Clinton Reports Better than Expected Revenues, Smooth Transition for New Town Manager

CLINTON — It’s been a year since the town hired Karl Kilduff as town manager to oversee the municipal budget, and members of the town council say that they can already see the benefits of having a professional in charge of the town’s finances. “Having him in place has had a huge impact on the town,” said Chris Aniskovich, chair of the town council.  On Nov. 19, 2019, Clinton transitioned from a board of selectmen form of governance — with a first selectman as “town CEO”— to an appointed town manager overseen by a seven-member elected town council. Aniskovich said

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From East Lyme to Cambridge and Back, Ostfeld Promotes Sustainable Farming

EAST LYME — After studying geothermal and hydro energy in Iceland, palm oil in Borneo and climate change and renewable energy in Scotland, Rosemary Ostfeld, who holds a PhD in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge, decided that her next adventure would be to promote sustainable farming in her hometown. Three years ago, after returning to East Lyme, where she worked at White Gate Farm during her first summer out of college, Ostfeld launched Healthy PlanEat, a start-up connecting local farmers with consumers.  “The most powerful thing that you can do to actually have a positive impact on the

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New London Wins 10-Year Commitment For Northeast Offshore Deal on State Pier

HARTFORD — State officials announced today the signing of a Host City Agreement between New London and a joint venture of Ørsted and Eversource that includes a 10-year commitment paying the city an average of at least $1 million each year during offshore wind operations at State Pier. “Today’s agreement makes Connecticut’s role as a leader in the offshore wind industry official, with New London now poised to become the premier commercial east coast hub for this sector and our state set to become a leader in the transition to renewable energy and the fight against climate change,” Gov. Ned Lamont

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Neighboring Businesses Raise Sharp Questions About Proposed Gas Station on Halls Road

OLD LYME — Two longtime business owners on Halls Road are concerned about the potential consequences of a proposed Big Y Express gas station and convenience store slated for connecting properties at 99 Halls Road and 25 Neck Road. The application for the project is on the agenda of tonight’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission special meeting at 5:30 via Webex. The commission will decide whether or not the project will have significant impact on the wetlands and vernal pool on the properties. If the commission decides the project will have significant impact then a public hearing is required no

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Old Saybrook Reports Healthy Finances, Growing Grand List Heading into 2022

OLD SAYBROOK — The town’s Board of Selectmen approved a $47,187,717 budget for fiscal year 2022, an increase of $167,292, or .36% over last year.  First Selectman Carl Fortuna said the town’s stable financial situation allowed Old Saybrook to project a slight decrease in the mill rate — from its current 20.05 to between 20.00 and 20.04. Last year, the mill rate increased from 19.75 to 20.05. Fortuna said this year is the second time in four years that the town has been able to lower the mill rate.  Fortuna said that in spite of the coronavirus, the town saw

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Town Officials Debate Sidewalk Alternatives for Ferry Road

OLD LYME — At their Thursday meeting, members of the town’s Tree Commission considered an alternative plan for Ferry Road sidewalks that would save about 10 trees slated for removal by moving the sidewalk to the opposite side of the road.  First Selectman Tim Griswold, who attended the commission meeting, compared the south side of Ferry Road where a privet hedge, a vinyl fence and potentially two trees would need to be removed, to the north side of the street where 10 of 13 trees would need to be taken down to accommodate the sidewalk replacement project.  “If we relocated

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East Lyme Plans for Two Additional Officers and Long-Term Increases in Police Staffing

EAST LYME — The town’s Board of Selectmen voiced support for adding additional officers to the town’s young police department, which its chief says does not have enough staff to handle investigations and traffic enforcement. East Lyme Police Chief Michael Finkelstein said that his officers spend most of their time running between calls, meaning they don’t have time for follow up investigations or to patrol traffic, which accounts for most complaints to the department, he said. “It also becomes a safety issue, because if you’re going to a domestic violence incident, and now you have another call like a burglary

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Calling Ethics Commission ‘Totally Dysfunctional,’ Chair Proposes New Rules

OLD LYME — The new chair of the town’s Ethics Commission, Jane Cable, has requested increased funding to hire independent legal counsel to rewrite the ethics code for the town.  Cable, who was appointed to the commission and became chair on Dec. 2, 2020, asked the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday for an increase in the commission budget from $1,900 to $7,500 to cover legal costs.  “The Ethics Commission when I joined was totally dysfunctional because the code doesn’t give directions for a well-functioning Ethics Commission. It needs more than minor revisions,” said Cable. “It also needs oversight by the

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Sidewalk Project on Ferry Road in Old Lyme to Take Down Adjacent Trees

OLD LYME — Twelve trees along Ferry Road from Lyme St. to Rt. 156 have been tagged for potential removal — with some to be replaced — to accommodate the town’s construction of new, wider sidewalks. The root systems of a number of Norway Maples and Zelcovas, as well as other tree species, have caused portions of the sidewalk to buckle over time, which has created a safety hazard according to First Selectman Tim Griswold. At three feet in width, the sidewalk also does not meet the four-foot standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. On a site walk set

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Essex Debates Fines as 73 Percent of Wetlands Permits are Issued After the Fact

ESSEX – According to Fred Szufnarowski, chair of the town’s Inland Wetlands Commission, 73 percent of wetlands permits in Essex — eight of 11 permits issued by the town in 2020 — were given out after the fact. That’s an increase from 2019, when five of 14 applied late, and from 2016, when three of 19 applied after the fact. “We see the trends there – instead of people coming to the enforcement officer to prepare an application and apply for a permit before the work starts, they go out and do the work, and if they get caught, then

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Connecticut Residents Can Now Renew Driver’s Licenses Online

The Department of Motor Vehicles will process renewals for driver’s licenses online starting February 15, Governor Lamont announced in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.  As long as residents do not need to change any of their license information, they will be able to renew their licenses through a new online portal that is the culmination of two years of efforts to modernize the department and minimize unnecessary in-person office visits, DMV Commissioner Sibongile Magubane said.  Connecticut joins 36 other states in allowing renewals to take place from home, and in those states, roughly 40 percent of renewals take place

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Amtrak Settles ADA Claims For Stations in Connecticut and Rhode Island

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Amtrak riders with disabilities may qualify in certain cases for monetary damages after the passenger rail service settled claims that dozens of stations across the country, including stations in Connecticut and Rhode Island, failed to meet legal standards for accessibility. Three stations in Connecticut — Windsor, Windsor Locks and Old Saybrook — and one in Westerly, Rhode Island were part of the settlement that included 78 stations across the country.  As part of the settlement, Amtrak agreed to fix problems of accessibility, and pay $2.25 million into a fund paying out claims to people with disabilities who were harmed by

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East Haddam Village Redevelopment Draws on Town’s History to Fuel Future Growth

EAST HADDAM – It’s now a barren parking lot surrounded by rusting guardrails and vacant, weathered former municipal buildings. But when local architect Jeff Riley looks at the site of his planned redevelopment of the downtown village, he sees shops, restaurants and apartments, many housed in a replica of the 1838 mansion of William H. Goodspeed, the banker and entrepreneur who built the namesake Goodspeed Opera House directly across the road in 1876. He sees a town green fronting the mansion and other buildings that will host holiday festivals, farmers’ markets and activities for children, a bike shop that will

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East Lyme Hires Consultant to Help Solve Drinking Water Issues

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EAST LYME — The town’s department of public works has contracted Tighe & Bond, an engineering and environmental consulting company, to investigate issues with taste and odor in the East Lyme water supply. Brad Kargl, the town’s utility engineer, said that East Lyme has conducted a number of tests in an effort to get to the bottom of a musty odor evident in the water supply for the southern portion of the town. After receiving about 20 complaints about the odor about 8 months ago – enough to raise concern for Kargl – the town began testing its source water

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Police Commission Votes on Personnel Query

OLD SAYBROOK — The town’s Police Commission voted 6 to 1 on Monday night to ask Chief of Police Michael Spera to compile a public report on the number of officers who have left the police department in the past 11 years.  The request was in response to a Jan. 12 letter from the Old Saybrook Board of Selectmen requesting that Spera produce a document providing the sworn personnel who have left the department, the length of time they remained and the reasons they provided for leaving. The selectmen asked that the document include officers’ exit interviews and any other

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Outdoor Dining Proposed for Dock & Dine Property by Local Restauranteurs

OLD SAYBROOK — Two restauranteurs are proposing to open a seasonal outdoor restaurant using towable food trailers at the former Dock & Dine property at 145 College St near the mouth of the Connecticut River. “Essentially they’re like trailers, like a food truck hall, but the new ones are very sleek looking they’re very modernized,” said Colt Taylor, chef of The Essex and Los Charros Cantina in Essex, who is working on the project with Jon Kodama, owner of the property since 1987 and managing partner of JTK Management Restaurants, the group that owns the former Dock & Dine as

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Letter and Closed-door Discussion Spark Call for Closer Look at Police Claims

OLD SAYBROOK — The town’s police commission has decided not to take action on a complaint from a former sergeant in the Old Saybrook Police Department who requested in a letter that the commission investigate what he called a “toxic and hostile work environment.”  The commission voted 5-2 to not take action on the complaint, with commissioners Renee Shippee and Alfred Wilcox providing the dissenting votes. Officer William Bergantino, who authored the letter, began working at the Old Saybrook Police Department in 1997, and remained there for 23 years. In 2019, Bergantino moved to another department, taking a reduction in

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Amtrak Adds Clearance to Connecticut River Bridge in Response to Local Concerns

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OLD LYME — In response to concerns from the maritime community concerning vertical waterway clearance, Amtrak has redesigned a portion of a new bridge that will replace the 1907 bascule bridge that extends across the Connecticut River between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme.  The vertical clearance underneath the existing bridge is about 17.75 between spans and close to 18 feet under the movable span, according to an email from Craig Rolwood, a rail practice project manager with Hardesty & Hanover LLC, which is a consultant to Amtrak. The new bridge, an $400 million project expected to be completed in 2030,

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Big Y Plans Convenience Mart and Gas Station on Halls Road, Sparks Committee Discussion

OLD LYME — At its Thursday night meeting, the Halls Road Improvements Committee discussed potential plans for a Big Y Express gas station and convenience store on Halls road, sparking a discussion regarding zoning and an effort to walk back committee comments. Edie Twining, committee chair, who shared the information with the committee, said the Big Y company was interested in purchasing 99 Halls Road and 25 Neck Road (Route 156), both owned by Essex Savings Bank, which is adjacent to the properties.  The two connecting parcels would provide an “easy-in easy-out” traffic flow from Halls Road to Route 156

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Hearing on Thursday for Old Lyme Plan of Conservation and Development

OLD LYME — The Planning Commission will hold a virtual public hearing on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 5 p.m. to consider the adoption of the 2020 Plan of Conservation and Development.  To join the meeting, click on the webex link on the meeting agenda. The meeting access code is 179 105 9119 and the password is YsbhfM47Z2A. To join by phone, dial 408-418-9388 and use access code 173 8212293. By law, the town must revise the plan every 10 years and last did so in 2010. The deadline for Old Lyme to complete its revision was December but the state

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Selectmen to Consider Compromise for Public Access to Tantummaheag Landing

OLD LYME — Vehicular access and parking  — with new regulations and signage ––  will continue to be available at the historic town-owned Tantummaheag Landing if the Board of Selectmen approves recommendations from the Harbor Management Commission.  “There is really no solution that I can see that will make everyone 100 percent happy, but I think this is as close to that as I can see us developing,” said Steven Ross, vice chair of the Harbor Management Commission, at Tuesday night’s meeting.  In December, the adjacent property owners of 12 and 19 Tantummaheag Road, George Frampton and Carla D’Arista, blocked

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East Lyme Goes to Court to Defend New Inland Wetlands Rule

EAST LYME – The owner of a local real estate company is taking the East Lyme Inland Wetland Agency to court to challenge its November vote to triple the town’s review area. Robert A. Blatt, of Niantic Real Estate, appealed the agency’s decision to expand its upland review area from 100 to 300 feet, a measure approved by a 5-2 vote in November after several months of deliberating over a proposal to increase the review area to as much as 500 feet. In a complaint filed in the Superior Court of New London in December, Blatt argued that the agency

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Police Commission Approves Budget, After Discussing Contracts and New Initiatives

OLD SAYBROOK — The Old Saybrook Police Commission voted 5-2 to approve a budget of $5,333,360 for the town’s police department on Monday night — an increase of $95,088 over last year. The draft budget will next be sent to the town’s board of selectmen for a final vote. The budget includes a 2.25 percent raise in salaries, an increase in workman’s compensation and an increase in retirement benefits for officers as negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement with the police union. Dispatchers will also receive a two percent salary increase.  Other increases in the budget came from unfunded mandates

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Lyme-Old Lyme Board Approves Turf Field, By a 6 to 3 Vote

OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education voted on Wednesday to approve the installation of an artificial turf field, with one modification: swapping the controversial crumb rubber infill for what was described as a more environmentally friendly substance.  Diane Linderman, chair of the Board of Education, said that the Facilities Committee had met in December and changed the plan for crumb rubber infill to a product called Brockfill, which are small organic pellets engineered from southern pine.  Neviaser said he hoped that the change would address some of the concerns that people had raised at previous Board of

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Town Plan Outlines Changes for Housing, Retail, and Coastal Properties in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — A draft of the town’s 2020 Plan of Conservation and Development is scheduled for a public hearing and potential approval by the town’s Planning Commission on Jan. 14 at 5 p.m. via Webex.  The state requires that towns review and update their plans at least once every decade, and the current plan dates to 2010. The draft includes substantive changes to the town’s approach to raising structures along the shoreline, to the town’s housing and zoning, and to the town’s long-standing preference for local shoppers along the commercial district on Halls Road. The plan also reiterates a

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Renewed Investment in Gas-Fired Energy Spurs Debate in Middletown

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MIDDLETOWN — A major energy company is pitching its replacement of two nearly 70-year old natural gas-fired turbines at a Middletown power plant as environmentally friendly, but local and statewide advocates for renewable energy question why new fossil fuel-fired infrastructure is being built at all. Princeton-based NRG has proposed replacing two gas- and fuel-powered turbines, built in 1958 and 1964, with one turbine that is more efficient and faster to start.  The 375-megawatt turbine will replace the same nameplate amount of megawatts as the two existing turbines, and generate lower emissions per hour, but the new turbine is also expected

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Trade Zone Expanded to Include New London County

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NEW LONDON — The City of New London has received approval to expand its Foreign-Trade Zone to include all of New London County. Foreign-Trade Zone #208, established in 1981 and comprising 138 acres around State Pier in New London, will expand as an Alternative Site Framework, which allows entire counties to be part of the service area under the jurisdiction of the foreign-trade zone.  The new framework will allow the 21 towns and two tribal nations — the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe — to join the zone. The city submitted its application in July and the Foreign-Trade

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Mervin Francis Roberts, 1922 – 2020

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With his wife, the former Edith May Foster, Mervin Francis Roberts first came to Old Lyme in 1960. He and Edith May became active in church, government, fire department and town life. Merv was born in New York City in 1922. He was a Naval Officer during WWII. He served in the Navy for four years, and then in the Reserve. He was awarded 4 campaign medals, two with Combat Stars. After his service, he returned to complete a degree in Ceramic Engineering at Alfred University.  He served as a Merchant Marine Officer, Scout Master and Commissioner, Town Shellfish Commissioner,

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Tourism, Traffic, Migrating Fish and Birds — All Part of Planning the Swing Bridge Overhaul

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EAST HADDAM – The first alert is a loud rapid-fire clang of a warning bell like at a railroad crossing, followed in quick sequence by flashing red lights and the wail of a siren. As the sound fades into the air high above the Connecticut River, vehicle-blocking gates on either side of the East Haddam Swing Bridge drop into place. Foot-high steel barriers rise from the deck as further precaution. In a small room over the bridge with windows on all sides, an operator scans live video monitors to ensure all is clear, then presses a series of buttons on

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Groton Launches Database to Aid Police Interactions with People with Autism and Disabilities

GROTON — The Groton Police Department is launching a new database to aid officers interacting with individuals with autism and disabilities. The Citizens At Risk Database, or CARD system, stores information about individuals who are on the autism spectrum or have handicaps or other disabilities. The system is voluntary – the individuals or their guardians fill out a form listing home address, physical characteristics and emergency contact information.  For people on the autism spectrum, the form includes spaces where people can list an individual’s likes and dislikes, atypical behaviors, things that calm them, and whether they have other risk factors,

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