‘Equity Analysis’ Draws Praise of East Lyme School Officials

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EAST LYME — Superintendent of East Lyme Public Schools Jeffrey Newton praised the results of a district-wide audit by the not-for-profit Equity Institute that solicited feedback from students, parents and staff. The Rhode-Island-based group was hired by the district in April 2021 to perform an “equity analysis” on the district, and presented its results to the town’s Board of Education on Monday. Newton said the district chose the group, which asked $15,000 for their work, based on positive experiences with two other districts in the neighboring state. “We liked what they had to offer and what they were sharing for

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East Lyme Residents Approve $200,000 for Public Safety Building Roof Replacement

EAST LYME – Town residents in a voice vote approved $200,000 of the town’s federal COVID relief money to replace the roof on the new public safety building during a town meeting on Wednesday night. It was the third time East Lyme residents have approved funding to renovate the former Honeywell office building into a public safety complex. Town voters first approved bonding $5 million in 2019. Last October, they approved bonding another $985,000 and $1.2 million in delayed FEMA payments to cover a $2.2 million gap in funding for the project. The $200,000 to replace a roof that has

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East Lyme Republicans Strike Bipartisan Tone with Election Slate

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EAST LYME — The Republican Town Committee endorsed its slate of candidates for this fall’s elections on Monday night.  “I’m incredibly excited by the level of enthusiasm and energy that was in the room tonight for our East Lyme Republican caucus,” said John Kleinhans, chair of the East Lyme Republican Town Committee. “We have a slate of bipartisan community leaders led by Kevin Seery who will put people over politics and continue to work for the betterment of our town.” In a surprise, Candice Carlson, who ran last election as a Democrat, and Alisha Bradley who ran as a Democrat

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Alberti Leads Democratic Slate in East Lyme

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The East Lyme Democratic Party released their municipal slate of candidates for the 2021 November elections on Thursday evening, after considering more than a dozen candidates and dealing with two contested seats.  First Selectman: Camille Alberti Board of Selectmen: Ann Cicchiello, Terence P. Donovan, Daniel Cunningham Tax Collector: Christine Dixon Zoning: Debbie Jett-Harris, Jay Ginsberg (alternate) Planning: Jason Deeble, Spencer Clapp (alternate) Board of Ed: Nickie DeLucco Padilla, Bill Derry, Laura Greenstein Board of Finance: Gary Upton Town Clerk: Karen Galbo (cross endorsed) Board of Assessment Appeals: Gary Cicchiello Town Treasurer: Mike Bekech Four candidates ran for the three Board

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Selectmen Propose COVID Funds for $200,000 Safety Building Roof Replacement

EAST LYME — The Board of Selectmen proposed spending $200,000 in federal COVID relief funds to replace a roof on the new public safety building, saying the existing roof is leaking too much to allow for the police to transfer electronic equipment into the building. The unbudgeted repair is the latest in a series of rising costs to renovate the former Honeywell office building into a public safety complex, which town voters approved bonding $5 million for in 2019, then approved last October bonding an additional $985,000 and $1.2 million in delayed FEMA payments from hurricanes Sandy and Irene. Residents

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As Starlight Inn Residents Wait For Better Options, CTDOT Files Eminent Domain Actions

EAST LYME — The Connecticut Department of Transportation has filed eminent domain proceedings and offers of compensation with the courts on two properties near Exit 74 at Flander Rd. to make way for a planned $142 million redesign of the I-95 interchange.  The state has offered $1.92 million for 256 Flanders Road, the location of a Mobil Station. The property owner, East Lyme RE LLC,  has filed an appeal, according to court documents. The state has also offered $1.26 million for the Starlight Inn at 256 Flanders Road. The owner, Star-Inns LLC, has until Aug. 18 to file an appeal. 

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$142 Million East Lyme Exit 74 Project Delayed Two Years

EAST LYME — Changes to the I-95 interchange with Route 161 at Exit 74 on I-95, including the replacement of the bridge, will begin in Spring 2023, rather than this summer, as previously reported in 2019.  The project, which is expected to last three years, is in semi-final design review, with final designs scheduled for completion in April 2022, said Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  According to Nursick, a number of factors have delayed the project, including the need for an updated survey to account for recent changes to roadways by Costco developer Gateway Commons

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East Lyme Swears in Four New Police Officers

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EAST LYME –The town’s Police Department swore in four new officers at a ceremony at Town Hall on Thursday morning. Two of the officers, Justin Hanna and John Baldino, transferred to the department after nearly three years in Old Saybrook. Hanna began working in East Lyme at the end of March, and Baldino started in early May.  Both said they were enjoying their work in East Lyme. Hanna praised the community and the department, and Chief of Police Mike Finkelstein said Baldino hadn’t stopped smiling since he joined. “It’s a breath of fresh air,” said Baldino.  The other two, Ryan

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Long-time Selectman Kevin Seery Announces Run for East Lyme Office

EAST LYME — With local Republican leaders standing alongside him, long-time East Lyme selectman Kevin Seery announced he would be running as a Republican for first selectman this November. Seery has been serving as one of the town’s three elected selectmen since 2011, and has been deputy first selectman since Mark Nickerson was elected first selectman in 2015. Before that, he served 14 years on the East Lyme Board of Education, including six years as board chair. Seery settled in East Lyme 37 years ago after he finished his service in the U.S. Navy, and he and his wife, Dawn,

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Schools Across the Region Outline Varying Ideas for Spending Federal Dollars

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School districts across southeastern Connecticut are in the process of drawing up plans for how they intend to spend millions of dollars of federal funding that will be available over the next two years. The money comes in the form of two anticipated grants, known as ESSER II and the American Rescue Plan.  The proposals include a variety of projects, from outdoor classrooms to bilingual therapists, summer enrichment and chromebooks.  Here is a rundown, district by district:  Lyme-Old Lyme Ian Neviaser, superintendent at Lyme-Old Lyme schools, said the district won’t be using the combined $1.48 million in federal aid for

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Miracle League in East Lyme Excited for First Season of Spring Sports

EAST LYME — Melanie Barber loves music, and she sings and dances all day long when she can, her mother Pam said. But after graduating high school, there weren’t many organized dance programs for Melanie to join. That changed two years ago, when the Miracle League of Southeastern Connecticut started Everybody Dance Now, an adaptive dance program made for people with disabilities. Melanie, 32 and living with Down syndrome, joined the classes at Studio 22 in East Lyme, where volunteer instructors paired up with participants with a wide range of physical and mental disabilities, and danced. “She loved the dance

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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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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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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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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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Nickerson Announces Intention to Leave Office at End of Term

EAST LYME — First Selectman Mark Nickerson announced that he will not run for another term next November and will leave the office after finishing his seventh year. Nickerson, who has served six years as First Selectman of East Lyme after being appointed to the position to replace Paul Formica after he was first elected to the State Senate in 2014, announced his decision in a letter included in the Friday Nov. 27 edition of the monthly East Lyme Parks and Recreation publication EVENTS Magazine. “I have cherished this time as our town’s leader. Being the First Selectman of such

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East Lyme Triples Wetlands Review Area, Raises Questions

EAST LYME — By a vote of 5 to 2 on Monday night, the town’s Inland Wetland Agency tripled its mandatory review area from 100 to 300 feet for projects around inland wetlands and watercourses, giving the agency the broadest blanket oversight in the region. The review area is the distance from an inland wetland or watercourse where the agency reviews all projects that could affect the waters, including moving dirt, cutting trees, modifying the ground, or building on it. The decision came after five months of deliberations, beginning with a July proposal to expand the review area to 500

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Car Thefts Again Hit Area

EAST LYME — Four cars were stolen in the Niantic area on the evening of November 9-10, the latest in a series of car thefts happening throughout Connecticut and the greater New England area this year. Mike Finkelstein, Chief of Police in East Lyme, said these thefts are something that affect the shoreline towns “in waves.”  The four cars stolen were a Highlander, an Escape, a Ford and a Passat. Two of the four were discovered in New Britain; the other two remain missing. No one has yet been identified in connection with the theft.  In addition to the four

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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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East Lyme Selectmen Set Aside FEMA Funding As Contingency

The East Lyme Board of Selectmen voted to put the remaining FEMA funds from Hurricanes Irene and Sandy in a contingency fund on Wednesday evening, and left open the possibility that some of the funds could go towards purchasing body cameras for the East Lyme Police Department.  There is $327,046.72 from the surprise $1.73 million in FEMA reimbursements East Lyme received in August for infrastructure repairs following the two damaging storms in 2011 and 2012.  The town had already appropriated $203,560.89 of those FEMA funds as part of the $4.4 million Niantic Bay Boardwalk project that was approved in 2014.

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East Lyme Voters Narrowly Approve Additional Public Safety Building Funds

East Lyme voters narrowly approved a plan to bond an additional $985,000 to fund renovations of the former Honeywell office building to use as the police station and emergency services center.  Voters approved the bonding by a vote of 1,184 to 1,112 in a referendum held Thursday. Voters also approved using $1.2 million in delayed FEMA reimbursements from hurricanes Irene and Sandy to fill the funding gap for the public safety building by a vote of 1,254 to 1,058.  East Lyme voters previously approved $5 million in bonding for the project in February 2019.

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East Lyme Officials Debate Balance of Conservation and Development Before Wednesday Hearing

On Wednesday, the East Lyme Board of Selectman will host a public hearing to discuss the proposed plan of conservation and development first proposed in January. Since the prior plan was approved in 2009, several hundred units of multi-family housing have been added to town and many new businesses, including Costco Wholesale in the new Gateway Planned Development District.  “Our commercial zones are slowly being consumed by multi-family housing. If we continue on that same progression, what does that mean for East Lyme?” said Gary Goeschel, director of planning in East Lyme. “The community might be saying the growth is

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East Lyme Board of Selectmen Approve $985,000 in Bonding for Public Safety Building

EAST LYME — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to approve an additional $985,000 in bonding to fund renovations of the public safety building in their regular meeting Wednesday night. The additional funding would bring the total amount of money borrowed for the project to $5.98 million, with the remainder of the $7.2 million cost paid for by FEMA disaster relief funds for Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy received in August. The Board of Finance will decide whether to approve the additional bonding in a special meeting on Thursday night. If approved, the spending would then go to a

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East Lyme Police Report Rise in Reported Opioid-Related Overdoses

East Lyme has seen an unusually high number of overdoses in the last two months, East Lyme Police Chief Michael Finkelstein reported at a meeting of the town’s Police Commission on Thursday night.  Out of a total of 15 reported overdoses in East Lyme in 2020, seven occurred between July 1 and September 10, compared to three during the same period in 2019. Additionally, two of the three deaths attributed to overdoses this year occurred between July and September.  Finkelstein told CT Examiner that the majority of these overdoses were caused by heroin or fentanyl, a synthetic opioid similar to

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East Lyme Board of Finance Approves $1.2 Million Compromise for Public Safety Complex

EAST LYME — Citing other priorities the money could be used for, the East Lyme Board of Finance did not approve using the full $1.5 million in FEMA reimbursement from Hurricanes Irene and Sandy to help renovate the former Honeywell Office building into a police and public safety complex. Instead, the board approved appropriating $1.2 million of FEMA funds for the public safety building by a 5-1 vote Wednesday night. The vote came as a compromise as board members pared down the referral from the Board of Selectmen to use about $1.5 million in disaster recovery funds to fill part

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Formica and Cheeseman Announce Long-Delayed $1.73 Million FEMA Reimbursement for East Lyme

EAST LYME — Nearly eight years after Hurricane Sandy and nine years after Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc on the Connecticut shoreline, East Lyme finally received a combined $1.73 million reimbursement check from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “Those two hurricanes encompassed a lot of my time in the town of East Lyme and my tenure as first selectman,” said State Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme. “I pushed FEMA very hard along with now-Representative Holly Cheeseman to qualify and now it’s finally paid off.” Nearly every other shoreline town – including Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, all the way down to

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East Lyme Inland Wetland Agency Delays Decision on Buffer Expansion to 500 Feet

EAST LYME — The East Lyme Inland Wetland Agency held off a decision on a proposed expansion to its review area after accepting several scientific articles and other exhibits into the record at a hearing on Monday night. The agency continued a public hearing on its proposal to extend its upland review area from 100 feet around inland wetlands and watercourses, to 500 feet. Two members of the public spoke in opposition to the change, but most of the new information Monday was brought by members of the agency. During a lengthy first hearing in July, where some critics questioned

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Nickerson Calls 3-3 Vote, Lack of Public Say on Funding for Public Safety Building, a ‘Travesty’

EAST LYME — First Selectman Mark Nickerson strongly criticized the Board of Finance for denying a request Monday night to bond additional funds to renovate the Honeywell building for use as a public safety facility — a decision that removes the question from going to a public referendum.  “It is a travesty that the citizens of East Lyme have been denied an opportunity to vote on a referendum of this plan,” Nickerson said in a press release on Wednesday. “Our town stepped up 16 months ago and overwhelmingly voted to buy the Honeywell building and finally move toward a permanent

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After Vandalism and Trespassing, Quarry Dock Road Entrance to Oswegatchie Hills Preserve Closed

The parking lot at the Quarry Dock Road entrance to Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve will be closed indefinitely because of issues with people trespassing on private property in the area. East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson said the decision to close the town-owned lot was an agreement between the town, Friends of the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve and property owners in the area. Nickerson said that there were issues at the lot and with people trespassing onto private property nearby. The Quarry Dock entrance is one of six trailheads where visitors can access the park, and one of two with

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Hearing Tonight on Expanding Wetland Review Area in East Lyme from 100 to 500 Feet

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EAST LYME — The East Lyme Inland Wetland Agency will host a public hearing tonight on a proposal to enlarge its the scope of review from 100 to 500 feet around inland wetland areas. The proposed change to East Lyme’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses regulations would expand the upland review area and mean that the commission would review any construction or changes to land within 500 feet of any inland wetland or watercourse to determine if it has a significant environmental impact. The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. by Zoom. The commission could vote on the proposal Monday

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