May 16, 2022

PARJE Celebrates Unveiling of New ‘Welcome’ Mural at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold stands with the mural’s lead artist Jasmine Oyola-Blumenthal after the mural had been officially unveiled on Wednesday at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School. All photos by K. Monson except where indicated.

OLD LYME — UPDATED WITH FULL STORY: Around 40 members of the community along with several Old Lyme and Lyme-Old Lyme Schools dignitaries joined some 200 Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School students and faculty on Wednesday to celebrate the unveiling of a new Welcome mural, which had been sponsored by Public Art for Racial Justice Education (PARJE) and created in the school.

The completed mural shows students from many nations holding hands to cross a bridge.

The mural is part of the Sister Murals Project sponsored by Public Art for Racial Justice Education (PARJE), which was officially launched March 1, 2021. PARJE utilizes the broad appeal of art and education to confront racial injustice.

One mural has already been unveiled in Norwich and now murals are being worked on concurrently in Old Lyme and New London. Jasmine Oyola-Blumenthal, who is an alumna of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, is the lead artist of the new Welcome mural in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School (LOLMS.)

In addition to her role as lead artist, Oyola-Blumenthal worked with school faculty to develop student workshops, which coordinated with the project.

Oyola-Blumenthal and her counterpart, Marvin Espy, in New London were selected from a field of nearly 20 applicants. In her application, Oyola-Blumenthal had described art as, “a neutral vessel,” contending that [it], “Can bring forth conversations that can be uncomfortable and promote opportunities to open dialogue on racial justice and education.”

Jasmine Oyola-Blumenthal, lead artist for the ‘Welcome’ mural, addresses the audience at Wednesday’s ceremony in Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School to celebrate the unveiling of the mural. Photo by S. Hayes.

Superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Ian Neviaser opened the ceremony and then a number of speeches were made including one by Kimberly Monson, a professional artist, who studied at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, and subsequently became one of its faculty. She, in fact, had taught lead artist Oyola-Blumenthal when the latter was a student at the same college.

Monson noted, “An artistic legacy is passed from instructor to student and is a direct line to the artists and instructors before them. Therefore, with her training, Jas’s [Jasmine’s] pedigree can be traced back to artistic behemoths such as Saint Gaudens and Gerome.”

Monson then commented on Oyola-Blumenthal’s own legacy and its relevance to the project, saying, “Jas also has a legacy in her heritage. She holds within her … the hopes and dreams of embracing diversity, which, in addition to her talent, give her an insightful perspective to this Mural project … [She carries] the legacy, of not only the Artists housed and trained here, but also [in her role] as the voice of collaboration with our kids.”

Monson spoke warmly of Oyola-Blumenthal’s skills saying, “Jas’s sense of design was always powerful. She knows how to arrange a picture to tell a story and she has a strong command of color and pattern that celebrates her contagious optimism,” emphasizing, “All of this shows itself beautifully on the Mural painted in your hall.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School students hard at work on the mural.

Three LOLMS eighth grade students read their poems related to the Witness Stones project in Old Lyme, in which houses where enslaved people were kept in town have been identified by engraved stones placed in front of them. The students were Maggie Thuma, Thomas Kelly and Anne-Marie Hinkley.

Thelma Halloran, who is the LOLMS art teacher also spoke during the ceremony. She had collaborated with Oyola-Blumenthal on many parts of the mural project. She explained how she had become involved with, “a new group in Old Lyme created by the Rev. David W. Good, Minister Emeritus of The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.”

This group, which became PARJE, was created more than a year ago in response to tragic events in the news like the death of George Floyd. Halloran said, “David wanted to remind everyone in Old Lyme that the town has a history of welcoming people – all kinds of people.”

She then listed some of those who had been welcomed into the town mentioning four refugee families from Laos, a refugee family from Rwanda, and another from Syria. She also recalled a family from the Congo, who lived in a refugee house bought by the Congregational church and families from Pakistan, Guatemala, Burma, and South Africa. In addition, she mentioned a family, whose home was destroyed by a hurricane in Puerto Rico, who also found a home in Old Lyme.  

No space was left unpainted as the mural takes form.

Halloran noted, “This history of hospitality to all who come to Old Lyme has evolved through time. It has not always been perfect. This is why there is a continued effort to strive to be a better community, including in our schools.”

She continued, “Let the message of this mural continue to be a reminder of the values we share in the town of Old Lyme, and as a community in our schools. Make the message of this mural come to life in your words and your actions with everyone you encounter, not just student to student, not just student to teacher, and not just the new faces you see.”

Urging the students to, “continue to show your kindness” to everyone in school including such people as custodians, security guards, secretaries, and paraprofessionals, she then told them also to, “Show your kindness to the student, who looks like you, but doesn’t think like you.” explaining firmly, “This is what we mean when we say welcome.” 

The intensity given to the project is clear on the faces of the students.

Halloran concluded by quoting the words of the 2021 US Presidential Inauguration poet Amanda Gorman, who said evocatively,
“The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Editor’s Note: Visit this link to see the video NBC TV posted about the event.

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.

All Motions Passed Unanimously at Monday Evening’s Old Lyme Town Meeting

Edie Twining, Chair of the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee, addresses the audience during Monday evening’s Special Town Meeting. All photos submitted.

OLD LYME — UPDATED 2:40PM At a packed Old Lyme Special Town Meeting held Monday evening in the Meeting Hall of Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall, all the motions considered were passed unanimously by voice vote.

With people standing at the rear of the Meeting Room as well as all those seated, Moderator Vicki Lanier determined for each motion that there was no need to call for a paper vote as the majority in support of each motion in a voice vote was clearly overwhelming.

Old Lyme Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker answers a question from the podium during the meeting.

After the meeting, Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold commented to LymeLine via text message, “We had about 100 people in attendance and each of the five agenda items was passed unanimously. The presenters did a fine job describing their motions and there was only one comment (a clarification) from the audience.”

He went on to describe the events of the evening as, “A very good result, indeed.”

A delighted Edie Twining, chair of the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee, who had presented the background to the first motion, expressed her gratitude to all those who attended the meeting, saying to LymeLine via e-mail, “Thank you to all those who came out tonight to show their support [for the various motions.]”

The following agenda items were all approved:

1.         The appropriation of an amount not to exceed $45,000 to fund the preparation of a Local Transportation Capital Improvement Plan grant application, to prepare easement documentation for a pedestrian bridge and a walking trail to the Florence Griswold Museum and to fund engineering and legal services to prepare a Village District Zoning Overlay.

Twining highlights a point on the Halls Rd. map showing the proposed changes.

2.         The utilization of the Standard Allowance for American Rescue Plan Act funding reporting purposes.

3.         The funding of a request from the Ledge Light Health District in the amount of $21,622.15 (1% of Old Lyme’s American Rescue Plan funding) to help the District respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  The funding will be paid from American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds received by the Town.

4.         The funding of an amount not to exceed $20,000 to retain the services of George E. Krivda, Jr. to administer the Town of Old Lyme’s small business and non-profit American Rescue Plan grant program.  The funding will be paid from ARP funds received by the Town.

Old Lyme Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker addresses the audience during the meeting. Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold sits at the extreme right of the table and Old Lyme Town Clerk Vicki Urbowicz is in the center.

5.         An amended and restated Deed of Conservation Restriction 311.50-acre parcel, which amends a Deed of Conservation Restriction from David Sears McCulloch and Jean Adair McCulloch to The Nature Conservancy of Connecticut, Inc., its successors or assigns, dated on or about December 29, 1999 and recorded at Book 260, Page 1007 of the said Land Records, subsequently assigned to Jean A. McCulloch Farm LLC, having been approved by a judgment of the Superior Court on June 4, 2021, providing for the following specific amendments:

a.         Paragraphs 3.3 (a), (b) and (c) of the Deed of Conservation Restriction are hereby amended by adding the following at the end of each section:  “except as required to construct parking in the three areas shown on the maps in Exhibit B, such parking to be made of permeable surface material and designed in consultation with the Conservancy.”

b.         Paragraph 3.3 (e) is hereby amended by adding the following at the end of the section: “except for the placement of sanitary garbage pails or bins and to erect environmentally sound composting toilets as required for the responsible management and in order to protect the conservation values of the property.”

The First Selectman was authorized and empowered to sign, execute, receive, deliver and record, on behalf of the Town, the amended and restated Deed of Conservation Restriction 311.50-acre parcel, and such other instruments and agreements as are required to carry out the foregoing resolution.

Tonight, Old Lyme Holds Special Town Meeting with Five-Item Agenda

OLD LYME — This evening, Monday, March 21, the Town of Old Lyme will hold a Special Town Meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Meeting Hall of Memorial Town Hall, 52 Lyme St., in Old Lyme.

The following agenda items will be discussed and may be taken to a vote:

1.         To approve the appropriation of an amount not to exceed $45,000 to fund the preparation of a Local Transportation Capital Improvement Plan grant application, to prepare easement documentation for a pedestrian bridge and a walking trail to the Florence Griswold Museum and to fund engineering and legal services to prepare a Village District Zoning Overlay. See Appendices 1 and 2 at the foot of this article for more information.

2.         To approve the utilization of the Standard Allowance for American Rescue Plan Act funding reporting purposes.

3.         To approve the funding of a request from the Ledge Light Health District in the amount of $21,622.15 (1% of Old Lyme’s American Rescue Plan funding) to help the District respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  The funding will be paid from American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds received by the Town.

4.         To approve the funding of an amount not to exceed $20,000 to retain the services of George E. Krivda, Jr. to administer the Town of Old Lyme’s small business and non-profit American Rescue Plan grant program.  The funding will be paid from ARP funds received by the Town.

5.         To approve an AMENDED AND RESTATED DEED OF CONSERVATION RESTRICTION 311.50-ACRE PARCEL, which amends a Deed of Conservation Restriction from David Sears McCulloch and Jean Adair McCulloch to The Nature Conservancy of Connecticut, Inc., its successors or assigns, dated on or about December 29, 1999 and recorded at Book 260, Page 1007 of the said Land Records, subsequently assigned to Jean A. McCulloch Farm LLC, having been approved by a judgment of the Superior Court on June 4, 2021, providing for the following specific amendments:

a.         Paragraphs 3.3 (a), (b) and (c) of the Deed of Conservation Restriction are hereby amended by adding the following at the end of each section:  “except as required to construct parking in the three areas shown on the maps in Exhibit B, such parking to be made of permeable surface material and designed in consultation with the Conservancy.”

b.         Paragraph 3.3 (e) is hereby amended by adding the following at the end of the section: “except for the placement of sanitary garbage pails or bins and to erect environmentally sound composting toilets as required for the responsible management and in order to protect the conservation values of the property.”

To authorize and empower the First Selectman to sign, execute, receive, deliver and record, on behalf of the Town, the AMENDED AND RESTATED DEED OF CONSERVATION RESTRICTION 311.50-ACRE PARCEL, and such other instruments and agreements as are required to carry out the foregoing resolution.

A copy of the AMENDED AND RESTATED DEED OF CONSERVATION RESTRICTION 311.50-ACRE PARCEL may be examined at the office of the Town Clerk of the Town of Old Lyme during the Town Clerk’s ordinary business hours.

Appendix 1:

HALLS ROAD Improvements COMMITTEE
Short-term Financing Needs March 21, 2022
Approved by Board of Selectmen & Board of Finance: January 18, 2022

  1. LOTCIP Grant – Application for grant $13,500 (BSC Group)
    To assist in preparing LOTCIP Grant for sidewalk and other streetscape improvements. Proposal includes engineering drawings to show where and how new streetscape & safety improvements are to occur along Halls Road. These documents will also be used to provide specific direction for any future Construction Documentation. This grant application is the first formal submission of plans to CT DOT, and the first chance to receive official approval / disapproval for each plan element.
  2. Graybill Easement /survey     $7,000 (BSC Group, not to exceed)
    To secure an easement on the east bank of the Lieutenant. James Graybill has generously offered to grant an easement to the Town of Old Lyme to provide access to the old Lieutenant River bridge abutment on his property for a future pedestrian bridge. A pedestrian bridge over the Lieutenant has consistently been among the most favored potential improvements in public discussions and town-wide surveys. It will allow safe pedestrian and bicycle travel between Lyme Street and the Halls Road district, with views of a beautiful stretch of the Lieutenant River. Mr Graybill has also offered to include in the easement the path of a future trail to the Florence Griswold Museum. Such connections are great opportunities to integrate Old Lyme’s business district with its Arts District, one of Old Lyme’s definitive assets. It is important to secure this easement now, both to ensure future access to the bridge abutment and to make it possible to apply for grants to defray the costs of building the bridge and trails on the east side of the river.
  3. Halls Road Overlay District  – Zoning Attorney $10,000 (TCORS Bill Sweeney)
                                                    – Planning Consultant $ 9,000 (BSC Group, not to exceed)
    To complete the work of creating new zoning supporting the recommendations of the Hall Road Master Plan. The previous Village District approach to new zoning created un-looked-for burdens for existing property owners. The new approach is to allow the old C-30s zoning to remain, and to create a Halls Road Overlay District (HROD) as an alternative. Those who wish to can use the HROD to pursue different, and more profitable, new developments in line with the Master Plan. These include mixed use (commercial & residential), apartments and townhomes. The HROD also brings retail development up to the street to create a walkable town center along Halls Road. The change simplifies the new zoning regulations to some degree, but it is important that they be complete, accurate, and legally correct before submission to the Zoning Commission. This requires professional help, which this allocation will pay for. It should be noted that some of this work has already begun on a good faith basis.

$39,500   Total of 1 – 3 above
Contingency Allowance $  5,500
$45,000  Total Request

Appendix 2:

HALLS ROAD Improvements COMMITTEE
March 2022       NEXT STEPS

  • Halls Road Overlay District – prepare documents for town’s application to Zoning Commission 
    • Target Date April 2022 with final approvals possible by July 2022
    • Overlay District to provide new opportunities to property owners and future developers aimed at bringing commercial up to Halls Road and allowing apartments and town homes. 
    • C-30S Zone remains, unless an applicant choses to use the Overlay District.
  • Grant Applications – to help fund Public Improvements along Halls Road. Timeframe for grant process can be 2 – 4 years.

    Public Improvements include: Sidewalks, Pedestrian Lighting, Landscaping, Crosswalks, Pathways, and a new bridge over the Lieutenant River allowing pedestrians and cyclists to avoid the motorway bridge.

    Grant opportunities currently seeking: 

    • October 2022 – Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP) Grant – BSC to assist in preparation. Application to include engineering drawings that will define and detail scope of streetscape improvements. CT DOT formally considers our design concept with this grant. 
      • Possible funding of $2.5 million. 
      • The LOTCIP Grant program is currently 2 years out from application. We are aiming to apply for this in fall 2022 to get into the application queue with a goal to be awarded funding by 2024/25.
    • Additional grants that would contribute funds toward the sidewalks and pedestrian bridge not likely to be covered by the LOTCIP Grant: 
      • November 2022 – CT Trails Program.
      • January 2023 – CT Community Challenge Grant. 

Seek other grants available for multi-modal connectivity and trails.

  • Design Drawings – With Grants Awarded the town can engage professionals to create final construction documents. Timeframe: 1 year from RFQ to final documentation.

Implementation – Seek and receive bids for construction, award project, and begin construction of roadway improvements. Requires prior grant funding and town-funded design documents (as above) and town approval of total funding package. Timeframe: TBD.

Lyme, Old Lyme Boards of Selectmen Lift Mask Mandates in Town Buildings

LYME/OLD LYME — The Lyme Board of Selectmen has announced that, effective March 1, masks will be recommended to be worn in Town facilities by all employees and visitors, but no longer required.  In addition:

  • Town board and commission chairs have the authority to set mask-wearing rules for their committee meetings and to continue with virtual or hybrid meetings.
  • Individual employees have the authority to set mask rules in their offices and facilities.
  • Organizations using Town facilities may set their own masking rules.

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen has also voted to remove the mask mandate for Town buildings as of March 7. Masks are now optional at Old Lyme Town Hall.,

Old Lyme Honors Its First Responders on ‘Random Acts of Kindness Day,’ Selectwoman Shoemaker Delivers Sweet Treats to All Essential Worker Departments in Town

Members of the Old Lyme Police Department display the cookies delivered by Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker on behalf of the Old Lyme DTC on “National Random Acts of Kindness Day,” in honor of the valiant service given by its First Responders. Photos by M. Shoemaker.

OLD LYME — On Thursday, Feb. 17, the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee (DTC) took the opportunity to recognize the Town’s First Responders, who give outstanding service at all times but especially have done so throughout the pandemic

Trays of cookies, sweets and notes of appreciation were hand-delivered by Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker (D) to the Old Lyme Fire Department, Old Lyme Police Department, Old Lyme Public Works Department, Old Lyme Ambulance Association, and the Old Lyme Animal Shelter.

These Old Lyme Emergency Services personnel were pleased to receive a platter of cookies from the Old Lyme DTC.

According to the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting minutes of Feb. 22, Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker proposed the idea of honoring the Town’s essential workers through, “… kindness, love and gratitude.” The BOS unanimously agreed with the motion to designate Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, as “Essential Workers Day” in Old Lyme.

Subsequently, First Selectman Tim Griswold changed the recognition to coincide with “National Random Acts of Kindness Day,” which takes place Feb. 17.

An Old Lyme First Responder receives a delivery of sweet treats from Old Lyme Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker.

The chair of the Old Lyme DTC, Christine Gianquinto, noted, “Despite the date confusion, our First Responders are essential to our quality of life in Old Lyme and deserve our community’s thanks and appreciation 365 days of the year!”

Cookies celebrate the wonderful work of Old Lyme’s First Responders.

The Town of Old Lyme Kindness Committee is chaired by the First Selectman’s Assistant, Michelle Noerhen.

Old Lyme Affordable Housing Commission/RiverCOG Host Virtual Workshop, Tonight; All OL Residents Encouraged to Attend

OLD LYME — On Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m., the Old Lyme Affordable Housing Commission (OLAHC) and the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG) will host an on-line community workshop to discuss the work in progress toward preparing a state-mandated Affordable Housing Plan for Old Lyme.

All Old Lyme residents are encouraged to attend.

The state of housing in Old Lyme and the most recent thinking on a housing strategy to meet current and future needs will be presented.

The OLAHC urges all residents to join, and add their voices to the discussion. Pre-registration is not required.

The connection information for this virtual meeting has been updated as follows:

To join the meeting from your computer, visit: https://oldlymect.webex.com/oldlymect/j.php?MTID=m829e255197f825a697f4a1404be6b776

To join the meeting by telephone: dial 408-418-9388 and enter access code 2349 906 5054

If you had already registered for the previously posted Zoom meeting, you are requested to ignore those instructions and use the Webex connection information above instead.

 

Gov. Lamont Ends Statewide Mask Mandate, Feb. 28, Delegates Future Policy to Local Authorities; LOL Schools Deciding Next Steps

LYME/OLD LYME — After Gov. Lamont directed that he was gong to  lift the statewide mask mandate and transfer decisions regarding masking to local municipalities, Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser sent out the following letter yesterday (Feb. 10) to the LOL school community indicating no decision has yet been taken on mask-wearing in schools after Feb. 28.

By now you have heard of Governor Lamont’s announcement that he is endorsing a plan developed in consultation with the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE).  This plan will end the statewide requirement that masks be worn in schools effective February 28, 2022.  I am writing to inform you of the considerations that we are contemplating to determine how the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools will proceed based on that announcement.  Our goal is to best balance the health and safety of our students and staff while returning to more normalcy in a mask optional environment, as soon as it is prudent to do so.  As always, we will continue to consider the guidance of our district medical advisor, Ledge Light Health District, the CDC, DPH and other public health and medical professionals, though those recommendations at times contradict one another.  I expect that we will have a definitive plan to respond to this announcement prior to our upcoming February vacation.

Some current considerations include:

  • The vaccination rates for our middle and high school students are high, yet the rate of vaccination for our elementary students is average. 
  • We have been tracking our number of confirmed student/staff cases and determining whether or not said cases have led to outbreaks, which, fortunately, so far has not occurred.
  • As of this writing, the CDC recommends that masks continue to be worn indoors in all K-12 settings. In addition, based on the continued high rate of transmission in the area, the CDC recommends that everyone in New London County should wear a mask in public indoor settings.
  • We have received some recommendations to consider extending the mask mandate for at least an additional week or two (to March 7 or 14, 2022) for the following reasons:
    • February 28, 2022 is the day we return from our February break over which many families will have traveled.  Based on our experience from our most recent school vacation, the number of infections could be elevated for a week or two after our return.
    • Students who are unvaccinated, or are not yet eligible for the vaccine, would have additional time to get vaccinated or possibly become eligible for the vaccine.
    • The weather in mid-March will be slightly warmer allowing for more outdoor opportunities, reducing the possibility of virus transmission.
  • Unless the federal government changes their position on masks for public transportation, the mask mandate for school buses will remain as that is governed by the CDC, not the state of CT.
  • The Governor’s plan is contingent upon the Connecticut General Assembly voting to extend the Governor’s existing Executive Order which gives DPH the ability to implement mask requirements in certain settings.  Until this legislative process is complete, we must continue to comply with current masking requirements, which remain in effect through February 15, 2022 when the current Executive Order expires.  Should the legislature vote to extend mandatory school masking, we will be required to continue to comply with this legislation.   
  • DPH has indicated that they will be issuing further guidance regarding isolation and quarantine recommendations associated with this new plan. As you know, current guidance requires masking in the various scenarios presented in response to a positive case.

Please do not misinterpret any of the above to imply that a decision has been made either in support of immediate removal of masks or opposed to such.  Once all considerations have been evaluated, along with anything additional as advised by the forthcoming DPH guidance, we will notify everyone of what to expect on February 28, 2022. 

We will publish details of the decisions taken regarding future mask policy by both LOL Schools and the Towns of Lyme and Old Lyme as soon as they are made.

Letter to the Editor: Update on Tantummaheag Town Landing Situation Overdue, Required so All Residents Can Understand Outcome

To the Editor:

I am writing all three Selectmen as I have not heard back from [Old Lyme First Selectman] Tim Griswold regarding an update to the Tantummaheag Town Landing after three emails.

It is disappointing that this issue has not been resolved and is no longer on the agenda for your board meetings.

I first notified Tim about this issue in July of 2020, we had a special town meeting in January of 2021 where it was determined that signage would be put up with clear markings as to town/private property. Nothing happened. In the meantime the adjacent property owner did a title search and claims that this property is NOT owned by the town, but is his property. Last time I was at a Board meeting Tim was supposed to arrange a meeting with some people in the neighboring Coult Lane area to meet with the property owners (who continue to make it difficult for people driving to the landing).
Has this meeting been arranged? Why are the people of Coult Lane the only ones included … this is TOWN-owned property. It seems as though that we are conceding to the Frampton’s claims and this is not on Mr. Griswold’s radar and nothing has been done – other than cost of the tax payers money for town attorney fees because of inaction.
Will this be put back on the agenda so the entire town can understand what is going on? Access to the Connecticut River is important for all of the citizens in Old Lyme.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Rebecca Griffin,
Old Lyme.

Griswold, Ward Vote to Appoint Colwell to Old Lyme EDC Against Recommendations of Commission Chair

OLD LYME — At Monday evening’s Old Lyme (OL) Board of Selectmen (BOS)’s Special Meeting in a somewhat unexpected move, both First Selectman Timothy Griswold (R) and Selectman Matthew Ward voted to appoint Mona Colwell to the OL Economic Development Commission (EDC). Incumbent EDC member Candace Fuchs, a Democrat, was not reappointed.

Both Ward and Colwell are unaffiliated but were endorsed by the Republicans in the Nov. 2021 election for, respectively, the board of selectmen and the Region 18 Board of Education (BOE). Ward was elected but Colwell failed in her bid for a BOE seat, garnering the lowest number of votes by a margin of more than 1,000 votes compared with any of the other seven candidates.

The board was considering which of three candidates to appoint to two open seats on the EDC. Fuchs was the incumbent for the position with the five-year-term ending Jan. 31, 2027. The other candidate, apart from Colwell, was Republican Wendy Russell.

Colwell stated in her application to serve on the EDC that she has, “Been very active as a volunteer in numerous capacities for the Region 18 School District,” and, “Worked as a small business promoter for over twenty years.” In her application, Russell noted she is a Regional Director of Sales and Marketing for the Waterford Hotel Group and has been appointed to numerous boards related to tourism.

The matter had been discussed at the previous BOS meeting on Jan. 18, but was tabled pending a request by Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker that, prior to any vote being taken on the candidates, Griswold should seek the opinion of the EDC Chair regarding whom she would like to see appointed.

Griswold concurred and duly asked EDC Chair Cheryl Poirier for her input regarding the appointments. Poirier responded saying by email, “[Fuchs] is a strong advocate for the EDC working in alignment with the recommendations outlined in the Town’s 2020 POCD. She has been a very responsible and needed contributor to the EDC. I support her reappointment.” Regarding Russell, Poirier stated, “I believe Wendy could provide positive impact to the EDC … I encourage her appointment.”

David Rubino, a current member of the EDC, had also commented by email to the BOS on Colwell’s potential appointment, saying that he encouraged the BOS, “to reappoint Ms. Fuchs to the EDC.

When discussion began, Shoemaker made a motion to, “Reappoint Fuchs to a five-year term ending January 31st, 2027.” Ward seconded it but when Griswold called for a vote, Ward did not support it. Griswold also voted no, and so the motion failed.

The phone lines were not fully muted and both a shocked, “Wow” and separately, an expletive could be clearly heard.

Ward then made a motion to appoint Colwell to fill the open five-year term ending Jan. 31, 2024.

Shoemaker opened the discussion with a statement, saying, ” I believe as town leaders we are here to set a good example. A person’s character or personality traits should not be a topic of discussion at any town meetings.” She added that she felt the board of selectmen should not be perpetuating that type of behavior but rather doing their best to stop it.”

Shoemaker’s statement sparked an animated discussion as Ward set out to distance himself from Griswold’s comment in the previous meeting that Fuchs was “abrasive,” saying it was “inappropriate.” He continued that theme, however, saying he felt the email Rubino sent to the BOS was similarly inappropriate, as were comments made about Colwell in the November 2021 election.

In his email to the BOS, Rubino had called out Colwell’s outspoken position against COVID vaccinations and also her Tweet that “Those restaurants in Boston that have complied with the Boston mayor’s vaccine mandate should be “boycotted and bankrupted”.”

Ward asked, “Do I agree with everything she says?” then responded firmly to his own question, “No I don’t.” But he maintained Colwell has a right to her opinions and “Berating her in public is inappropriate. She is never going to want to volunteer for anything ever again.”

Shoemaker pointed out that there is a difference between Colwell’s opinions and facts, but moreover, the board has asked the opinion of the EDC Chair and now seemed ready to ignore it.

Griswold joined the discussion saying, “I think we should look at Mona … she has skills here. We have to give her a chance.”

Regarding any assumption that an incumbent has an automatic right to be re-elected, Griswold stated, “I don’t think you have a monopoly on a position.”

Griswold concluded, “I think having Mona on there would be a distinct asset.”

Griswold called for a vote: Ward supported the motion and Shoemaker voted against. Griswold used his vote to break the tie and thus pass the motion to appoint Colwell.

Ward made a second motion to appoint Wendy Russell, a Republican, to the open five-year term ending Jan. 31, 2027. Both Ward and Shoemaker supported the motion, which duly passed.

Asked Tuesday for her opinion on the decision to appoint Colwell, Poirier told LymeLine by email , “I provided the board of selectmen the reasons why Candace Fuchs was a collaborative, productive EDC member that deserved reappointment. I am disappointed that my input did not weigh more heavily in Tim and Matt’s choice.”

She continued in a positive vein, “Now my focus as EDC Chair is keeping the commission moving forward with new initiatives we have started such as a ribbon-cutting program, the new ExploreOldLyme.com website, and the Shoreline Gateway Committee, which the board of selectmen approved last night.”

Responding to the same question on Tuesday regarding Colwell’s appointment, Shoemaker said by phone, “I am disappointed that we took the time to ask a [commission] chairman for their recommendation and then did not follow hat recommendation.”

We also messaged a similar question to Griswold but had not received a reply by press time.

Editor’s Note: Visit this link to read our previous article: Appointments to Old Lyme EDC Tabled After Absence of Input from Commission Identified, One Candidate Described as ‘Abrasive’; Discussion to be Continued at Tonight’s BOS Meeting This article includes the full text of both Poirier and Rubino’s emails mentioned above, and also generated additional comments

Colwell Appointed to Old Lyme EDC Against Recommendations of Chair, Current Member

OLD LYME — At yesterday evening’s Old Lyme (OL) Board of Selectmen (BOS)’s Special Meeting, both First Selectman Timothy Griswold and Selectman Matthew Ward voted to appoint Mona Colwell to the OL Economic Development Commission (EDC) over incumbent EDC member Candace Fuchs.

The vote supporting Colwell over Fuchs was made after soliciting input from the EDC Chair Cheryl Poirier, who stated in an email responding to the request, Fuchs, “has been a very responsible and needed contributor to the EDC. I support her reappointment.”

David Rubino, a current member of the EDC, had also commented by email to the BOS on Colwell’s potential appointment, saying that he encouraged the BOS, “to reappoint Ms. Fuchs to the EDC.

Editor’s Note: More to follow on this developing story. Visit this link to read our previous story: Appointments to Old Lyme EDC Tabled After Absence of Input from Commission Identified, One Candidate Described as ‘Abrasive’; Discussion to be Continued at Tonight’s BOS Meeting

Appointments to Old Lyme EDC Tabled After Absence of Input from Commission Identified, One Candidate Described as ‘Abrasive’; Discussion to be Continued at Tonight’s BOS Meeting

Emails Sent by EDC Member Rubino, EDC Chair Poirier in Response to Comments at BOS Meeting Printed in Full Below

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold (File photo)

OLD LYME — At their last meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18, the three members of the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen (BOS) were running systematically through the annual round of appointments and reappointments to town boards and commissions when the question of whom to appoint to the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC) arose.

The normally uncontroversial process was halted by a variety of searching questions and unexpected comments, and ended up being tabled for the next BOS meeting scheduled for Monday, Feb. 7, at 5:30 p.m. .

There was some confusion in the meeting initially about the details of the terms available and the number of candidates applying for them. After a short discussion, Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker (D) summed up the situation saying, “Basically, we have to pick among the three [names] for two spots.”

First Selectman Timothy Griswold (R) confirmed that the five-year term of incumbent Candace Fuchs ended Jan. 31, 2022 and that there was a vacancy ending Jan. 31, 2024. This latter opening had been created by Edie Twining’s resignation.

After further discussion, it became clear that Fuchs was seeking reappointment, but two other people had submitted applications for appointment also, namely Mona Colwell (U) and Wendy Russell (R).

Colwell states in her application to serve on the EDC that she has, “Been very active as a volunteer in numerous capacities for the Region 18 School District,” and, “Worked as a small business promoter for over twenty years.” Colwell run unsuccessfully for a seat on the Region 18 Board of Education in November 2021.

In her application, Russell notes she is a Regional Director of Sales and Marketing for the Waterford Hotel Group and has been appointed to numerous boards related to tourism.

Shoemaker then made a motion to, “Reappoint Fuchs to a five-year term ending January 31st, 2027, and to appoint Wendy Russell to fill the open five-year term ending January 31st, 2024.” Shoemaker stated she was supporting Russell’s appointment, “due to her (Russell’s) extensive background in [Eastern] Chamber tourism and the Mystic Coastal Council,” which Shoemaker said would be, ” … useful as we move forward with economic development.”

Selectman Matthew Ward seconded the motion.

Griswold agreed regarding Russell’s appointment saying, “I think Wendy has good strengths,” but indicated he supported Colwell for the second vacancy saying, “Personally, I think Mona would be a good candidate for the other seat simply because she has been very interested in school matters and having some new blood on there would be a help.”

He continued, “I think, candidly, Candace can be a bit abrasive at times.”

Shoemaker pointed out that, “Some of these applications came in just a day or two ago,” and “Normally you’d talk to the chair of the [EDC] committee” to solicit their opinions. She asked pointedly, “Has anyone had the opportunity to talk to the chair of the EDC?”

Griswold replied, “I personally have not.”

Shoemaker then proposed that nothing further should happen until that conversation had taken place, saying that the EDC, “Should be able to pick the people they want for their team,” noting, “… there’s a lot going on [in terms of the commission’s work.]”

Griswold countered, “It’s our decision [regarding who is appointed] in the end,” with which Shoemaker concurred.

Shoemaker then proposed the motion should be tabled to the next meeting stressing, ” … so long as you [Griswold] check in with the chair [of the EDC]” before that meeting.

Griswold agreed to do that, Ward seconded the motion to table the matter and the meeting continued to the next item of business.

On Friday, we received a copy of an email from David Rubino, which he had sent to the Old Lyme BOS regarding the potential appointment of Colwell to the EDC. Rubino, a Democrat, is a member of the EDC and ran unsuccessfully against State Rep Devin Carney (R-23rd) in November 2020.

Today we received a copy of an email from Cheryl Poirier, also addressed to the BOS, which details her response as chair of the EDC to the proposed candidates.

Both emails are reprinted verbatim in their entirety below.

Dear Board of Selectmen:

My name is Dave Rubino.  I purchased my home in Old Lyme in 2016, and I am the owner of a law office on Halls Road.  I am the father of two children in the Region 18 public school system.  I am also on the Economic Development Commission which is why I write. 

I listened to the discussion at last month’s Board of Selectmen meeting regarding the vacant or potentially vacant seats on our commission, and as a member of the EDC I thought it would be helpful to the Board of Selectmen if I weighed in.

I joined the EDC about two years ago because the economic health and well-being of our town is of particular importance to me. As a business owner, homeowner, and father, I, like many of us, am interested in ensuring that Old Lyme remains an economically sustainable community while maintaining the obvious charms which have drawn many of us to the town.

One of the things I really enjoy about being a member of the EDC is that it has been largely, if not wholly, apolitical.  We have membership from both sides of the aisle, but we all share a common goal – to provide fact-based and quantifiable guidance to this Board about which economic ideas are in the town’s best interest.  The Board rarely has disagreements, and when and if we do they are discussed respectfully and thoughtfully.

I was surprised, therefore, that Mr. Griswold suggested that he was not inclined to reappoint Candace Fuchs to the EDC (who he himself voted onto the commission) because he finds her “abrasive”.   Whatever personal experience Mr. Griswold may have in that regard is certainly not reflective of any interactions I have noticed on the EDC.  To the contrary, I would describe Candace as somewhat reserved.  She generally volunteers to serve as notetaker and creates the minutes almost every month.

That said, I concede that elections have consequences.  This Board has every legal right to appoint whomever it chooses to the EDC.  One would hope, however, that said appointment would be made with the best interests of the town in mind.  That is why Mr. Griswold’s suggestion to replace Ms. Fuchs with former Board of Education candidate Mona Colwell is of particular concern.  If abrasiveness is a criteria for disapproving a nomination, I would suggest that Cowell’s public statements – many of which have been widely publicized in local media – are facially disqualifying.  Her Twitter and Facebook accounts include dozens of posts hypothesizing that the pandemic is a manufactured ploy to depopulate the planet and usher in a new world order via a “great reset” designed to control humanity.  She makes regular social media statements analogizing mask and vaccine mandates to the Nazi holocaust – going so far as to refer to masks as “yellow stars” used to identify the unvaccinated.  I cannot speak for the Jewish community of Old Lyme but I would suspect that many people might find equating the inconvenience of wearing a mask into a grocery store to being herded into concentration camps for execution at least as “abrasive” as anything Mr. Griswold has heard from Ms. Fuchs. (She [Colwell] notably also re-tweets that people should “Take action.  Legal and otherwise” against those supporting vaccines in a post that depicts public hangings of doctors at Nuremburg.) Leaving aside the ridiculousness of this constant refrain, one must also consider that her views have economic consequences.  She has, for example, tweeted that those restaurants in Boston that have complied with the Boston mayor’s vaccine mandate should be “boycotted and bankrupted”.  Appointing a candidate to the EDC who supports boycotting and bankrupting small businesses that comply with the law simply cannot be in the town’s best interests.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that in addition to the above, your proposed appointee has likewise posted at least one statement that is so racially offensive it made headlines and formed the basis of dismissing a firefighter in a Republican controlled rural South Carolina town.  Her tweet, which even the reddest of states found crossed a line, states, “Black Privilege: The ability to break every law in the country yet still remain the victim.”  https://www.wistv.com/2020/07/17/georgetown-county-firefighter-fired-after-making-racially-insensitive-violent-posts/?outputType=apps

So there can be no question that this Board’s vote will necessarily take into consideration these public statements, I am attaching a small sampling of them hereto.  By any interpretation, knowingly moving forward with this candidate would amount to an endorsement of these dangerous and divisive views.  The Old Lyme I have grown to love just doesn’t look like this. 

I encourage you to reappoint Ms. Fuchs to the EDC and fill the remaining vacant slot with the third applicant, Ms. Wendy Russell.  Ms. Russell’s background and experience would be an asset to the board, and she would be a welcome addition.

The following is the text of the email from Cheryl Poirier.

Greetings Tim, Martha, and Matt:

Thank you for seeking my input on the Economic Development Commission appointments.

As you know, we have an open seat on the EDC due to Edie Twining stepping down from the Commission in the Fall.

Wendy Russell (R), has applied for this appointment. I have been familiar with Wendy’s BOS appointment to the State’s Eastern Regional Tourism District (ERTD). The ERTD is an important entity for our Old Lyme tourism attractions such as the Florence Griswold Museum and Lyme Art Association, as it creates and manages tourism grants, as well as promotes Eastern CT tourism assets to travel magazines, etc.

I spoke with Wendy via Zoom last week and we discussed the contributions she could make to the EDC, including keeping the commissioners up to date on economy-enhancing opportunities available to municipalities and their tourism assets. 

I believe Wendy could provide positive impact to the EDC. She attended the Feburary 2nd EDC meeting as a member of the public. I encourage her appointment.

Candace Fuchs (D) is up for reappointment. Candace has been a productive and reliable member of the EDC. She currently takes our minutes, which she does in a timely fashion. Candace has been the only commissioner to volunteer to take minutes. When commissioners are asked to complete tasks such as reaching out to area businesspersons for website content, Candace completes her assignments (often before others) in a timely and complete manner. She has also written an article for our new website. She is a strong advocate for the EDC working in alignment with the recommendations outlined in the Town’s 2020 POCD. She has been a very responsible and needed contributor to the EDC. I support her reappointment.

Mona Colwell (U) has also applied for appointment to the EDC; she also attended last evening’s EDC meeting. 

I would be disappointed if Candace were not reappointed, as she makes important contributions to the EDC in meeting its goals. I appreciate any opportunity to minimize disruption to the EDC’s productivity.

The EDC is a bipartisan commission that currently works together quite amicably and effectively. The current commissioners’ values — regardless of political affiliation — are in alignment with the charge of the EDC to support economic investment and revitalization of existing businesses while attracting new commerce and cultural opportunities. We support encouraging visitors from across the region to frequent our restaurants, shops, and other attractions. We encourage newcomers to purchase homes or start a new business here, thereby becoming part of our wonderful community. 

Thank you.

American Rescue Plan Committee Presents Initial Findings From Survey to Old Lyme BOS

OLD LYME — On Tuesday, Jan. 18, towards the end of a very lengthy Old Lyme (OL) Board of Selectmen (BOS)’s meeting, the agenda item of a ‘Project Update from the OL American Rescue Plan (ARP) Committee’ was finally reached.

In view of the time — the meeting had already been running three hours — and the fact another meeting was waiting to convene in the Meeting Room, Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker handed a copy of a summary of the initial results of the committee’s survey to her BOS colleagues and proposed they should discuss it at their next meeting on Monday, Feb. 7.

The summary read as follows:

The purpose of this brief summary is to provide the Board of Selectmen and the residents of Old Lyme an update on the recent survey of Old Lyme residents, businesses, and organizations by the American Recovery Plan Committee. The survey was designed to help the committee recommend a strategy to the Board of Selectman for using the designated federal funds under the American Recovery Plan Act. The survey was open from December 9 through January 7, 2022. The committee has the initial findings of the survey and is working now to complete their analysis of the results.

The survey resulted in 896 completed electronic responses and 4 handwritten responses. The total includes 704 residents who consider Old Lyme their primary residence including 67 who also run a business or organization in town; 168 property owners (that includes seasonal residents); and 28 business owners who do not also live in Old Lyme. This indicates roughly 10% of the Old Lyme population participated in the survey. The ARPA Committee is pleased with the number of participants.

Old Lyme residents, business owners, and organization leaders were asked how the pandemic affected their lives, as well as their preferences for how the Town spends its ARPA funds. Respondents could also include additional comments if they wished.

The Committee strives to operate in a transparent and objective manner, and looks forward to sharing with the public the complete findings as they are compiled and analyzed.

The first set of findings ready to share regards a question asked of all survey takers. The survey asked participants for their input regarding how the money should be allocated across 11 categories. These categories were chosen because they are deemed appropriate and legal uses of the funds by the US Treasury Department. The committee has reviewed respondents’ beliefs of how important each of the categories are in the distribution of funds. The categories are listed below in ranked order from most to least important.

  1. Investment in current and future infrastructure challenges such as clean water and sewer/waste treatment: – 68.99%
  2. Investment in Old Lyme post-pandemic small business recovery – 67.37%
  3. Financial assistance to Nonprofit Organizations that provided relief and services to Old Lyme residents during the pandemic – 67.12%
  4. Investment in Mental Health Services or other Public Health Services to assist Old Lyme residents – 65.97%
  5. Reinvestment in Old Lyme government services that were deemed essential during the pandemic (such as Emergency Services) to ensure preparedness for future services – 63.77%
  6. Investment in town-wide broadband (internet) improvements and/or cell services for potentially recurring needs such as remote work, remote schooling, and Telehealth services – 60.62%
  7. Grant premium pay to Old Lyme front line essential workers who were at heightened risk due to the character of their work during the public health emergency – 57.86%
  8. Financial assistance to Old Lyme families and households having difficulty recovering from pandemic losses (noting there are funds available now for Old Lyme families through a fund administered by LYSB) – 54.3%
  9. Investment in early childhood care and education – 54.1%
  10. Investment in bringing visitors to our Old Lyme attractions, restaurants, shops, and accommodations – 41.92%
  11. Investment in affordable housing to meet the needs of those working and living in Old Lyme. – 38.55%

The Committee members have divided into groups to further process the results and survey comments. These groups will report to the ARP Committee on January 19th.

  • Public Safety – Mary Jo Nosal and Dave Roberge
  • Arts / Entertainment and Hospitality – Cheryl Poirier
  • Mental Health / Social Services – Mary Seidner and Jen Datum
  • Infrastructure – Phil Parcak and Martha Shoemaker
  • Business / Industry – Rick Stout and Dennis Powers

Asked for a comment on the initial findings, Richard Stout, who serves as chairman of the ARP Committee’s Survey Sub-Committee told LymeLine by e-mail, “The committee meetings are open to the public, include a public comment agenda item and minutes of committee meetings are available here: https://www.oldlyme-ct.gov/node/35311/minutes.”

He continued, “The committee membership and invited presenters reflect a wide range of the Town’s stakeholders, and the committee is working through the survey responses to formulate its recommendations to the BOS and BOF [Old Lyme Board of Finance] in keeping with its Mission Statement (printed below).

Finally, he noted, “Minutes from the 1/19/2022 meeting include a succinct overview of the survey update provide by the committee.”

The next meeting of the ARP Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 12 p.m. in the Meeting hall at Old Lyme Town Hall. Selectwoman Shoemaker told LymeLine via email, “Our next step is to come up with an official application and a process for the requests.”

Editor’s Note: The Mission Statement of the Old Lyme American Rescue Plan Committee reads: ‘The ARPC will develop and recommend a strategy to the Board of Selectmen for the allocation of ARP funds that benefits the Old Lyme community, which has been impacted by the COVID pandemic. The Committee will strive to operate in a transparent and objective manner and consider input from the community at large. The group’s goal is that their recommendation for fund deployment will, when carried out, maximize benefits for those living and working in Old Lyme. The ARPC will provide regular updates to the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance with a goal of submitting final recommendations prior to June 30, 2022.’

Old Lyme’s 2021 Citizen of the Year is Cheryl Poirier!

Old Lyme’s 2021 Citizen of the Year Cheryl Poirier (second from left) stands with the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen (from left to right) First Selectman Timothy Griswold, Selectman Matt Ward and Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker. Photo by Michele Dickey.

OLD LYME — UPDATED 1/26 — new photo added: At Monday evening’s Annual Town Meeting, Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold announced the closely-guarded secret that Cheryl Poirier had been selected by the board of selectmen as the 2021 Old Lyme Citizen of the Year.

Here is the full text of the Proclamation, which Griswold read aloud to announce the honor:

“We are excited to announce that Old Lyme’s Citizen of the Year for 2021 is the very talented Cheryl Poirier. Cheryl has provided extraordinary service to the Town of Old Lyme in a variety of capacities. She has touched the hearts of many, and that will be reflected in my remarks tonight.

Honoring Old Lyme’s 2021 Citizen of the Year Cheryl Poirier (third from left) are (from left to right) State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd), Old Lyme Town Clerk Vicki Urbowicz, who officiated at the meeting, First Selectman Timothy Griswold, Selectman Matt Ward and Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker. Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Cheryl is deeply committed to promoting the arts. She is the former Marketing Associate for the Florence Griswold Museum. The museum credits her for developing their “brand” and said that Cheryl is a natural storyteller who is gifted at distilling information into beautiful moments that capture the attention of their audiences. She made a particular impact on her former museum colleague Tammi Flynn. 

Tammi told us that Cheryl is a big thinker whose mind never stops. She sees everything as an opportunity to be explored. Specifically, Tammi said that Cheryl is always five steps ahead of everyone else and frequently “dings” her phone with text messages saying, “did you see this?” and “have you thought of this?” Tammi usually replies “no” followed by the eyeroll emoji because somehow Cheryl always finds information she hasn’t seen yet. She says Cheryl is simply the best at bringing together both ideas and people.

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold starts the presentation to Old Lyme’s 2021 Citizen of the Year — a very surprised Cheryl Poirier. Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Cheryl is also active with the Old Lyme Arts District and regularly shares information about art happenings on social media. She has led the planning of Old Lyme’s Midsummer Festival and participates in events such as Make Music Day and the Chamber’s Light Up Old Lyme program. She also spearheads Fairy Doors on Lyme Street each Fall, so we have her to thank for the festive decorations found up and down the street.

Dan Stevens, owner of Nightingale’s Acoustic Café and member of the Arts District, has worked directly with Cheryl on Make Music Day and had this to say about her: “I can think of few who have poured so much heart and soul into making our town a great place to live in a wonderfully selfless way. Her enthusiasm is contagious and her ability to motivate and lead is exceptional. She is a true joy to work with and a great asset to our town.” 

Katie Huffman, Director of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library and current leader of the Arts District, echoes Dan’s sentiments. She told us, “It’s a rare person who has both exceptional ideas and the wherewithal and tenacity to realize them. Cheryl is one such person. She has amazing ideas, the confidence to share them with others, and the can-do attitude to see them through. In my experience, she leaves every project and organization better than she found it—more organized, efficient, communicative, and productive. She’s more interested in seeing things accomplished than in earning accolades, yet she’s willing and beyond capable to take the lead when needed.  

When Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold (left) announced Cheryl Poirier (second from left) as the Town’s 2021 Citizen of the Year, she received a standing ovation from the audience attending the Jan. 24 Annual Town Meeting. Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman David Kelsey (right) joined the cheers. Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

On a more personal level, Cheryl is kind and supportive. She notices when people are struggling and is ready to offer a supporting hand or word of encouragement when things get hard. She’s always interested in learning more—about herself, about the community, and about the greater world—and she’s willing to share her knowledge and experience with others to the benefit of many.”

Beyond all she does to support the arts, Cheryl has been instrumental in several Town projects. She is the current Chair of the Old Lyme Sustainability Team and through her leadership, secured both the bronze and silver level certifications from Sustainable CT. Charolette Wyman, who works closely with Cheryl on our sustainability efforts, said that the first time Cheryl attended a Sustainable Old Lyme meeting she was very quiet, which is hard to imagine as she tends to have strong opinions and ideas. But very quickly the committee realized how sharp she is and were amazed at her ability to see the potential synergies among many of the organizations in town. Charolette told us that the smartest thing Sustainable Old Lyme did was making Cheryl their leader and we could not agree more. Now it’s time for her to focus on getting us that gold certification!  

One of the projects that helped the Town achieve these certifications is the town-wide Pollinator Pathway project that encourages residents to plant native species.  Cheryl worked alongside Suzanne Thompson to make the project a smashing success. When asked about what it’s like to work with Cheryl, Suzanne said, “When I’m collaborating with Cheryl on a project, I know it will be visionary, well thought-out and properly executed – and it will be an enjoyable experience working with her to make things happen.” 

Former Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal gives a hug to Old Lyme’s 2021 Citizen of the Year Cheryl Poirier. Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Because she doesn’t have enough on her plate, Cheryl also agreed to Chair the Town’s Economic Development Commission. In her relatively short time as Chair thus far, she worked closely with Edie Twinning to develop a brand-new website dedicated to promoting Old Lyme tourism. She collected anecdotes from small business owners, wrote copy, set up various pages, gathered photography, and worked diligently to put out an incredible product that is beautiful in design and rich in information. Michelle Noehren, of my office, works frequently with Cheryl and said she is one of the most committed, passionate, hardworking, and innovative commission chairs. Howard Margules, the former Chair of the EDC, agrees, stating that Cheryl is the epitome of a professional, is hardworking and results-driven, and always maintains an open mind. 

Highly organized, deeply motivated, compassionate, and an innovative visionary are all terms that accurately describe Cheryl and her leadership style. Everything I mentioned today she does in a volunteer capacity, so we have no idea how she also makes time to be the wonderful wife, parent, and friend that we know she is. The Town of Old Lyme is grateful for all that she does to support the arts, tourism, the environment, and the economic development of this town she cares so much about. Congratulations, Cheryl, for being selected as the Town of Old Lyme’s 2021 Citizen of the Year.”

Old Lyme’s 2021 Citizen of the Year chats with Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker after the presentation. Economic Development Commission member and former chair of the commission Howard Margules stands to the rear. Former Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal gives a hug to Old Lyme’s 2021 Citizen of the Year Cheryl Poirier. Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Griswold concluded, saying, “This is a much deserved honor,” and we here at LymeLine heartily agree!

A somewhat overwhelmed Poirier, to whom the nomination was a complete surprise, told LymeLine exclusively by email, “It’s an incredible honor to be named Old Lyme’s Citizen of the Year. Volunteering in a community means always learning new perspectives, finding creative ways to collaborate, and of course, building new friendships along the way.”

She added, “I feel very lucky to volunteer alongside the great people, who challenge me and are just as passionate as I am about supporting the amazing things going on in Old Lyme.”

Congratulations, Cheryl!

Old Lyme Town Meeting Approves 2020-21 Town Report, Sale of 11 Alpha Ave., $50K Appropriation for Sound View Sidewalks; 2021 Citizen of the Year Announced

A murmuration of swallows is featured on the cover of the Old Lyme Annual Report for 2019-2020

OLD LYME  — The Old Lyme Annual Town Meeting was held Monday evening in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium.  Atty. Tom McGarry was elected as the Moderator.

Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman David Kelsey presented the 2020-21 Annual Town Report and thanked Michelle Dickey for “another wonderful editing job.”  The cover features photos of Tree Swallows during their annual murmuration.

Next, those assembled in the auditorium approved the sale of 11 Alpha Ave. (within Rogers Lake West Shores) to Roger Davis at a sale price of $10,500. Alpha Ave is a “paper” street, meaning it is not a passable road. The lot is a 0.48 acre parcel that abuts the Davis home property. The closing will likely occur in February.

Moving to a new agenda item, Frank Pappalardo then explained the Sound View Sidewalk Committee’s request for an appropriation of $50,000 to complete the sidewalk and transportation hub project. Pappalardo pointed out that, while there is a State grant of $400,000 for the project (income), the original project budget (spending) was also $400,000.

There have been about $46,000 of expenses that are not eligible for grant funding, which were paid using the project budget. If the $50,000 appropriation were approved (which it was subsequently), the Town could complete the transportation hub and be reimbursed almost in full by the unused State grant funds.

Finally, to her great surprise, the Citizen of the Year for 2021 was announced as Cheryl Poirier.

The item concerning using $115.000 of American Rescue Plan funding for COVID testing, distribution and communications was withdrawn from the agenda following the request by the American Rescue Plan Act Committee to do so following the announcement by the federal government of their funding of N-95 masks and COVID-19 self-tests.

A reception for Poirier was held in the Middle School cafeteria following the Town Meeting.

Old Lyme Open Space Commission Co-Chair Explains Why ‘Ames Property’ Acquisition Efforts Ended

Old Lyme Open Space Commission Co-chair Evan Griswold. Photo courtesy of E. Griswold.

OLD LYME — Several readers raised questions regarding the reasons why the efforts to acquire the two parcels of ‘Ames Property’ donated to the Old Lyme Open Space Commission have concluded.

We contacted the commission and were told that its co-chair Evan Griswold was speaking on behalf of the agency.

Griswold kindly returned our phone call earlier today and explained first that terminating the effort to acquire the parcels was “personally a disappointment” to him since he had invested a great deal of time and energy on the project over the past 18 months. He added, “It’s just a shame that we weren’t able to bring all the parties together.”

He noted that the owner of the properties, Stephen Ames, had been “very patient” throughout the whole process.

Asked what the fundamental issue was that halted the acquisition, Griswold explained that the problem went back to the restrictions that were placed on the five-parcel subdivision by Ames when it was created in 2005. Those restrictions deemed that the lots, in Griswold’s words, were, “really for residential purposes only,” and moreover, “Anyone buying one of the lots would have to commence construction of a house within 18 months of purchase.”

Griswold commented that the Open Space Commission by its very nature was not planning any construction and that its intentions were to preserve the 35 acres of land, adding that the most ‘construction’ they would undertake would be some signage and trail map information.

A second issue was that the access road for all five lots was established as a private road.

Noting that all the homeowners would have to be on board in order for the restrictions to be waived to allow for a house not to be built and to give access to the two lots in question over the private road, Griswold said, “one neighbor objected.”

Two of the three remaining lots not included in the proposed land acquisition are sold and Griswold said he believes the third is currently on the market.

While stressing his disappointment with the outcome, he noted that as a “someone involved in real estate for over 40 years,” he can appreciate both sides of the situation in that there were, “privacy concerns” for the objecting homeowner. He concluded, “There must be equity for the public and landowners.”

Old Lyme Open Space Commission Announces Efforts to Acquire Two Parcels of ‘Ames Property’ Have Ended, Obstacles “Impossible to Overcome”

The acquisition of the two new ‘Ames Property’ parcels, which cannot now be completed, would have directly expanded the existing 195-acre Ames Family Open Space, which can be accessed from Evergreen Trail (via Boggy Hole Road). Photo credit: OL Open Space Commission. 

OLD LYME —  This afternoon, the Old Lyme Open Space Commission released the following statement on the proposed Ames Property purchase:

“The Old Lyme Open Space Commission deeply regrets that, despite its diligent work over the past 18 months, and the work and support of other Town boards and commissions including the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance and the Planning Commission, its efforts to acquire two parcels of the “Ames Property” for addition to the Town’s open space lands have not been successful and have concluded. 

In the end, it proved impossible to overcome obstacles posed by the recorded documents that created the five-parcel subdivision of which the two open-space parcels were a part. 

This outcome is especially unfortunate because acquisition of the open space parcels would have been of great benefit to the Town. The acquisition would have directly expanded the existing Ames Open Space, further protected the Black Hall River watershed, provided additional refuge for endangered species, preserved forest land and its carbon sequestration potential, and moved Old Lyme closer to a town-wide hiking trail.

The possibility of new access to Ames Open Space via a well-constructed and maintained driveway with safe, off-road parking, and potential new trail access by persons with disabilities, including to the existing open space ancient Native-American caves/shelters, would have been another key benefit.

The Open Space Commission thanks the property owner, Steven Ames, for his patient consideration while the Commission pursued the acquisition.”

Update on COVID-Tests, Masks From the State

Old Lyme is still waiting for its next supply of IHealth self-tests  from the state.

OLD LYME — Old Lyme Emergency Services Director David Roberge informed us by phone yesterday (Friday, Jan. 14) that no further supplies of COVID self-tests nor masks have been received from the state this week.

Roberge also noted that, to date, he has not received any information regarding when the next delivery might be made.

He wanted to express his appreciation to all the townspeople for their patience and share the hope that he receives more news from the state soon.

As soon as we receive any further information from Roberge on a delivery of self-tests and/or masks, we will publish it promptly.

Roberge Hails Saturday’s Drive-Thru Event in Old Lyme to Distribute COVID-19 Test-Kits, Masks, Another Success

COVID-19 self-tests will be distributed at Saturday morning’s drive-thru event in Old Lyme.

OLD LYME — Jan 8, 5PM UPDATE: Old Lyme Emergency Services Director David Roberge told LymeLine by phone this afternoon that all the self-test kits and N95 masks, which the state had supplied, were successfully handed out this morning.

He commented that there were more than 100 cars in line well before the event start time of 10 a.m.

Roberge added, “Many thanks go to everyone who waited patiently in line for their test kits and masks. We really appreciate their patience and kindness.”

He added, “As and when we receive any further supplies from the state, we will announce further drive-through events to distribute the products.”

Roberge had special words for the six volunteers, who assisted him during the event this morning, saying, “I really appreciate their help, support and positive attitude … despite the cold! It couldn’t have happened without them.” 

On Thursday, Jan. 6, the Town of Old Lyme received an additional, but limited, quantity of COVID-19 test kits and N95 masks from the state.

A ‘Drive-Thru Pickup’ is scheduled for TODAY, Saturday, Jan. 8, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or until supplies are exhausted on the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School driveway behind Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau for Old Lyme residents, who meet the criteria stated above.

Four hundred (400) test kits and N95 masks are available to distribute, and these test kits are again being prioritized for residents, “who currently need to make wise decisions about quarantining or isolating because they have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.”

Enter from the Center School driveway entrance. Residents will need to show ID.

The quantity of test kits and masks being distributed will be one test kit containing two tests and four N95 masks per household.

At this time, the state is expected to receive additional shipments. When the Town of Old Lyme receives additional deliveries, future drive-thru events will be scheduled and then announced.

To stay in touch regarding when additional test-kits and masks become available for distribution, simply text OLCOVID19 to 888777 on your phone.  The most recent information about COVID-19 test kit and mask distribution events will be shared there as well as on the Town of Old Lyme website, the Town’s social media platforms and with the Town’s media partners, which include LymeLine.com.

Editor’s Note: This article is based on a press release issued Jan. 6 by Old Lyme Emergency Services Director David Roberge.

Roberge Says Successful Hand-out of COVID-19 Tests was “Team Effort,” Thanks all Involved for “Support, Patience, Kindness”

Cars in line at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School wait patiently yesterday afternoon to pick up state-funded, free COVID-19 tests.

OLD LYME — Although holding many reservations about holding a drive-through event to pick up the highly anticipated COVID-19 self-tests finally delivered by the state, Old Lyme Director of Emergency Management David Roberge ended up pleased with its outcome. He commented cheerfully in a phone call to LymeLine after the 180 test kits received had been distributed Sunday afternoon in the space of an hour and a half, “It all went very smoothly.”

Vehicles were lined up in front of Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School well before the official 3 p.m. start time of the event and using an efficient system of checking ID’s and having several people handing out tests simultaneously, 90 test kits were handed out in the first 10 minutes. Things then slowed down a little and the remaining 90 were gone by 4:30 p.m.

Old Lyme Visiting Nurse Association volunteers Sarah Gleason (left) and Cindi Taylor prepare to hand out COVID-19 test kits to Old Lyme residents in need.

Noting that the Old Lyme Office of Emergency Management had successfully distributed 180 COVID test kits to  residents in need, Roberge noted, “While we did not yet have enough test kits for all, (he was expecting a delivery of 3,000 rather than the 550 received) we are grateful that we did have those on hand to share.”

He had nothing but praise for all involved, saying, “We wish to thank the Old Lyme Police Department, the selectmen from town hall  along with the Old Lyme Visiting Nurses Association (OLVNA) and Lyme’s Youth Services Bureau (LYSB) for assisting in the distribution.” Both Selectman Matt Ward and Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker were on hand to assist with the effort. (First Selectman Tim Griswold was out of state on a prearranged trip) as were representatives of Old Lyme’s VNA and LYSB.

Roberge also expressed his thanks to, “Our social media specialists and LymeLine for sharing the most current and dated information during this event. Their help made the event go very quickly and efficiently.”

Finally, he gave what he described as his “biggest thank-you” to all the residents, who came out to pick up their test kits, saying, “Their patience and cooperation while waiting in the long line allowed the distribution go very smoothly without any altercations.”

Looking to the future, Roberge commented, “As the state is in the process of obtaining additional test kits, we look forward to providing the same high level of service for future distributions.”

He concluded, “I thank you for all your support, patience and kindness during the afternoon. It was truly a team effort pulled together at very short notice,”

Roberge also took the opportunity to repeat his ongoing message to the community, saying, “As we continue to navigate this pandemic, please carry on taking precautions, and above all, stay safe.”

Olafur, Director of Emergency Management David Roberge’s dog, carefully guards the precious cargo!

The response to the event has been overwhelmingly positive with several residents expressing their thanks on social media to all who made the event a reality. Gail Najarian also spoke for many when she wrote in a comment on LymeLine,”I was quite apprehensive about going out but was so impressed how orderly the distribution went. Thank you everyone who made this possible.”

Editor’s Note: We would be remiss if we did not extend our sincere thanks to David Roberge himself for all his efforts in organizing this event. We look forward to supporting future distributions with timely communications.