Arelt Brings ‘Consistent Vision’ to Nautilus Architects’ Contemporary Designs

WATERFORD & DEEP RIVER — Architect Chris Arelt stood barefoot on the polished concrete floors of his client’s house and pointed to the tiny square lights that were set flush with the living room ceiling.  “These tiny LED fixtures with no trim are hugely important,” he said. “They add up to a big expense, like $160,000. It’s always more than people bargained for, but it’s so important. If you start putting big six-inch diameter pot lights into these things, it just blows the whole design.”  Arelt, the principal and owner of Nautilus Architects in Lyme and Southport, stressed the importance

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Formica, Osten and Somers Talk Recovery, Absentee Voting, EEE and Tourism Dollars

“Let me just say we live in a great state — and the greatest part of this great state — and I have full confidence that our economy is going to recover here, but we’ll need to take thoughtful and prudent steps in order to do that,” said State Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, during a “State Senators’ Update” virtual meeting on Wednesday. “The reason I say that, is I believe the underlying economy to be stronger than the great recession of 2008 and 2009. I think once we get by this health and safety portion of the reopening …

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Musical Masterworks Adds a Managing Director, Sketches Plan for Coming Season

OLD LYME — “I’ve been making budgets for 40 years,” said Lawrence Thelen, the new managing director for Musical Masterworks, who will oversee budgeting, budget management and long term strategic planning for the 30-year-old nonprofit.  “The organization is tremendously strong right now and so it’s my goal to maintain that,” he said by phone on Thursday. “When I produced [an] off-Broadway show, or even at Goodspeed, or when I was artistic director, you’re constantly making budgets. You’re always making sure that you don’t go over budget because that’s how theaters close. It’s the easiest way that theaters close.” Thelen has

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Fate of $3 Million Commitment Raises Tensions Between New London and the Connecticut Port Authority

NEW LONDON — A $3 million promise from an offshore wind company to the City of New London to support the city’s maritime infrastructure for commercial fishermen could become a source of tension between the mayor’s office and the Connecticut Port Authority.  Originally promised by Deepwater Wind, which was purchased by the Danish wind giant Ørsted in October 2018, the $3 million grant was designated for the Port of New London to improve marine facilities used by the commercial fishing industry. Ørsted has promised to honor Deepwater Wind commitments.  At Tuesday’s port authority meeting, Acting Chair David Kooris, said he

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Director Sam Quigley Talks Lyman Allyn, Accreditation

NEW LONDON — The Lyman Allyn Art Museum will reopen at half capacity on June 30 and offer free admission to visitors until Labor Day.  “We thought people might need a little extra incentive to come into a public space. We all recognized that we’re all a little nervous and we wanted to let people know that we’re doing everything we can to make it safe and healthful,” said Sam Quigley, director of the museum, by telephone on Wednesday. “We wanted to eliminate any hurdles so that people could come in and really just take advantage of what we are,

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Action Amusements Readies for a “Very Different Year” at Ocean Beach Park in New London

NEW LONDON — With a brush in his hand, Jeff Mullen dabbed white paint onto the metal framework of his “new” ferris wheel at Ocean Beach Park last week. “It’s a nice wheel. We just put some new pins on it. It’s just a matter of touching it up here and there and it should be ready to go,” said Mullen, who owns Action Amusements at Ocean Beach Park. “The wheel itself is from the 1940s and the base is 1965. We found it up in New York. A friend said it might be available, so we bought it and

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Sound View Residents Hire Attorney, Commission Assessment, to Claim Proposed Sewer Fees Exceed Legal Limit

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OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Sewer Coalition, LLC, has hired an attorney and an appraiser to challenge the town’s cost-benefit assessment to pay for the planned installation of sewers in Sound View Beach and Miscellaneous Area B, arguing that the town’s formula violates Connecticut General Statutes §7-249 prohibiting assessments in excess of the benefits accrued to property owners. “The statute states expressly ‘[t]he sum of initial and subsequent assessments shall not exceed the special benefit accruing to the property’ and later repeats this limitation, ‘[n]o assessment shall be made against any property in excess of the special benefit to

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Main Street Chester Weathers COVID-19 and Construction

CHESTER — On Tuesday afternoon, downtown Chester was deserted and dusty, with construction cones dotting the excavated sidewalk that bordered retail shops closed by the pandemic and a few restaurants offering takeout.  For more than a decade, Chester has been a popular destination for eating, shopping and a popular Sunday Market, but now, under the double-yoke of the pandemic and Main Street Project, local merchants and property owners are by turns optimistic and frustrated about whether the town can regain its economic vitality. “The biggest issue in Chester is the main street reconstruction. It’s kind of a disaster right now,” said

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Town Reaches Compromise on Private Boat House Near Hains Park in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — A private group of rowers who purchased a property abutting Hains Park to store their shells reached a temporary agreement with the Parks and Recreation Commission on June 4 that will allow limited access to Rogers Lake.  On June 23, 2019, Blood Street Partners, LLC, a group of six rowers, purchased a two-bedroom, 1,350-square-foot house at 176 Boston Post Road for $152,000. The partners’ idea was to construct a two-story storage building for about 24 one- and two-person sculls while keeping the house in place on the .22-acre, commercially-zoned lot.  The partners wanted to portage their sculls,

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Old Lyme Rallies Against Racism and Police Brutality

OLD LYME — Hundreds of protesters carrying signs and chanting in support of black lives and and end to police brutality and systemic racism marched peacefully from Town Hall to the First Congregational Church on Saturday afternoon.  The Rev. Dr. Steven Jungkeit was the first speaker at the podium on the lawn of the church. “All of us feel a whole lot of different things right now — a sense of grief, a sense of mourning, a sense of outrage, a sense of pain and confusion and yes, maybe just maybe a tiny ray of hope that this will be an

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As Rumors Spread Across Social Media, State Police Tamp Down Protest Fears Along Shoreline Connecticut

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As social media posts spark a news story in the Hearst-owned Shoreline Times, and spread across social media, Connecticut State Police tamped down rumors of threatened looting at the Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets. “We’ve taken many calls, it’s definitely out there about Clinton Crossing, many people are calling us and asking questions. We’re trying to tell them it’s a precaution and we’re hoping nothing is coming this way at all. But we are prepared if something does happen,” said Sgt. Mark Devine of the Connecticut State Police, Troop F, by phone Saturday morning. Devine said that the State Police know

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Hiking Trails on McCulloch Property in Old Lyme to Open Today

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OLD LYME — Hiking trails in the McCulloch Family Open Space will open on June 6, which is National Trails Day.  “The bullfrogs are out there. There’s a blue heron that flies over there head constantly and we put a beautiful bench in the meadow. It’s just a great place to hang out, said Amanda Blair, co-chair of the Open Space Commission, by phone Friday.  The McCulloch property has three trails. The Tree in the Gap trail and Yellow trail are accessed from Whippoorwill Road. Red trail begins on Flat Rock Hill Road.  “With these trails that connect to the

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Old Lyme Economic Development Commission Approves Feasibility Study, Talks Housing and Attracting Business

“This is going to be a crucial time. Lots of towns will be in financial trouble and they’ll try to solve that by growing and attracting business. There will be a lot of competition,” Margules said. “To have a plan before us puts us ahead … Whatever we do we still have two major goals which are to attract new businesses that fit the character of the town and to support the businesses that we have and we’re going to need that more than ever.”

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Preliminary Agreement Reached on Cost Sharing with Old Lyme’s Chartered Beach Communities

OLD LYME — In a small but significant step, the Old Lyme Water Pollution Control Authority is preparing to sign a preliminary agreement to join the cost-sharing agreement of the town’s three private beach associations for the construction, operation and maintenance of sewers.  If signed by all parties, the agreement — which is a preparatory document and not the cost-sharing agreement itself — will be the first formalized statement of a business partnership between the Town of Old Lyme and the three chartered beach communities after years of discussion about the construction of sewers along the shoreline, said Richard Prendergast,

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The Garde Arts Center Launches Virtual Screenings for Audiences in Southeast Connecticut

NEW LONDON — The giant screen of its movie house went dark mid-March, but the Garde Arts Center is now offering a virtual program that lets audiences screen specially curated films at home. Steve Sigel, executive director of the Garde, said that the new Garde Virtual Cinema is an unusual arrangement benefiting both the venue screening the film and the studio that made the film. “There are a number of studios that are partnering with movie theatres and art houses, who share the proceeds,” he said. “Magnolia Pictures contacted us. We’ve done screenings of their films in our theatre so

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Healthy Sales Boost Nursery Business in Connecticut

Early on in the pandemic, Karen Scott, owner of Scott’s Yankee Farmer in East Lyme, had been nervous about whether customers would return. “When we ordered the plant material back in November and we started planting in March, I was thinking, are we going to be able to sell this when it’s ready?” she said.  But, Scott has seen an upswing in sales in the past two months. .  “We’re having a hard time keeping up. I will start some lettuce today. But people may not get their first choice of tomato variety. Vegetable seedlings have mostly sold out and

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Town of Madison Approves Demolition of 1729 General William W. Harts House

MADISON — After standing nearly 300 years at a bend in the Boston Post Road that now roughly marks the place where rural sprawl draws together into the town of Madison, what locals call the “General’s Residence” is slated to be demolished and rebuilt as a “replica” containing two condominium units that will be part of a nine-unit cluster housing development.  An 8-1 vote on May 21 by the Town of Madison Planning and Zoning Commission to approve the demolition of the structure comes after years of deterioration, recent courtships from several developers, and expressions of regret by commission members

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Connecticut Dairy Farms Look to Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to Stem Losses After Disastrous Spring

After four years of falling milk prices, 2020 was predicted as a rebound year for the dairy industry. Instead COVID-19 disrupted the supply chain, resulting in even lower prices that jeopardized an already unsteady economy for Connecticut dairy farmers.  “We had to cut back. We have 1500 milk cows and we’ve had to stop milking some early and we’ve had to market some … We’re down 200 animals, unfortunately that still hasn’t got us down to the base that was set,” said Paul Miller, co-owner of Fairvue Farm in Woodstock. Miller, 74,  said he plans to apply for financial assistance

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Restaurants and Town Officials Scramble to Open Outdoor Dining Across Southeast Connecticut

Municipal officials in the region have scrambled to process applications for expanded outdoor dining so that restaurants could open outdoors on May 20 in accordance with Gov. Lamont’s 7mm order on May 12. “We have about 20 applications for temporary outdoor dining permits and we’re expecting the number to increase,” said Christina M. Costa, a zoning official for the Town of Old Saybrook, on May 21. “The applications are coming in fast.”  The executive order delegates temporary outdoor dining permit approvals to municipal staff until the state of emergency is lifted. The permits allow restaurants to “provide outdoor dining space

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Sewers and Septic — a Problem with a History for Halls Road in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — As the Halls Road Improvements Committee moves ahead with drafting a master plan, wastewater infrastructure will play a key role in determining the density of any planned redevelopment. Over the last few years, the topic of wastewater treatment has been largely absent from the committee’s meetings and presentations to the public, but resurfaced recently during an April 16 Zoom meeting of the committee. “It’s sort of this chicken and egg thing that’s going on here all around because we kind of need to know how much density in terms of residential and retail and office space is

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$400 Million Connecticut River Railroad Bridge Replacement Takes a Step Forward, Design Details Announced

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A significant but relatively little known plan is underway to replace the aging railroad lift bridge that spans the Connecticut River between Old Lyme and Old Saybrook. The estimated $400 million project, proposed by Amtrak, would construct a new bascule bridge 52 feet south of the existing structure. The original bridge, which dates back to 1907, is an essential link on the Northeast Rail Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. and would remain operational during construction. The existing structure will be largely removed once the new bridge is completed.  Though few town officials seemed to know about the plan, it resurfaced

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As Business Remains Strong, Boating Industry in Connecticut Looks to the Future

Set against COVID-19-related closures that have left many business sectors struggling, the recreational boating industry and its financial infrastructure appear to be weathering the storm better than most, at least in the short term. “Industry people are still moving forward. The lending is still there. All of the components are there but I don’t know how we’re going to evolve down the road. It’s all dependent on how the disease progresses,” said Jim Desnoyers, an agent with boatloan.com who works in conjunction with Intercoastal Financial Group Company in Noank.  Desnoyers, who has more than 20 years of experience on the

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Proposed RTP Center Collaboration with the Town of Old Lyme Loses Out on Connecticut Port Authority Funding

OLD LYME — Plans for a new office for the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, which were described in a June 12, 2019 application to the Connecticut Port Authority as a close collaboration with the town, received a setback on Monday when the authority announced that the project had not been recommended for grant funding. The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, part of the statewide Connecticut Audubon Society, had applied for a $1.833 million grant in “round two” of the Small Harbor Improvement Projects Program to build an educational center at 314 Ferry Road. The nonprofit purchased the property for

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As Prices Spike Tong Fields Complaints for Price Gouging in Wake of Coronavirus

“We’re seeing it everywhere. It’s not just consumers going to their local store, but also hearing about it and seeing attempts to charge businesses, and in particular hospitals, more for things including masks and personal protective equipment. But, it’s really, really important that people understand that not every price increase is price gouging,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, by phone on Wednesday. As of April 15, Tong’s office had received 520 complaints concerning 288 businesses in the state and has sent letters of inquiry to 215 of the businesses, including “several to Amazon and eBay retailers, and another 44

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Canceled Public Comment Sparks Outcry at Sewer Meeting Teleconference in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — Local residents expressed significant consternation at the close of the Water Pollution Control Authority meeting on Tuesday night when chair Richard Prendergast announced that public comment had not been included on the agenda, a decision that he said would remain until COVID-19 mandates for social distancing had been lifted and meetings could be held in person once again.  “You notice that a lot of times we have public comment. We don’t have public comment on this agenda. We removed it. We are not required to [have it] and I’m not trying to stop people from commenting. I

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Embattled by Coronavirus Closures, Chester Merchants Fear Added Impact of Main Street Construction

CHESTER — After weeks of delays and uncertainty, construction on the Main Street Project is scheduled to begin April 20. The timing of the project, originally planned to begin March 1, was concerning to many downtown merchants who feared that it would dampen business during the high season, from late spring to early fall. Now, with many businesses temporarily closed or curtailed by measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, and with no clear time frame for reopening, the disruption of major street construction in the downtown shopping district has Chester merchants more concerned than ever. “Substantial completion” of

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High Hurdles as Restaurants are Forced to Adapt to an Uncertain Future

As the restaurants struggle to stay open and adapt to an uncharted future social landscape and uncertain timeline, the state-mandated closure of full-service dining rooms has decimated much of the food service industry.   Since March 16, when Gov. Lamont’s ordered a halt to eat-in service at restaurants across the state, restaurants without a substantial preexisting takeout business have seen a drop in sales of between 70 and 90 percent, said Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association by phone Monday. Dolch said that in Connecticut 8,500 restaurants employing about 160,000 workers make up 10 percent of the

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Easter Orders… Flowers, Roasts, Sweets, and Hot Cross Buns

OLD LYME — “It’s a way for them to connect and say hello and happy Easter and still feel like the holiday is still coming,” said Barbara Crowley, owner of the Chocolate Shell, who is providing a customized, shippable “Easter basket in a box” as well as regular Easter baskets this coming week.  “I fill the boxes as if it were an Easter basket. I put the grass in there and everything. I try to give the person what they’re asking for and they give me a price range to work within and I fill it depending on roughly the

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