June 24, 2019

Clear Out Your Closets! Intake for 83rd Annual White Elephant Sale Starts Thursday

Intake, which starts this year Thursday, June 27, is always a busy time.

The ever popular White Elephant Sale (WES) hosted by the Ladies Benevolent Society of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme is just around the corner.

For those not familiar with it, this 83rd annual sale is one of the main events on both local town and church calendars.  It all starts with the intake period when you can drop off unwanted (but neither broken nor in poor condition) items at the church from your house — perhaps your basement, attic or closets — or yard.

Crowds anxiously await the first strike of 9 a.m. when the White Elephant Sale begins.

Garage, tag and rummage sales may be everyday affairs, but few, if any, can match the size and color of this one.  The sale items are organized into some 20 departments that fill the church buildings as well as every available space on the lawn.  The WES has grown so large that it has become a true “community event” since many of the donations are from non-church members and quite a number of volunteers are also from outside the church.

The sale raises a significant amount of money for missions and good works both locally and throughout the world.  Some of the beneficiaries include food pantries, health organizations, family support centers, children’s programs, literacy volunteers, affordable housing, and disaster relief worldwide.

Always a big draw are the huge number of bikes for sale at bargain prices.

Intake begins on Thursday, June 27, from 9 a.m. to 2 pm continuing for the same time period Friday, June 28, Saturday, June 29, and Monday, July 1.  Then there is a break for the July 4th holiday after which intake restarts for the final two days Friday, July 5, and Saturday, July 6.  There will be no evening intake sessions this year and also no large furniture pick-up. See the list below for a summary of donations that are welcomed, and those that are not.

The sale itself will be held on Friday, July 12, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday, July 13, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.  Most departments offer items at half-price on the second day.

For more information about the sale or if you would like to volunteer to help in any capacity, whether with intake, the sale itself, or clean-up, call the church office at 860.434.8686 and/or visit www.fccol.org.

Items that will GLADLY be accepted  [Quality Please!]
Antiques, Fine China, Silver                      
Appliances, Small (Working)
Art, Sculpture, Posters, Frames
Automobiles, Trucks [call church]
Bedding, Linens
Boats, Canoes, Kayaks
Bicycles, Tricycles
Books: Children’s, Non-Fiction, Fiction
Clothes & Shoes:
>Child’s, Men’s, Women’s
>Fine, Fashion
>Vintage, Costume & Accessories
Collections
Computer Hardware (working)
Curtains, Drapes
Electronics (Working)
Furniture: Indoor & Outdoor [call church 434-8686]
Gifts, Sundries, Knickknacks & Baskets
Jewelry: Costume & Fine
Kitchen Items (Appliances, Dishes, Cookware)
Lamps (Working)
Luggage [soft side or Steamer trunks only]
Musical Instruments
Plants, Containers
Skis – downhill must be “shape” style
Sporting Goods [good condition]
Tools (House & Garden)
Toys, Stuffed Animals [new]
DVDs (Family Content)

Items that WILL NOT be accepted:
Dirty or Broken Items or Junk

Appliances (Large):
>Air Conditioners
>Refrigerators, freezers & Stoves
>Washers & Dryers
Bike helmets [used – safety concerns]
Books: Technical or Textbooks, Encyclopedias
Car Seats – safety concerns
Cribs – safety concerns
Chemicals & Paint
Computer monitors [unless flat screen]
Fuel cans with Gasoline or Kerosene
Guns, Knives, Weapons
Luggage [hard sided]
Magazines, Newspapers
Mattresses and Box Springs
Particle board furniture
Rugs [used]
Sewing Machines
Skis – old style downhill
Stuffed animals [used]
Stuffed sofas / sofa beds
Tires
Treadmills
TVs [unless flat screen]

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‘A Farmers’ Market’ Opens Saturdays for the Season at Tiffany Farms

Bill Hurtle and Jen Tiffany are preparing to open ‘The Farmers Market at Tiffany Farms’ on June 15.

Editor’s Note: The Farmer’s Market enjoyed a wonderful Opening Day last Saturday with more than 500 people visiting the market. Congratulations to Jen and Bill on such a successful and well-deserved start to their new enterprise.  We heartily commend them for having the courage to take on this venture, the total belief in its mission, and the passion to make it happen.

LYME — It was looking as though Lyme Farmers Market, which has for more than 15 years been a perennially popular destination for both local and regional shoppers, was going to be absent from the landscape this year.

In an exciting turn of events, Jennifer Tiffany and her husband Bill Hurtle have reincarnated the market with a new name and location, and will open for business on June 15.  Tiffany explained in an exclusive interview with LymeLine.com that Bill has fostered the idea of running a farmers market for many years. He hails from Long Island and was used to seeing the numerous farm stands at the side of the road there and longed to do something similar in Lyme.

But there was no inclination to follow through with the plan in any major sense while Lyme Farmers Market was still bustling just up the road on Ashlawn Farm in Lyme.

A view of the iconic Tiffany Farms where the new market is planned.

Their first iteration of Bill’s dream happened last summer when Tiffany started hanging buckets of flowers on the feed bunk by the ‘Ladies in Waiting’ sign at the corner of Sterling City Rd. and Hamburg Rd., where the Holstein cows known as the “Ladies of Lyme” used to congregate. But someone said they thought it was a memorial for the cows which are no longer kept at the farm.

As a result, Tiffany says, they “dragged out“ Tiffany Farm’s old silage cart and placed it on the same corner and Tiffany’s daughter, Lisa Simiola, fashioned a nameplate out of wood calling it “From the Farm.” Tiffany and Hurtle then added farm produce to the flower selection  on the stand, all of which was successfully sold on the honor system.

However, when Tiffany read online that Lyme Farmers Market would not be opening this year, she and Bill saw an opportunity.  Jen is passionate about the current plight of farmers — “they’re a dying breed,” she notes sadly — and wants people to understand that her and Bill’s overarching intent in starting the new farmers market is to help and support farmers.  

Tiffany stresses that this venture is absolutely not a money-making one on their part — they both have full-time jobs so it’s “not their bread and butter,” she explains.  Rather, she sees it a way not only to support farmers, but also to bring life and beauty back to the iconic farm and regenerate the sense of community vibrancy previously associated with Lyme Farmers Market.  Any income from the market will be plowed back into the operation to help fund the overheads.

Opening Day for ‘The Farmers Market at Tiffany Farms’ is Saturday, June 15, and the market will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Tiffany stresses, “All Department of Agriculture, Markets, Department of Health and CT Grown guidelines will apply.”  She is “envisaging the same look as [Lyme Farmers Market at] Ashlawn,” which means there will be neither entertainment nor what she describes as “flea-market-type stuff.”  The aim is a “very classy ” market in Tiffany’s words, focused on Connecticut-grown or-produced items such as dairy, beef, vegetables, herbs, jellies and syrups.

Aerial view of Tiffany farms showing where the Farmer’s Market will be located.

The field generously made available for the market by Susan B. Tiffany — the current owner of Tiffany Farms — is a “secluded area where my grandfather kept draft ponies,” notes Tiffany, adding the layout of the market will involve keeping cars and vendors separate. She and Hurtle are hoping to have a minimum of 10 vendors and says they will be “elated” if the number reaches 20.

The list of vendors who have already signed up for Opening Day includes:

  • Four Mile River Farm
  • Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm
  • Upper Pond Farm (also representing Ashlawn Farm)
  • Sweet Pea Cheese and House of Hayes
  • T.A.L.K. Seafood
  • Fat Stone Farm
  • Dondero Orchards
  • Deep River Farm
  • Wave Hill Breads
  • Beaver Brook Bakery
  • From the Farm

Vendors are still welcome to apply for a spot at “The Farmers Market at Tiffany Farms.”  Vendor applications are available by calling Jennifer Tiffany at 860-434-6239 or 860-575-4730 or emailing jtiffany01@msn.com

 

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Halls Road Improvements Committee Open House, June 15

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Bob Doyen Named Old Lyme’s 2018 ‘Citizen of the Year’

Old Lyme’s 2018 Citizen of the Year Robert ‘Bob’ Doyen stands proudly between his wife Barbara ‘Bobbi’ Doyen and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder. Photos by MJ Nosal.

After several previous tries, the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen was finally able to name their choice for the 2018 Citizen of the Year at Monday evening’s Annual Town Meeting. First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder made the announcement by reading from a proclamation drawn up in honor of Robert ‘Bob’ Doyen that began with this question, “What does our 2018 Citizen of the Year have in common with Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Susan Saint James, and Walt Disney’s Black Beauty?”

The unpredicted answer was, “These celebrities came to Old Lyme for the Special Olympics in 1994 – the same year that Bob Doyen was first appointed to the Harbor Management Commission.”

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder reads the proclamation announcing Robert ‘Bob’ Doyen, standing to her left, as Old Lyme’s 2018 Citizen of the Year.

Doyen has been a member of Old Lyme’s Harbor Management Commission for 25 years, serving as both its Treasurer and Vice Chair. As the proclamation read by Reemsnyder notes, “His appointment to Harbor Management was a perfect fit. As Bob explains on his realtor website, “having grown up on Fishers Island, the move to areas along the Connecticut shoreline and the Connecticut River was a natural one. The River and Sound have a tremendous amount to offer, be it fishing, boating or beaches. You couldn’t ask for a better place to live.””

The other organization to which Doyen has given exemplary service is the Old Lyme Volunteer Fire Department, which he joined in 1988 and where he has held the offices of Lieutenant and Purchasing Agent for the department. The proclamation states, “An active Apparatus driver, Marine operator and Pump operator, he assists in training new Apparatus drivers and Marine operators.”

Bob Doyen, the 2018 Old Lyme Citizen of the Year, stand with some of his fellow Old Lyme Fire Department members after the honor was announced.

Still reading from the proclamation, Reemsnyder continued, “Doyen’s 30+ years of service have earned him a reputation in the Fire Department for his willingness to pitch in whenever he is needed. He has been a member of the Old Lyme Volunteer Fire Department’s Apparatus Committee throughout his tenure with the department. That committee is responsible for developing the specifications for new apparatus for the department.”

Reemanyder concluded, “We thank Bob Doyen for his lengthy service to our community as we proudly name him an Old Lyme celebrity —  our 2018 Citizen of the Year.”

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Lyme Academy of Fine Arts Offers Pre-College Summer Arts Program

File photo of the Chandler Academic Center which comprises part of the newly-renamed Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

Lyme Academy of Fine Arts is currently accepting high school students for enrollment in a series of pre-college summer art courses. Students with beginning to advanced level art training are welcome to enroll in college-level courses taught by master artists to further explore and expand their technical skills and abilities.

Course offerings include sculpture, drawing, oil painting, animation and more. Each course runs for one week, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Founded in 1976 by esteemed sculptor Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, Lyme Academy of Fine Arts is located in historic Old Lyme, which has been a vibrant center for the arts and artists in Southeastern, CT for more than 100 years. The Academy offers a variety of programs in art education under the guidance of master artists who share a deep respect for both traditional and innovative forms of teaching that provide students with the necessary foundation and skills to develop their own unique visual expression.

Interested students can find out more information and enroll by visiting the new Lyme Academy website at www.lymeacademy.org or email info@lymeacademy.org.

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Old Lyme Plans to Purchase 300 Acres of McCulloch Farm for Open Space, Two Smaller Parcels Earmarked for Affordable Housing; Total Cost $600K

The Town of Old Lyme Open Space Commission has announced an agreement to purchase approximately 300 acres of the McCulloch Farm for open space, and two smaller areas of three acres each within the 300 acres, subject to approval, for $600,000.

Immediately following the unanimous approval of authorization to sign at a special meeting of the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen on April 1, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder signed the contract on behalf of the town.

The McCulloch Farm, established in 1929, is considered one of Old Lyme’s signature properties and, as such, has been a key priority for open space acquisition.

The linkage of the McCulloch property to the town’s Ames Open Space, and to the adjacent Lay Preserve owned by the Old Lyme Land Trust, would create a large naturally significant greenway and forest, and it would greatly further a long-held goal of establishing a cross-town trail system for hiking, jogging, bicycling, bird watching and nature studies. In essence, the purchase would form an Old Lyme “Preserve” akin to that found in Old Saybrook.

The property holds particular ecological importance as part of the upper watershed of the Black Hall River, a tributary of the Connecticut River, which is part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. A conservation easement on the property is held by The Nature Conservancy, Inc. While this easement does protect the land from development, it does not allow for public access to, and enjoyment of, the McCulloch Farm’s forest, fields and waterways.

Upon closing of the sale, the Open Space Commission hopes to quickly provide public access, and will aim towards creating an initial trail by this spring’s National Trails Day. The Old Lyme Land Trust has generously committed to overseeing trail-blazing. Eventually, the commission envisions three public trails and will explore other potential public uses, consistent with preserving the property’s natural state.

The complicated purchase has two components. The Open Space Commission would pay $500,000 for roughly 300 acres of McCulloch farm land.

The existing conservation easement allows for the possible development of two three-acre areas not pegged to any particular location within the McCulloch property. The town will pay $50,000 each for these areas, which have been appraised at $98,000 apiece. These areas would be fixed off Flat Rock Hill Rd., adjacent to affordable housing lots previously given to the town by David McCulloch.

The Open Space Commission and McCulloch family hope the two areas will be similarly developed for future affordable housing, after which the acquisition fund would be reimbursed for their sale price.

The purchase price of the McCulloch Farm property will be paid entirely from the town’s existing Open Space acquisition fund.

No budget appropriation, debt or other expense to taxpayers will be needed.

The commission will now seek the necessary final approvals. The Nature Conservancy, Inc. must approve the sale, although the town’s acquisition aligns with that organization’s goal of open space protection. The Open Space Commission will also present the purchase to the Planning Commission, with an ultimate goal of bringing the proposal to a Town Meeting in May.

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Final 2019 Senior Studio Exhibition on View at Lyme Academy College Through May 17

The Senior Studio Exhibition features these artworks, from left to right, Chey Bridges, ‘Honua,” Adele Flamand-Browne, Gravitate,’ Whitney Lorenze, ‘Your Gain!’

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts of the University of New Haven hosts an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. this evening in the Chauncey Stillman and Sill House Galleries for its 2019 Senior Studio Exhibition.  All are welcome.

The seniors whose work is featured in the exhibition are studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Post-Baccalaureate degree and will graduate in May 2019. This will be the final exhibition of student portfolios submitted for degrees before the Lyme Academy ceases to be a degree-granting college later in the year after the University of New Haven’s withdrawal.

The Senior Studio experience at the College allows students to refine their vision and develop a skill set in order to create a body of work that exemplifies their individual interests, talents, and artistic sensibilities.

The 2019 Senior Studio Exhibition reflects the culmination of this project.  Students will be present at the opening reception and available to discuss their work.

The exhibition will be on view in the gallery through May 17.  Admission is free Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The sponsor of the exhibition is Saybrook Point Inn/Fresh Salt.

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts of the University of New Haven is located at 84 Lyme St. in Old Lyme.

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Talking Transportation: State’s Transportation Strategy Solutions Are Remarkably ‘Déjà Vu’

When are we finally going to do something about our transportation crisis?

That question has been asked for decades … but never answered, or more importantly, acted upon.

I remember back in 2001 when then-Speaker of the Connecticut House Moira Lyons held a news conference about our state’s transportation mess.  The six-term Stamford Democrat, who was long on power by short in stature, stood next to a stack of consultant studies and reports almost as tall as she was.  Enough with the studies, she said.  Let’s fix it!

One of the best things to come out of that call to action was creation of the Transportation Strategy Board (TSB.)  It had representatives from business, labor, commuters, academics and planners.  They had a one year deadline to come up with a 20-year-plan for Connecticut’s transportation future and how to pay for it.  And they did.

Chairman of the TSB was Oz Griebel.  Yes, the same Oz Griebel who ran unsuccessfully for Governor last fall.

One of the TSB’s top recommendations was ordering new railcars for Metro-North, which finally happened under Governor Rell.  But they also recommended highly unpopular funding mechanisms:  a gasoline tax increase, sales tax surcharge and, yes, tolls.

What have we done since?  More studies making consultants rich but never persuading lawmakers to do something.  When our elected officials have no political will, they just suggest another study, board or commission.

Former Governor Dannel Malloy had ideas. His $100 billion, 30-year “Let’s Go CT” plan had something for everyone in every corner of the state.  It was ambitious, but it wasn’t really a plan, just a laundry list of projects without priorities or funding.

Politicians love to take credit for the ideas but never want their fingerprints on the nasty business of paying for them.  That’s why Malloy created … you guessed it … a blue ribbon panel: the Transportation Finance Panel.  Among its members … Oz Griebel.

“It was like that movie ‘Groundhog Day’,” Griebel recently told me.  “It was the same people we saw at the TSB debating the same issues” 10 years later.

And what did Malloy’s Transportation Finance Panel recommend to pay for his $100 billion “plan”?  A gasoline tax increase, a sales tax surcharge, fare hikes and, you guessed it, highway tolls.

Of course, none of those came to pass.  It was an election year and who wants to run for a job in Hartford explaining to constituents that they have to pay more, especially when the Republicans mischaracterized such funding as “taxes” instead of user fees.

Along the way, then-Governor Malloy abolished the TSB, ‘lest it should suggest one project had priority over another.  He wanted it all, but got none, because he couldn’t sell the plan to pay for it.

But now we have the Special Transportation Fund Lockbox, right?  Any money that goes in can only be spent on transportation.  Or so we were told.  But as one sage observer of the transportation scene for decades recently told me, “The lockbox has more backdoors than a hot-sheets motel on the Berlin Turnpike”.  We’ll see.

Will the new legislature have the guts to finally raise the funding we need to fix our roads and rails?  Or will I be re-writing this column again in another decade, like “déjà vu all over again”?

Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media

Jim Cameron

 

About the author: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com

For a full collection of  “Talking Transportation” columns, visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

 

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Local Dem’s Buzz to (Trivia) Bee Victory!

Champions! From left to right, Matt Pugliese, Mary Stone, Jane Cable and Harvey Gemme stand proudly with their trophy.  All photos by Liz Rubitski and Harvey Gemme.

The Lyme, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook Democrats emerged victorious in Friday night’s Trivia Bee hosted by the Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation (LOLEF.)  Emcee of the proceedings was veteran and charismatic Lyme-Old Lyme High School physical education teacher Bill Rayder and serving as judges were Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser and Kinny Newman.

Playing under the both clever and topical team name of “BEE-ware the Ides of March” (March 15th is the Ides of March, and the ‘Beware’ quote is derived from the soothsayer’s warning about said date in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’), local Democratic party team members were Jane Cable, Harvey Gemme, Matt Pugliese and Mary Stone.  They battled successfully through the early rounds and then, when only two teams remained, the Dem’s won the aptly-named Sting-Off and were duly awarded the coveted Bee Trophy.

The winning team takes a well-earned break from its labors between early rounds.

The organizers of the Trivia Bee were LOLEF President Roger Nosal and Liz Rubitski.

All funds raised will benefit the LOLEF, which is a charitable organization that provides financial support for educational projects, enrichment programs and innovative initiatives not typically funded by Regional District 18 or other governmental entities. LOLEF has awarded grants for educational initiatives benefiting our youngest students to our senior citizens.

Find out more about the grants that have been awarded, as well as how to apply for a grant, at www.loef.org.

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Courtney, Blumenthal, Murphy Welcome Increase in Summer Flounder Quotas for CT Commercial Fishermen 

Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Senator Blumenthal, and Senator Murphy highlighted the announcement from last week’s Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) meeting that the MAFMC would be recommending changes to the Fishery Management Plan Summer Flounder that increase the quota for Connecticut commercial fishermen.

Before the meeting, Courtney, Blumenthal, and Murphy wrote a letter to the MAFMC and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) urging increased quotas be allocated to Connecticut fishermen. 

“We believe that the MAFMC continues to shortchange New England states when it comes to commercial summer flounder quotas,” Courtney, Blumenthal, and Murphy argued in their letter.“New England fishermen—including many of our constituents who have spent their lives fishing in southern New England Waters—have consistently voiced their concerns regarding summer flounder quotas set by the MAFMC.”   

Last week, the MAFMC and the ASMFC increased the annual commercial quota for summer flounder for 2019-2021 to 11.53 million pounds. The groups also set new state commercial allocations for quota that exceed 9.55 million pounds. Rather than the inequitable allocation on quota up to 9.55 million pounds for New England fishermen, the new allocation of additional summer flounder quota is equally distributed among mid-Atlantic and southern New England states. 
 

 

Source: Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 

Warming ocean temperatures are causing some fish stocks that had formerly been more prevalent in the mid-Atlantic to migrate further north than they had before, including popular targets for fishermen such as summer flounder. The changing migration patterns of fish stocks mean that many fishermen from mid-Atlantic states, such as North Carolina, are now regularly venturing farther north from their traditional fishing grounds, bringing them into direct competition with New England vessels operating off the coasts of Connecticut and Rhode Island.  

Fishing regulations for different fish stocks in U.S. waters are managed by a series of Regional Fishery Management Councils. Among the specific items that these councils regulate are the fishing quotas, or amount of a specific fish species that a fishing boat may catch.

The mid-Atlantic fishermen, under the jurisdiction of MAFMC, can harvest substantially more summer flounder, black seabass, and scup than the northeast fisherman, who are a part of the New England Fisheries Management Council. While New England fishermen are catching more and more of these species in their nets, they are forced to continually throw many of these fish back into the water.

The mid-Atlantic fishermen operating in the same area can at times legally take more than 10 times the catch of the New England vessels. Courtney, Blumenthal, and Murphy, along with several colleagues from Connecticut and Massachusetts, first wrote to the U.S. Department of Commerce about these inequities in 2016. 

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Lock Your Cars! Old Lyme PD Investigating String of Break-ins of Unlocked Cars

On March 8, Old Lyme Police Officers responded to numerous calls from residents regarding unlocked vehicles that had been rummaged through during the overnight hours.

The OLPD would like to remind everyone to LOCK all vehicles and to take any valuable items inside.

Over the past several months Officers from Old Lyme along with surrounding departments have investigated similar incidents along with some vehicles being stolen. The OLPD is currently working on several leads in an attempt to locate those responsible.

Readers are urged to contact the Old Lyme Police at (860) 434-1986 if they see any suspicious activity.

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Op-Ed: Forced Regionalization of Our Schools Will be a Disaster For Our Communities

This op-ed was submitted by Tina C. Gilbert of Lyme. It was also sent as a letter to State Senators Paul Formica  (R-20th) and Norman Needleman (D-33rd), and State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd.) Gilbert has children in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools and is Vice-President of LCN USA located in Deep River, Conn.  

I am seriously concerned about the lack of awareness and sense of urgency in the Lyme-Old Lyme communities regarding the proposed Bills to force school regionalization, specifically Bill 454 (SB 738). It is a grave mistake for any tax payer in Lyme or Old Lyme  to think this doesn’t affect them just because they don’t have children attending the schools. We know the chances of this getting approved are strong, if not, at this point, unavoidable.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the recent BOE meeting where I would have addressed my concerns. At the BOE meeting I understand that it was said that Region 18 had “good representation” at last Friday’s hearings on the proposed bills. We had, from my count, 5 children and 5 adults (2 without their children) at the hearing. The town of Wilton, conversely, had well over 100 – if not 150 constituents there. That is good representation. The hearing required three overflow rooms apart from the primary hearing room. Each of them packed with floors occupied by children. I could be mistaken, but I believe that is a very rare occurrence.

Next week, the Committee will vote on whether these Bills move forward. If they vote to move forward, the consequences to our two communities will be devastating and irrevocable. Our local BOE is concerned about the attrition rate of students in Region 18. However, imagine if you will the entire school population coming from the Town of Lyme no longer attending the Middle School or High School. No amount of marketing for out-of-region students or pre-K applicants is going to fill that void. What then are the effects? Jobs gone. Shared programs gone (LYSB). Culture, history, community …. compromised. Taxes increased. Residents leaving. Property values tanking. Parents putting themselves into debt to send their children to whatever private school they can find.
The Town of Old Lyme will follow the Probate system and will be regionalized with East Lyme, Salem and Montville. There will be a regionalized BOE and one Superintendent (that means 3 lose their jobs.) Governor Lamont specifically called out wanting to reduce the number of Superintendents. East Lyme is a large and powerful school. I don’t think it takes a deep thinker to figure out who is going to have more power in the new regionalized district.
We live in the Town of Lyme. We moved here from Deep River so that our children would be in the Region 18 schools. With this forced Regionalization, Lyme will join Deep River, Chester, Essex, Haddam and Killingworth. Children from the farthest reaches of Lyme will be bussed across the river to attend schools there. Bus rides will be well over an hour. Parents who want to be active in their children’s schooling will be challenged with having to follow suit and drive either over the bridge to Rt 9 (and soon pay tolls to do so) or over the bridge in Haddam.  My husband and I recently moved our business to Deep River, so we know how time consuming it is to come back to Lyme Consolidated in the middle of the day for a school event. This is the first year of the last seven that our children have been in the school that we’ve missed nearly every program. Frankly it would be easier for us to have our kids going to school on the other side of the river. But we don’t want that – we moved here for the quality of the education.
From the hearing and follow up discussion, it has become clear that the Forced Regionalization concept is in fact not about the state saving money. The Committee members supporting the legislation made their opinions on that clear. And a Bill supporter who has the ears of these members (including the Chair) put it succinctly as follows:
“Connecticut has too many school districts, and the richest ones are fortresses that have pulled all the ladders up after them while the poorest sink deeper and deeper. Town-based school districts drive wealth inequality and force towns to compete against one another instead of cooperating. Worst of all, they embody institutionalized and systemic racism. They enforce de facto segregation, which is the toxic legacy of redlining and exclusionary zoning, and we will never be able to move forward until that changes.”
In summary, this infers that we residents of Lyme and Old Lyme are a bunch of privileged racists who only want the best for their children and none for others. This tired tactic is offensive and reprehensible.
I am happy that there is broad bipartisan support against these Bills. But that’s not enough. If these Bills fail, the Governor has proposed his own Bill SB 874 with 32 pages of detail on a very powerful school consolidation commission that will make decisions that may or may not have to be put to vote by the legislators. The Governor stated he will sign it into law. There is also discussion of a new Regional Tax layer – to add to our Federal, State and Local taxes – to support all of this.

In the end, Forced Regionalization equals Forced Equalization equals Forced Marginalization. The sum is Disaster to our communities.
The word needs to get out to our communities, so at the very least they are educated on the subject and not blind-sided when they learn of the fate of their children’s education or are shocked when they see their future tax bills.
How can we make this happen? How can we get the word out? We have very little time.
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Sen. Needleman Meets With Lyme Selectmen, Issues Statement on School Regionalization

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

State Senator Norman Needleman (D-33rd), whose district includes Lyme, issued the following statement Monday on school regionalization proposals.

“On Monday afternoon, Sen. Needleman met with the Lyme Board of Selectmen and had an extended conversation with them about his work so far in the legislature, the policies he will and won’t support this legislative session, and how he can best work with the town.

The discussion featured school regionalization as a lead topic. Sen. Needleman has proposed Senate Bill No. 572, “An Act Encouraging Regional Cooperation Between School Districts,” which would allow multiple boards of education acting in concert to define their own school districts and have that collaboration recognized by the state as a Local Education Agency, or LEA. 

“Collaboration on school services can provide schools with increased efficiency and save both the schools and taxpayers money,” said Sen. Needleman, “Unfortunately, current law makes such collaborations complicated and discourages districts from actually engaging with one another.”

Needleman points to his hometown of Essex and its collaboration with Chester and Deep River for grades K-12. The towns are required to operate five boards of education with thirty-three board members in order to share costs and comply with current state statutes.

“There is a good argument to be made that one of the reasons why school districts aren’t doing more together is because of this level of complexity,” Needleman said. “We should be encouraging creative solutions that let our educators to do what they do best. No two school districts are the same; we should allow them to innovate and determine what works best for students.”

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Work by Lymes’ Senior Center Artists on Display at Old Lyme Town Hall Through April

This watercolor by Keiko Kaiser depicting a beautiful flower garden is one of the featured pieces of artwork currently on display in Old Lyme Town Hall.

The Shoreline Artists’ Workshop and the Lymes’ Senior Center’s art classes, under the instruction of Sharon Schmiedel, will combine their artistic talents to present an exhibition at the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall during the months of March and April. Exquisite pieces of work will reflect a variety of visual media and styles.

All pieces will be for sale, with a portion of any proceeds donated to the Senior Center.

There will be an opening reception on Friday, March 8, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the town hall.

Come celebrate the Senior Center artists for their dedication to support the visual arts and the Senior Center community.

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ECSO Continues 72nd Season With Springtime Concert Featuring Tessa Lark, March 23

Acclaimed violinist Tessa Lark

The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra (ECSO) ushers in spring with a concert Saturday, March 23, titled Springtime Lark featuring an eclectic blend of repertoire sure to entice listeners of all varieties. The concert will be held at the Garde Arts Center in New London starting at 7:30 p.m. and the pre-concert chat will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Continuing the tradition of featuring women composers, Joan Tower’s work Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, No. 6, rounds out her 80th birthday celebration.

The ECSO co-commissioned Michael Torke’s Sky for violin and orchestra.  It is a bluegrass-inspired concerto written for and performed by rising star violinist, Tessa Lark. Music Director and Conductor, Toshiyuki Shimada, notes, “The ECSO is proud to be part of this commission, and through our support of the creation of new works, we ensure that orchestral music remains relevant, vibrant, and a timely reflection of this moment in society. Everyone will enjoy this accessible and interesting piece, which will be masterfully played by area-favorite, Tessa Lark.”

In the concert’s second half, the orchestra performs the thrilling Symphonic Dances by Sergei Rachmaninoff. This three-movement suite was composed by Rachmaninoff while overlooking the Long Island Sound in 1940. The work, originally conceived to be music for a ballet, combines wild rhythms and rich harmonies. Now it is performed most often in the concert hall as a stand-alone piece, which is a testament to its compositional strength.

Patrons attending will also be among the first to hear about the 2019-20 season and can subscribe at the event that evening for a chance to win a special prize to be announced from stage.

This concert is generously sponsored by Yale New Haven / Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.

All attendees are urged to meet and greet with fellow concertgoers and ECSO musicians at the complimentary post-concert reception in the upper lobby of the Garde Arts Center. The reception is sponsored by ECSO Board members Tom Berl, Svetlana Kasem-Beg, and Bob Reed.

The ECSO 2018-19 Season 

The 72nd season’s lineup, curated by Music Director and Conductor Toshiyuki Shimada includes major repertoire selections from Rachmaninoff, Mendelssohn, Dvořák, Mahler and many more.  It will bring a thrilling range of sounds to the Garde stage. In addition to these timeless composers, the ECSO has co-commissioned a new work by Michael Torke, which will feature violinist, Tessa Lark, performing a bluegrass-style concerto.

Along with the guest artists who will grace the front of the stage will be many familiar faces from within the ECSO’s very own sections. Stephan Tieszen, the ECSO’s Concertmaster for 30 years; principal bass, Tom Green; and principal violist, Barbara Wiggin, will all make featured appearances throughout the season. The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus will join the ECSO for Verdi’s Stabat Mater and Mozart’s Mass in C Major.

Visit www.ectsymphony.com for more information and follow ECSO on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube) @ectsymphony

The ECSO offers a range of affordable seating options from $65 to as low as $31 for attendance to one concert. The ECSO will continue to offer those under 40 years of age and active or retired military members $12 tickets in premium sections. Patrons can also take advantage of the Pick 4 subscription, which enables people to schedule our concerts around their busy lives.

Founded in 1946, the mission of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra is to inspire, educate, and connect our communities through live orchestral music.

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LOL Schools Superintendent Strongly Opposes Proposed Forced Regionalization of CT Schools

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser

Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser has issued a statement strongly opposing the proposed state legislation that would force regionalization of school districts with less than 2,000 students into much larger districts.

Tomorrow, Friday, March 1, at 1 p.m. in Room 2E of the Legislative Office Building, the Education Committee will be holding a public hearing on the proposals. This legislation affects Lyme-Old Lyme Schools because even though Lyme and Old Lyme are already regionalized into Regional District 18, the total number of students in the district is significantly less than 2,000, which is proposed as the minimum size (number of students) of any school district.

Full details of the hearing and how to submit testimony either in writing or in person are in our article at this link and have also been published on the LOL Schools Facebook page.

Neviaser’s statement was sent to the entire staff of LOL Schools; the LOL Schools Board of Education, all state representatives and senators whose districts include Lyme and/or Old Lyme. He opens by saying, “The Governor’s proposal to regionalize school districts will have a significant negative impact on the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools. Besides the fact that the proposal suggests splitting our outstanding district in two, the idea that it will somehow save money has no merit. Other states that function with large county school systems, such as is proposed, end up with enormous districts that actually cost the taxpayer more money due to the sheer size of the organizations and the numerous layers of bureaucracy that are required to run them.”

He stresses, “Of greatest concern is the idea that we will lose our small local schools which are vitally important to the success of our students. Students could be forced to endure lengthy bus rides, attend massive schools where they lose personal connection with their teachers, and our communities will no longer have the ability to manage the education of our children. Districts across the state, ours included, already engage in regional services that save money.” Neviaser attached a detailed summary of services that are already regionalized, which we have published in its entirety at the foot of this article.

Continuing, “To force this upon our schools based on arbitrary enrollment and population numbers is foolish and short-sighted, Neviaser clarifies, ” We are not opposed to the idea of regionalizing services, and in fact do so in many areas, but are opposed to the idea of the state mandating this with no data to support their actions.”

Neviaser points out, “As Representative [Devin] Carney [R-23rd] notes, “Forced regionalization could also harm our property values and quality of life,”” and adds, “Many of our residents have chosen to move to our towns because of their small size. The Governor’s proposal stands in contrast to the desire of those residents to live in a community that has that “small-town America” feel. The idea of local control is a concept that is rooted in our New England heritage.”

Neviaser concludes, “Please make sure your voice is heard to ensure that decisions involving education services are made at the local level.”

—000—

Summary of Survey Results Regarding Regionalism in Southeastern CT and the Shoreline

DRAFT 02 25 2019

In a recent voluntary survey of LEARN area school districts, 12 of 21 districts reported the following shared services, programs, and cooperative regional efforts:

  • Shared Business Operations  and Facilities (9 of 12)

These operations represent a broad range of services, including but not limited to:

Food service cooperative purchasing (electricity, school supplies, oil, building management systems, and energy efficiency), workers’ compensation, financial software, a finance director, liability insurance, medical benefits.  Six entities share a health cooperative, ECHMC.

These cooperative efforts include partnerships between school districts and their local municipalities, between school districts, and with regional educational service centers.

School districts also cooperate with their municipalities on their facilities.  For example, sharing with their town for snow removal and sanding of lots, fields and campus upkeep, emergency management drills, and the use of schools as evacuation sites.  School districts also cooperate with community organizations, sharing with parks and recreation and other town organizations, classroom exchanges and before and after school programs.

  • Transportation (8/12)

School districts cooperate between and among themselves to provide regional transportation to reduce costs and address specific needs.  Multiple districts report ride sharing for special education transportation to similar special education sites. School districts also share transportation for some magnet school routes, as well as to technical schools and vocational agricultural schools.  Clubs and athletics were also noted as a place where transportation has been shared. 

At LEARN, fourteen of our member towns use our hub system for transporting students to LEARN magnet schools.

  • Human Resources (7/12)

More than ½ of the districts report sharing human resources, that is a position that is shared between two school districts.  Specifically, cafeteria management director, teacher of the blind, social worker, BCBA, English language learner teacher.  Several report sharing positions with their municipalities including Finance Director, Department Facilities Manager, Human Resources, Grounds management, Information Technology, school resource officers, and school to work coordinators.

  • Special Education (3/12) 

A number of school districts share special education services, such as a regional parent night, the STRIVE program—between three school districts. 

Several districts also report shared transitions services 18-21 and mandated services. 

At LEARN, our regional educational service center, 16 school districts utilize our out-placement programs for students with autism and complex highly specialized needs.  Every district in LEARN’s member area use some Student Support Services, such as related services, BCBA services, instructional support staffing, Extended School Year, consultations services and technical assistance, and professional learning opportunities for educators among others. 

  • Professional Development (10/12)

The large majority of reporting school districts indicate the use of regional professional development opportunities.  The majority of all LEARN area school districts participate in regional professional development opportunities, either with LEARN, with our sister RESCs, and/or providing opportunities between and among each other based on needs and interests.  For example, districts report sharing professional learning in a five district consortium, a four district one including a charter school, across all LEARN districts for regional professional development days and regional offerings at LEARN, to name a few. All LEARN districts report participating in LEARN roundtables, networks and communities of practice. 

All LEARN districts participate in establishing a voluntary regional calendar that establishes regional professional development days that are in common.   This regional planning has promoted professional learning communities across a wide array of disciplines to help educators refine their skills.

  • Technology (3/12)

School districts cooperate with their municipalities as well as other towns regarding technology. Specifically, districts report shared efforts in network management, security cameras and ID’s and purchasing software. They also report sharing technology staff (such as network management and data management technician).

  • Other Educational Programming (6/12)

At least half of the reporting districts shared a broad array of educational programs.  These include areas such as alternative education—small school co-funded with another district, extended school year with another district, diversity training—student leadership with two other school districts, athletics—cooperative teams (gymnastics, girls swimming, boys swimming, ice hockey).  Three districts have a six team hockey cooperative,  among others. There are shared expulsion programs across two towns.  There are shared extended school year services and social skills programs.  One district also reported cooperation with community partners for a summer feeding program, benefiting a 9-town area. 

There are also grant funded opportunities across school districts lines, such as inter-district grants, Title III and Perkins with LEARN, and shared federal funding for intra and inter-district magnet schools.  Sixteen Districts cooperatively purchase on line learning for students through LEARN.

The Military Superintendents Liaison committee (MLSC). MSLC is a partnership between the Naval Submarine Base, the US Coast Guard Academy, the National Guard, and local school districts in New London County. It works together for the improvement of transition, as well as academic and school experiences for military and highly mobile students. This leadership group has influenced policies and established practices to support military families.

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Matthew Shafner Memorial Scholarship for Sons/Daughters of Disabled Workers Now Accepting Applications

The Disabled Workers’ Committee, a Connecticut-based, not-for-profit organization, whose mission is to help impaired workers, has issued new criteria for the single scholarship of $10,000 that it is offering to assist a senior high school student resident in Connecticut.  A student qualifies as a candidate for this scholarship if one or more of the following criteria are satisfied by their parent or legal guardian: 

  • is deceased as a result of a work-related injury; 
  • has been found to be permanently and totally disabled from all forms of work;
  • has sustained a work-related injury resulting in loss of a limb or;
  • has sustained a work-related permanent disability that has resulted in an inability to return to their former employment and has suffered a permanent wage loss.
  • the disability must arise out of a workplace injury.

The 2019 scholarship provides $1,250 per semester for four years.  The amount of the scholarship fund is awarded to the child or dependent of a disabled worker, who demonstrates both academic excellence and the financial need to go on to college.  The disability must arise from a workplace injury, and be confirmed by acceptance of the claim, a workers’ compensation final decision or social security award.

“The pressures that fall on disabled workers and their families are tremendous” explained Matthew Shafner in 2010 when he was chairman of the committee. “This scholarship fund eases one of the important financial burdens that disabled workers often face.”  Shafner, a nationally recognized attorney and former Chairman of the Disabled Workers Scholarship Subcommittee, passed away in September 2015. 

Applications are available throughout Connecticut in the offices of high school guidance counselors, labor unions and Workers’ Compensation Commission offices. The applications should be received by April 1, 2019 at the Scholarship fund, Disabled Workers Committee, Inc., c/o Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-law, 2 Union Plaza, Suite 200, New London, CT 06320. A statewide committee of prominent educators will carry out the screening and select the successful student.  

The Disabled Workers’ Committee is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of returning impaired workers to the workplace as soon as possible.  

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Movement to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags in CT Gathers Momentum, Petition Started

When we published a piece about Connecticut towns banning single-use plastic bags, we received an overwhelming response on our Facebook post about the article from our readers that they supported the idea of Old Lyme enacting this policy.

We’ve just learned that today two legislators, long-time environmental advocate Rep. Jonathan Steinberg and newcomer Sen. Will Haskell, will stand together at Compo Beach in Westport at 1 p.m. to announce a statewide effort to ban single-use plastic bags in Connecticut. (Attendees will congregate near the cannons)

Connecticut uses more than 400 million single-use plastic bags each year, and many of them wind up in Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River, and waterways across the state. They can have devastating effects on our wildlife and environment, and it’s time to put a stop to their menace.

Rep. Steinberg and Sen. Haskell are working hard to eliminate single-use plastic bags in Connecticut. Join them today so we can show the entire General Assembly that the movement is gaining momentum.

You can also sign a petition to ban single-use plastic bags in our state.

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Chester Gallery Hosts Exhibition of New Work by Locally Based, Nationally Acclaimed Artist, Gilbert Boro

Sculptor Gil Boro in his studio in Old Lyme.

When our souls become heavy with life’s burdens, art has the potential to soothe and solace.  Indeed, Pablo Picasso wrote, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” That theme will be explored in an exhibit of new works by nationally and internationally renowned sculptor Gilbert Boro at the Main Street Gallery of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester, Conn.

The exhibition titled, Coming Together, features works created by Boro, which were spawned during the period of intense grief that he experienced subsequent to the passing in 2013 of his beloved wife of 48 years, Emily Seward Boro.  An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Sunday, Feb. 3, from 3 to 5 p.m.  All are welcome and admission is free. 

Detail of a sculpture from “The Knot” series.

The exhibition is a prequel to the opening of the synagogue’s “Meditation Garden,” scheduled for 2020, which will include a large-scale sculpture loaned by Boro, who subsequently plans to donate the original model of the loaned garden sculpture to CBSRZ.  Boro lives and works at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme, where, together with his late wife, he has created an outdoor, park-like setting to exhibit more than 100 sculptures.

The show has special significance for Boro because the synagogue is the repository of a Memorial Light celebrating Emily’s life.  The period of sadness and depression that followed her passing acted as a catalyst for creativity, Boro believes, sparking multiple new ideas in his mind that culminated in his “Musical Master Works” and “What’s Knot to Like” series. Ten to 15 works of aluminum, steel, and copper from these series, plus some larger pieces, will be on public display for the first time. 

The Master Works and Knot series are Boro’s most recent works, incorporating original design concepts with a touch of playfulness. The “Musical Master Works” series transpired after attending a number of musical performances, which, in turn, inspired him to consider the tangible forms and shapes that the music might create. The “What’s Knot to Like” series reflects the many years Boro was deeply committed to offshore sailboat racing and cruising with his wife and family.

Boro credits his interaction with CBSRZ’s designer, the celebrated artist Sol LeWitt, with stirring his creative imagination at a young age. “I found LeWitt’s extensive range of artistic expression extremely stimulating,” Boro explains, noting, “He inspired and challenged me to broaden my vision, which resulted in the application of my fine arts education to architecture. Having my sculptures exhibited here therefore has special meaning for me.”

Photography by Christina Block Goldberg will also be part of the show. Goldberg’s captivating images give viewers a unique insight to Boro’s sculptures by offering intimate, close-up inspection of the joints and details. The images will be printed on thin sheets of aluminum using a dye sublimation process. 


“This exhibit is rather novel,” notes gallery curator, Linda Pinn, continuing, “in that to a large degree the works to be exhibited will be scale models of those he [Boro] anticipates placing in the garden.”  She explains that the “Meditation Garden” is envisioned to draw on the therapeutic power of nature and inspiring capacity of art since many studies now conclude that exposure to creative works is an elixir for our emotions when struggling with anxiety, depression, loss, and pain.

Pinn points out that Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of modern nursing, said, “Variety of form and brilliancy of color in the objects presented to patients are an actual means of recovery.”  Combining the two in a meditation garden, says Pinn, is an idea that “goes beyond any specific artist or garden,” adding that the intent is to bring, “art and nature together to create a peaceful, contemplative environment where people can walk, relax, and be calm.” 

The Coming Together exhibition will be on display until April 30. 

The Main Street Gallery at CBSRZ focuses on art works with themes relating to issues of concern in our society and the world at large. It is always open to the public free of charge, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Sundays when Sunday school is in session. It is located just off Rte. 154 at 55 East Kings Hwy, Chester, CT. 

For more information, visit www.cbsrz.org.

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Halls Rd. Improvement Committee Offers ‘Frequently Asked Questions’

We received the following Frequently Asked Questions from BJ Bernblum, the Halls Rd. Improvements Committee Chairman. He asked that we publish them since, in his words, “At the Old Lyme public meeting held on Dec. 6, 2018, and in emailed comments received by the Halls Road Improvements Committee afterwards, a number of questions were raised that need to be answered.”

Bernblum states that this document of Frequently Asked Questions prepared by the committee, dated Jan. 28, and published below, “… attempts to do this.”

A view of Halls Rd. today looking north. Photo courtesy of the Yale Urban Design Workshop.

We thank the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee for sending us these FAQ’s and, as always, we look forward to hearing reader’s thoughts on them.

Question 1:  Why should the town get into the development business?  Isn’t that better left to private developers?

Answer:  It shouldn’t and yes.  We are not suggesting that the town take charge of development on Halls Road but, rather, that we take steps to encourage private parties to develop the neighborhood in a manner and direction that will comply with current requirements (safety, complete streets, ADA accessibility, etc.) and best serve the needs of the community.  These steps would include adopting a “master plan” and guidelines for future development, investing limited funds in infrastructure and public spaces, and making appropriate changes to the town’s zoning code and Plan of Conservation and Development, all intended to allow for and encourage private developers to invest in upgrading existing structures and undertaking new construction. 

Question 2:  Halls Road is fine the way it is—why is the town considering changes? 

Answer:   Halls Road, our central commercial center, has developed haphazardly over many years.  It is inhospitable to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, portions of it are esthetically unattractive or looking tired, and residents currently have to leave town to seek products or services they cannot obtain locally. 

If nothing is done, we are concerned that the business environment will deteriorate, businesses will close, and even fewer goods and services will be available.  With thoughtful planning and inducements, we should be able to:

i.  improve the business environment, thereby assisting existing businesses, attracting new ones, and growing and diversifying the tax base;

ii.  create a physically-attractive neighborhood, safe and inviting for pedestrians and bicyclists;

iii. stimulate the development of housing that is inviting to down-sizing residents and to young folks wanting to move to town; and

iv. provide public spaces for civic events and recreation.

The ultimate objective is to create a vibrant town center that has more to offer the citizens of Old Lyme and is one we can be proud of. 

Question 3:  What is the new plan for Halls Road?

Answer:  The plan does not yet exist; it is still developing and is flexible. The goal is to reach majority agreement on what the Halls Road neighborhood might ideally look like.  Initially, we held a public meeting to obtain feedback regarding those elements residents would like to see included.  The meeting produced many ideas, including the ability to park once and walk the entire road, creation of green space with a community gathering area, development of mixed-use facilities (or a mix of uses), and esthetic enhancements.  

We recently held a second public meeting to gain further input, and will hold more meetings in the future.  The Yale Urban Design Workshop is assisting us in developing a master plan, but we need substantial input from town residents and stakeholders in order to come up with sound ideas that enjoy widespread support.

Question 4:  What is the process for developing a master plan?

Answer:  Once we have enough public input to begin to see the outlines of a plan, we will present these ideas to local and state governmental authorities for input and necessary approvals.  At the town level, the plan will likely need buy-in from the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance, the Zoning Commission and the Planning Commission, as well as amendments to the zoning regulations and the Plan of Conservation and Development. 

At the state level, we will need approval from the Department of Transportation, which owns Halls Road.  A master plan can be finalized only when it enjoys broad public support and satisfies governmental requirements.

Question 5:  What is the anticipated time-frame for implementing the plan?

Answer:  The Committee intends to develop a master plan and set of guidelines for the future development of Halls Road.  The plan would consist of several phases to be pursued in an orderly sequence over time, so that work done in one phase supports, or at least does not interfere with, improvements to be made in a subsequent phase.  Each phase will also be expected to “stand on its own,” in the sense that its completion will add value to the town even if subsequent phases are not pursued. 

For example, an initial phase might consist of improving access, such as by adding sidewalks, a bike path, improved signage, and a pedestrian bridge over the Lieutenant River.  The timing and exact nature of subsequent phases, and the changes that will be implemented, will of course depend on future events, including available funding and the decisions made by private developers and property-owners. 

Hence the timing is unpredictable, but this is surely a multi-year process over which the master plan will evolve, perhaps substantially but consistent with the guidelines, to address changes over time in the town’s commercial and residential needs.

Question 6:  Will the plan result in unfettered growth and additional traffic?

Answer:  We view this project as a rehabilitation of the Halls Road neighborhood, and any potential growth must be managed to fit the needs and the character of the town.  For example, we would encourage architectural design in keeping with the small New England town flavor of Old Lyme. 

There is no intent or appetite to change our “town business center” into a dense retail environment but, instead, to attract a limited number of businesses that our neighbors would like to enjoy locally (e.g., a restaurant, coffee shop, bakery, jewelry store), and enhance the patronage for existing businesses.  These changes would increase auto traffic somewhat. 

However, we intend to limit congestion through a design that encourages folks to park once and then walk the neighborhood, rather than drive from place to place.

Question 7:  How can this plan survive the overflow traffic from tie-ups on I-95?

Answer:  These tie-ups will not be materially exacerbated by a normal increase in Halls Road traffic, and they occur infrequently enough so that they should not discourage business development along the road, which is currently a pass-through. 

The plan might call for locating parking behind the main shopping and business buildings and creating tertiary access roads and walkways, which would mitigate the Halls Road bottleneck.  For example, we might explore the construction of a local access road south of the current Old Lyme Marketplace buildings (the Big Y plaza).  

Question 8:  Will private property owners be required to make changes or invest money?

Answer:  No one will be required to do anything.  Other than the state right-of-way along Halls Road, the real estate in question is privately owned and changes must be voluntary.

The expectation is that property owners will see the advantages of making changes to their property in order to increase profitability.  Alternatively, they may discover that they can sell their property at an attractive price to a motivated developer who is ready to invest in a significant project consistent with the town’s guidelines. 

Question 9  How will the plan be financed and how much will it raise property taxes?

Answer:  The objective is to have this project be tax neutral or result in a tax rate decrease because of an increase in the tax base.  The public infrastructure would hopefully be financed, at least in part, through state and federal grants, and from new tax revenue generated by the new construction, although this might initially require town bonding.  The private development will be financed by developers and property owners, who may also help pay for common amenities such as wastewater management, sidewalks and landscaping. 

The town might consider creating a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District like the one just approved in Old Saybrook, under which new tax revenue generated by new construction may be allocated, in whole or in part, to improvements in the district and to financial inducements to developers.  In all events, any material town expenditures will have to be approved at a town meeting.

Question 10:  What happens if I-95 is widened in the future or the exit or entrance ramps are reconfigured?

Answer:  That question is impossible to answer, not knowing what properties the government might want to seize by eminent domain.  However, given the current economic condition of the state and the absence of any such plans, we do not think it prudent to forego changes benefitting the town because of a remote, future risk.

Question 11:  What do you mean by residential housing on Halls Road and why is it needed?

Answer:  We would seek to enable the construction of reasonably-priced rental properties and condominiums.  Many concerns have been expressed about young people who want to move to town (perhaps after college) or out of their parents’ homes, and older folks who are retiring or downsizing and would like to remain in Old Lyme, but cannot do so because of the lack of appropriate housing. 

The Halls Road neighborhood, as envisioned with expanded resources, offers an ideal location for this housing, since both groups prefer to live in areas where they can walk to stores, restaurants, banks, recreational facilities and other amenities.  Furthermore, the retailers in the neighborhood would surely benefit from the presence of these residents.

Question 12:  How do you intend to address increased wastewater?

Answer:  A good question that must be addressed, but there are solutions other than municipal sewers.  For example, it might be feasible to construct a community treatment facility that would process the wastewater to a condition where it can safely be discharged.  

Question 13:  How can the town validate what types of improvements would be the most successful for the town, its businesses and the tax base?

Answer:  One way would be to retain a professional consultant such as CERC (the Connecticut Economic Resource Center) to perform an economic review of Old Lyme and the region, and recommend what improvements would likely be most viable.  Such a study would give our residents and businesses guidance on the development possibilities and the impact on taxes.  It would also serve as an attraction to serious investors, both for its content and as an indication of the town’s seriousness about supporting the project.

Question 14:  How can I have input to the plan or keep updated on the progress?

Answer:  There are several ways for you to stay informed and be heard, and we hope you will utilize them.  We will hold more public meetings and focus groups, and intend to develop a page on the town’s website where we can provide updates and receive input.  You can also send an email to the Halls Road Improvements Committee at hallsroadcommittee@oldlyme-ct.gov, or ask to speak personally with any of us.

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