May 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lyme’s 2021 Hamburg Fair Cancelled

The ferris wheel at the Hamburg Fair is always a popular attraction.

LYME — We are hearing that the 2021 Hamburg Fair has been cancelled.

Our sources say that there were too many unknowns, additional expenses and insufficient volunteers.

It is hoped the Fair will be held again in 2022.

Old Lyme Church’s 2021 White Elephant Sale Cancelled, “the Prudent Thing to do” (R. Davis, WES Chair)

Potential buyers at the White Elephant Sale will now have to wait until July 2022 for the bell to chime signaling the start of the sale.

OLD LYME — Last Friday, the ministers of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme and the church’s White Elephant Sale (WES) Board made the final decision to cancel this year’s White Elephant Sale. Up until this point, planning was continuing in the hope that the 2021 sale was held.

An e-mail sent out yesterday by Bob Davis, who has chaired the sale for some 20 years, says “Regrettably … there were just too many variables since we start staffing in May and set up begins in mid June.”
He explains, “We looked at a myriad of issues including our ability to enforce the CT restrictions in place on large gatherings. [crowd size, masks, distancing ….] [and] the fact that the church was currently planning for only outdoor services through late Summer at least.
Davis also notes that, “The safety of our volunteers and shoppers in close quarters” was paramount and, “The possibility of folks coming down with Covid during intake or the sale” had to be considered.
He points out, “Given that most other major July events have been cancelled, it was the prudent thing to do.”
Striking a positive note, Davis says, “We are eagerly looking forward to next year’s sale when vaccinations should be widespread, heard immunity has taken hold and we will have learned to live with Covid.”
He concludes, “Mark your calendars for July 8-9, 2022 when we will [finally] have our 84th WES!”

Op-Ed: Systemic Racism and Old Lyme — Past, Present and Future

COMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED ON THIS ARTICLE, BUT THE 20+ SUBMITTED CAN STILL BE READ.

This op-ed was written by the ministers of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme:- Rev. Steven R. Jungkeit, Ph.D. (Senior Minister), Rev. Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager (Senior Associate Minister), and Rev. Carleen Gerber (Associate Minister.)

As the death of George Floyd, and now Daunte Wright, once again dominates the news cycle, so too local communities throughout the United States are called to continue the work of addressing the inequities and injustices caused by systemic racism.  Thankfully, in many places, that work didn’t begin with the death of Mr. Floyd – it has been happening all along.  Still, the horrific footage of that event, together with the killing of Daunte Wright, underscore both the urgency of the work, and the sheer scale of it.  The roots of systemic racism run deep, and they are pervasive.  Those roots run deep throughout the entire country, but they are especially pervasive in local communities.  Old Lyme, Connecticut, is not an exception.

To say that a community (or a country) is afflicted with systemic racism is not the same as attributing racist behaviors to individuals.  While it might be true that some individuals do exhibit racist behaviors, and while it is also true that most people possess unconscious biases in need of examination, systemic racism is far more subtle.  It has to do with who benefits most from our economic system, our educational institutions, and our business practices.  It has to do with the availability of health care, and the location and availability of housing.  It has to do with transportation and environmental resources.  Countering systemic racism involves discovering where blockages toward racial justice exist, and then doing the hard work of reshaping and reforming those structures in order to create communities that are inviting, fully responsive to the diverse needs of those who live there.

Old Lyme, along with the entirety of the Connecticut Shoreline, has a long history of systemic racism that has gone largely unnoticed and unaddressed.  Historical research discloses that the wealth of the town was built through trade with the West Indies, islands where slaves were worked to death on sugar plantations.  Barrel staves were made in Old Lyme, which were then shipped to Barbados from the Lieutenant River and the Connecticut River.  Molasses, converted from the cane sugar harvested by enslaved Africans, came back in those barrels, which was then converted into rum.  Communities all over Connecticut supplied the West Indies with agricultural products, which were then converted into molasses, and then rum, and then the purchase of human beings.  Old Lyme, together with other Connecticut towns like Old Saybrook, Wethersfield, New London, and many others, played its part in that global relay system.

But Old Lyme didn’t simply profit from a slave society that was far away.  It was a slave society.  We can document as many as 160 enslaved people – and likely more – that lived in this town alone.  Many, if not most, of the towns along the Connecticut Shoreline have similar numbers.  The first minister of the Congregational Church in Old Lyme owned at least one enslaved person, named Arabella.  A prominent member of the town in the early 18th century sold a three year old child, named Jane, away from her mother, writing in the deed of sale that she was sold in order to have and to hold, to be possessed and enjoyed.  The largest slave holding family in New England, the DeWolfs, built an integrated empire of slaving in Bristol, Rhode Island in the 18th century, but they got their start in Old Lyme – one of the early family patriarchs is buried in the Duck River Cemetery.  At least three enslaved people lived on the site where the Congregational Church now stands.  At least five enslaved people lived in the house that now serves as the parsonage.  Several more lived on the site of the town library.  More still lived at the site of what is now the Florence Griswold Museum.  That’s merely a handful of the human beings who were enslaved in Old Lyme.

But it’s not only enslavement that occurred in Old Lyme.  Redlining did too.  Property records exist from the mid-20th century that prohibit the sale of houses or land in Old Lyme to people of color.  Such records raise questions about precisely what is meant when contemporary residents deploy language about “preserving the town’s historic character.”  What does “character” mean, precisely?  Can that “character” be separated out from the history of systemic racism that took place in Old Lyme?  Given the evidence of systemic racism in Old Lyme, are there not aspects of the town’s “historic character” that we might wish to address, change, and overcome?

The Resolution on Racism as a Public Health Crisis currently before the town’s Board of Selectmen is a way of publicly acknowledging the ways structural racism adversely affects the bodily, emotional, and spiritual well-being of people of color, an acknowledgment that should not be controversial.  Passing it would acknowledge that structural racism exists throughout our country, including in places like Old Lyme.  It would send a clear message to the people of color and minorities who do live in the town that local leaders actually care about their well-being.  It would do the same for the people of color who work in town, but live elsewhere.  But more than that, passing the resolution would send a signal to those living in other communities that Old Lyme understands the conditions that far too many people face in Connecticut and in the wider United States.  Finally, it would help to acknowledge this town’s complicity in the very formation of structural racism, a complicity in which it is not alone.  Sadly, failing to affirm that Resolution declares the opposite: the desire to retain the town’s “historic character,” together with all that phrase implies.

Passing a resolution is a largely symbolic activity.  Still, we believe such passage would be a substantive step toward lasting change.  But clearly more work is needed if we are truly to address the inequities that have existed in Connecticut, and in Old Lyme.  That work would include a public education program to learn the history of enslavement in Old Lyme.  It would include building a curriculum that would teach that history to our children.  It would include an active campaign to invite people of color to live in our community, and to take part in our educational system.  And it would include a commitment to building affordable housing, which, it should be noted, would also benefit many within this community who already face precarious housing.

We believe it is time for Old Lyme to lead on issues surrounding structural racism.  The murder of George Floyd and the murder of Daunte Wright, together with the public reckoning that such violence has unleashed, has created an opening toward greater honesty, empathy, compassion, and justice.  Mr. Floyd’s death, and Mr. Wright’s, is nothing short of a tragedy.  Indeed, it is more than that – it is a national emergency.  With that tragedy and with that emergency, we have an opportunity to work toward a greater and more inclusive public good, one in which towns like Old Lyme become the hospitable and welcoming communities that we most deeply wish to be.

Editor’s Notes: We welcome comments on any article published on LymeLine.com but we would like to remind readers that our policy on comments states that you must provide your first and last name, and an email address that we can verify. Comments will not be published under a pseudonym. Personal attacks on anyone or any group or organization, especially on other commenters, are not permitted. Also, we will not publish comments that are abusive, defamatory, indecent, libelous, obscene, off-topic, pornographic, profane, threatening, unlawful, vulgar, or otherwise objectionable.

A la Carte: Savor a Hint of Hungarian with Chicken Paprikash

Lee White

Last Saturday night, for the first time since March of 2020, I had dinner inside a  restaurant. My stepdaughter, who is bicoastal (spends two weeks in Boston and the other two at her home in San Francisco), drove down and we had dinner at the Water Street Café.

My friend Amy is chef-ing there while owner/chef Walter Houlihan rehabs from a broken leg, and Walter’s wife, Stephanie, is hostess-ing. Mike, one of my favorite waiters in the whole world, took care of the two of us. I teared up to see them again. 

I have lots of friends, who will not eat inside a restaurant yet, and maybe never will. But I myself feel safe enough and want so much to help my restaurant owners and waitstaff friends. I am not sure any organization has suffered as financially during the pandemic.

For the next few weeks, though, it is back to cooking in my own kitchen. I looked through my pantry and freezer and remembered that my husband used to make chicken paprikash. I looked for his recipe among my columns but, alas, I’d never written about it.

I went onto the internet and found a recipe that looked just like his. While this one is for the slow-cooker, he used to make it in a big Le Creuset lidded pot. If you make it in the InstantPot, use the “sauté” button to sauté the chicken, onions and spices; add the broth and pressure cook it for about 20 minutes. Reduce the liquid at the end on “sauté.” 

Slow-Cooker Creamy Chicken Paprikash

Adapted from Tablespoon.com
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
4 chicken drumsticks
4 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium onions, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne) or 1 habanero chile, seeded
1 ½ cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 cup sour cream

Spray large slow cooker with cooking spray.

Season chicken with ½ teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper; in 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Place chicken skin-side down in skillet. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until brown on both sides. Transfer chicken to slow cooker.

In the skillet on medium heat, add onions and cook about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, paprika, red pepper and rest of the salt and pepper; continue to cook and stir for about 1 minute. Transfer to slow cooker. Add chicken broth to skillet, scraping any brown bits on bottom of skillet. Transfer to slow cooker. Cover; cook on low 5 to 6 hours or until juice of chicken is clear when thickest part is cut to the bone (at least 165 degrees). Transfer chicken to serving platter and keep warm. Increase slow cooker to high.

In a small bowl, beat cornstarch and water with whisk until smooth. Beat into cooking liquid in slow cooker. Cover; cook about 15 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Beat sour cream into cooking liquid with whisk. Cover; cook about 5 minutes, until hot.

Serve chicken and sauce over buttered noodles.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years, but now lives in Groton, Conn.

Wedding Band Found in Old Lyme, Looking for Owner

OLD LYME — We have been notified that last Sunday, April 11, a LymeLine.com reader found a wedding band outdoors on the property of the former Bee and Thistle Inn in Old Lyme. The reader has asked for our help to find its owner.

If the wedding band is yours, you are requested to phone (860) 388-7069 with a description of the ring so that it may be returned to its rightful owner.

In It Together: April is Alcohol Awareness Month so Let’s STOP Teen Access to Alcohol

LYME/OLD LYME — April is Alcohol Awareness month and one way we can work to prevent teens from drinking is to prevent easy access to alcohol.

Teen drinking is not inevitable.

Nationally, more than 70 percent of high school seniors do not drink alcohol regularly. Unfortunately, according to 2019 data, 73 percent of 12th graders at Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) report that it is easy to get alcohol.

Most teens who drink obtain alcohol without having to pay for it. They get it from friends or family members, at parties, or by taking it without permission.

Underage drinkers who pay for alcohol usually give money to someone else to purchase it for them.   

Here are some steps you can take to reduce access to alcohol:

  1. Liquor stickers are available from LYSB and LOL Prevention Coalition.

    At home, make sure teens can’t access alcohol without your knowledge. Unmonitored alcohol, including alcohol stored in a cabinet, refrigerator, basement, or garage, can be a temptation. When in doubt, lock it up.

    This is also important for grandparents, family, and anyone else with youth in their homes. Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau and the Lyme/Old Lyme Prevention Coalition have “Liquor Stickers” available to help secure open bottles in the home.

  2. Exercise your influence. Data shows that teens continue to care what their parents think, even while they are in high school and college. Let your teen know that you don’t want them to drink and that most teens, in fact, don’t drink. Talk often and talk early.
  3. It may have happened already. A neighbor announces she is hosting a teen party, but you shouldn’t worry — she is taking the car keys from every kid who comes in. Or a colleague says he is serving alcohol to his high school son’s friends so they can “learn to drink responsibly.” Speak up, because silence can be misinterpreted.
  4. According to Connecticut’s Social Host Law not only is it illegal to provide alcohol to a person under 21, but as a host you are advised to actively prevent use by underage youth on your property.  Connecticut’s law on hosting reads that hosts “knew or should have known” that underage drinking was taking place. Monitoring during the course of the entire party is required.

  5. If you hear about a situation — speak up! Say that you don’t want other people serving alcohol to your teen or condoning teen drinking.  Let your friends, neighbors, and family members know that the minimum drinking age and Social Host Law are policies that protect teens, and that you don’t want your teen to drink.
  6. Take action before a situation arises. Start talking to the parents of your child’s friends early — as early as 6th grade. Talk together about the risks of teen drinking and share that you don’t want anyone to allow your teen to drink alcohol. Talk to adults who host teen parties. Let them know that the overwhelming majority of parents support the legal drinking age and agree that it is not okay to serve alcohol to someone else’s teen — and it is not okay to turn a blind eye to teen alcohol consumption.
  7. Let local law enforcement know that you encourage active policing of noisy teen parties that may signal alcohol use. Tell local alcohol retailers that you want them to check ID’s before selling alcohol. Limiting alcohol sales to legal purchasers is an important goal and well worth the time it takes.

For more information on how to help your teen make healthy choices surrounding drugs or alcohol, visit www.lysb.org or email Alli Behnke at abehnke@lysb.org 

(Sources:  Federal Trade Commission, MTF 2019,  LYSB Youth Survey 2019)

A View From My Porch: Epic Poems of Folk and Rock, Part I

In this essay, I posit that many works of contemporary folk and rock music are the natural successors of the epic poems of antiquity. In support of that hypothesis, I begin with a brief review of the epic genre; and then, discuss a few contemporary works that I feel meet the epic standard. 

The Epic Poem:

An epic is a long, narrative poem that chronicles the extraordinary deeds and adventures of courageous men and women. The earliest epic poems generally had no discernible author, and were probably developed in the pre-literate era. Those epics were conveyed orally, usually in brief episodes, either to an audience, or to another storyteller. However, epics were also created by a clearly-identified author. 

At the Mindszenty School, where I was a college prep student many years ago, we studied epic works of both sorts. 


First page of Beowulf in Cotton Vitellius A. xv. Public domain.

“Beowulf” was written anonymously in old English, and set in the 6th century in what is now Denmark and Sweden. The hero, Beowulf, came to the aid of the Danish monarch, whose kingdom had been terrorized by the monster Grendel, who was notable as a descendent of Cain.

Although losing some of his warriors to Grendel, who then drank their blood; Beowulf finally slays the monster in a bloody encounter, and hangs the monster’s arm and claw over the rafters of the king’s great hall as proof of its death.

In a final act of heroism, Beowulf also kills Grendel’s avenging mother, though requiring a magic sword. 

The “Odyssey,” which is a sequel to Homer’s “Iliad,” is a Greek epic poem, written near the end of the eighth century BC.  The poem relates the activities of Odysseus, the hero, during the final year of the siege of Troy, and his 10-year, and epically perilous, journey home to Ithaca, after Troy’s fall.

We also considered Milton’s 17th Century “Paradise Lost,” but, absent a monster, and temptations from three sirens, the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden drew only limited interest. 

Clearly, the most noteworthy characteristic of an epic poem is its length. The “Odyssey” has 15,000 lines., “Paradise” over 10,000. Further, the epic hero (or heroine) is a great warrior, and willing to engage in intense combat.   

In the following compositions, the title is followed by the author’s name and the publication date. A second name, when included, is, in my opinion, the best cover artist. A single name and date indicate that the author also performed the work. 

I provide context for each work, and include abridged lyrics. I took care in my abridgement to ensure that the song’s sense and message remained clear. The original lyrics, in their entirety, are available on the internet.

I’ve included a song by Woodie Guthrie (see number III below), who is considered one of the most influential figures in American folk music. School children are often introduced to Woodie with his song, “This Land is your Land”.

1. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” — Gordon Lightfoot (1976)

Album cover of ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ by Gordon Lightfoot. This image qualifies as fair use under the copyright law of the United States.

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an American freighter that, when launched in 1958, was the largest ship on the Great Lakes, nearly 800 ft. long and  weighing more than 13,000 tons without cargo. She hauled iron ore from mines in Minnesota to iron works in ports on the Great Lakes.

The skipper, Captain Ernest McSorley, was very experienced, and well-respected by his contemporaries and his crew. The ship sank on Nov. 10, 1975 in a storm on Lake Superior, with the loss of the entire crew of 29 men. The bodies were not recovered. 

In true epic poem style, one of the prevailing theories regarding its sinking is that it was hit by a series of three consecutive “rogue” waves, a phenomenon called “Three Sisters” on Lake Superior. Their tendency to occur without warning, and with huge force makes them especially dangerous. 

Gordon Lightfoot’s lyrics are a “play-by-play” of the disaster. Be sure to note the cook’s role in the progression of events. 

Abridged Lyrics:

The legend lives on, from the Chippewa on down; of the big lake they call ‘Gitchee Gumee’.
Superior, it’s said, never gives up her dead, when the skies of November turn gloomy.
With a load of iron ore, twenty-six thousand tons more,
than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty.
That good ship and crew, was a bone to be chewed,
when the gales of November came early.
The ship was the pride of the American side,
when they left fully loaded for Cleveland.
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait,
when the gales of November came slashing.
When suppertime came, the cook came up top;
saying, ‘fellas, it’s too rough to feed you’.
At seven p.m., a main hatchway caved in;
and he said, ‘fellas, it’s been good to know you’.
The captain wired shore that ‘he had water coming in;
and the good ship and crew were in peril’.
Later that night, when her lights went out of sight,
came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
And a church bell chimed, until it rang twenty-nine times;
for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

2. “Charlie and the MTA” — Steiner and Hawes, (1949) / The Kingston Trio

A formal publicity shot of the original line-up of the Kingston Trio (l-r) Dave Guard, Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds. Image published under under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

The song was originally composed for a “left-wing” mayoral campaign in Boston’s 1949 election, to protest the five-cent fare increase by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).  Fighting the fare increase was an important plank of the Progressive Party candidate, Walter A. O’Brien Jr.’s platform. He had also advocated the removal of the complicated entry/exit fare structure, and opposed the tax-funded bailout of the system’s previous operator. 

O’Brien’s campaign had no funds for radio advertising, so he commissioned campaign songs from local folk artists, covering his themes; and played recordings from a loudspeaker on a truck driven throughout Boston.

The 1949 mayoral election was a raucous affair, with five candidates, including the amazingly popular, and notoriously corrupt incumbent, James Michael Curley, whose campaign song began, “Vote early and often for Curley”.

O’Brien finished last; and was routed by John B. Hynes, who then remained Mayor of Boston until 1960. Bostonians also approved a change in the structure of future mayoral contests (i.e., select two final candidates in advance of each general election).

Abridged Lyrics: 

Well, let me tell you the story of a man named Charlie, who on a tragic and fateful day;
put ten cents in his pocket, kissed his wife and family, and went to ride on the MTA.

Well, did he ever return? No, he never returned; and his fate is still unknown.
He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston; he’s the man who never returned.

Charlie handed in his dime at the Kendall Square Station,
and he changed for Jamaica Plain.

When he got there, the conductor said, ‘one more nickel’;
Charlie couldn’t get off of that train.

Now, all night long Charlie rides through the stations, crying, ‘what will become of me’?
‘How can I afford to see my sister in Chelsea or my cousin in Roxbury?’

Charlie’s wife goes down to the Sculley Square Station every day at quarter past two,
And through the open window she hands Charlie a sandwich as the train comes rumbling through.

The Kingston Trio’s original version of the song began with a spoken introduction: “The people of Boston have rallied bravely whenever the rights of men have been threatened. Today, the MTA, is attempting to levy a burdensome tax. Citizens, hear me out! This could happen to you.”

In 2004, the “Charlie Card” was introduced as the payment method for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

3. “Deportee — Woody Guthrie (1948) / Joan Baez 

Woody Guthrie in 1943. World Telegram photo by Al Aumuller. Public domain.

Guthrie said that the inspiration for “Deportee” was the radio and newspaper coverage of the Los Gatos Canyon plane crash, which provided the names of the flight crew and the security guard, but not the farm workers, who were also on the flight; referring to them only as “deportees.”

The crash resulted in the deaths of 28 migrant farm workers, who were being transported back to Mexico at the end of their braceros contract. The bodies of the migrants were placed in a mass grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in Fresno, Calif. The grave was marked only, “Mexican Nationals.”

The Bracero Agreement:

During World War II, the United States negotiated a series of treaties with the Mexican government to recruit Mexican seasonal workers, all men and without their families, to work on short-term contracts on farms and in other war industries (braceros.)

The program was developed because of severe labor shortages caused by the war. The labor contractors were expected to provide transportation to and from the Mexican border.

The first Mexican bracero workers were admitted in September, 1942, and by the program’s end in 1964, nearly 4.6 million Mexican citizens had been hired to work in the United States, mainly on farms in Texas, Calif., and the Pacific Northwest.

Abridged Lyrics: 

The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting;
the oranges are piled in their creosote dumps.
They’re flying you back to the Mexico border,
to pay all your money to wade back again. 

Some of us illegal, and others not wanted,
our work contract’s out and we have to move on.

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita;
adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
you won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane;
all they will call you will be ‘deportees’.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon;
a fireball of lightning, that shook all our hills.
Who are these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, ‘They are just deportees.’

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?

Author’s Notes: First, I want to acknowledge the persistence of Messrs. Jakubowski and Corsi, English faculty at the Mindszenty School, who never assigned required readings that were also available in “Classics Illustrated” comics.

It is ironic that the United States has not yet addressed, in a bipartisan and humanitarian manner, immigration from Mexico, especially because we welcomed millions as migrant workers during and after World War II, (described above in “The Bracero Agreement”). 

Our policy seems to remain: “They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves,” which is also a Guthrie lyric.

Even American television recognized braceros. You may recall a late 1950s, and early ‘60s television series, “The Real McCoys”, which included a character, Pepino, who, I now realize, was a bracero worker on the McCoy farm in the San Fernando Valley. 

We all first heard the Ojibwe term: “Gitchee Gumee” in Longfellow’s 1855 epic poemThe Song of Hiawatha”. 

If Madame Editor agrees, I will continue this “epic poems” theme in the next essay, where I consider contemporary epic poems of conflict.

Editor’s Note to Mr. Gotowka: She agrees.

This is the opinion of Thomas D. Gotowka.

Tom Gotowka

About the author: Tom Gotowka’s entire adult career has been in healthcare. He’ will sit on the Navy side at the Army/Navy football game. He always sit on the crimson side at any Harvard/Yale contest. He enjoys reading historic speeches and considers himself a scholar of the period from FDR through JFK.

A child of AM Radio, he probably knows the lyrics of every rock and roll or folk song published since 1960. He hopes these experiences give readers a sense of what he believes “qualify” him to write this column.

Letter to the Editor: Region#18 BOE Seeks Community’s Help in Finding Ways to Thank Lyme-Old Lyme Staff for Remarkable Efforts in Extraordinary Year

To the Editor:

An Open Letter to the Lyme-Old Lyme Community

The sights and sounds of springtime are in the air and with those come thoughts of the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. As we look toward the end of this historic year, the Region #18 Board of Education asks your assistance in thanking our school staff for everything they have done this school year.  

Lyme-Old Lyme is unique for having offered full in-person instruction for the entire school year. This is nothing short of amazing and deserves our recognition and thanks. Therefore, we plan to recognize our staff for their commitment to making this year so successful. In this effort, we would like the community’s assistance.  

We are asking for donations that we can provide to our staff to show appreciation. We are not looking for monetary donations but instead are looking for opportunities within our community that will help our staff relax and recharge for another successful school year. These donations will be given to the staff at our annual end of the year banquet, which will be held outdoors this year in a COVID-safe environment.

If you own a business, or work in a business that may be willing to help, or just want to show your appreciation, please consider some of the following donation ideas.

  • Gift cards/certificates to restaurants, gyms, spas, recreational activities, hair salons, barbers, nail salons, etc.
  • Tickets to special events
  • Exercise or sporting equipment
  • Car services
  • Home services
  • Babysitting services

Donations can be sent to or dropped off at the Board of Education, ℅ Michelle Dean, Center School, 49 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT 06371.  

All donations are welcomed, no matter the size. Of most importance is the community’s thanks and appreciation for our staff who have provided our children with a sense of normalcy in what was a year like no other.

Sincerely,

The Region #18 Board of Education
Diane Linderman, Chair, Old Lyme
Rick Goulding, Old Lyme
Stacey Leonardo, Lyme
Jennifer Miller, Old Lyme
Mary Powell St. Louis, Lyme
Martha Shoemaker, Old Lyme
Suzanne Thompson, Old Lyme
Jean Wilczynski, Old Lyme
Steven Wilson, Old Lyme

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

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold (File photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (File photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

She invited Kerr and Griswold to discuss the matter.

Kerr responded, “I have nothing to discuss.”

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

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

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

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

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

WHEREAS race is a social construct with no biological basis; 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A la Carte: A Better Bit of Brisket Made for a Super Seder

Lee White

It was such a nice seder for Passover 2021. My friend Lisa and Eric invited six of us, all but eight of us vaccinated twice, the others soon to get their second. We played boules for a couple of hours; I hadn’t seen Jacques, the Hopkins or the Yavaris for over a year.

In addition to appetizers including home-made latkes, along with gefilte fish and chopped liver, we drank wine.

For dinner, it was potluck: Jacques made chicken with lettuces (which I had watched him make a week ago on television), Raisa and Paula made roasted vegetables, Lisa made her incredible baby potatoes in truffle oil and the Hopkins made cookies.

And as if we more needed dessert, there was that, too.

I made a new fresh brisket entrée. I have probably made it 25 times, from many recipes, but I figured, if it was my regular brisket, Jacques would know I used Lipton’s onion soup and Coca Cola. So I made the new recipe below. It was so much better than anything I’d ever made before.

Here is this new recipe:

Cook Classic Beef Brisket in the Slow Cooker
Adapted from Kitchn by Meghan Splawn (online)

Yield: Serves 8 

1 5 to 6 lb. beef brisket, preferably flat cut
2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 pound sliced mushrooms
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups low-sodium beef broth (I used three tiny bouillon cubes in warm water, well mixed)
½ cups ketchup
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup of Coca-Cola (very much optional)

Pat the brisket dry with paper towels and place into the slow cooker; hopefully the cooker is a 6-quart or larger. (If the brisket has a particularly thick fat cap, you can remove it now. The author doesn’t and neither do I; the fat makes for an even more luxurious brisket.) Sprinkle the brisket on all sides with 1 teaspoon of the salt.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until softened and beginning to brown and char in some spots, at least 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes more.

Add smoked paprika, black pepper, thyme, oregano and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally until very fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully add the onions, mushrooms and garlic over the brisket.

Remove the skillet to medium-high heat, add the broth and using a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape all the lovely browned bits up off the bottom. Add the ketchup, brown sugar and tomato paste and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then pour over the onion mixture and brisket. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours (or maybe a bit longer)

Transfer the brisket to a clean cutting board and slice. Either serve immediately or store with the gravy. 

To make the gravy: Pour the juice from the slow cooker into that skillet, heat element to high and cook until it is slightly reduced. As it bubbles, in a small bowl add a teaspoon or a bit more of the cornstarch and add cold water to make a slurry. Pour it into the bubbling juice and continue to stir the juice. If it needs to be a little thicker, add a bit more cornstarch and cold water to the bubbling juice; continue stirring. Taste and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years, but now lives in Groton, Conn.

Reading Uncertainly? ‘American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence’ by Pauline Maier

Have we over-sanctified the American past in the last 50 years? It may well be, argues Pauline Maier, a professor of history at MIT, in her now-classic analysis of the creation of our Declaration of Independence.

Three key documents epitomize the start of “these” United States: the Declaration, the Constitution, and its following initial amendments, the Bill of Rights. They are indeed worthwhile documents to study, but are they as perfect as we have been led to believe?

Professor Maier argues the Declaration was a product of “the grubby world of eighteenth-century politics,” with contributions from “a cast of thousands.” Its impetus came from a growing belief that monarchy and hereditary rule were “major constitutional errors.”

The simple distance from Great Britain had much to do with their dissatisfaction, too, coupled with insensitive colonial taxation.

She recalls the history that led to the Declaration. First came the English Declaration of Rights that permitted the nobility to restrain the monarch in 1689. But a short sequence of events in 1775 pushed the Continental Congress to action: the Battle of Lexington on April 18-19, 1775, the capture of Fort Ticonderoga by some out-of-control colonials on May 9, Bunker Hill on June 17, the British destruction of Falmouth (now Portland), Maine on Oct. 17, and a similar assault on Norfolk, Va., in January 1776.

By then many states had already declared their removal from English authority, creating enormous pressure on the delegates In Philadelphia during the spring, that pressure spurred the delegates to take joint action. Many state and local governments had already declared their “independence” by July 1776.

As Professor Maier notes, “ . . . the society that adopted Independence was national to a remarkable extent considering that before 1764 the North American colonies had no connection with each other except through Britain.” After 1764 they expressed their “sense of shared grievances.”

While the prime movers of the rushed Declaration in Philadelphia were indeed Thomas Jefferson and his designated “committee,” including John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Thomas Pickering, and, belatedly, Benjamin Franklin, the author argues that many others contributed to its phraseology through prior words and documents, and indeed the Congress altered the Committee’s draft afterwards, before it was published.

It is a fascinating story, especially in that the Declaration seems to have been largely disregarded after it initial acceptance, only to become sanctified when the Federalists and Republicans tussled with each other in the 1820s.

And only more recently have we tried to deify both the words and its creators.

Professor Maier carefully dissects words, phrases, and their contributors, creating a convincing thesis that the Declaration was the work of hundreds, not a few, and that, as a “peculiar document,” it hardly deserves its later sanctification.

She concludes: “The symbolism is all wrong; it suggests a tradition locked in a glorious but dead past, reinforces the passive instincts of an anti-political age, and undercuts the acknowledgement and exercise of public responsibilities essential to the survival of the republic and its ideals.”

By all means read the Declaration, but let’s move on and deal with the present using all that we now know.

It is not “scripture.”

Editor’s Note: ‘American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence,’ by Pauline Maier is published by Vintage Books, New York 1998.

Felix Kloman

About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, Conn., he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction, a subject which explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farm Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings.
His late wife, Ann, was also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visited every summer.

COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments Can Now be Scheduled for Anyone 16+ Living, Working or Studying in CT

LYME/OLD LYME/STATEWIDE — Starting today, April 1, all Connecticut residents and all those working or studying in Connecticut age 16 and older are now eligible for vaccination appointments.

Visit this link for information on COVID-19 vaccination scheduling options. The website states that vaccine scheduling for individuals age 16-44 opens at 8 a.m. this morning.

After meeting with hospital leaders statewide, state officials have determined medically-high risk conditions including sickle cell disease, end-state renal disease on dialysis, active cancer treatment, solid organ transplant, Down syndrome and all patients of Connecticut Children’s and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital will receive priority planning in the vaccination process. Hospitals will contact patients with those conditions directly.

Additionally, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be able to receive vaccinations at dedicated clinics organized by the Department of Social Services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Towns of Lyme, Old Lyme Work to Identify Homebound Residents to Ensure They Receive COVID-19 Vaccines

To qualify for in-home vaccinations, individuals must:

•    Be homebound (unable to physically leave their home)
•    Live in geographical bounds of the Town of Lyme or Old Lyme

Vaccinations will also be provided for one primary caregiver for the eligible homebound resident. The caregiver must be in the home at the resident’s scheduled appointment time.

If you know of a homebound resident in need of this in-home vaccination service, you can help them register at https://dphsubmissions.ct.gov/homebound.

For qualifying residents of Old Lyme, who do not have internet access, call the Old Lyme Emergency Management COVID-19 Help Line at (860) 572-6246 and you will receive a return call. Due to anticipated high call volume, patience is requested while awaiting the return call.

For qualifying residents of Lyme, contact Social Services Director Kathy Tisdale at 860-575-0541.

Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden, Sustainable CT Will Match Funds Raised up to $7,500

Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden President Jim Ward (second from left) talks to attendees at a site walk held Saturday of the area proposed for the new garden at Town Woods Park.

OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden (LOLFSG) is moving ahead by leaps and bounds. This past Saturday, LOLSFG President Jim Ward hosted a tour of the proposed site for the garden at Town Woods Park in Old Lyme and today a major fundraising initiative to support the project begins.

The mission of LOLSFG is to establish a sustainable, organic garden to grow fresh produce for local food pantries. Ward notes that the proposed Town Woods site is, “An organically maintained recreational park with access to water, electricity, parking and plenty of sunlight.” 

He told LymeLine, “The site walk was a great success. Sixteen people attended and we met and talked for over an hour. Participants thought the location was ideal.”

Asked why a fundraising campaign is necessary at this point, Ward explains, “Our immediate priority is to fund and install an 8′ deer/rodent fence to protect future plants.  Additionally, we are in need of equipment and tools to assist in bed preparation, garden development and ongoing tasks.”

He adds, “A successful campaign will allow us to procure and install the deer fence in June,” pointing out that, “With the area secure, we can move forward with the garden design and preparation of the planting beds for our initial planting in the Spring of 2022.

Ward says enthusiastically, “This will enable us to begin delivering fresh produce to local pantries in the summer of 2022.”

The project’s organizers are asking the community to support this initiative by donating to a crowdfunding campaign or volunteering in the effort.  If the campaign reaches its $7,500 goal by its fundraising deadline of May 24, 2021 the project will receive a matching grant of $7500 from Sustainable CT’s Community Match Fund, which is an innovative funding resource for public, community-led sustainability projects.

“I am very excited, as a successful campaign will put us months ahead of our original projections and allow us to install a fence and prepare all garden beds this summer. This will allow us to begin planting and growing fresh healthy produce in the entire garden next spring. Realistically, we can begin delivering fresh produce to local food pantries next summer,” comments Ward

It is anticipated that the garden project will have a long-lasting impact on the community.  The LOLFSG plans to incorporate educational opportunities around subjects such as composting, rain barrels, and sustainable gardening. 

One opportunity will be for volunteers to expand their knowledge of organic farming through formal and informal collaboration with veteran and master gardeners.  For example, a master gardener mentor has agreed to share his expertise in composting while establishing the garden’s compost system. 

The LOLFSG is also partnering with the Pollinate Old Lyme organization to provide a venue for a local pollinator species walkway outside the garden fence.  

The installation of the fence and acquisition of tools and equipment will complete the first phase of the garden. 

The second phase consists of the installation of an irrigation system and a tool shed.  We are in the process of writing grants and seeking other funding to accomplish this phase of the project. With the completion of both these phases, Ward expects annual expenditures to be approximately $3.000 to $5,000.

Sustainable CT is an initiative of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy that inspires, supports, and recognizes sustainability action by towns and cities statewide.

The Community Match Fund — supported by the Smart Seed Fund, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and the Connecticut Green Bank —provides a dollar-for-dollar match to donations raised from the community, doubling local investment in projects. Anyone can lead a project and ideas can be proposed at any time. 

“Through the Community Match Fund, we aim to put residents at the forefront of creating positive, impactful change,” said Abe Hilding-Salorio, community outreach manager for Sustainable CT.

He adds, “Match Fund projects are community-led and community-funded, demonstrating the power of people working together to make change in their communities.”

Editor’s Notes: i) For LOLFSG project details and to donate, visit: Patronicity.com/LOLFSG and visit this link to read our first article on the project.
ii) If you have a great idea for a public project in your community, contact Sustainable CT at hildingsalorioa@easternct.edu.

Old Lyme’s Inland Wetlands Commission Continues Public Hearing on Big Y’s Controversial Gas Station/Convenience Store Proposal to Next Month

The site of the proposed Big Y Express at the western end of Halls Rd. in Old Lyme. Map courtesy of the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee.

OLD LYME — Around 50 people joined Tuesday’s Public Hearing for the proposal presented by Big Y Foods for a gas station/convenience store at 99 Halls Rd. and 25 Neck Rd., which was hosted Tuesday via Webex by the Old Lyme Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission (IWWC).

According to the application submitted to the IWWC, the proposal is for a 2,100 sq. ft. convenience mart and a gas station on a site surrounding Essex Savings Bank that is currently vacant and partially cleared. The application states that the fuel system consists of six dispensers under a protective canopy and two double wall fiberglass underground fuel tanks with electronic monitoring.

The IWWC’s role is to assess whether there is potential for significant impact to the watercourses located on the property proposed for the development. Commission Chairman Rachael Gaudio stressed both at the Feb. 23 meeting of the IWWC and at this meeting that it is not under this commission’s purview to consider zoning, planning or traffic matters.

The Commission had received written responses from the project engineer for the applicant, Ryan Scrittorale, PE, of Alfred Benesch & Co. to comments by the IWWC engineer Thomas Metcalfe and soil scientist Eric Davison of Davison Environmental. These have been published on the Town website at this link.

Since Martin Brogie, of Martin Brogie, Inc., the applicant’s soil scientist, was not able to attend the meeting due to being hospitalized for COVID, the applicant’s attorney, Robin Pearson, requested that the hearing be continued until next month.

The commission heard testimony from Dr. Michael W. Klemens, who has a PhD in Ecology/Conservation Biology. He was introduced by Marjorie Shansky, the attorney representing the intervenor at  85 Halls Road, LLC.

Krewson said that a major problem he was facing in terms of assessing the environmental impact of the proposed project was that “We don’t know where the boundary of the vernal pool is … we need to understand where the vernal pool is … to determine what is present in the vernal pool.” He noted that the most recent data available is from 2006, but emphasized, “There needs to be a lot more detail.”

He noted, “Wood frogs are a unique and special case. They are actually involved in nutrient recycling,” adding, “We need to see robust data on biodata.” Klemens said he would assume, “The majority of the migration comes from the north,” but stressed again, “We need to know [what is at the vernal pool.]”

The owner of the adjoining property Brain Farnham at 29 Neck Rd. responded to comments that he was not permitting access to his property to inspect the vernal pool. He said, “There are diucks in that pond. It’s their breeding season. That’s why I’m resisting people walking on my property.”

Gaudio countered that, as someone who had obtained two bachelor’s degrees, one in Biological Sciences and the second in Wildlife Conservation and Mangement, prior to attending law school and receiving a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy, she understood Farnham’s concerns. She stated, however, “I don’t think a scientist would go out and be a big impact [on the property or duck nests],” noting the inspection would primarily involve walking around the edge of the pool and looking for evidence of wildlife.

Chairman Gaudio agreed to continue the hearing until Tuesday, April 27, at 6 p.m., when it will be held again via Webex. She urged all parties, including members of the public, to submit any further comments by the end of the day on April 26.

The Public hearing will likely be closed on April 27, but the IWWC will not necessarily vote on the proposal at that meeting.

Editor’s Note: The full Minutes of the meeting have now been published on the Town of Old Lyme website at this link.

 

 

Halls Rd. Improvement Committee Requests Withdrawal of Proposed Gas Station/Convenience Store in Old Lyme

An example of a Big Y Express gas station/convenience store similar to the one planned on Halls Rd. in Old Lyme. In its statement of opposition to the project, the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee (HRIC) says the proposed project, “… is essentially a truck stop.” Photo courtesy of the HRIC.

OLD LYME — We have been asked to publish the following statement from the Halls Road Improvement Committee regarding the proposed gas station/convenience store at the western end of Halls Rd.

Members of the Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) have heard from many Old Lyme residents opposed to the building of another gas station along Halls Road. HRIC is also opposed to this project, and we hope this posting will clarify the committee’s position on the matter. 

HRIC has no authority to approve or forbid particular projects. The committee is working with BSC to create a new master plan that will guide future development along Halls Road. When it is complete later this spring, its findings must be reflected in new zoning ordinances in order to become enforceable by the zoning board and other town agencies. These changes will also open up new opportunities for investment in mixed-use projects along Halls Road. 

In the interim, developers who wish to build good will in Old Lyme should recognize the chief findings and broad outlines of the preliminary plans to date as a fair proxy for the general will of the town. Chief among these findings is that future development along Halls Road should be more in keeping with the look and feel of Old Lyme (taking Lyme Street as an example), and that future development along Halls Road should help to make that area more of a mixed-use town center in a village setting, as appropriate to our small town and its needs. We believe the land earmarked for the new gas station could be put to better and more profitable use under the forthcoming Halls Road plan. 

HRIC believes the proposed “Big Y Express” clashes with the town’s stated development aims on several fronts.

It is essentially a truck stop, aimed at drawing its revenue chiefly from through traffic on I-95. The chain’s promotions to trucking fleets are just one indication of this aim. Town planning documents from as far back as the 1970s have expressly opposed such highway-focused development. HRIC also opposes it, favoring businesses that cater primarily to the needs of local residents. 

There is an existing gas station (now Mobil, formerly Shell) a few hundred feet from the proposed site of the Big Y Express. When this existing station recently applied to add a convenience store to their business, they were turned down. The arguments against that expansion must surely apply with more force to the proposed Big Y Express, whose business model relies heavily on a convenience store. 

The rapid rise of electric vehicles means the days of the gas station are numbered. To build a gas station on a greenfield site in this day and age seems a waste of scarce resources. The burdens of safe demolition and remediation make former gas stations very hard to repurpose or sell. They can linger for many years, as the unused gas station on Rte. 156 has done. The few charging facilities planned for the Big Y Express do nothing to remove these burdens, as its primary business remains selling gasoline and diesel. 

If the proposed project thrives, it becomes a busy truck stop; a thing totally against the town’s aims for Halls Road. If it fails, an important location along Halls Road will have been significantly burdened by remediation costs that may prevent appropriate development there for years. For the town, this is a lose/lose proposition. 

The proposed project would significantly reinforce the 1950s strip center character of Halls Road today. That is exactly the opposite direction from the future development envisioned in the Halls Road plan. We hope instead to make Halls Road a mixed use area in which people live, work, and shop. We want the area to be friendly to pedestrians and cyclists as well as cars, and to present an image of our town that invites the visitor to stroll and browse the shops. A truck stop or a line of gas stations works against realizing that vision. 

The Big Y is a valued part of this community. Their actions to date have built considerable good will in Old Lyme. In the interests of the future of Halls Road, we ask them to withdraw their proposal to build a Big Y Express there.

Old Lyme Planning Commission Opposes CT Bills on Affordable Housing Currently Being Considered by Legislature

OLD LYME — The following is the text of a letter being sent to various Connecticut House Representatives and State Senators by the Old Lyme Planning Commission. These include State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) and State Senator Paul Formica (R-30th), both of whose Districts include Old Lyme.

Dear Legislator: 

The Old Lyme Planning Commission supports the development of Affordable Housing (AH) in the town of Old Lyme.  This has been stated in the Town’s Plan of Conservation & Development. Zoning regulations must be modified and developed to support affordable housing yet maintain the rural and historic character of the Town.

There are unidentified affordable housing units in Town which qualify as affordable but do not have deed restrictions. Prior to any new legislation being considered, it is necessary to redefine affordable housing to ascertain what already exists in each community but is not identified under the current definition. Enacting legislation without regard to what could currently be considered to be existing affordable housing is premature and unrealistic.

Currently, two bills being considered by the Connecticut legislature (SB-1024 and SB-804) are intended to promote the construction of affordable housing in all Connecticut municipalities.  The bills would eliminate local control over most accessory dwelling units and over most multi-family housing.  If adopted, these bills would limit local control to only single-family homes.  Local municipalities would have no authority to influence the affordable housing process, including the preservation of the town’s historic appearance and rural character. 

As written, the two pieces of legislation are a one-size-fits all scenario.  The character of shore-line communities are in sharp contrast to communities in the middle of the state and also to communities in the northeast and northwest corner of the state.  Anyone making decisions concerning affordable housing that does not live within the community will not demonstrate ownership toward the character of the town.  Therefore, residence will likely be left with a housing structure based on a contractor’s priorities that will not reflect the local character of the community.  

The timing of the bills is suspect.  Available information indicates that the bills were drafted in January but not released until recently.  This appears to be an attempt to push a bill through legislation while “while under the radar.”  This commission considers this to be a disingenuous attempt by some in the legislature.  

It should also be noted that the Chairman of the Planning Commission is also a member of an Affordable Housing Task Force that has provided guidelines to the Selectman’s office for the creation of an Affordable Housing Commission that will facilitate the development of affordable housing on currently available property and the development of additional housing where feasible. 

The Old Lyme Planning Commission opposes bills SB-1024 and SB-804 in their current form. The Old Lyme Planning Commission is of the opinion that local review of any new construction is paramount to maintaining the character of the local community. 

Sincerely,

Town of Old Lyme Planning Commission,
Old Lyme.

Old Lyme Boys Win Shoreline South Indoor Track Championship, Girls Take Second

Sophomore Jacob Rand tied for second place in the high jump in Saturday’s Indoor Track Shoreline Championship. All photos by David Walker.

OLD LYME — Competing in what was effectively their Shoreline Championship this past Saturday, the Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) Indoor Track teams achieved commendable results with the boys’ team coming in first and the girls taking second.

Due to COVID precautions, the meet had a very different look from usual. To reduce the number of competitors at any time, the traditional All-Shoreline meet was divided into two separate events with one being held for Northern Shoreline schools and the other featuring Southern Shoreline schools.
Old Lyme hosted the Southern meet in which six teams participated, namely Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Valley, Hale Ray, and Morgan.

Senior Aidan Powers, who was one of the boys’ captains, gets the team pumped up in a pre-meet huddle. Powers also placed first place in the 600 meters and was part of the winning 4×200 relay.

There were three different meet slots to further reduce the number of people on the track so from 9 to 11 a.m., Westbrook competed against Valley; from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Old Lyme and Morgan faced off; and from 1 to 3 p.m., Old Saybrook and Hale Ray took their turn.
At the end of the day, the results were compiled and winners announced.
Old Lyme had 13 first-place finishers, which also garnered each winning student the accolade of “First Team All-Shoreline.”

Senior Paige Kolesnik won the shotput and was also part of the winning sprint medley relay team.

The first-place winners were:
  • the girls’ sprint medley relay team of Bianca DaSilva, Paige Kolesnik, Alyssa Spooner, and Kelly Walsh
  • the girls’ 4 x 400 relay team of Alyssa Spooner, Gretchen Burgess, Hannah Britt, and Lyla Powers
  • the boys’ 4 x 200 relay team of Ashton Gratton, Nevin Joshy, Jesper Silberberg, and Aidan Powers
  • Paige Kolesnik in the girls’ shotput
  • Jesper Silberberg in the 55-meter dash
  • Aidan Powers in the 600 meters
  • Drew St. Louis in the pole vault and long jump
  • Harry Whitten in the shotput.
A number of other runners, jumpers and throwers also achieved significant success.
Asked his thoughts on both the results and the season in general, first-year coach Nick Walker (LOLHS Class of 2012) commented, “I couldn’t be prouder of our athletes. They have dealt with so much adversity this year: having normal high school landmarks canceled, being unable to hang out with friends, having to keep distance from one another, quarantining and missing weeks of school and sports at a moment’s notice … the list goes on.”

The boys’ and girls’ teams gather for a photo to celebrate their respective results.

He noted that although the season technically should have started in late November, “That was when we were going through that massive COVID-19 spike and so all winter sports were postponed.” Walker added, “It seemed unlikely at that point that we’d ever be able to have a season, but we were able to finally start in late January while taking lots of precautions.”
Noting that even when training started in January, the idea that the team would ever have any competitive meets seemed unlikely, Walker said, “These kids have had to be so patient, so willing to face whatever happens with equanimity.”
He continued, “Yet from the start of the season I was blown away by their work ethic and good cheer during a season that could have also been seen as a let-down and full of limitations. They were out there practicing on windy days in the mid-20s, bundled up as they were running track repeats and freezing their hands off throwing the shotput.”
“To come from such a situation to now having competitive competitions and placing so well at our final meet,” Walker said, noting, “I feel very glad for them. I think it goes to show the strength of their commitment to the team and sport, and also the lightness and playfulness of their spirit that they could enjoy what this season had to offer while pushing themselves to improve and learn more.”
Walker explained that many athletes tried out new events for the first time, such as the long jump, hurdles, pole vault, and high jump, and ultimately ended up placing in the tournament and contributing key points for the team.

Senior and a girls’ team captain Bianca DaSilva runs the 200-meter leg of the winning sprint medley relay team.

He also shared that he felt senior class also played, “A huge role in our successful season: first off by contributing so much hard work and athleticism in their events, but even more so by the positive and welcoming and fun atmosphere they helped foster on the team. They will certainly be very missed come next year.”
Pointing out that he looked forward to welcoming most of them back to Outdoor Track this spring, he noted, “We will lose some very strong runners and throwers to other spring sports.”
Walker concluded positively, “Overall, it’s been a real joy to coach these athletes alongside my co-coaches Alyssa Mercaldi and Garreck Seales. We’ve been continually impressed by this group of kids and are so glad for them that they have this fantastic performance to celebrate.”