November 13, 2018

Take a Post-Thanksgiving Hike in Hartman Park, Nov. 25

See the Turtle Rock at Hartman Park on this hike.

Walk off your Thanksgiving overindulgence on this beautiful, moderate trail that winds along craggy ridges strewn with glacial boulders. Wendolyn Hill, Lyme Land Trust Board member, and Lyme Open Space Coordinator, will lead a walk on the Red Trail in Hartman Park on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, from 1:30 to 4-ish p.m.

Meet at Hartman Park Entrance Parking Lot, Gungy Rd., in Lyme. The parking lot is on Gungy Road about 1.5 miles north of the four-way stop signs at the intersection of Beaverbrook Rd., Grassy Hill Rd., and Gungy Rd.

The route will follow a portion of the Goodwin Trail. The Goodwin Trail, overseen by the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Coordinating Committee, is an extended trail system crossing four towns: East Haddam, Salem, Lyme and East Lyme. The entire walk is about 3.5 miles. A snack will be provided. Bring something to drink. The walk is sponsored by the Lyme land Trust and the Town of Lyme.

Rain cancels. Check lymelandtrust.org for updates.For more information, contact openspace@townlyme.org

Registration at openspace@townlyme.org would be appreciated.

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Lyme, Old Lyme Town Halls Hosts Holiday Art Exhibit by Local Seniors

‘Dream Lilies’ by Jeri Baker is one of the featured works in the Lymes’ Senior Center Art Show at Old Lyme Town Hall.

Art groups from the Lymes’ Senior Center will hold their third annual exhibit of their work for sale in the Old Lyme Town Hall during
November and December. The participating artists have been taking art classes with Sharon Schmiedel. Paintings, drawings, and mixed media pieces will be on display.

Additionally, two members of the Center’s community, Janet Cody and Peg Sheehan, will add a “Touch of Craft” with their work in traditional punch needle pieces and handmade jewelry of silver, gold and semi-precious and precious stones respectively.

Another member, Norma DeGrafft, will also display her scenic watercolors in the Lyme Town Hall.

A portion of any sale will be donated to the Lymes’ Senior Center. An opening reception for this show will be held on Friday, Nov. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Old Lyme Town Hall. Light refreshments will be served.

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‘Pop Goes the Portrait’; OL Library Hosts Final Lecture in ‘Art of the Portrait’ Series, Dec. 6

From Impressionism to PopArt, the upcoming ‘Face to Face’ lecture series at the Old Lyme Library will explore the art of the portrait.

The Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library is hosting a three-part lecture series titled Face to Face: How great artists transformed the art of the portrait. The series will be presented by Bob Potter on the first Thursday of October, November and December from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

From Manet to Warhol, the art of the portrait has given the viewer a unique expression of and visual insight into the personalities and worlds in which both the artist and their subjects lived.

Through a wide range of examples of their art, profiles of the artists, videos, and historical context, this series will explore the artists, the people they painted and photographed, and the historical, social and artistic movements that influenced the art of portrait from Impressionism to Pop Art.

Details of each lecture are as follows:

Oct. 4
From Manet to Van Gogh: The impact of Impressionism on the art of the portrait. Click to register.
Nov. 1
When the Camera and Palette Collided: The portrait reimagined in photography, dreams and painting. Click to register.
Dec. 6
Pop Goes the Portrait: Breaking and remaking the rules of the portrait. Click to register.

All are welcome and admission is free.  Registration is requested for planning purposes.  For more information, call 860-434-1684.

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Letter to the Editor: Carney Consistently Demonstrates Commitment to Constituents

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Devin Carney for State Representative, District 23 (Towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook).  Devin was first elected in 2014 and through 2 terms has proven himself a strong advocate for our communities.  Devin was the first elected representative in any town along the shoreline to take a stand on the Federal Railroad Administration proposal to run a bypass through the region. In January 2016 his was the first voice we heard and the first to organize a meeting in the Town of Old Lyme to discuss the issue.  He went on to be a very effective advocate for the large numbers of local and regional community members who stood up against the proposal.

Devin has co-sponsored comprehensive legislation on the opioid crisis. This is a critical issue for our communities. Devin’s careful attention proves again how deeply he cares about this heartbreaking problem which affects far too many in our communities. In addition, Devin has helped to reduce the burden on local businesses by reducing the sales tax on boat sales. He has helped to reduce the propane tax on local homeowners and he has stopped the mileage tax.

As an experienced and effective leader Devin Carney has proven again and again his commitment to his constituents and to working across the aisle for solutions to improve the quality of life in our towns and state. Please join me in re-electing Devin Carney to the State Legislature on November 6th.

Sincerely,

Diane Mallory,
Old Lyme.

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Letter to the Editor: Pugliese is Proven Consensus Builder, Problem Solver

To the Editor:

I would like to encourage the residents of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook to vote for Matt Pugliese for state representative for District 23.

Matt is a proven consensus builder and problem solver who will work hard to fight for the values that are important to our communities.

He’s got all the right priorities:  Improving our economy.  Strengthening public education.  Investing in job training and higher education.  Supporting common-sense gun safety.  And supporting women and families with affordable health care and equal pay.

Matt’s been unanimously endorsed by all four communities’ Democratic town committees, as well as Run for Something, the Connecticut chapter of the National Organization of Women, NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut and Moms Demand Action.  He’s a leader and a listener who shares our values, believes in building consensus and getting the job done.

Sincerely,

John Kiker,
Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author is a selectman of the Town of Lyme and chairman of the Lyme Democratic Town Committee.

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Letter to the Editor: Ziobron Confirms her Commitment to ‘Bipartisan Good Faith,’ Explains Her Reasons for Running

To the Editor:

As a moderate, I‘ve been open in my belief in working in a bipartisan good faith. It has been a cornerstone of my philosophy of public service. This was evident in May of 2018, when State Representatives from both sides of aisle spoke, unsolicited, of their experiences working with me in the State House. These comments were public and broadcast on CT-N.   I used those clips in a $375 video to answer the Needleman campaign’s recent spate of vitriolic attacks, soon to be disseminated in a $86,000 TV ad buy.  This is something my opponent can do because, unlike me, he is unrestricted by the rules of our Citizen’s Elections Program.

While out meeting voters in Colchester, a woman’s comment pulled me up short: why was I running at a time of such partisan divide?  My  reaction caught me off guard as much as the question.  I felt tears suddenly welling up and had to take a moment to compose myself.  I wanted to answer with sincerity.  I spoke to her of my passion for our community.  Of my earnest desire to protect our beautiful vistas and natural resources.  My appreciation for the volunteers that make our towns run and how I love our home state.

I can’t ignore how this question touches a recent fault line: in letters to local papers some have expressed upset that I used a personal photo in a campaign mailer that happened to include prominent local Democrats. The photo wasn’t captioned, it was standard campaign material: a picture taken during my tenure as President of Friends of Gillette Castle State Park in 2011 with a newly appointed State official.  It’s regrettable to me how some remain committed to fanatical partisan division at a time when we need to work together.

Sincerely,

Melissa Ziobron,

East Haddam.

Editor’s Note: The author is currently the State Representative for the 34th District and is now the endorsed Republican candidate for the State Senate for the 33rd District.
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Old Lyme Zoning Approves Controversial HOPE Housing Project on Neck Rd. by 3-2 Vote

Zoning Commission members discuss the upcoming vote at Tuesday night’s meeting. Photos by Debra Joy.

By a vote of 3–2, the Old Lyme Zoning Commission Tuesday night approved the Neck Road affordable housing project known as River Oak Commons I and II.  Zoning Commission Chairman Jane Cable and commission members Gil Soucie and Alan Todd voted in favor of the proposal while commission members Jane Marsh and Paul Orzel voted against.

From left to right, Zoning Commission members Paul Orzel and Alan Todd discuss HOPE’s zoning application while Zoning Commission Alternate Harvey Gemme listens carefully.

Citing previous affordable-housing legal decisions as precedent, commission chair Jane Cable said that unless there is “hard evidence” that a proposed project is going to lead to a health and safety problem, the commission “cannot use opinion to bolster denial” of the project. “My feeling is the law requires us to approve [the project] unless there is hard evidence to deny.”

HOPE Executive Director Lauren Ashe (left) watches the proceedings at the meeting while HOPE board member Tom Ortoleva (right) and HOPE project attorney David Royston (second from right) check their phones.

Attorney for the Zoning Commission Matt Willis drafted two motions for this meeting:  one approving the project, and one denying it.  The motion to approve, which includes 17 conditions that must be met before construction may begin, was read aloud. Brief discussion followed, followed by the vote. The denying motion was not read aloud, Cable said, because the motion to approve passed.

Zoning Commission member Jane Marsh carefully studies a document during the hearing.

During the discussion, commission member Jane Marsh said, “I don’t think it’s the intention of the state legislature that we should rubber stamp” affordable housing projects. If that is the case, she asked, ‘Why are we even sitting here?’” Asked later whether public safety concerns voiced by citizens at numerous public hearings should have had some influence on the commission’s decision, Marsh said, “I believe we have a responsibility to consider the opinions” of the public. 

Old Lyme Zoning Commission Alternate Member Stacey Winchell (right) enjoys a lighter moment during the meeting.  Harvey Gemme sits to her left.

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who attended the meeting, said she hopes that the town “can heal” now, after what has been a contentious time for the zoning commission and town leadership. She added that it’s been “hard to watch the process, but I appreciate the focus that the zoning commission has given this application.”

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Consider Pre-K Program Expansion, Offer Parent Survey to Facilitate Program Planning

Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools are considering an expansion of their current Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) program to allow all age-eligible students in the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme to attend.  In an effort to prepare all students for Kindergarten, their tentative plan is to expand the current Pre-K offerings to all students in Lyme and Old Lyme and establish a universal Pre-K program based on Connecticut’s Early Learning and Developmental Standards. 

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools also hope to entice non-residents to move to the district, or enroll their students on a tuition basis, to enjoy this added benefit.  This tentative plan would begin in the 2019-2020 school year. 

To assist in the planning process, LOL Schools are seeking reader’s input.  If you have a child that will be three- or four-years-old by Sept. 1, 2019, and are interested in your child being considered for this program, you are invited to complete this survey before Nov. 15, 2018.  Survey results will be used in both the Pre-K planning process, and to secure spots in this exciting new program.  

For more information, contact Ian Neviaser, Superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, at neviaseri@region18.org or 860-434-7238.

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RTP Estuary Center Presents Lecture on Environmental Protection in a ‘Climate of Change,’ Oct. 18

The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is hosting a 2018 Fall Lecture Series, which opens this evening with a lecture on songbird migration. These lectures are free but seating is limited.

Details of the lectures and their locations are as follows:

North on the Wing: Travels with the Songbird Migration of Spring
Thursday, Oct. 4, 5 p.m.
Essex Meadows, Essex

Bruce Beehler, a research associate in the Division of Birds of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History will recount his 100-day journey in 2015 following the spring songbird migration from the coast of Texas, up the Mississippi, and then into the North American wood warblers’ breeding grounds in northern Ontario and the Adirondack Mountains of New York.  His presentation touches on wildlife, nature conservation, migration research, American history, and rural culture.
RSVP Here

Protecting Our Environment in a Climate of Change
Thursday, Oct. 18, 5 p.m.
Old Lyme Town Hall, Old Lyme

Connecticut and its residents have a strong history of support for protection and conservation of the environment. Our coastal and estuarine communities have a particular interest in policies and strategies to mitigate sea level rise, storm surge and protect wildlife habitats. Yet, budget constraints at the local level, state deficits, and rapidly changing federal policies with respect to standards, regulation, and enforcement, present challenges. Some states have chosen to maintain their own strict standards. What can a small state like Connecticut do? Our speaker, Commissioner Rob Klee of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, will address the challenges that policy makers face and how we can be effective advocates.
RSVP Here

Journeys: Osprey and an Author, Rob Bierregaard
Thursday, Oct. 25, 4 p.m.
Lyme Art Association, Old Lyme

Between 2000 and 2017 Rob Bierregaard and his colleagues placed GPS satellite transmitters on 47 adult and 61 juvenile Ospreys from South Carolina to the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland.  In 2013 a friend suggested that Rob write a book for children about his favorite Osprey. Five years later, Belle’s Journey: An Osprey Takes Flight, a middle-school book, was published. Rob Bierregaard will highlight his findings from satellite tracking studies of Osprey migrations and describe his own journey as a first-time children’s book author.
Note: This is a family friendly lecture. We urge you to bring your children and grandchildren.
RSVP Here

To learn more about the lecture speakers, click here

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Op-Ed: HOPE Believes They Have Satisfied Questions Raised by Zoning Commission, Public

Editor’s Note: This op-ed was submitted by Lauren Ashe, Executive Director of the HOPE Partnership, Kristin Anderson, Development Manager of the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development, Inc., and Loni Willey, Executive Director of the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development, Inc.

As you are aware, HOPE Partnership and Women’s Institute are nonprofit organizations committed to providing affordable housing options, and have a combined 50 years of experience providing high quality housing in urban, rural, and suburban communities across the state. Our experience has taught us how to create housing that meets the diverse needs of the communities we serve and the best practices for management that ensures our developments contribute to the overall fabric of the community for decades to come.

As nonprofits, our bottom line is our mission. Our volunteer boards do not personally profit from the success of our developments, and we are held accountable to our public and private donors to ensure that we have the best interests of the community in mind.  As such, the River Oak Commons development was brought to our organizations by concerned Old Lyme residents who saw the opportunity in this site to provide much needed housing to the town.  We have explored the feasibility for this site and have put forward a strong proposal to the commission for a development that will meet the community’s needs.

We believe that we have successfully satisfied the questions raised by the commission and public, and have taken extra measures to ensure that concerns by the community are addressed.

Specifically:

  • We have undertaken extensive traffic reviews to ensure that the development will not negatively impact existing traffic patterns nor cause dangerous or risky behavior on the part of drivers.  We heard the concerns from the public as to the reality of summer traffic, and intentionally conducted a follow up study on the most heavily trafficked weekend of the summer.  Per the recommendation by the town’s traffic engineer, we conducted additional reviews to understand the speed of exit on the off ramp and ensure that we could reasonably provide sufficient sight lines.   Both the traffic engineers retained by us, and that retained by the town, confirmed that there would be no significant impact on existing traffic in all these scenarios, and provided suggestions to ensure that safe sight lines are maintained.
  • We took seriously the claims from the public around potential contamination, despite original LEC reports concluding this was not probable. We provided additional studies, including soil tests and drinking water tests which confirmed that there were no contaminants that would risk the health of residents living in this future development
  • The development as proposed meets the various regulations and standards put forth by state agencies to ensure that plans of conservation and development are maintained. To date the proposed development has been reviewed by the Dept. of Housing, DEEP, Dept. of Public Health, CT Water Authority, State Historic Preservation Office, and Office of Policy and Management. The team has also worked cooperatively with the local  public works, the fire marshal, and public health departments to make significant accommodations. For example, we have designed to a public road standard, despite being a private road which will not receive the benefit of public services such as plowing services and trash removal. We have also worked with the school and bus company to identify a method of school pick up that will allow buses to come onto the site and off of the main road. We have reduced the size and capacity of our community room for residents to prioritize parking requirements dictated by occupancy.  We have worked every step of the way, and will continue to do so, to accommodate the professionals who are tasked with the responsibility of implementing codes and standards of the town beyond an approval of zoning.

River Oak Commons will be located in an already developed part of Old Lyme, and in close proximity to the Halls Road commercial district, transportation, and local amenities.  By constructing infill housing that does not require building on previously undeveloped land, we are adhering to best practices to concentrate development among the existing commercial and residential corridors. Our site plan mirrors the surrounding neighborhoods and our design considerations reflect the historic and cultural character of Old Lyme.   The reviews of the market, conversations with community members, and the extensive evaluation from experts as mentioned above confirms that this location offers many benefits to the future residents of River Oak Commons and does not create health or safety risks to the community.  The end result will be 37 brand new units, that meet the existing housing needs in your community, and are well managed by reputable organizations for decades to come.

While we have also heard from the community their concerns around what it will cost the taxpayers, we want to be clear that the town of Old Lyme has not offered any subsidy for this development. River Oak will contribute Real Estate taxes as a property owner in the town, and our taxes will be used to support the schools, police force, and other town amenities that the families living in River Oak Commons will benefit from. Old Lyme is losing out on the benefit of bringing public investment back into your own community, so that teachers, grocery store workers, town employees, or your grown children can live here. Because Old Lyme only has 1.5% of its housing stock restricted as affordable, we support the town’s interest in pursuing additional locations that have been raised during the public comment period for future affordable housing developments. River Oak Commons is just one part of the long term solution.

Development is a back and forth process with many checks and balances along the way to get from concept to completion. We’ve provided a road map that outlines how we will achieve the goals to provide 37 affordable housing units and have demonstrated that the project will be safe and healthy for the residents who will live there and the surrounding town. We look forward to continue working with the town of Old Lyme.

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Black Bear Kills Sheep in Lyme, Residents Warned to Take Precautions; DEEP Notes Black Bears Rarely Aggressive to Humans

Photo of the black bear seen Friday in Hadlyme. Photo by J. Bjornberg.

During the daytime hours on Friday, Emily Bjornberg, who lives on Brush Hill Rd. in Hadlyme, reports that her husband came upon a black bear attacking and subsequently killing a sheep on their property.  The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has been informed and is monitoring the situation.

The DEEP stresses that black bears only occasionally will prey on small mammals, deer, and livestock. DEEP notes on their website that black bears are omnivorous and, “they eat grasses, forbs, fruits, nuts, and berries. They also will seek insects (particularly ants and bees), scavenge carrion, and raid bird feeders and garbage cans.”

Additional important advice from the DEEP regarding black bears is as follows:

Never feed bears
-Remove bird feeders if a bear visits them
-Add a few capfuls of ammonia to your trash bags as the smell is a deterrent
-Thoroughly clean grills after use
-Do not leave pet food outside overnight
-Do not add meats or sweets to compost

If you see a bear:
View from a safe distance and leave an escape route for the bear – do not corner him
-Make noise and wave your arms
-Stand your ground and slowly back away – do not run or climb a tree – try to go into a car or building
Black Bears are rarely aggressive towards humans. They should be respected, not feared.

For more information on black bears, visit this link.

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NARAL Pro-Choice America Endorses Needleman For State Senate

Essex First Selectman and Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norm Needleman

NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the nation’s leading women’s health advocacy organizations, has announced its endorsement of Norm Needleman for the 33rd District State Senate seat in Connecticut.  The 33rd District includes the Town of Lyme.

The objective of NARAL Pro-Choice America candidate endorsements is to, “elect champions who don’t just pay lip service to values of reproductive freedom, but who truly fight for them…and help defeat those who want to roll back the clock on our rights.”

In accepting the endorsement, Needleman said: “We must continue our efforts to make certain that women have the right to choose how and when to raise a family, that paid family leave is assured, and that pregnancy discrimination is erased from the workplace. The endorsement by NARAL-Pro-Choice America is deeply gratifying. It strengthens my longstanding commitment to insure that basic reproductive rights are guaranteed to all women in or district, our state, and our nation.”

Needleman is the Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, which consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business to become a leader in its field, employing over 225 people.

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Old Lyme Selectmen Host Two Public Hearings on Proposed Leases; First Relates to Pump Station, Second to Solar Power

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen are conducting two public hearings Wednesday, Sept. 19, under Connecticut General Statutes section 7-163e. The first will commence at  7 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium at 53 Lyme St., and relates to a proposed lease of a portion of the Town-owned property at 72 Portland Ave., in Old Lyme.

The lease includes access rights to the leased area and to the Miami Beach Association, the Old Lyme Shores Beach Association, and the Old Colony Beach Association, and to each of their respective Water Pollution Control Authorities (the “Tenants”), for an initial term of 40 years from its commencement date. The purpose of obtaining the lease is to allow the construction, operation, and maintenance of a sanitary sewage pump station, underground piping, and related facilities by the Tenants.

Members of the public can review related documents at Old Lyme Town Hall in the selectman’s or town clerk’s office, or on the Town website at this link.

The second Public Hearing will start at  7:30 p.m. tomorrow evening at the same location and relates to a proposal to authorize the board of selectmen to negotiate and the first selectman to execute an MOA and subsequent lease of some or all of the capped portion of the of the Town-owned property at 109 Four Mile River Rd. in Old Lyme. This land is to be used for the installation and operation of solar power generating facilities, to include rights to access the leased area via and to install equipment and facilities necessary to the operation of the solar power facilities on, through and under other portions of the property at 109 Four Mile River Rd.

For more on this story, read Kimberly Drelich’s article published Sept. 18 on theday.com at this link.

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Old Lyme Zoning Hears Final Comments on HOPE’s Affordable Housing Proposal, Decision Now Pending

The Old Lyme Zoning Commission listens to comments from a member of the public at Monday night’s meeting.

More than 250 people filled the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium Monday evening to hear another round of comments from both the applicants and their attorney, and members of the public regarding the proposed 37-unit Affordable Housing development at 18-1 Neck Rd. (formerly 16 Neck Road). The applicants have submitted two separate applications for 23 and 14 dwelling units respectively known as River Oak Commons I and II.

Zoning Commission Chairman Jane Cable  (second from left) consults with a fellow commission member during the hearing.  Photo by Debra Joy.

Public comment was closed around 10:30 p.m. (thus meeting the legal requirement in terms of how long it can be held open) and the meeting ended without the commission taking a vote on either application.

Project Engineer Joe Wren (left) of Indigo Land Design of Old Saybrook makes a point to the attorney for the applicants, David Royston, at the end of the meeting.  Photo by Debra Joy.

The commission now has 65 days from the closing of the public hearing to deliberate and vote.

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Op-Ed: ‘A Project Without Solutions’: SECoast Director Questions Possible Approval of HOPE’s Affordable Housing Proposal

Editor’s Note: The author is the executive director of SECoast.

If the ends justify the means – and supporters are willing to overlook a flawed planning process, a dubious subdivide and shell corporations designed to skirt environmental regulation – we ask simply that the public and Zoning Commission members consider carefully the true character of those ends.

Surely, it’s never been the case that a failure of ends can justify a failure of means. But failed—and at best uncertain ends—are exactly what Hope Partnership, Women’s Institute, and attorney David Royston asked members of the Commission to approve last night in an effort to establish an aura of inevitability and bureaucratic momentum for the project.

At the very least, we expected the applicants to resolve those issues directly acknowledged under health and safety rules as the basis for their request for a continuance on July 11, 2018. Pedestrian safety? Months later, still crickets. Really, how is it possible, that plans submitted last night included a crosswalk between residences and the community center within the development, but failed to address pedestrian safety and a crossing of Route 156 to the nearby shopping district?

In defense, attorney Royston leans heavily on the letter of the law, but what he does not explain is that a street design can be defective—and thus unsafe—even if the design is otherwise legal. Years ago, the design for I-95 between Exit 70 and Exit 74 met the letter of law, but as we understand now, the geometry of the roadway was fatally flawed. Oh the irony, that we might repeat a similar mistake in the very same location.

We understand that many of the numerous issues of health and safety considered separately may not rise to the high bar of outweighing the real public good of affordable housing, but to be clear as a matter of the law, these issues should not be considered separately – a practice called segmentation – but rather as a meaningful whole. As Ms. Marsh, and others have pointed out amply in questioning safe exit and entrance to the property, it’s possible that each sightline considered as a piece is sufficient, but considered together, lack commonsense and safety.

We believe that this project makes that same error of segmentation not once, but many times over, aided too often by fibs and later revisions along the way to secure the aid and approval of various boards, commissions, and bodies, including (but not limited to) misleading filed papers to secure the subdivide, the promised recusal of counsel and ‘completed’ water testing to secure approval of wetlands, the use of shell corporations and the subdivision to avoid DEEP oversight and regulatory standards for a project of this size, the steady growth of the project over the course of months from a dozen or 16 units to 37 units and 950 ft of retaining walls reaching to eight feet in height. You might ask yourself why these retaining walls were never a serious topic of conversation at the Inland Wetlands hearing earlier this year. Perhaps, it’s because they weren’t in the plan approved at the time.

Now the applicants ask that the commission members and the public put this all aside and approve a project without solutions in place even for automobile traffic, water or septic; without designs which comply with the 2018 Fire Code. If this constitutes sufficient planning, truly we wonder what an incomplete or inadequate plan for the applicant would be. Really, are we to believe that nonexistent or endlessly variable plans better meet the rules of health and safety, than mere bad plans? We remain unconvinced.

For months, the best defense this plan had was the apparent – we were repeatedly promised – lack of a better location. We fully understand those who might embrace the good of affordable housing when presented with such a solitary opportunity. But it appears that even this is untrue, as already last night Kristin Anderson of the Women’s Institute made clear that this project was the first of others already contemplated or in part planned in Old Lyme. We strongly advise the community, the Commission, and the applicants to leave aside the current project, and embrace these other alternatives.

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Lock Your Cars! Thefts of Cars, Cash in Cars Reported in Numerous Locations in Old Lyme, Neighboring Towns

The Old Lyme Police have advised residents to be vigilant in locking their cars, and removing valuables and cash from their cars.  This follows a series of break-ins into cars that in many cases, were unlocked. A car was stolen from Hefflon Farms and break-ins were reported on Duchess Drive, Johnnycake Hill Rd. and Hawthorne Rd.  Neighboring towns were affected as well.

The Chester Resident Trooper TFC Matthew Ward #815 from Connecticut State Police – Troop F Westbrook issued the following statement to Chester residents Sept. 4:

Early Monday morning 9/3/18 we had several vehicles gone through in various areas of Chester – Railroad Avenue, Denlar Drive, Goose Hill and others.  Approximately 10 or so vehicles were gone through that we know of with a few items stolen. One residence had video surveillance and it showed the suspects trying to gain entry into the residence from keys taken out of one of the cars. 
Essex, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook also had several vehicles gone through with one car stolen from Essex and one car stolen from Old Saybrook. Please lock your vehicles and lock your residences at night. This has been happening alot in the surrounding areas. The suspects are from the Hartford, New Britain and New Haven areas and are stealing cars mostly.  Please be vigilant and report any suspicious people or suspicious vehicles in the area.    
Anyone with information about any of these incidents is asked to contact old Lyme Police or the State Police at Westbrook.
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Celebrate Grand Re-opening of ‘The Chocolate Shell’ in New Premises, All Welcome Labor Day Afternoon

Barbara Crowley, owner of The Chocolate Shell on Lyme Street, has made a big move!

And the move is to … right next door to the previous premises of the store. which has proudly occupied the space in the northern corner of The Village Shops for 38 years.

The new space into which Crowley has moved The Chocolate Shell is larger, brighter and, as she describes it, results in, “no more crawling over each other, customers and employees.”

The Grand Re-opening will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. on Labor Day afternoon.  All are welcome to come and see inside the new store.  There will be refreshments and perhaps some singing — Crowley is an accomplished vocalist.

An official ribbon-cutting is planned for 3 p.m. at which Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber, town and regional dignitaries will be present.

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Lyme Resident Simmons Join Boston Law Firm

Courtney A. Simmons

The Boston law firm of Davis, Malm & D’Agostine, P.C. has announced that Ccourtney A. Simmons, a lifelong resident of Lyme, Conn., has joined the firm’s Litigation practice. Ms. Simmons assists clients in commercial litigation and real estate disputes.

Prior to joining Davis Malm, Simmons served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Mark V. Green, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, and the Honorable Robert B. Foster and the Honorable Howard P. Speicher, both of the Massachusetts Land Court. Ms. Simmons received a J.D. from Boston University School of Law and a B.S. from the University of Delaware.

Davis Malm President Amy L. Fracassini, said, “We are focused on growing the firm by recruiting talented up-and-coming attorneys who share our goal to provide excellent client service. We are delighted to have Courtney on the Davis Malm team.”

Simmons commented, “I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues and using my prior experience to assist clients in their legal matters.”

Editor’s Note: Founded in 1979, Davis Malm is a premier mid-sized, full-service New England firm. The firm provides sophisticated legal representation to local, national, and international public and private businesses, institutions, and individuals in a wide spectrum of industries. The attorneys at the firm practice at the top level of the profession and deliver successful results to clients through direct partner involvement, responsive client service, and practical and creative problem solving. Davis Malm is the member firm for the International Lawyers Network representing Massachusetts and northern New England.

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Meeting This Afternoon at Lyme Academy to Discuss Future of College, Campus

The sign at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts prior to its take-over by the University of New Haven.

A meeting is being held this afternoon at Lyme Academy at 4:30 p.m. to which all “alumni and friends of the college” are invited to discuss the future of the college.  The meeting is hosted by University of New Haven President Steven Kapland and Lyme Academy Dean Todd Jokl.  It is being held in response to the UNH Board of Governor’s announcement last Monday afternoon that it, “has decided, effective at the end of the academic year in May 2019, to discontinue the University’s degree-granting academic offerings on the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts campus in Old Lyme.”

In a letter to alumni and friends of the college, UNH President Steve Kaplan and Lyme Academy Campus Dean Todd Jokl say, ” We realize that this decision may come as a shock, and we know that there is little we can say that will allay any disappointment you have.” They continue, “All students accepted to begin this fall and those currently enrolled in B.F.A. programs at Lyme will be able to finish the 2018-19 academic year on the Lyme campus, with all programs fully operational and with no changes to residential or student-life services.”

After the end of the 2018-19 academic year, the BFA Illustration program at Lyme Academy will relocate to the main UNH campus at West Haven.  It is unclear at this point what will happen to the other three majors that the Academy offers, namely painting, drawing and sculpture.  The letter mentions the possibility of “continuing in those disciplines through an articulation agreement that we are in the process of establishing with the University of Hartford.”

The letter states, “Candidly, with the benefit of hindsight, this decision was made more with our hearts than with our heads, and the challenges we have faced at Lyme over the past four years have been greater than anticipated.”

Reaction to the news, which was given to current students, staff, faculty and alumni on Monday, was swift and numerous posts on Facebook expressed both sadness and anger.  Questions were raised about the future of the buildings at the Lyme campus, the timing of the announcement on the heels of the previous day’s major fundraiser at Ocean House, RI, and the use of the $1.1 million bequest to the college by Diana Atwood-Johnson.  There was also universal dismay in relation to the incoming freshmen who are due to start what they believed was a four-year BFA program later this month — one person commented on Facebook that their situation resembled a “bait and switch.”

Campus Dean Jokl said in an email to the publisher of LymeLine.com that, “The future of Lyme Academy will be determined in the months to come but I am hopeful it will be a vibrant arts education institution.”

The press release from UNH states that a Lyme Transition Task Force will be formed, “to consider future pathways for Lyme Academy College students,” adding that this Task Force will, “examine options for students in Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture. Two potential options for students enrolled when current programs cease in May, 2019 have been identified: switching to a different art or design major offered at the West Haven campus, or continuing in those disciplines, through an articulation agreement with the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford.”

In the Frequently Asked Questions posted on the Lyme Academy section of the UNH website, it says in answer to the question, “What will happen to Lyme’s facilities?” that, “The Lyme Board will determine future plans for the campus.”  LymeLine.com has received many comments regarding the future of the campus and so, to serve our readers, we raised some initial questions with UNH.  We were referred to Lyn Chamberlin, UNH Vice President for Marketing and Communications, and her responses to our questions are detailed below:

Q: Can students who are enrolled as freshmen or transfer students starting this month receive a full refund? 

A: Of course. Questions may be directed to the Lyme Transition Team at 860.598.5067 or lymetransition@newhaven.edu or on the website:newhaven.edu/Lyme.

Q: What is the plan for the Southwick Commons? 

A: Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts is in a multi-year contract with the developer, and as of now, there is no change.

Q: Can you comment on the timing of this announcement in light of Lyme holding a major fundraiser yesterday (Sunday)? 

A: We felt that it was in the best interest of new and returning students and their families to give them this news as soon as we could. This event had been scheduled for some time, and any money raised will be used to support our students this academic year.

 Q: Similarly, can you comment on the timing of this announcement in light of Lyme not holding its traditional major fundraiser, the ArtsBall, in June? 

A:There is no connection between these two events.

We asked SECoast, the independent not-for-profit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the historic coastline communities of Connecticut and Rhode Island, for their reaction to the news. Their Executive Director Greg Stroud said, “Lyme Academy has provided outstanding classical art education for students in an irreplaceable setting that is home to American Impressionism. The future of the campus is of enormous importance to the very vital arts community of the region, and to the character of the surrounding historic district in Old Lyme. Obviously, moving forward, this will be a top priority for our organization.”

More to follow on this story.

 

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HOPE Partnership Receives $3.93 Million DOH Grant for Essex Affordable Housing

HOPE Partnership has been selected as a recipient of the Department of Housing (DOH) High Opportunity Area Housing grant.  This award, in the amount of $3.93 million, will provide for the conversion of commercial condominium offices into 17 affordable housing apartments in the Village of Centerbrook, Town of Essex.

In 2015, a HOPE Board member first suggested the idea that vacant and underutilized office space at Spencer’s Corner might be an ideal location for much-needed affordable housing.  A three story, commercial condo complex in the village of Centerbrook, Spencer’s Corner has had many vacancies, which provided an opportunity for HOPE to explore opportunities with the unit owners.

Over the past three years, HOPE has worked closely with town leaders, zoning officials, engineers, architects and other stakeholders to ensure a well thought out plan that would provide safe, affordable and stable housing to members of the community.  This project will be known as The Lofts at Spencer’s Corner with one-, two-, and three-bedroom units on the second and third floors with affordable rents based upon the sliding scale set by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  HOPE has applied for the remaining financing needed through the Federal Home Loan Bank with Essex Savings Bank.

HOPE expresses gratitude to all those who have assisted in making this project a reality.  Working in partnership with their volunteer board of directors, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman and Essex Town leaders, Spencer’s Corner’s Association, their development team and with the support of State Senator Art Linares and State Representative Bob Siegrist  and Connecticut State Leadership, HOPE is advancing its mission of making affordable homes a reality for families in the community.

 Founded in April 2004, HOPE Partnership is a non-profit organization committed to advocating and developing affordable housing opportunities to support families living and working in southern Middlesex County and surrounding towns.  In 2015, HOPE merged with Old Lyme Affordable Housing and is committed to serving the needs of residents in the community.  HOPE’s purpose is to advocate for and create high-quality rental housing targeted to people earning between 50 and 80 percent of the local median income.

For more information, visit this link

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