I-Park Kicks off Seventh Art Biennale in East Haddam

EAST HADDAM — At night, animals, birds, flowers, and even mushroom spores become active, moving about, making sounds and leaving traces, mostly unbeknownst to humans.  Participants in artist Moira Williams’ sound walk called “Fissures, Holes, Limbs: breathing dislocated scales,” were invited Sunday to shift from “daylight to moonlight” and experience night sounds and images she had recorded onsite at I-Park, an international artist-in-residence program founded in 2001.  Williams, a New-York-City-based artist, is one of nine artists in I-Park’s seventh Site-Responsive Art Biennale who spent three weeks on the program’s 450-acre campus “creating ephemeral artworks that respond to the property’s natural

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Aztec Two-step 2.0, Jonathan Edwards, Pousette-Dart Band Headline Annual Fundraiser for Equine Retirement in Salem on Saturday

SALEM — Spadi, a 22-year-old horse, munched hay Thursday morning while workers rolled out a big white tent that will house the eleventh annual Mitchell Farm Music Festival this Saturday.  “He’s our 99th horse to come through the front gate in the 15 years we’ve been here,” said Dee Doolittle, founder of Mitchell Farm Equine Retirement, a nonprofit that provides a good home for aging horses, and offers education on equine welfare.  The event — featuring Aztec Two-step 2.0, Jonathan Edwards and the Pousette-Dart Band — is a fundraiser with a goal of raising $14,400 to partly fund an endowment

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Public Turns Out in Support of Bay State Wind’s Energy Plans for New London’s State Pier

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NEW LONDON — At the Connecticut Port Authority’s informational meeting Tuesday night, community sentiment tilted heavily in favor of accepting a deal to build a joint Ørsted-Eversource wind power facility at State Pier in New London before that opportunity dissolves or finds a home elsewhere.  David Kooris, acting chair of the port authority, gave an upbeat presentation to standing-room-only audience of about 200 people on the proposed upgrade of the pier’s infrastructure and managed to pivot attention away from questions concerning the port authority’s personnel and finances — as well as documentation requests — that have yet to be clarified. 

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A Master Knitter and Her Shop “the Knit” in Old Saybrook

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OLD SAYBROOK — It’s Tuesday night at the Knit where a group of women are seated around the shop’s round glass table knitting, talking, counting stitches, listening, laughing.  “I have six folding chairs and a number of others around the shop, but I have often run out of chairs,” said Betty Narducci, who opened Knit in January 2016. She started the Tuesday night sessions with the shop’s inception and said they’ve become a kind of “free space” for women.  “There’s sort of a base group of women who are always here and then about 10 women who are here and

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After Workshops in Old Lyme, Artist-Instructor Jesus Villarreal Reflects

When artist Jesus Emmanuel Villarreal teaches painting, he doesn’t just talk about it, he paints right alongside his students so they can see what he’s working on.  “I think that’s the best way to learn … I don’t believe in those teachers who just tell you and they don’t show you anything,” said Villarreal, a realist painter who taught four one-week painting classes sponsored by Florence Academy of Art, on the campus of Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, in August. Villarreal, who spoke with CT Examiner by phone, said he likes to start his classes by showing students images of

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State Lawmakers Ask for Additional Hearing on Connecticut Port Authority, Note Lack of Documents

Two state lawmakers have requested that the Connecticut General Assembly’s Transportation Committee hold a follow-up hearing on the Connecticut Port Authority that would include testimony from past employees and board members who were not present at the August 20 hearing.  State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) and state Representative Christine Conley (D-Groton) sent their request to Transportation Committee Co-Chairs Sen. Carlo Leone (D-Stamford) and Rep. Roland Lemar (D-New Haven) on Friday. “We now respectfully request that the Transportation Committee hold a second informational hearing and invite past and current board chairs and employees of the Port Authority to offer their opinions

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Port Authority Consultant Clarifies Contract, Role in Firing Gerri Lewis

An official at the Connecticut Port Authority confirmed Thursday that the organization hired a Human Resources consultant from March to July who helped craft a termination letter for Gerri Lewis, the authority’s office manager and ethics compliance officer who was fired on July 9.  Andrew Lavigne, manager of business development and special projects at the port authority, confirmed via email Thursday the hiring of HR consultant Diane Wolff of Karoli Consulting in Madison.   “The CT Port Authority entered into a consulting contract for HR support with Diane Wolff of Karoli Consulting on March, 25 2019. 16.5 hours of HR support was

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Old Lyme Zoning Commission Proposes Limits on Waterfront Building

OLD LYME — The Zoning Commission has proposed an amendment to the Tidal Waters Protection regulation that would increase the setback for all new construction along coastal and riverfront to 100 feet, doubling the current setback of 50 feet. But more importantly, the new text in section 4.3.7 would prohibit the Zoning Board of Appeals from granting a variance. “It’s going to be a new philosophy for the Town of Old Lyme and I invite as much input as I can get, and I think the commission members would too, about how people in town feel about it because this

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Connecticut Port Authority Tries a Reboot, Votes to Negotiate Departure of Executive Director

NEW LONDON — In a public session with an agenda focused on issues of ethics and transparency, the Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) board approved several resolutions Wednesday overhauling oversight of its finance and management practices. The new policies come after the recent departure of port authority and staff and leadership, an audit detailing years of poor accounting practices, as well as reports of misused funds. After a closed executive session lasting 40 minutes, the board also voted in favor of negotiating a separation and release agreement without severance for the authority’s current executive director, Evan Matthews. Matthews has been on

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Old Lyme Finalizes Purchase of 300-acre McCulloch Farm

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OLD LYME — On Tuesday, the town closed on the $600,000 purchase of the McCulloch Farm, a 300-acre parcel that includes two three-acre sites designated for affordable housing. First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder announced the purchase of the farm, established by the McCulloch family in 1927, at Board of Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night. “I am very pleased to report that this afternoon at about 4 o’clock, we closed on the McCulloch family open space parcel that we have talked about for so long, so now we are the very proud owners of about 300 acres of wooded land that I have

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Great Weather And a Good Summer for Area Businesses in Southeast Connecticut

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IN THE REGION — Labor Day may be the ceremonial end of summer, but for a number of local businesses the “shoulder season” will keep the tourists coming as long as the temperate weather lasts. “We get that question all the time — when do you stop renting? And there really is no definitive answer as long as people are willing to be out on the water and the air is warm enough,” said Sean McMahon, manager of Black Hall Outfitters in Old Lyme, on Friday. “The water temperature stays plenty warm straight through October.” The company, which is open

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Sound View Water Upgrade Adds Modest Rate Increase to Connecticut Water Customers

OLD LYME — Connecticut Water Company’s infrastructure upgrades in the Town of Old Lyme’s Sound View Beach neighborhood will be paid for through a rate adjustment surcharge program designed to distribute the costs of smaller capital projects, like Sound View’s promised improvements, among all of the company’s customers statewide. The Water Infrastructure and Conservation Adjustment (WICA) program is not a grant but it is a low-cost way to spread out project costs, said Michael A. Caron, Commissioner of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), by phone Friday. “The charges are periodic as opposed to the old way… when you would

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Impending San Jose Water and Connecticut Water Service Merger Raises Questions

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) could approve a long-delayed and previously-rejected merger of San Jose Water (SJW) and the Connecticut Water Service (CWS) and its subsidiaries, after receiving over 80 commitments to protect the public interest, and placing additional conditions on the merger. CWS currently serves about 325,000 Connecticut residents and 56 towns across the state, including Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Chester, Madison, Guilford and Stonington. The merger has raised some concerns about the status of commitments to install updated water service to the Sound View neighborhood of Old Lyme. Regulatory hurdles According to the

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Old Lyme Officials Seek to Maximize Sidewalk Grant for Sound View

OLD LYME — Last year, the town received a $400,000 Community Connectivity grant for installing sidewalks, signage, and “beautification” along the northern “Gateway” portion of Hartford Avenue in the Sound View neighborhood of Old Lyme and a nearby section of Shore Road — the maximum amount available from the program — and town officials are deciding what additional steps and town funding will be necessary to take full advantage of the state grant. The Community Connectivity Grant Committee met on Aug. 12 to discuss the design and engineering Request for Proposal, which yielded proposals from five engineering firms. On Monday,

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Chad Floyd, Centerbrook Architects, on Metaphor, Public, and Place

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ESSEX — There were two choices for Chad Floyd as he designed the Thompson Exhibition Building in Mystic — the literal or the metaphorical. “The basic idea was to respond to Mystic Seaport’s desire to have a building that would symbolize the institution,” said Floyd, a principal and founding member of Centerbrook Architects and Planners, in a conversation at his office on Friday. 14,000-square foot structure opened in September 2016 and has remained a topic of conversation in the region ever since. “You could approach it in two general directions — what had been tried before by architects, which was

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Demolition of Vacant 1930s Dance Hall in Old Lyme Scheduled for Fall

OLD LYME — Abutting neighbors of 58 Hartford Ave. in the Sound View neighborhood received notices on Saturday by mail that owner Frank Noe intended to apply to the town for a demolition permit to take down the long-vacant 1930s-era dance hall in late September or early October. “The former O’Connor’s Dance Hall, or O’Connor’s Twin Gables at 58 Hartford Avenue, is the only Tudor Revival-style building in the district,” according to a 2018 application for listing on the National Register as one of 141 contributing resources in the proposed Sound View Historic District. “The largest commercial building in the

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Stonington’s Rob Simmons Takes a Bow

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STONINGTON — After November’s election, the blue SUV with “GUNG-HO” license plates won’t be parked at the Town Hall lot as often. That car belongs to First Selectman Rob Simmons, 76, who has chosen not to run for a third term this November.  But the message on the license plates, originating from the Chinese “gōng hé,” which translates as “work together,” reflects Simmons’ attitude toward life, the town, his tenure as a leader and any position that allows him to be of service.  Simmons, a Republican, said he “threw his hat into the ring” in the summer of 2014 when

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Connecticut Port Authority Retains $4.77 Million of Legacy Funds — Reallocations On Hold

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The Connecticut Port Authority retains $4.77 million of legacy funds leftover from eight municipal dredging projects dating from 2012 to 2016. The funds, administered in a state account, cannot be re-allocated for other maritime projects until approved by the State Bond Commission. The eight projects, totaling $30.39 million, had been administered by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), and were completed under budget. After 2016 the Connecticut Port Authority became the administrator of maritime bond funding. Joe Salvatore, Program Manager of the Connecticut Port Authority, who emailed the list of municipalities with legacy balances to CT Examiner on Wednesday, said

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Connecticut Port Authority Officials Absent as Transportation Committee Holds Hearing

HARTFORD — With three key officials missing from Monday’s Connecticut Port Authority hearing, legislators and the public were left with more questions than answers about a host of issues, including the quasi-public agency’s finances, wind power negotiations and personnel matters.  Co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, Roland Lemar of the House and Carlo Leone of the Senate, led the six-hour “informational forum” before an audience of about 80 people, including staffers from the state’s Auditors of Public Accounts, the Office of the Governor, and the Connecticut Port Authority. Absent from the hearing were: Scott Bates, chair of the port

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Port Authority Officials Not Expected to Attend “Informational” Hearings on Tuesday

Termed a “forum” on the meeting agenda, the scheduled Connecticut Port Authority hearings on Tuesday in Hartford will be informational in nature and most likely will not involve questioning of port authority officials, according to one state official.   “People are expecting it to be sort of a Capitol Hill inquisition — I think they are under the wrong impression,” said Roland Lemar, House chair of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, in a phone interview Wednesday.  Lemar co-chairs the Transportation Committee, which is holding the forum, with Senate Chair Carlo Leone. Both will present remarks on Tuesday. A presentation by the

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Old Lyme’s Economic Development Commission Evaluates the Town’s Strengths and Weaknesses

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OLD LYME — “High-quality schools” and a “culture that values the arts” are two of Old Lyme’s top strengths, while a “lack of diverse housing options” for seniors and workers is one of the town’s biggest weaknesses. The town’s opportunities lie in delivering a “Halls Road action plan” and making the community “more connected” through biking and walking whereas the town’s biggest threat is a “perceived resistance to change.” At least those were a few of the preliminary conclusions drawn from the feedback of 40 residents and business owners, many invited to participate, in a SWOT focus group sponsored by

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Update: Referendum Passes 883 to 565 to Fund Sewers in Old Lyme’s Sound View

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OLD LYME — With high voter turnout at Tuesday’s referendum that included both property owners and residents, the question of whether to bond $9.5 million for sewer construction in Sound View Beach and Miscellaneous Town Area B passed 883 to 565.  The project will be partly reimbursed with a 25 percent Clean Water Funds grant, reducing the costs to approximately $7.44 million.  The vote was the culmination of years of discussion about how to handle an administrative order from the state to mitigate beach area wastewater pollution from flowing into Long Island Sound.  After the vote was counted at the

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Town Adopts Program to Monitor Septic Compliance By Old Lyme Property Owners

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OLD LYME — The Town of Old Lyme has adopted a program to monitor all residential and commercial septic systems in the municipality using software that will track whether users are complying with a town ordinance requiring a pump-out not less than once every seven years.  Scott Carmody, president of Carmody Software, Inc. in Palm Bay, Florida, was in town hall Monday and Tuesday to offer training to septic service providers and municipal staff in towns that use his software, including Brookfield, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Westbrook as well as the Connecticut River Area Health District.  Each

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Douglas Nettleton Talks Development, Sewers and the Problem of Sump Pumps in Mystic

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STONINGTON — Private sump pump outflows into municipal sewer systems are illegal but the town is offering Mystic sewer district customers “sump pump amnesty” for a short time.  “We need to understand the breadth of the problem at this point and we have no idea how bad the problem is,” said Stonington Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) director Douglas Nettleton, in an interview with CT Examiner staff on Wednesday. “We need people to cooperate with us. We’re going to try to help them figure out a solution.”  As part of the amnesty program, running from August 15 to Sept. 30,

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Economic Development Commission Launches Survey of Old Lyme Residents

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OLD LYME -- The Economic Development Commission has launched a survey to find out residents’ and business owners’ thoughts and ideas about development in Old Lyme. “This is an opportunity for the EDC -- we’re asking the public for their input and this is one of the strategies we’ve been talking about since I’ve been on the EDC,” said EDC Co-chair Justin Fuller at the commission’s meeting at Town Hall Wednesday afternoon. “It’s one thing to come in here and talk about what we think and what we hear from people and it’s another to try to engage the real

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Town Meeting With Two Votes And Two Different Results Erupts in Chaos in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — The atmosphere of a Special Town Meeting erupted into shouting and chaos Monday night after a recount on a vote concerning bridge funding took several turns that some residents said were unfair. The contested vote feeds into broader tensions in the community concerning the fairness of the upcoming sewer referendum. First on the meeting agenda was the $9.5 million sewer referendum, slated for Aug. 13, which will authorize the town to issue bonds, notes and other obligations, to finance the appropriation for Sound View Beach and Miscellaneous Town Area B. Second was the question of appropriating $328,500

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Mervin Roberts Reflects on Decades of Opposition to Sewers for Southeast Connecticut

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OLD LYME — For more than 25 years, Mervin Roberts has been urging citizens as well as local and state officials to avoid sewers along southeastern Connecticut’s rivers and shoreline.  Roberts, 97, is a former chair of Old Lyme’s Shellfish Commission, served for 10 years as a selectman and was a founding member of the Conservation Commission.  He was also a founding member of the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA), where he served for several decades. As chair of the WPCA, he wrote and published several pamphlets on septic waste treatment in Old Lyme. He previously studied water and

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Artemisia in Old Lyme Offers Fabric, Inspiration, Design

OLD LYME — Whether for gathering inspiration, buying pillows and antiques or going for an entire home redesign, Artemisia has something to offer those who appreciate textiles, craftsmanship and home design.  In a building located behind the Cooley Gallery at 23 Lyme St., the store has retail space in the front, lined with pillows, fabrics, art and furniture, and a studio workroom in the back where co-owner Rosemarie Padovano sews and designs.  “I started the company in 2013 and this is the first time I’m doing retail — I opened the shop one year ago,” said Padovano Tuesday at her

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Old Lyme WPCA Chair Prendergast Talks Funding and the Future of Sound View

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OLD LYME — With the August 13 referendum on funding sewers in Sound View Beach approaching, Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) Chairman Richard Prendergast stopped by CT Examiner’s office Tuesday to clarify concerns and answer questions.  “There’s no certainty of that passing in Old Lyme, the default is to not pass. If you’re from Old Lyme you know that we don’t do things like this too often,” he said.  The referendum asks whether the town should bond $9.5 million to build sewers in Sound View Beach and Miscellaneous Area B, part of a broader arrangement, partially reimbursed by a 25

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