Beach Association Questions ‘Public Use’ Agreement with Town of Old Lyme


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OLD LYME — Miami Beach Association has questioned the legality and content of an agreement with the town that has allowed public use of a short stretch of Pond Road since 1997. 

Currently the agreement allows public vehicular access along Pond Road between Hartford and Portland avenues plus about 50 additional feet of Pond Road heading west. 

The association owns Pond Road. The town owns Hartford and Portland avenues. The town’s beach parking lot is also bordered on three sides by Hartford Ave., Pond Road, and Portland Ave. 

Mark Mongillo, president of the Miami Beach Association, told CT Examiner on Friday that the 1997 agreement posed a number of legal issues, including that Larrye DeBear, who was president of the association in 1997, did not have the authority to sign the agreement with the town. 

“The board or the board members should have signed a corporate resolution granting the president the right to sign a document with the town and that never happened,” Mongillo said.

In addition, Mongillo said the original agreement with the town allowed only emergency vehicles and garbage trucks on the designated swath of Pond Road – which he said is reflected in the minutes of the association board and member meetings. 

But the agreement was changed to allow public access, Mongillo said. 

“For some reason the words in that agreement were changed – by whom we do not know – and I’m not pointing fingers anyplace. I’m just saying the words in that agreement were changed from what was communicated to the Miami Beach membership back in 1997, which are in our minutes,” he said. “Somehow, those words got changed to read ‘open to the public.’ Something transpired and we did not know, but that’s why it’s in the hands of the town lawyer and our lawyer because it’s not only the fact that the president didn’t have the authority to sign the document with the town… but also because the wording changed and we don’t know by whom or what.”

But Mongillo said he could not share the association minutes with CT Examiner until the legal issues had been resolved. 

Mongillo also said research by association members uncovered the language change, which he said he raised with former First Selectman Bonnie Reemsnyder in 2013. 

“We’re not just coming up with this now. This has been going back almost 10 years,” he said. 

Mongillo said Miami Beach Association is proposing several options to the town, including that the town build its own road parallel to Pond Road. 

“We’re trying to be good neighbors, and saying we need to reclaim our road. But we also understand the town needs a way to get from Hartford out to Portland Ave,” he said. 

But said that his board is also willing to propose to the association membership the idea of giving the town an easement on certain areas of the property, which would require a membership vote.

“But the town has to make the first move as far as ‘are you open to putting in a road’ because that would be the easiest solution. If they want to, that’s the path we’re trying to go down… there’s options and to me that’s a neighborly, amicable way of resolving all of this.” 

Mongillo said he gave the legal documents to First Selectman Timothy Griswold and Selectmen Martha Shoemaker and Matt Ward on July 7, and presented the information at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Aug. 7. 

At the Aug. 7 meeting, according to meeting minutes, Keith Henson, who owns a parking lot at 11 Pond Road, told the selectmen that making Pond Road private would “shut down his business” and that he was being targeted unfairly. 

Mongillo said that upon approval of his association board, the association would share excavation and paving costs and give the town two small parcels that abut the town parking lot. 

As of Friday, Mongillo said he and the association attorney had not heard back from the town attorney about the issue. 

“We’d like a fair and equitable resolution to an issue that has been out there for a couple of decades,” he said. 

When CT Examiner spoke with Griswold on Friday, he said he remembered signing the agreement in 1997, the year he was first elected to office.

He acknowledged the association’s claim that President DeBear was not authorized to sign the agreement but said that the Miami Beach Association and President DeBear were represented by counsel at the time.

Griswold said that building a new road would involve moving electrical poles, contending with a water main and drainage issues. 

He said the town has not responded to the association yet. 

“It’s an open issue. We’d like to resolve it amicably,” Griswold said. 

Pond Road is listed as an agenda item for Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.