viewed at this link.

Concerns have been raised both directly with LymeLine.com and on social media regarding the reduction in the Town’s Open Space Fund goal by 50 percent.

Visit this link to see how to access the meeting and submit comments in advance of the meeting. Public comment will also be accepted during the meeting.

This link also includes the agenda for the meeting.

 

 

 

 

Halls Rd. Improvements Committee Hosts Ceremony to Celebrate Installation of New Benches, All Welcome

The new benches on the west abutment of the old bridge road off Halls Rd. A ceremony celebrating their installation will be held today.

OLD LYME — The Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) hosts a ceremony this afternoon, Saturday, April 24, at 1 p.m. to celebrate the installation of two, new park benches, which have been donated to the town for Halls Rd.

This map shows the area where the benches are located.

 The ceremony will be held on the west bridge abutment of the old bridge road off Halls Rd. The rain date is Saturday, May 1.

All are welcome — the HRIC is hoping for a large crowd!

Griswold Says Old Lyme’s Memorial Day Parade is “a Go” — No Parking on Street; Cemetery Ceremony Now Confirmed

Traditionally, the Lyme-Old Lyme High School leads Old Lyme’s Memorial Day Parade. File photo.

OLD LYME — UPDATED 4/21: At Monday’s Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting, First Selectman Timothy Griswold confirmed enthusiastically that the town’s annual Memorial Day parade would be held this year.

He had titled the agenda item regarding the parade, “It is a Go!”

Griswold said no parking would be permitted on Lyme St. or McCurdy Rd. to allow the bands and marchers to spread out more, but apart from that, planning would for the parade would now continue in the normal manner.

Griswold anticipated that individuals watching the parade would take the necessary action to maintain social distancing protocols.

We are still trying to confirm whether the traditional ceremony will be

4/21 UPDATE: First Selectman Griswold has now confirmed to us that the traditional ceremony held at the conclusion of the parade in Duck River Cemetery will take place this year. He also noted that, as usual, the May 31 parade will start at 11 a.m. 

 

Old Lyme Holds Public Hearing on Proposed Town Budget for 2021-22

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Board of Finance will hold a Public Hearing on the Proposed Town Budget for the  2021/22 financial year this evening, Monday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the Meeting Hall of the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall, 52 Lyme Street, Old Lyme.

The meeting can also be accessed by phone. Dial +1-408-418-9388 and enter access code 247 358 82.

The proposed date for voting on the budget will be Monday, May 17, at a Town Meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Resolution on Racism Raised Again in Old Lyme BOS; No Progress Made, ‘Nothing to Discuss’ (Selectman Kerr)

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold (File photo)

***COMMENTING ON THIS ARTICLE IS CLOSED***Our apologies to those who  submitted comments after they were closed. We had not set the ‘Comments Closed’ option correctly — that has now been resolved. 

OLD LYME — The subject of the Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis was again raised at the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s (BOS) meeting held this past Monday, April 5.

It came up first in Public Comment when George Clough of Old Lyme called in and said, “I want to ask the board of selectmen why the Resolution on Racism has not been acted upon.”

First Selectman Timothy Griswold (R) responded, saying, “I don’t subscribe to the idea that we have a public health crisis in Old Lyme.” He added that he felt the Resolution was written in a very negative way and “that it characterizes the townspeople” and “I just don’t buy it.”

Clough challenged Griswold’s response, noting other municipalities had already approved the Resolution and then asking, “So you don’t feel the problem of the systemic nature of racism is evident in Old Lyme at all?”

Griswold replied, “I don’t justify what other towns do. I’m just giving you my opinion.”

He invited the other two members of the board to give their opinions. Selectman Christopher Kerr (R) said, “I have no comment,” while Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (D) noted she planned to speak to the issue in Other Business.

Clough continued, “As one resident, I’m not going to let this go unchallenged … We do have issues in this town and we need to address them.”

He added, “I would say that if we don’t, we’ll end up with a Planning Commission sending a letter to legislators saying that we want to keep the character of the town as it is and don’t support changes in zoning regulations regarding Affordable Housing.”

Clough stated firmly that he found the Old Lyme Planning Commission’s recent letter, “Offensive,” and told Griswold and the board, “If it’s your opinion that it’s not offensive, you’re not fully understanding the nature of the problem.”

He offered to sit down and discuss the issue on a one-to-one basis noting it was inappropriate to “tie up the phone line” during the meeting, but concluded by saying again, “This issue has not been brought to a vote and I’m asking why.”

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (File photo)

The board then moved to Other Business and Nosal followed up immediately with further comments on the Racism Resolution, expressing thanks to Clough for his support and reminding her fellow board members, “We’ve had many people calling in their support. People have come in [to do so] and a petition has been sent in.”

She noted that since August 2020, when she first mentioned the Resolution, she has been, “Requesting the board of selectmen to engage in a discussion to support the Resolution,” adding, “I’ve provided various versions [of the resolution] and lots of reading materials.”

Emphasizing that, “I have been sensitive to your concerns,” while mentioning that Griswold had, in fact, spoken at last year’s Black Lives Matter rally in Old Lyme, she said, “I hope we can have an open dialogue on it.”

Nosal noted, “CCM (Connecticut Conference of Municipalities) supports it. More than 21 towns have signed onto it. Our legislature is looking at it,” and then urged Griswold and Kerr to remember, “We don’t have to wait for a mandate.”

Saying, “We can show Old Lyme resolves to doing the work with the first step being to admit racism keeps people from enjoying the quality of life in Old Lyme,” she continued, “We should show a commitment to this goal by signing the Resolution and putting in place the time, effort and people to move forward.”

Noting that “So many people support this and are ready to help,” she said, “I’m asking the board to bring it up for a vote,’ adding that, as has been widely learned during the time of COVID, “We are all in this together.”

She invited Kerr and Griswold to discuss the matter.

Kerr responded, “I have nothing to discuss.”

Nosal said, “It’s really disappointing,” pointing out to her fellow board members that over the past eight months or so since she first brought attention to the matter, “Mostly I’ve talked … and you’ve ignored me. You haven’t been open to discussion,” commenting, “We can’t negotiate because we haven’t had a discussion.”

Stressing that she has been regularly raising the Resolution issue since last August, she concluded, “It’s been a long time. I will keep bringing it up, I will keep talking about it because by not signing it, we are on the wrong side of history.”

Editor’s Note: i) Nosal first raised the request at the Aug. 8, 2020 BOS meeting. It was not on the agenda at the Aug. 17 BOS meeting, but was discussed at the Sept. 8 BOS meeting and then again at the Sept. 22 BOS meeting.  Nosal raised the matter once more at both the Dec. 21 BOS meeting and the Jan. 4 BOS meeting.

ii) A draft of the Resolution is printed below for reference.

WHEREAS, racism is a social system with multiple dimensions: individual racism that is interpersonal and/or internalized or systemic racism that is institutional or structural, and is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks;

WHEREAS race is a social construct with no biological basis; 

WHEREAS racism unfairly disadvantages specific individuals and communities, while unfairly giving advantages to other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources; 

WHEREAS racism is a root cause of poverty and constricts economic mobility; 

WHEREAS racism causes persistent discrimination and disparate outcomes in many areas of life, including housing, education, employment, and criminal justice, and is itself a social determinant of health; 

WHEREAS racism and segregation have exacerbated a health divide resulting in people of color in Connecticut bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and mortality including COVID-19 infection and death, heart disease, diabetes, and infant mortality; 

WHEREAS Black, Native American, Asian and Latino residents are more likely to experience poor health outcomes as a consequence of inequities in economic stability, education, physical environment, food, and access to health care and these inequities are, themselves, a result of racism; 

WHEREAS more than 100 studies have linked racism to worse health outcomes; and 

WHEREAS the collective prosperity and wellbeing of TOWN depends upon equitable access to opportunity for every resident regardless of the color of their skin: 

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, that the TOWN Board of Selectmen

(1) Assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our town and all of Connecticut; 

(2) Work to progress as an equity and justice-oriented organization, by continuing to identify specific activities to enhance diversity and to ensure antiracism principles across our leadership, staffing and contracting;

(3) Promote equity through all policies approved by the Board of Selectmen and enhance educational efforts aimed at understanding, addressing and dismantling racism and how it affects the delivery of human and social services, economic development and public safety;

(4) Improve the quality of the data our town collects and the analysis of that data—it is not enough to assume that an initiative is producing its intended outcome, qualitative and quantitative data should be used to assess inequities in impact and continuously improve;

(5) Continue to advocate locally for relevant policies that improve health in communities of color, and support local, state, regional, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systemic racism;

(6) Further work to solidify alliances and partnerships with other organizations that are confronting racism and encourage other local, state, regional, and national entities to recognize racism as a public health crisis;

(7) Support community efforts to amplify issues of racism and engage actively and authentically with communities of color wherever they live; and

(8) Identify clear goals and objectives, including periodic reports to the Board of Selectmen, to assess progress and capitalize on opportunities to further advance racial equity.

Old Lyme BOS Say Yes (Hopefully) to Memorial Day Parade, No to Midsummer Fireworks

Will there be a Memorial Day Parade in Old Lyme this year?

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen engaged in a lively discussion at their regular meeting yesterday regarding whether the town’s traditional Memorial Day parade should proceed this year. It was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 pandemic.

First Selectman Timothy Griswold noted the Governor’s current Emergency Order regarding the number of people that can gather at an event expires on May 20. Regarding the current situation, he said, “I think they’re talking about a wedding or a sporting event … when you march [in Old Lyme], they’re not packed shoulder to shoulder.”

He noted that the Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Middle School Band had indicated a willingness to participate this year but that he had not heard from the LOL High School Band. He also said he had heard that the Boy Scouts would like to march.

Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal commented, “I’m offended that you didn’t ask the Girl Scouts.”

Indicating general support for having the parade, Griswold added that he was happy to, “Leave it up to individuals to be smart [in terms of masks and social distancing.]”

Selectmen Christopher Kerr stated, “I think the town needs the parade.”

Recognizing general safety concerns and the possibility of a Governor’s order prohibiting the parade due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases, Nosal said, “I’m neutral at this point.”

Griswold then proposed that the board should ask parade organizer Anthony “Tony” Hendricks to ask, “The usual people,” if they are willing to participate and, “Check with the state.” On condition that affirmative responses are received from a majority of the participants and also from the state, he made a motion that the parade should go ahead.

The board of selectmen approved that motion unanimously.

The Town of Old Lyme’s fireworks display traditionally rounds off the Saturday when the Midsummer Festival is held in late July.

The next item on the agenda was whether to have the fireworks display traditionally held at the end of the Old Lyme  Midsummer Festival. The festival itself has already been cancelled by the organizers.

Griswold opened by saying, “I don’t think it’s a good idea. The festival has been cancelled and it’s a lot of money.”

Kerr asked, “Why have the the fireworks if we’re not having the Midsummer Festival?”

Nosal noted that the Hawks Nest neighborhood was considering a fireworks show on a barge and wondered f the Town was supporting that in a monetary fashion. Griswold said the organizers would need to make a specific request to the Old Lyme Board of Finance if they wish to seek town funding.

Nosal also questioned whether the other selectmen had reviewed her proposal made some six months ago for a drone firework display as an alternative to the ‘live’ display, especially since in future years the LOL High School’s new turf field might preclude having the firework display located there.

The selectmen agreed they needed to review the situation for 2022, but voted to cancel the fireworks for this year.

USPS Carrier, Old Lyme Resident Parrack Receives OL Kindness Committee’s March Award

Heather Parrack is the recipient of Old Lyme’s Kindness Award for March.

OLD LYME — Based on an anonymous submission, the Town of Old Lyme Kindness Committee has selected Heather Parrack, an Old Lyme resident, for their March 2021 Kindness Award.

Heather is a USPS mail carrier with a route through Old Lyme. She makes special trips to the doors of elderly residents who are unable to walk to their mailboxes. She stops and picks up the newspaper for one particular elderly resident, and for another, she brings in her trash cans. As she goes throughout her day making her deliveries, she is always looking for ways to help.

She takes pride in her job and always gives people a smile and wave. While on maternity leave last year, she left a birthday gift for a resident turning 93 and visited with her through the door with her new baby because the resident had been isolated for so long due to the pandemic. 

She also looks out for the children on her route. Several love to see her truck go by and she makes sure to give them a wave. She even had small replicas of mail trucks that she gave out to some of the small children on her route during the holidays. Her nominator said, “She is the sweetest, most kind person, trying to make people feel cared for while delivering much needed gifts, household supplies, and essentials!”

When asked why she goes out of her way to spread cheer on her route Heather said, “I like to brighten people’s days and put a smile on their faces. There are still people in the community who have been so isolated due to COVID that I am often the only person they see. It’s important to me to help them feel less alone.”

Thank you for looking out for the Old Lyme community, Heather. Keep spreading kindness wherever you go!