October 19, 2021

Old Lyme Board of Selectmen Candidates Respond to Our Questions

Photo by Elements Digital on Unsplash.

OLD LYME — In keeping with our now almost 18-year tradition and in the interests of increasing voter knowledge prior to the upcoming election, we posed three questions in writing to the four candidates for Old Lyme Board of Selectmen, who will be on the ballot in the Nov. 2 election.

There is no contest for the Lyme Board of Selectmen, where the three incumbents are unopposed

The questions were:

1. Why are you running for the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen?

2. What is your opinion of the Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis, which was originally proposed by Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal in August 2020 as a document that the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen should approve? It remains unsigned — please indicate whether you would be willing to sign it, if elected.

3. What do you consider are currently the three most important issues in Old Lyme that require the attention of the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen, (with the exception of the Resolution on Racism discussed in Question 2)? Describe how you would move forward on each issue, if elected.

We gave a 300-word limit for the response to each question to which each candidate strictly adhered: we are most appreciative of that.

We are delighted that all the candidates responded to our questions in a timely manner. We thank them sincerely and are pleased to publish their responses today accompanied by their respective biographies, for which we gave a 100-word limit, and photos.

We would also like to state that — again in keeping with our long-held policy — we will not be making any candidate endorsements.

Click on the links below to read each candidate’s responses:

Candidates for Old Lyme First Selectman

Timothy C. Griswold (R – Incumbent)

Martha Shoemaker (D)

Candidates for Old Lyme Selectmen

Jim Lampos (D)

Matthew Ward (R)

Old Lyme Residents Approve $42K Related to Police, Ranger Hours at Special Town Meeting; Some Reimbursement of Amount by Federal Government Anticipated

OLD LYME — UPDATED 9/15: More than 100 people attended an Old Lyme Special Town Meeting held last night in the auditorium of Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School. Those present approved by a voice vote the single item on the agenda regarding whether to appropriate $42,000 in connection with Old Lyme Police overtime and Ranger time incurred during the fiscal year 2020-21.

Some of the $42,000 was incurred in connection with the Town’s response to the COVID-19 virus and the Town expects that amount to be partially reimbursed to the Town by the U.S. Federal Government.

This was the second time this motion had been brought to a vote after failing to pass at an Old Lyme Special Town Meeting held Aug. 16.

Editor’s Note: Visit this link to read a related Letter to the Editor from Kathleen Tracy.

Old Lyme to Hold Special Town Meeting Tonight; New Location, In-Person Only Attendance to be Permitted

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen will hold a Special Town Meeting this evening — Monday, Sept. 13 — at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School. This meeting was originally scheduled to be held in the Meeting Hall at Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall but has had to be moved due to a conflict with the Zoning Commission

This Special Town Meeting will be conducted in-person only. There will be no online option for attendance.

The Meeting will consider and act upon the following business item:

1.         Whether to appropriate forty-two thousand dollars ($42,000) in connection with the Police overtime and Ranger time incurred during the fiscal year 2020-21, some of which was incurred in connection with the Town’s response to the COVID-19 virus and which the Town reasonably expects will be partially reimbursed to the Town by the U.S. Federal Government.

The business item related to calling the meeting was approved by the board of selectmen at its meeting on Aug. 31.

Editor’s Note: Visit this link to read a related Letter to the Editor from Kathleen Tracy.

Letter to the Editor: Shoemaker Explains Decision to Run for Old Lyme’s ‘Top Job’ + BOE, Seeks Broad Support From Voters

To the Editor:

An Open Letter to the Residents of Old Lyme:

I am running for First Selectwoman of our town and I hope to earn the support of all our citizens whether they be Democrat, Republican, or Unaffiliated.  Old Lyme residents deserve a leader who will listen to their concerns, create sound fiscal budgets, and bring consensus among diverse groups working toward the common goal of improving our town.  I will prepare this town for the challenges of the future. My decision to run was prompted by overwhelming resident concerns that these critical responsibilities were not being met. I am confident that my skill-set and prior experience will enable me to address these issues

During my 35-year career as a public-school teacher I worked collaboratively with fellow teachers, administration, and parents to provide a quality education for students.  I served as the union president for the last twelve years of my tenure.  Mediation, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills are tools that I incorporated to bring consensus between people.  These experiences will be crucial as First Selectwoman.  I am currently Co-Chair of the Lyme/Old Lyme Prevention Coalition (LOLPC) and President of the Friends of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library. I am passionate about public service and believe there is a benefit for the entire Old Lyme community in being able to integrate activities, align networks and identify compatible and complementary opportunities among organizations.  

I am also running for re-election to the Region 18 Board of Education. I was first elected to the Board for a four-year term in 2017 after retiring from teaching.  Public education has been and is an integral part of my life and is critically important to the residents of Old Lyme.  I have enjoyed working on the Board of Education and look forward to contributing to the Regional District 18 Strategic Plan beginning in the fall of 2021.

The role of First Selectwoman is to serve the community of Old Lyme and to maintain, and where appropriate improve, the quality of town assets and services for our citizens.  I will respect the trust you place in me to lead our town.  If also re-elected to the Board of Education, I will continue to collaborate with the other eight members of the board to make the best decisions we can for the public education our students deserve. 

I look forward to meeting you on the campaign trail.

Sincerely,

Martha H. Shoemaker,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author is the Democratic-endorsed candidate for Old Lyme First Selectwoman and also one of the four Democratic-endorsed candidates for the Region 18 Board of Education, on which she currently serves.

Old Lyme Selectmen Issue Local Declaration of Emergency, Additional Updates About How to Respond to Henri

Photo credit: The Weather Channel.

OLD LYME — On Saturday, Aug. 21, the Old Lyme (OL) Board of Selectmen (BOS) issued a local Declaration of Emergency — but first and foremost, their message is that if you have an emergency, always call 911.

The following represents the latest information from the OL BOS:

Beaches are Closed

For the safety and security of residents, the Old Lyme Town Beaches and Parking Areas (Sound View and White Sands) closed Saturday, Aug. 21, at 4 p.m.

Evacuation

The Town of Old Lyme has issued a Voluntary Evacuation Order.

 

Residents situated along the beach communities and those who live in low-lying areas that are susceptible to flooding are encouraged to evacuate the area prior to Hurricane Henri’s arrival Sunday. Storm predictions identify high winds along with a tidal surge of from 4 to 6 ft. that will affect these areas.

People in these areas are encouraged to seek shelter with family or friends, who are inland or are at higher elevations. Those in need of temporary shelter may also go to the East Lyme Middle School.

A Red Cross-operated shelter will open at 6 p.m. Saturday at the East Lyme Middle School located at 31 Society Rd., Niantic.

If you are planning to evacuate your home or cottage, take the following precautions:

  • Turn off the main breaker in your electrical service panel and turn off and secure any LP Gas propane cylinders at your home.
  • Secure your residence by closing and locking all windows and doors to your home.
  • Take the time to document the condition of your property before the storm hits. This can help with any insurance claim you might have.
  • Call the Old Lyme Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Call Center line at 860-598-0120 for additional information.

Sandbags

For residents living in low-lying flood-prone areas, sandbags are available at the Old Lyme Public Works garage situated on Machnik Drive. Sand and a quantity of bags are available outside the fence. Bring a shovel as some assembly is required.

Did You Lose Power? 

Make sure Eversource knows about your outage. Text “OUT” to 23129 or call 1-800-286-2000.

Storm Updates from Old Lyme

To receive text updates from the Town of Old Lyme, text OLSTORM to 888777.

Connecticut Emergency Alerts

For urgent updates from the State of Connecticut, click here.

Emergency Operations Center

To reach the Emergency Operations Center call line, call or text (860) 598-0120.

Potable Water & Charging Stations

The Town of Old Lyme will establish a Respite Center at Lyme’s Senior Center (26 Townwoods Road). Services available will include charging stations for electronic devices, potable water to fill your own containers, and ice will be available. The hours of operation will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Water (bring your own container) and charging stations will also be available at the Fire Houses, the Police Department, and the Sound View Community Center.

Trash & Recycling Pick Up

The Town has been informed by CWPM that they will do garbage pick-up, even if the town is hit by Hurricane Henri. The only reason they would cancel is if there are lines down and the roads are not passable. This information will be updated as it changes.

Food Safety

During this storm event, remember to be aware of potential food spoilage from loss of power. The Red Cross’s recommendations for protecting your food against spoilage during power outage events can be found here.

Generator Safety

To help reduce the potential for injury or death, follow generator safety usage guidelines.

Never use a portable generator indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, shed or tent. This can result in CO poisoning or death. During Storm Isaias, the Old Lyme Fire Department and Old Lyme EMS responded to over 20 emergency calls involving generators and carbon monoxide poisoning. Visit the Eversource website for safe generator practices.

Important Reminders from the Old Lyme Fire Department

  • NEVER drive through a flooded roadway, or even a flooded driveway. Some say that if you can’t see the bottom don’t risk it — we just say don’t risk it at all!
  • NEVER approach downed wires, ever. NEVER drive over downed wires … ever. If there is immediate concern for hazards, call an emergency number. Do not call 911 to report outages. It’s safe to say you should avoid downed trees as well, you may not know what it took down with it.
  • ALWAYS know how to use your generator or chainsaw before you touch it. Emergencies are not the best time to learn a new skill!

Volunteers Requested to Help With Henri Recovery

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (File photo)

OLD LYME — In light of Henri’s anticipated arrival as a hurricane on the southeastern Connecticut shore on Sunday, Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal has sent out a request for residents, “Who could make themselves available to volunteer, if needed, to support the Town during the storm and during the recovery from Henri.”

She says in an email shared with LymeLine, “I suspect that we will need a group of volunteers to be flexible as this storm progresses.”
Nosal explains that teams of volunteers are usually needed to:
  • Support the Respite Center at the Senior Center, if it opens.  Specifically, to welcome people, serve food and beverages, and just be a comfort.  The Respite Center will be staffed with Red Cross-trained individuals for food preparation.
  • Deliver water to residents if needed during the recovery.
  • Hand-out ice at the Middle School if needed during recovery.
  • Call people to check on them or return calls.
Nosal asks that anyone willing to volunteer should contact her by email at maryjonosal@gmail.com indicating preference of support or just availability to help where needed. She requests that you provide your name, all contact information (cell phone, home phone, email and address), and any special training you may have to assist.
The Town’s Emergency Management Operations will be on full stand-by for this storm, but it is essential all residents ensure that they and their family members are well-prepared for around four days without power.
The State will open up the Regional Center for evacuees and their pets, at the East Lyme Middle School, if needed. The facility will also provide a location for COVID-positive people.

Letter to the Editor: Motion Failed at Old Lyme Town Meeting Due to Absence of Supporting Information from First Selectman, Salient Point for Upcoming Election

To the Editor:

As a voting resident in the Town of Old Lyme, I attended the Special Town Meeting on August 16th in the Town Hall, which was only held in person.  The purpose of the meeting was to vote on the appropriation of money for four items totaling $197,000. In the past, I was always asked to verify that I was a property owner or eligible to vote prior to the meeting.  No such verification was held at this meeting where less than 20 people were in attendance.  I only knew about the meeting because Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal highlighted to First Selectman Tim Griswold at a Board of Selectman’s meeting two weeks prior, that proper support and information for the requests needed to be clear to the public.  Nevertheless, no handouts or information of any kind was shared with the public.

Thankfully, David Roberge, the Fire Marshal, was able to provide substantial information on the funds for Covid-19 and Storm Isaias responses, much of which will be reimbursed by the federal government.  Phil Parcak, Facilities Manager, was also helpful in providing detailed information regarding the construction of a new scale house building.  All three of these motions passed. Sadly, Tim Griswold was unable to provide information about the $42,000 expenditure for Police/Ranger overtime and as a result, this motion failed.  When a Board of Finance member in attendance was asked what happens now, his reply was, “I don’t know, this has never happened before!”

The people of Old Lyme deserve better.  We need strong leadership, not incompetence, especially when it comes to our precious tax dollars.  I hope the voters will remember that on November 2!

Sincerely,

Kathleen Tracy,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author is running as the Democratic-endorsed candidate for the position of Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate in the upcoming November election.

Halls Rd. Improvement Committee Hosts Open House at Old Lyme Town Hall; Members 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 RTC Announces Slate of Candidates for November Election; Cross-Endorses Mattson (D) for First Selectman

LYME — David Lahm, chair of the Lyme Republican Town Committee (RTC) has announced that the Lyme Republicans met for a caucus on Monday, July 26, to endorse a slate of candidates for the Nov. 2, 2021 Municipal Election. 

The following individuals were endorsed for the positions indicated by all in attendance (I denotes the candidate is an incumbent):

Selectman:  David Lahm

Board of Finance:  Bruce Anderson

Board of Finance Alternate:  Thomas St. Louis

Planning & Zoning Commission:  David Tiffany (I)

Planning & Zoning Commission Alternate:  Frederick Gahagan (I)

Zoning Board of Appeals:  David Lahm (I)

In addition incumbent Democrat First Selectman Steve Mattson was cross-endorsed.

After the endorsements were announced, a Lyme RTC spokesperson commented, “Lyme voters of all parties value the importance of working together in the governance of the town going forward.”

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.