South Lyme Marina, a ‘Diamond in the Rough’

SOUTH LYME — “This place used to be cool. Even five or six years ago there were 48 boats here and this past year there were only six and a lot of it is due to the conditions — it’s not in the best of shape,” said Michael Barnes, who gestured to the wooden docks and sprawling gravel parking lot of the marina he bought on Nov. 9. “It’s a diamond in the rough,” he said. “There’s good fishing in the river and Long Island Sound is right there.”  Located at 8 Bank St., the 2.2-acre property — which Barnes

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Sewer Agreements an Obstacle for Hatchetts Hill Development

OLD LYME — Sewage capacity — how it’s shared, and who apportions it — could become an obstacle for developers of a proposed 224-unit housing development off Hatchetts Hill Road. The complex is expected to include 67 units of affordable housing under state statute 8-30g. The 11-building complex will require a capacity of 50,000 gallons per day, said Mark Diebolt, who, with his two partners, plans to build the project on a 20.6-acre site at 49 Hatchetts Hill Road. Currently, the town has negotiated for 300,000 gallons of sewage outflow to a treatment plant in New London each day. That

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The ‘Secular Religion’ of Jennifer Grotz

STONINGTON — “What I say instead of ‘I write’ every day is ‘I scribble,’ which to me lowers the stakes,” said poet Jennifer Grotz.  Grotz has published three books of poetry and is at work on her fourth. “I like to just scribble to just slowly accrue language. If I have a phrase that pops into my head, I might literally just write down those three words or if I’m at a bar and I’m eavesdropping and somebody says something funny, I write that down, or a memory. I collect all of that,” said Grotz (pronounced (Grōtz), the James Merrill

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Thanksgiving Turkey Buyer’s Guide

For many, this Thanksgiving will be quieter and smaller than previous years because of COVID-19, but for most, roasting a turkey is still an essential part of the tradition and the holiday. Turkey farms around the area are seeing brisk sales, with the smaller birds selling out quickly. There is still time to pre-order a bird, but time is running short. Below are a few choices in the area, including one non-turkey alternative.  Gozzi’s Turkey Farms, 2443 Boston Post Rd, Guilford  (203) 453 2771 www.facebook.com/Gozzis-Turkey-Farms (this link doesn’t work well!) Order ASAP by phone Price: $3.09/pound Pick up: the week

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The Future of Connecticut Farming

“We started out as a dairy. We will always be a dairy,” said Kies Orr, 27, who co-owns and operates Fort Hill Farms in Thompson where she has 210 milking cows and just under 500 cows total.  Orr is a fourth generation farmer but before her parents fully bought the dairy farm from her grandparents, they bought land adjacent to the dairy farm and started a nursery.  “My mother does lavender. My mother does plants. She has over 72 gardens that you can walk through and she’s gotten into offering exercise classes and giving nature walks. She’s trying to diversify

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Somers Pushes for Quicker COVID Tests for Volunteer Firefighters

GROTON — State Sen. Heather Somers is pushing for Gov. Ned Lamont to allow trained EMTs to test firefighters at local fire stations once a week for COVID-19 as a proactive measure against the spread of the virus. “So many of these firehouses are volunteers. They’re taking time off to fight the fires and go on the emergency calls,” said Somers noting that 10 firefighters were reported testing positive at the New London Fire Department four days ago.  There are 315 fire departments with a total of about 26,800 firefighters in Connecticut, of that number about 22,350 are volunteers, according

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An Investor and Self-Described “Do-er” Takes a Crack at New London

NEW LONDON — “One thing about New London is there are quite a few investors — and they’re called investors for a reason — but it doesn’t mean they’re doers,” said contractor David Preka. “Buying a piece of property and letting it stay as is just because you’re an investor and you’re waiting for an opportunity — that really hurts the city,” he complained. “It hurts the people around it, not just in New London, anywhere around. Unfortunately New London seems to be held a little bit hostage with a few of those.” Preka, 38, owns Advanced Group, a residential

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Developer Withdraws Application for Banner Estates

EAST HADDAM — For the second time, the owners of Banner Country Club Estates have withdrawn a zoning amendment application that would have allowed them to convert a large, empty banquet hall into a residential apartment building.  At the Planning and Zoning meeting Tuesday night, James Ventres, zoning enforcement officer and land use administrator for the town, read aloud a letter from attorney John S. Bennet, which stated that issues between his client, property co-owners Anthony and Frank Longhitano, and the existing condominium association of Banner Country Club Estates had not been resolved and that the application was officially withdrawn.

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‘Artists to Collect’ Opens at Catherine Fosnot Gallery in New London

NEW LONDON — Twenty six young, mid-career and older artists considered collectible by New York critics will be the focus of a show opening at the Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery and Center on Nov. 14. “Artists to Collect” is the brainchild of Fosnot, who is a painter and lived in New York City for more than 20 years, and George Waterman, who has roots in the New York art community and owns the Harris building as well as the Manwaring Building at 225 State St.  “We asked seven or eight critics, ‘Who is on your radar right now with ideas

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State Approves $11 Million for Small Towns Program

HARTFORD — For the first time since 2016, the state has reinstated a grant program that funds capital improvement projects in small towns and this year includes a special COVID-19 provision. On Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont approved $11 million for the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP), which will benefit 94 Connecticut towns. In a release, Lamont said the special COVID-19 provision allows towns to use the funds to cover expenditures on capital projects related to the pandemic, including “new construction, expansion, renovation, or replacement of existing facilities.” “Our small towns have been hit hard by COVID-19 and are in

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Thorsten Dennerline Makes Books

“It’s about just seeing it move and seeing the timing of it,” said artist Thorsten Dennerline, who recently has been making videos of his three-dimensional books.  Prior to the COVID pandemic, Dennerline brought his books to fairs and visited people to show them how the books work in person. Now he’s looking for ways for people to experience the pieces.  “You’ve got to see this thing in real life because it’s an object and so I’m trying to get people to see it ‘in person,’” said Dennerline, a faculty member at Bennington College who founded Bird Press in 1996, which

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Deviant Donuts Sponsors Fundraiser for Garde Arts

MYSTIC — Today through Sunday, Deviant Donuts will donate $1 of every donut purchase to support the Garde Arts Center in New London.  “If people want to come out, I always say the earlier the better,” said Kourtney Stoy, one of the shop’s three bakers. “Usually by 10 or 11 we start to run out of some of the options available on the menu.”  Stoy said the bakery sells about 4,000 donuts on the weekends and smaller quantities during the week.  The bakery, located in Olde Mistick Village, has created specialty donuts for the fundraiser featuring designs based on famous

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Plans Purchase of Bee and Thistle Inn in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — The iconic Bee and Thistle Inn, known over the years as a destination restaurant, cozy watering hole, wedding venue and getaway bed and breakfast, will soon be transformed into the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, a nature and education organization that is part of the Connecticut Audubon Society, if the plans get the go-ahead this fall. Claudia Weicker, Roger Tory Peterson’s board chair, said Monday in an interview with CT Examiner that she expects the center will close on the property before the end of 2020. Phased renovations within the existing historic footprint are expected to last from

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Policing Drives Race Between Howard, Rotella

The police accountability bill is at the forefront of the race between first-term incumbent State Rep. Kate Rotella, a Stonington Democrat, and her challenger Greg Howard, a Republican and longtime Stonington police detective. Howard won the endorsement of the Republican Town Committee after Shaun Mastroianni withdrew from the race in early August. After Rotella appeared at a protest outside of the Stonington Police Department and voting twice for policing bills, Mastroianni stepped aside to allow Howard to run, according to The Day. In an interview with CT Examiner, Howard described himself as an expert on the police accountability bill, which

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Bride Brook Development Advances, at Odds with Town Planning

EAST LYME —  In its referral to the town’s Zoning Commission, the East Lyme Planning Commission unanimously agreed on Tuesday night that a proposal for “Brookside Apartments,” an 80-unit development on North Bride Brook Road, submitted under the state’s 8-30g affordable housing statute, was inconsistent with the town’s 2009 Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), with a few exceptions. The Planning Commission found that the site lacks public transportation and is not close to a village center, as recommended by the POCD for affordable housing projects. The commission did, however, find that the proposal met provisions in the POCD for

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BassamFellows Remodels the Future

RIDGEFIELD — “What’s so beautiful about the building is it’s about 7000 square feet and it feels, and is built, like a modern house and yet it’s a commercial building. It has more of a residential feel than a typical office building,” said Scott Fellows. “When people walk in, especially the way we’ve furnished it and adapted it for our use, it feels like a blurring between a beautiful, small executive office building and a modern house. People say, ‘I want to live here.’” The Schlumberger Research Center administration building, designed in 1951 and built in 1952, was architect Philip Johnson’s

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Sidewalks Plan Explained in Information Session

OLD LYME — The Community Connectivity Grant Committee held a virtual public information session Thursday night to explain the costs and a projected schedule for installing sidewalks on sections of Hartford Ave. and Shore Road.  The town was awarded a $400,000 Community Connectivity Grant in January 2019 and chose BSC Group, of Glastonbury, as the design firm in January 2020. The grant has a 3-year timeline to use the funding, Mary Jo Nosal, chair of the committee and a selectman for the town, presented a budget summary showing the grant will cover construction costs estimated at $287,000 for 970 feet

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Cheeseman and Steel Offer Contrasting Views in Race for State House

Cate Steel, an East Lyme Democrat and retired speech pathologist, is challenging incumbent two-term State Rep. Holly Cheeseman, a Republican, and executive director of the Niantic Children’s Museum, to represent East Lyme and Salem in the 37th District. Cheeseman is a graduate of Mount Holyoke and a former selectman of East Lyme. In 2018, she defeated Democrat Hugh McKenney 51.4 to 48.6 percent, a margin of 310 votes. Steel, who worked 35 years as a teacher and educator, currently serves on the East Lyme Board of Education. Asked about how they would prioritize state budget choices — in August, Gov.

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Ryan Chapman on Comic Fiction, Merrill House Residency

STONINGTON — “I think there’s something great about how humor and comic writing can short circuit us to some degree. I think it allows us to think about topics or ask questions that might not be raised in polite company. I think often what a culture finds funny says a lot more about it than what a culture idolizes,” explained Ryan Chapman, the writer in residence at the James Merrill House for the month of October. “With writing comic fiction, hopefully I can bring in some of the bigger questions about life and our society and do so in a

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Halls Road Committee Gets Go-ahead from Finance for Masterplan

OLD LYME — The Board of Finance has approved $48,000 in carryover funding for a master plan proposal submitted by the Halls Road Improvement Committee. The approval came at the board’s Tuesday night meeting, a day after the Board of Selectmen approved the project with a “not to exceed $48,000” stipulation.  Edie Twining, chair of the committee, and Kurt Prochorena, an engineer at BSC Group, which won the job with a bid of $46,500, presented the seven-page proposal, which includes the development of updated base mapping using existing town GIS and assessment data, 2016 orthophotography and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)

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Courtney Announces Federal Aid for Shellfish and Other Offshore Growers

NOANK — Under rainy skies turning sunny, Jim Markow, president of Mystic Oysters in Noank, joined by Rep. Joe Courtney, Gov. Ned Lamont and various state officials, spoke at a press conference on the dock outside of his business Tuesday to announce that after months of political pressure by Courtney and state’s congressional delegation, hard-hit shellfish, clam, kelp and seaweed growers are now eligible to receive aid from a USDA program, a change that could open the door to including aquaculture in the 2022 federal Farm Bill. “It’s a very, very small percentage but it’s something. Some is better than

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Halls Road Project Heads to Board of Finance for Approval

OLD LYME —  The Halls Road Improvements Committee received the go-ahead from the Board of Selectmen on Monday to take the committee’s proposal for hiring a firm that will create a master plan to the town’s Board of Finance for approval.  The Halls Road committee, which was established in 2015, has approximately $48,000 in leftover funds carried over from earlier efforts to hire Yale Design Urban Workshop and to implement tax increment financing in the town’s shopping district. Repurposing that funding requires approval by the Board of Finance. The project is to hire the BSC Group, an engineering firm from

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Formica – Marx Offers Clear Choice in Senate Race

Democratic challenger Martha Marx is once again hoping to unseat Republican State Sen. Paul Formica in a rematch of their close 2018 contest to represent the 20th district, and the towns of Bozrah, East Lyme, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem, and Waterford.  A three-term incumbent, Paul Formica is Deputy Senate Republican Leader, Ranking Member on the Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Technology Committee. He is a past vice-chair of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments and served as First Selectman in East Lyme from 2007 to 2015. For 35 years, Formica has owned and operated Flanders Fish

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Lengthy Process, Little to Show for Connecticut Fisheries

Nearly seven months after the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law, eligible fisheries and related businesses can apply for $1.8 million in economic aid through the CARES Assistance to Fishery Participants (CAAFP) program. On March 27, the CARES Act authorized U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to allocate $300 million in financial assistance to states, tribes and territories with coastal and marine fisheries that were negatively impacted by COVID-19. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) then made awards to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Gulf

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Somers and Statchen Stake Positions in Rematch of State Senate Race

Republican State Sen. Heather Somers is running for a third term in the 18th district against Democrat Robert Statchen. This is the second time the two have competed for the chance to represent the towns of Griswold, Groton, North Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington and Voluntown in the State Senate. In 2018, Somers won with 54.7 percent to Statchen’s 45.3 percent of the vote. Somers said that she has the most bipartisan or independent voting record in the Senate — a consistent theme, she says, of her campaign and time in Hartford. “For years now, I’m somebody who is challenging

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Halls Road Committee Selects Engineering Firm to Plan Mixed-use, Wastewater Solutions

OLD LYME — The Halls Road Improvements Committee chose BSC Group by unanimous vote at a meeting on Thursday to create a master plan for Halls Road that will allow the addition of mixed-use zoning to the towns main shopping district.  The committee previously solicited proposals through an informal bid process from Newman Architects of New Haven, Robert Orr and Associates LLC, of New Haven, and BSC Group of Glastonbury.  The town has allocated $48,000 for the project, which will require approval from the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance to move forward.  Committee members felt that BSC

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A Closer Look the State House Race Between Dave Rubino and Devin Carney

Newcomer Democrat Dave Rubino, a human rights lawyer with a practice in Old Lyme, is challenging incumbent Republican State Rep. Devin Carney, an Old Lyme resident and native of Old Saybrook. Carney has held the house seat in the 23rd district, representing Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook, since 2015. Carney, who sits on the Transportation, Finance, and Planning and Development committees, said that “the biggest issue is how we are going to move forward from COVID.” He described the challenge as “multi-faceted,” involving public health and the economy. “Obviously we’ve had a lot of issues because of businesses

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Fogliano Calls for Town Commission on Affordable Housing in Old Lyme to Address State Requirements

OLD LYME — The Affordable Housing Committee made two initial recommendations to the Board of Selectmen Monday night that include urging the town to move forward with building two affordable units on McCulloch Farm before the option expires in 2024 and forming an Affordable House Commission to address long term goals and compliance issues, especially those related to the 8-30j law.  “We were launched in February this year with an exploratory mission to wrap our hands around affordable housing in Old Lyme,” said Mike Fogliano, chair of the committee, who presented the recommendations to the board by phone. Fogliano said

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Eminent Domain Proceedings Halted as Town and Beach Communities Agree to Payment

OLD LYME — The town has halted eminent domain proceedings to acquire two easements necessary for the planned sewer project in Old Lyme after the property owner agreed to a one-time payment in exchange for allowing a sewage pipe to be constructed across the properties. In a reversal that includes a $30,000 payment to Frank Maratta, owner of 85 Swan Ave. and 86 Hartford Ave, in consideration of the easement, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a resolution Monday night that will allow the town to proceed with an important piece of the planned sewer project that will serve the

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Sun Communities Acquires 18 Marinas Across Connecticut and Rhode Island in $2.1 Billion Deal with Safe Harbor

Sun Communities, a real estate investment trust based in Southfield, Michigan, announced the purchase of 104 marinas in 22 states — including 18 marinas across Connecticut and Rhode Island — in a deal valued at $2.1 billion in cash and stock. The marinas, currently owned and operated by Dallas-based Safe Harbor Marinas, include locations in Branford, Deep River, Essex, Mystic, Old Saybrook, Stamford, Stratford and Westbrook, and locations in Rhode Island including Barrington, Newport, Jamestown and Wickford, Warwick, and Portsmouth. With 40,000 members in its network, Safe Harbor is the largest marina enterprise in the United States.  In a conference

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