December 13, 2019

Volunteers From Old Lyme Open Space Commission, CT Hiking Alliance Join Forces to Remove Fencing on McCulloch Farm

A veritable army of volunteers from both the Old Lyme Open Space Commission and the Connecticut Hiking Alliance worked together on Nov. 9 to take down and dispose of the old fences on the McCulloch Farm property , which was recently acquired by the Town. Photos by and published with permission of the CT Hiking Alliance.

OLD LYME — The Town of Old Lyme purchased 300 acres of the McCulloch farm in September, and the Old Lyme Open Space Commission has been working since to prepare the property for public access.  Coincidentally, the Connecticut Hiking Alliance (CHA) was at the same time looking for worthwhile volunteer projects.

It was a perfect match for both organizations and thus the McCulloch Farm horse-fence removal project became the CHA’s Act of Kindness #76. 

The CHA is an active group with three trademarks – day’s activities end with an “Après-hike” social period; they graciously provide “Acts of Kindness,” whether that be muscle power/manual labor, cash donations, in-kind donations, and goods donations; and they love photo memories, taking lots of pictures and posting them on their website. Volunteers from the group take on trail work around the state.

Hard at work, volunteers take stock of the day’s job ahead of them.

Amanda Blair, Open Space Commission Co-Chair, and Bill Ruel, of CHA, put Saturday, Nov. 9, on the organization calendars.  Ruel and about two dozen volunteers from all across Connecticut showed up early that morning at The Bowerbird in Old Lyme to meet with Open Space Commission members, and everyone car-pooled to the McCulloch property (where construction of parking areas hasn’t yet started.)

The day’s job was to dismantle and dispose of old McCulloch Farm horse-fencing. According to a McCulloch family member, rubber strips strung between cedar posts were cut from old factory conveyor belts and installed some 40 years ago to keep prize-winning Morgan horses in the fields.

According to Blair, “Taking down the fencing was a big step as the property transitions from a farm to a beautiful hiking property.  McCulloch open space and the Old Lyme Land Trust’s neighboring Lay Preserve will be an expansive 450-acre ‘Green Corridor’ with great hiking trails to connect one property to the other.”

The fencing pictured above, which was removed by the volunteers, is believed to have been cut from old factory conveyor belts some 40 years ago.

“We’re so, so grateful for the help from the Connecticut Hikers Alliance to do some of the needed grunt work.  It’s been all volunteers from both groups working together for a good cause.”

In a preview of the future, after the fencing take-down, Hiking Alliance volunteers trekked from the McCulloch property through the Lay Preserve to Lord’s Meadow Lane, and back.  Keeping it an all-Old Lyme event, the volunteers enjoyed their “après-hike” social period at the Hideaway Restaurant and Pub.

Photos of the day’s activity can be found @https://www.meetup.com/The-Connecticut-Hiking-Alliance-great-hikes-and-more/photos/30513732/486511049/

For more information about the Connecticut Hiking Alliance, visit this link.

For more information on the Old Lyme Open Space Commission, visit this link.

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Embassy Press Aide Presents, ‘Afghanistan: Storytelling of America’s Longest War,’ Hosted by SECWAC This Evening

Dr. Katherine Brown and the cover of her book, ‘your country, our war,’ published earlier this year. Brown will speak at Connecticut College on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

WATERFORD, CT – The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) has announced that Katherine Brown is to speak on her experiences as an embassy press aide in Afghanistan at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Crozier Williams Student Center at Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Ave Pkwy, New London, CT.

Based on eight years of interviews in Kabul, Washington, and New York, Brown’s book, “Your Country, Our War: The Press and Diplomacy in Afghanistan,” (copies of which will be on sale after the presentation) demonstrates how news intersects with international politics and shows the global power and reach of the U.S. news media, especially within the context of the post-9/11 era. It reviews the trajectory of the U.S. news narrative about Afghanistan and how U.S. journalists affected the diplomacy between the two countries.

The book also examines the rise of Afghan journalism, from 2001 to 2017, chronicling local reporters’ rapid development and how they grappled daily with how to define themselves and their country during a tumultuous and uneven transition from fundamentalist to democratic rule. Providing rich detail about the U.S.-Afghan relationship, especially former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai’s convictions about the role of the Western press, we begin to understand how journalists are not merely observers to a story; they are participants in it.

Dr. Brown will also discuss the U.S. government’s public diplomacy work in the country and the value of international exchange programs to support U.S. national security.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the main event beginning at 6:00 p.m. The presentation is a part of the SECWAC 2019-2020 Speaker Series. For non-members, tickets ($20) may be purchased at the door; ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership.  Attendance is free for SECWAC members (and their guests). Membership September 2019 through June 2020 is $85 per person; $25 for young professionals under 35; free for educators and students; a corporate rate of $1,000 is also available, with unlimited access for employees.

Note:  there will not be a post-presentation dinner on this occasion.

Members and guests can pre-register for the presentation at https://scwac.wildapricot.org/event-3528948.

Dr. Brown is the President & CEO of Global Ties U.S., the largest and oldest citizen diplomacy network in the United States. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Georgetown University. Previously, she was a Public Policy Manager at Facebook, Inc., where she was also in residence as a Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) International Affairs Fellow, and served as the Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

Dr. Brown began her career in the National Security Council at the White House and first traveled to Afghanistan in 2003 as a U.S. embassy press aide, to return several times over 13 years. She received her Ph.D. in communications from Columbia University in 2013. Her book, “Your Country, Our War: The Press and Diplomacy in Afghanistan” was released by Oxford University Press in March 2019.

SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). The organization dates back to 1999, and has continued to arrange 8-10 Speaker Series meetings annually, between September and June. The meetings range in foreign affairs topics, and are hosted at venues along the I-95 corridor, welcoming members and guests from Stonington to Old Saybrook, and beyond.

SECWAC’s mission is “to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate, and educational programming.” It provides a forum for nonpartisan, non-advocacy dialogue between members and speakers, who can be U.S. policymakers, educators, authors, and other experts on foreign relations. Learn more at http://secwac.org.

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Letter to the Editor: Realtor Tinnerello Looks to Join Zoning Commission; Offers Open Door With Transparency, Collaboration, Honesty

To the Editor:

I am running for Zoning in Old Lyme and would like to share my letter to residents:

As a resident and realtor in Old Lyme I have decided to run for Zoning Commission. As a realtor, I understand the balancing act between the town’s interests and private property rights. Old Lyme characteristics make us long-time environmentalists- water, beaches, wetlands, woods. Zoning should honor these unique assets without stifling planned growth and development.

I am a results-oriented problem solver who can manage complex issues. I have experience with managing many stakeholder viewpoints which often require compromise. I intend to make thoughtful decisions while always keeping an eye on the long-term effects they have on our town’s character and charm. If elected to the Zoning Commission I believe we should provide new leadership standards, like having neighborhood discussions when there is major change pending, such as sewers or affordable housing. Let our existing boards collaborate with residents and notify abutters when there is an application pending. Transparency will always be at the forefront of my decision-making process.

As a realtor, I am out every day listening to the concerns of property owners, business owners, conservationists and others whose lives are affected by our rules and regulations. People move here for the quiet, beauty and charm. They leave overcrowded suburban communities for the quality of life and character Old Lyme offers. Zoning plays a  large role in setting that tone. We can modernize and protect our community without changing the town’s identity. If I am elected, I will work hard to strike a balance between maintaining the character of the community and allowing for growth of the tax base from both residential and business development in order to manage an appropriate Real Estate tax on the homeowners of Old Lyme. As a newcomer to Zoning, I realize that I will need to work hard to educate myself on all aspects of important town issues. I will reach out to individuals who have knowledge and expertise on these matters. I am, and will always be, open to your suggestions and thoughts. I will have an open-door policy for communication with ALL Old Lyme residents.

For years, people have trusted me with buying and selling their homes. I have earned their trust by listening, communicating and always being honest. I’ve raised my family in Old Lyme because I love our community and I will not let you or our town down!

I am asking for your vote this Tuesday, November 5th!

Sincerely,

Tammy Tinnerello,
Old Lyme.

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Mary Powell-St. Louis (R): Candidate (Incumbent) for Region 18 Board of Education Representing Lyme

Mary Powell St. Louis

Mary is running for her second term on the Region 18 Board of Education as the Republican candidate from Lyme.  She is a twenty-one-year resident of the town and has three sons in the school system.  Mary is a board-certified physician with an additional Master of Public Health degree.  She is employed as a Principal Investigator and Research Physician with Pfizer.  She has also served as a member of the Safety and Policy sub-committees during her term on the BOE.  Mary will leverage her past experience with the board and sustain her focus on continuous quality improvement.

What are the three major issues in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools that you are currently aware of, which require resolution during your potential term of office?  Please list and explain each one briefly in order of importance.

A quality education in a safe environment is paramount to the students in Region 18.  Our district has continued to be one of the top performers in the shoreline towns and is ranked in the top 10 statewide for student performance.  This outcome is the result of the sustained commitment of our educators, our students, and our community. We strive to address the educational needs of each student in our schools.  My concerns for my next term of office include vaping/substance abuse issues in the district, an aging infrastructure which will require repair or replacement, and enrollment decline.   Vaping is my top issue which I discuss in more detail below. In terms of infrastructure, the board continues to track and prioritize those facilities that require maintenance or replacement.  It is critical for the board to take into consideration the input from our community as we plan to make best use of our budgeted resources. In terms of declining enrollment, the district has taken steps to try to market our outstanding staff and programs throughout the region.  Going forward the board will have to evaluate success of these efforts and determine next steps to grow our student population and optimize use of the district budget.

Regarding Question 1, explain more about your choice of the issue of most importance and how you think it should be resolved.

Education and safety at every level is important to me as a member of the board of education.  Our district has made substantial strides in the last few years improving safety for our students and educators.  As an individual who believes in continuous quality improvement, I believe we can always do more. My primary concern from a safety perspective that needs resolution in the upcoming term is the extent of vaping in the district.   We know from collaborative efforts with the LYSB through student surveys that despite district policies banning vaping on campus sites, it is felt that use by students is both significant and underreported. Recent reports of chronic lung injury and even deaths from vaping across the US cannot go unnoticed and this public health crisis should be at the forefront of increased educational efforts on the part of Region 18.  I would like to see more outreach for our community at-large and students through increased collaboration with LYSB.

What do you see as the main relevant skills and character attributes that you will bring to the position if elected?

I will bring a full term of experience with the board of education and sub-committee participation to the role.  As a parent and volunteer in the community I seek to get direct feedback on how district policies and initiatives are perceived by student and parent populations in Lyme and Old Lyme.   I strive to strengthen these relationships to ensure that alternative perspectives are brought into the BOE discussions. I have been actively involved in scouting as an adult leader with Troop 26, the local Boy Scout troop for the last ten years.  This experience has given me great insight into the development of our youth and to the importance of both caring adults and a robust team environment as factors in their development. As a physician I feel that I can bring an empathetic outlook to my board role and as a researcher I can focus on the importance of details and a commitment to continuous improvement. 

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Chris Kerr (R): Candidate (Incumbent) for Old Lyme Selectman

Chris Kerr

Chris is a life-long resident of Old Lyme with a long history of public service.  Chris has served for over 15 years on the Board of Finance and the Planning Commission.  He has also been active in the Old Lyme Fire Department for 34 years. While serving on the Board of Finance, Chris oversaw the completion of two major Town capital projects, the construction of the town salt shed and the replacement of the town garage.  Chris is a small business owner, including real estate appraisal work and construction contracting, with significant financial and management experience.

Q1: What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Halls Road/Lyme Street area of Old Lyme in 2025?

2025 is a long time away – I think we can make some real improvements very shortly and create a flexible area to allow private owners to come up with creative ideas for their properties.  In the short term, installing sidewalks, crosswalks and planted traffic islands are easy improvements.  Longer term, bringing zoning, planning and the economic development commission together to end up with more flexible and accommodating zoning and a significantly improved sign policy will go far to provide our private land owners the empty canvas upon which to paint their masterpieces.

Q2: What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Sound View area of Old Lyme in 2025?

Sound View improvements are also about supporting private owners and their plans that are right for the town.  Convening meetings with planning, zoning, economic development and private owners is very, very rare, and needs to happen with much greater regularity to people willing to put money into their properties do not face long, delayed processes and uncertainty outcomes.  Finally completing the sewer project, which is now in its sixth year and counting for a very modest number of homes, will help give owners more certainty to make investment decisions.  One very big theme over the last eight years has been the uncertainty created by long, drawn-out town ideas that prevent private owners from making any investment decisions until the town makes up its mind.

Q3: In light of Old Lyme’s current non-compliance with the state mandate that 10 percent of housing stock be deemed, “Affordable” and the recent withdrawal of the Affordable Housing proposal on Neck Rd., how do you see the future of Affordable Housing in Old Lyme?

To be absolutely, 100% clear, the 10% threshold in state statute 803g is not in any way, shape or form a mandate that a town needs 10% of its housing stock to be what the state deems “affordable”.  The 10% is the threshold after which a developer of affordable housing no longer gets statutorily preferential treatment by a town zoning and other commissions approval.  That needs to be very, very clear to residents.  That said, I support legal affordable housing in the areas that make safe and environmental sense.  We currently have a lot in town that is zoned for multifamily homes on  Hatchetts Hill and it is for sale and available for development, an area that the town has already supported as a good location for multifamily by agreeing to its zoning being multifamily. I also would encourage zoning to change its wording on accessory apartments and or duplex’s to allow millennials or the aging community, and I firmly support affordable housing for our older residents.

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Mary Jo Nosal (D): Candidate (Incumbent) for Old Lyme Selectwoman

Mary Jo Nosal

Since elected Selectwoman in 2011, I have actively listened worked to address the concerns of Old Lyme residents, relying on skills learned from my research and business careers to analyze issues brought to the Board.  I believe that through collaboration we can preserve our community’s quality of life and find creative ways to minimize spending while addressing needed improvements.  I’m an active community volunteer, and when I can, substitute in our wonderful schools.   I hope to continue to serve Old Lyme, the community where my husband, Roger, and I chose to raise and educate our three daughters. 


Q1: What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Halls Road/Lyme Street area of Old Lyme in 2025?

Especially, since the high-speed train threat, I believe it is critical to identify opportunities to protect and preserve our assets and economic drivers in this area of town, specifically across the business, school and arts district. This imperative requires the collaborative approach to planning that has been initiated by the Halls Road Improvements Committee, and the Economic Development Commission’s engagement with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center.

The Halls Road Community Open Houses offered outstanding opportunities for residents to share their ideas and provide direct feedback on the scope, development and magnitude of the preliminary design options.  Data from the community outreach surveys and the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats workshops will yield information that will provide a framework for conceptual development plans and further refinements by Old Lyme residents and stake holders. By investing in opportunities to attract desirable businesses, leverage access and proximity to the Lieutenant River, attract and accommodate shoppers and tourists, this initiative can improve the appeal and access to sustainably meet entrepreneurial, business and community needs.  

According to Rails to Trails Conservancy, active transportation for bicyclists and pedestrians is a $74B industry. Connecting people to local business, schools and the arts district is a sensible approach to improving our local economy. A significant proportion of the costs to develop safe transportation access can be supplemented through state and federal grants. Under First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, Old Lyme received a $400,000 construction grant this year to provide safe connectivity in the Sound View area. I anticipate that by 2025 Halls Road improvement plans will serve as the basis for grant applications, design and engineering planning, and regulatory approvals.  Having a vibrant center will bring revenue to Old Lyme and allow us to live, stay and play more in Old Lyme. 

Q2: What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Sound View area of Old Lyme in 2025?

Sound View has a natural charm with stunning vistas across Long Island Sound. The historic Sound View District has been long overdue for a face lift that introduces economically viable and sustainable recreation by providing safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists and other visitors to the public beach and boutique businesses. Enhancing Sound View’s appeal and improving access to the beach was part of a master plan that began with grants to upgrade the streetscape for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Since this focus on improvements to Sound View began, a new, enjoyable restaurant has opened, and some property owners are updating their property. While the mandatory sewer construction will no doubt delay some aesthetic improvements by 2025, I envision cafes, retail shops, restroom facilities and attractive residences to enhance Sound View’s pedestrian friendly footprint. Pursuing grants in accordance with Old Lyme resident’s approval, make these improvements in infrastructure possible, cost effective and adds value to the quality of life in Old Lyme. I look forward to enjoying the improvements in safety and the energetic melding of a bustling community with the natural allure of Sound View Beach.

Q3: In light of Old Lyme’s current non-compliance with the state mandate that 10 percent of housing stock be deemed, “Affordable” and the recent withdrawal of the Affordable Housing proposal on Neck Rd., how do you see the future of Affordable Housing in Old Lyme?

This is a complex and not well understood concern that we are beginning to address.  It was clear from the 2018 Zoning Board Hearings for the proposed 8-30g affordable housing proposal for work-force housing, that many residents have strong opinions on the location and type of affordable housing developments in Old Lyme. A new committee being established by the current Old Lyme Board of Selectmen, will research the implications of the 8-30g statute, local options for housing, as well as alternatives to meet state requirements.

I believe that this committee will thoughtfully consider the difficulties a small town such as Old Lyme has in meeting a 10% affordable housing requirement. I believe we should explore how this requirement could be addressed in conjunction with neighboring towns since individual need for affordable housing is frequently accompanied by need for additional services. For example, one town may provide more employment opportunities while another can accommodate infrastructure for housing. One municipality may offer flexible access to mass transit while another may have a variety of social services.

My hope is that through this scholarship, by 2025 Old Lyme will be better able to help people, including our children, teachers, and first responders, to name a few, meet the basic right to safe, affordable housing in Old Lyme. The residents of Old Lyme made it clear last summer they support affordable housing done right. I am optimistic that collaborative efforts in Old Lyme and advocacy at the state legislature will produce a progressive approach to affordable housing.

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Tim Griswold (R): Candidate for Old Lyme First Selectman

Tim Griswold

Currently Treasurer of Old Lyme and member Board of Assessment Appeals
First Selectman of Old Lyme for 14 years (1997 – 2011)
Member Old Lyme Board of Finance for 15 years – Chair 6 years
Served on numerous local Boards including the Flo Gris, LOL Chamber of Commerce, Lyme Academy College, OL Historical Society and MacCurdy Salisbury Educational Foundation (Investment Committee)
Appointed by Gov. Rell to CT Resources Recovery Authority (the trash to energy facility)
U.S. Navy as Officer of the Deck – aircraft carrier ‘Bon Homme Richard’– Viet Nam  Member American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Q1: What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Halls Road/Lyme Street area of Old Lyme in 2025?

Realizing Halls Rd. (Rte. 1) is a State road and the adjacent properties are privately owned, the Town of Old Lyme should develop a master plan that is affordable and achievable, based on discussions with the Department of Transportation and the abutting landowners.

As a first step, I envision improved pedestrian access from the Lyme Art Association to the Essex Savings Bank, including a new sidewalk (possibly a new “Bow Bridge”) and safe crosswalks. The aesthetic appeal of the road could be enhanced with new plantings (trees and bushes) and, possibly, select roadway island planters. The DOT might be willing to eliminate redundant/unnecessary signage and the Town should enforce or expand its sign regulations to cut down the number of private signs. These improvements could be designed and implemented in the near future.

Our Zoning Commission should review its regulations to allow construction of new buildings closer to Halls Rd. in order to provide more parking behind them. However, I seriously doubt the abutting land owners could justify the scope and cost of the proposed Yale School of Urban Design master plan because I don’t believe the new rental incomes could amortize the cost of demolition and/or new construction.

Another concern about the Yale Urban plan is how to deal with the disposal of the associated wastewater. Conventional septic tanks and leaching fields would likely not be adequate and the Town would have to install some type of a sewer system. This would be very costly and have profound ramifications for our town.

While it is sensible to create a master plan for Halls Rd., I believe the current plan is unachievable and far too expensive for the abutting property owners. Let’s start by addressing improved pedestrian access.

Q2: What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Sound View area of Old Lyme in 2025?

Unlike the adjacent private beach associations, the Sound View Beach is unique because its roads are owned by the Town of Old Lyme. Dating back over a century, Sound View has a rich history as a family beach community and as a mecca for fun loving adults. Most of the properties consist of small lots with small dwellings. The CTDEEP has decreed the septic systems are inadequate and must be converted to structural sewers. The Town’s WPCA worked independently of the three adjacent private beach associations on plans to install sewers and a shared pumping station. The question of how to pay for sewers in Sound View is contentious.

As we look to the next five years, the advent of sewers will hopefully encourage property owners on the lower end of Hartford Ave. to make significant upgrades. In addition, our Zoning Commission should review its regulations (including the Sound View Design District) to encourage/enable owners to make upgrades. We know the seasonal businesses along Hartford Ave. struggle because the summer season is short. However, on a sunny summer weekend, we also know the beaches cannot handle the crowds and traffic. Our police are pushed to the limit to control the crowds, unruly at times.

The Town should encourage a mixture of residential and commercial use properties on Hartford Ave. If we have more year-round residents living there, the area would become more stable and vibrant. Most of the “fun loving” adults do little for our town and we should encourage visitors who would patronize restaurants and shops in Sound View and in other parts of town. We need to encourage more families and discourage the party animals.

The beach at Sound View is outstanding and Hartford Ave. should be upgraded to attract local and out of town people.

Q3: In light of Old Lyme’s current non-compliance with the state mandate that 10 percent of housing stock be deemed, “Affordable” and the recent withdrawal of the Affordable Housing proposal on Neck Rd., how do you see the future of Affordable Housing in Old Lyme?

Let’s get something straight – there is no State mandate that CT towns/cities must have 10% of their housing stock be “affordable”. It’s a goal.

I am pleased that the 37 unit complex on Rte. 156 proposed by Hope Housing was withdrawn because its location was very hazardous. It was also disappointing that First Selectwoman Reemsnyder, who was formerly on the Old Lyme Affordable Housing Committee and then on the Advisory Board of Hope Housing, quietly promoted the Hope project for months before it became public knowledge. However, once it became public, she chose not to promote it and let the Hope officials and supporters do that work.

The 2010 Planning Commission’s Plan of Conservation and Development recommended that the Board of Selectmen create a committee to promote affordable housing efforts in town. This is now being done by our Selectwoman, some nine years later. The committee should consist of a diverse group of people that will consider the needs of all who need affordable and elderly housing. Thought should also be given to an independent living and life care facility and to expand accessory apartments.

As we plan any affordable housing, we must not compromise public safety or public health standards. Structures should be designed in scale and in appearance with a small town. Hopefully, priority could be given to deserving residents of Old Lyme.

Old Lyme residents are welcoming and generous but the poorly planned Hope project on Rte. 156 divided our community deeply. I would work to heal that divide and unite our town behind a successful, well thought out project.

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Bonnie Reemsnyder (D): Candidate (Incumbent) for Old Lyme First Selectwoman

Bonnie Reemsnyder

Bonnie has served on the BOS for 16 years, the last eight as First Selectman. Her priorities have included prudent fiscal planning for maintenance of buildings and roads, utilization of grants, customer service, regional opportunities, and collaboration. 

Over the past eight years, she has overseen many projects and is most proud of the derailing of the FRA bypass plan. She and her husband Bob have three adult children who have attended LOL Schools, and are now the proud grandparents of Zane Farias, who is 4 years old and living with his parents in California.


Q1: What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Halls Road/Lyme Street area of Old Lyme in 2025?

One of the concerns expressed by constituents who first came to me regarding Halls Road was that it is disconnected from our beautiful Lyme St., Lyme Art Association and the FloGris Museum. With a master plan in place, by 2025 we could have sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting and green spaces, connecting Halls Road to Lyme St. I also anticipate that some property owners will choose to invest in beneficial upgrades because we reviewed and adapted zoning regulations to allow them to maximize their properties, while still maintaining the character of Old Lyme. I foresee it as a vibrant area, with restaurants and cafes, outdoor seating, niche-type retail, and pocket parks where people will gather to enjoy our natural resources that will be highlighted because of the master plan. There will certainly be a bow bridge across the Lieutenant River, with a “step-aside” area that allows lingering to enjoy the iconic view. The green space near this bridge would also be landscaped in a natural way to allow more opportunities to stop, relax and breathe. 

Halls Road will also boast carefully situated and stylish residential complexes, perfect for retiring adults who seek proximity to services with less maintenance, and for young couples just starting out who like the option of enjoying a village atmosphere. With creative landscaping and signage, marketing of various events can be accomplished tastefully, with banners on poles, rather than across Halls Road, which would also allow for more than one event to be advertised at a time. Imagine coming into Old Lyme and seeing several “Midsummer Festival” banners hanging vertically on both sides of the street. When completed, I believe that Halls Road can become a lovely town center that preserves the quintessential feel of our community.

Q2: What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Sound View area of Old Lyme in 2025?

Sound View has been a challenge for every administration in Old Lyme, but our administration has made great strides in its transformation. Phase 1 saw major renovations to the sidewalks and parking on the southern part of Hartford Ave. Phase 2 is bringing connecting sidewalks on the northern half of Hartford Avenue, as well as Route 156, creating a gateway into Sound View, providing added safety for pedestrians, and allowing the businesses on 156 to successfully attract new customers from those passing through.

While Hartford Ave. has traditionally supported businesses in the past, I understand the challenges due to seasonality, so it would not be a surprise if many properties turn residential. But I think it will be essential to preserve the Carousel and associated shops at that end of Hartford Ave. I also believe that we will find a solution to the bathrooms, if not building new, then acquiring one of the buildings to accommodate restrooms. In addition, we need to do what we can to make the town parking lot more attractive, either by making some of it into a park (and finding other parking to make up for any loss), or completely redesigning it. This does not mean paving as there are attractive alternatives that would fit into the beach theme, but rather a smarter layout that has attractive amenities.

Finally, I hope that tasteful changes to the area will attract families who respect the beauty of the area, patronize businesses that are there and allow children of all ages to enjoy a day at the beach, with conveniences that you would expect at any beach. With these changes, I am sure many people will be flocking to Old Lyme to enjoy our great community.

Q3: In light of Old Lyme’s current non-compliance with the state mandate that 10 percent of housing stock be deemed, “Affordable” and the recent withdrawal of the Affordable Housing proposal on Neck Rd., how do you see the future of Affordable Housing in Old Lyme?

When HOPE partnership unveiled their plans for the Neck Rd. project in April of 2018, I applauded them for keeping a promise they made to look for opportunities to build Affordable Housing in Old Lyme. With that said, I also wanted to understand how they would address traffic safety concerns expressed by some and shared by me. Ultimately, though they were approved, they chose to withdraw their application as the appeal would take valuable time and resources to get through. Their withdrawal does not prevent another developer from coming in with a similar plan under 8-30g, but making only 30% affordable units in the very same location. For that reason, I was heartened when a thoughtful constituent came to the Board of Selectmen with a suggestion to form an exploratory committee to proactively address Affordable Housing mandates.

We supported the idea, developed a charge for the committee, which has already been approved by the Board, and began soliciting applications for appointments from interested individuals. This committee will be helpful in fully understanding the 8-30g mandate, the consequences for towns who do not comply, identifying appropriate opportunities and recommending solutions to address the need in Old Lyme. I am hoping that they will also provide educational materials that clearly articulate the difference between Affordable Housing and Low Income Housing, which are two different models. We already have people who have volunteered to serve on the committee, so I am hopeful that we can get right to work after the election. I fully support addressing the Affordable Housing needs in our community, and I think that a proactive approach on the part of the Town is the right way to accomplish this.

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Letter to the Editor: Support Griswold, Kerr for Honesty, Integrity, and to Retain Old Lyme Charm

To the Editor:

It is my honor and pleasure to offer this letter of support for Tim Griswold and Chris Kerr for Old Lyme First Selectman and Old Lyme Board of Selectman.
Both Tim and Chris have a demonstrated track record of honesty, integrity and thoughtful, reasoned leadership.
Both seek local solutions and change informed by Old Lyme stake holders. Tim and Chris possess inherent skills and embrace basic tenets of transparency in good governance in providing leadership on behalf of all of the town’s citizens.
Tim and Chris capably understand the nuances of how Old Lyme and New England more broadly comprise the land of steady habits. As such, radical plans for large scale housing developments, town wide sewers, or other state influenced or state sponsored initiatives that significantly change what gives Old Lyme its classic New England small town charm are not necessary and not wanted.
Voters should ask themselves why they originally chose to reside in Old Lyme. If one wishes to have the things that drove that choice unmolested together with a public policy that is averse to increases in local taxes, then the only decision on November 5th is to cast your vote for Tim Griswold, Chris Kerr, and the entire team on Row B.
Sincerely,

Christopher Carter,
Old Lyme.
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Old Lyme Officer Recognized by Board of Selectmen for Quick Response

Officer Rankin pursued the car into Lyme, and ultimately East Haddam, apprehending all four when they stopped for gas. The selectmen believed that had he not responded immediately, it is likely the fugitives would have succeeded in escaping justice.

After expressing her thanks to Officer Rankin, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder commented, “It is because of Police Officers like you that Old Lyme continues to be a safe place for us all.”

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RTC ad

RTC picnic AD 2019 for Lyme Lines (1)

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Lymes’ Senior Center Summer Sounds Concert Series

Sumer Sounds Concert Series 2019

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Kokomo’s

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Turtle Talk Tonight! RTP Estuary Center Hosts Presentation in Old Lyme

Ever wonder how that Spotted Turtle you saw swimming under the ice survives the winter, or why that Snapping Turtle crawls across your backyard every June?

Come learn about the impressive diversity of species that share our state, and the interesting ways they make their livings in our midst.

Starting at 7 p.m. this evening at the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center  in Old Lyme, RTPEC staff and volunteers will highlight the habitat needs and behaviors of different species, as well as conservation threats and the things you can do to help these charismatic creatures.

Learn how water quality affects turtle habitats, and get up close to live turtles.

The cost is $25 per person; register here.

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Halls Road Improvements Committee Open House, June 15

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Safe Grad Committee Hosts Cow Chip Raffle Today!

The Lyme-Old Lyme High School Safe Grad Committee is hosting a Cow Chip Raffle, Sunday, April 7, at Hamburg Fair Grounds.  Proceeds from the event will benefit the graduation night celebrations for the Class of 2019

Buy your deed and on the day of the event squares will be assigned by a random drawing.  There will be a huge bingo board created at the event so participants can see the location of their square.  Now the fun part comes as the cow determines the winner!  The game is over when the cow places its “chip” on what becomes the winning number.

Prize amount will be determined by total deeds sold.

Participants do not have to be present to win.

To purchase tickets or for further information, contact Beth Cote at BethCote@sbcglobal.net or 860-460-6901 or Tracy McGlinchey at TracyMcGlinchey@comcast.net or 860-227-2131.

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Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women Sponsor Bingo Fundraiser Tonight for Lyme Ambulance Association

On Saturday, April 6, the Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club is sponsoring a Bingo Evening with cash and other valuable prizes galore at the Hamburg Fire House, 213 Hamburg Rd. in Lyme.

All proceeds will benefit the Lyme Ambulance Association, which, apart from Lyme, is also the first responder to calls in the lower portion of East Haddam and provides Mutual Aid to both East Haddam and Old Lyme.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and play starts at 6 p.m.

Drinks and snacks will be provided.  The event is BYOB.

Tickets are $20 per person for 10 game and $1 or $2 for specials.  Pre-registration earns you an extra game!

For tickets and questions, call Beverly at 860-434-5667.

 

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See ‘Anything Goes’ Before it Goes! Today at 2 or 7pm

Philip Sweeney, as Billy Crocker, and Elyza Learned as Reno, play the lead roles in ‘Anything Goes,’ which opens tonight at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.

It’s Delightful, It’s Delicious … it’s Anything Goes!

An exciting moment for the ocean liner’s passengers in Anything Goes.

Lyme-Old Lyme High School’s (LOLHS) spring musical Anything Goes opens tonight: Welcome Aboard!

The full cast of ‘Anything Goes’ in the dress rehearsal earlier this week.

Anything Goes follows nightclub singer Reno Sweeney on her voyage from New York City to England aboard the ocean liner the S.S. American. Reno’s friend Billy Crocker, a stockbroker, has stowed away aboard the ship in pursuit of his love, Hope Harcourt.

‘Anything Goes’ Director and professional opera singer Brian Cheney, second from right, gives some advice to Thomas Pennie (center) who plays Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in the musical.

The only problem is that Hope is already engaged to a rich British man, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.

Rehearsing a scene are from left to right, Margot Paynter (back), Olivia Rugg, who plays Evangeline Harcourt, Liam Clark who approses the role of Eli Whitney, Caroline King (back), the male lead, Billy Crocker, played by Philip Sweeney, Maggie Rommel, Madison Babcock, Sadie Frankel (black/white striped sweater in the back-plays Henrietta T. Dobson), and Hannah Morrison (red shirt-plays Hope Harcourt

The show includes memorable songs by Cole Porter that many audience members will recognize, such as I Get a Kick Out of You, It’s De-Lovely, You’re the Top, and of course, Anything Goes. 

Joining the love triangle is Moonface Martin, Public Enemy #13 who has boarded the boat disguised as a minister, and his sidekick Erma. Together with the help of the dancing sailors and two Chinese gangsters, Reno and Moonface must assist Billy on his mission to win back Hope’s heart.

Anything Goes features choreography by Bethany Haslam of The Dance Center of Old Lyme, set construction by LOLHS Art Department Chair William Allik, costume design by Denise Golden, music direction by LOL Middle School Chorus teacher Laura Gladd, and direction by Brian Cheney.

Although this is Cheney’s first time directing a production at LOLHS, he has been the assistant director to Laura Gladd at LOL Middle School for the past few years as well as directed many other high school and college productions.

Cheney has also been a professional performer for more than 20 years and is an acclaimed opera singer both nationally and internationally. He says, “I think what’s been the most fulfilling thing for me is to be able to give the students a glimpse at what a professional rehearsal process is like.” Cheney adds, “It’s been great being able to support them in that way.”

“Mr. Cheney really lets you as the actor discover who the character is yourself,” says junior Philip Sweeney, who plays Billy Crocker. “Then he’ll just make any changes if there’s any problems.”

“And if you have a question, you know he has an answer for you,” adds senior Elyza Learned, who plays Reno Sweeney. “And if he doesn’t right away, he’ll get back to you.”

In addition to Sweeney and Learned, the musical stars senior Hannah Morrison as Hope Harcourt, junior Jonathan Hamilton as Moonface Martin, and senior Thomas Pennie as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. The show also features senior Liam Clark as Eli Whitney and senior Olivia Rugg as Evangeline Harcourt, and senior Kendall Antoniac as Erma.

“I hope people come see the show because we’ve worked really hard, and it’s also really funny,” says Morrison. “There’s some awesome dancing and our costumes are going to be great and our set is really cool…overall, it’s just going to be a great show!”

“It’s a classically-period, comedic piece so it’s a really funny show,” adds Cheney. “And I believe this is going to be one of the best musical performances the community has seen at the high school.”

Anything Goes opens at LOLHS on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. There are also 7 p.m. performances on Friday, Feb. 8, and Saturday, Feb. 9. Additionally, there is a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Tickets can be purchased at this link or at the door, $12 for students and senior citizens and $15 for adults.

For more information, call the high school at 860-434-1651

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Halls Rd. Improvement Committee Offers ‘Frequently Asked Questions’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

iv. provide public spaces for civic events and recreation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Letter to the Editor: Pre-K for Some, But Not All

SEE COMMENT ADDED 1/27. According to the writer of the Comment, the Region 18 Board of Education has changed its proposed policy to include children born between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31

To the Editor:

The LOL Board of Education has proposed to expand the current special-needs lottery pre-K program into one available to all children in the district. This is great news!  Unfortunately, there is a gaping hole in the proposed program. It introduces a September 1st age eligibility cut off date even though the state of Connecticut strongly encourages children turning five before January 1st to enter kindergarten. This discrepancy means that children born after September 1st cannot participate in the program the year before they are slated to begin kindergarten.

Leaving out children born in the last four months of the year results in one out of every three children in a potential incoming kindergarten class being excluded from attending pre-K. It seems to directly contradict the stated intentions of the program. If the proposed pre-K program wants to “ensure limited variability among kindergartners in terms of skills and school readiness,” then why are we leaving out one in three kids?  Surely kindergarten teachers would prefer all of their students, not just some, have access to pre-K before coming to them.

This program has the potential to be a transformative equalizing force for our children and for our town, but it needs to truly include every child in order to do so. If the program is just available for some of our children while leaving out the youngest members of an incoming kindergarten class, it becomes instead something great for only some and a way for others to be left behind, and that isn’t universal or fair.

If you are interested in signing a letter in support of having the LOL pre-K expansion program’s age eligibility align with that of Connecticut kindergarten, please go to https://tinyurl.com/preK4all and thanks!

Sincerely,

Danielle Kuczkowski,
Old Lyme.

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