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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LEARNing Academy in New London Educates Children From Across Southeast Connecticut with Complex Needs

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NEW LONDON — In January, after five years of anticipation, Ocean Avenue LEARNing Academy opened for its first full school year, with 57 students and a full team of teachers and medical support providers. The school serves children in 25 towns and 21 school districts across southeastern Connecticut. “Five years ago, when the team sat down and dreamed of what could be for the students with the most complex needs they wanted the kids to feel like a part of a school and a community member,” said Kate Ericson, the executive director of LEARN Regional Educational Service Center. “Historically programs

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Leadership Changes for Hope Partnership, Tony Lyons Steps Away

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In an email today to board members, advisers and supporters, Hope Partnership, a regional nonprofit developer of affordable housing based in Old Saybrook, announced that the organization’s president, Tony Lyons, as well as Cal Price and Jim Crawford, would be stepping down from their leadership roles at Hope Partnership. Hope Partnership announced that Dave Carswell would become President, Pam Days-Luketich, Vice President, and Bill Attridge, Treasurer. Larry Freundlich will continue to serve as Secretary. Carswell is Branch Manager & Mortgage Loan Originator at Guilford Savings Bank. The email also confirms intentions to abandon efforts to build a 37-unit housing development adjacent

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Westbrook I-95 Welcome Center Reopens For Labor Day Weekend

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IN THE REGION — The Westbrook Welcome Center is open and staffed for Labor Day weekend for the first time in more than three years. “We are excited to have all six welcome centers open again and thankful for Governor Lamont’s emphasis on this project,” said Randy Fiveash, the director of the Office of Tourism in the Department of Economic and Community Development. The other five welcome centers – Darien, Greenwich, North Stonington, West Willington and Danbury – were all re-opened on a 24/7 basis on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, with a budget allocation of

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Loneliness, Aging and Automobiles in Connecticut

LYME — Six years ago, Jo-Anne Mullen woke up in the hospital to her three sons telling her she could not return to life as she knew it. She suffered a stroke and a heart attack and although had planned to work another ten years at the Toyota dealership she loved, at 70 her sons thought the stressful job would be too much for her. “I couldn’t work so naturally I couldn’t stay where I was because I couldn’t afford to do it,” Mullen said. “My son went and got a dumpster and everything was dumped and then when I

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Connecticut Department of Children and Families Rebalances a System Geared To Women

He was placed into foster care before age 2. At 16, he was sentenced as an adult. At 30, he was released on parole. Soon after his release he fathered a child. “If you can imagine having an early childhood like he had, and then being incarcerated for as many years as he’d been alive, only to come out of the system as an adult, on parole, and to be put in the community and expected to thrive — it’s incredibly challenging,” said Bryan Geyer, a social worker in the fatherhood program at the Madonna Place in Norwich, tracing 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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Editorial: Old Lyme Plans for Affordable Housing

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What does it mean for a town government to be proactive? On the one hand it would appear to make some obvious sense. A proactive government is a government that thinks and plans ahead to avoid problems before they happen – these problems can be fiscal, environmental, demographic. We know that the century-old lift bridge across the Connecticut River will need replacing. We know that as the Baby Boom retires, and many young people are attracted to cities, we need to plan for an aging population. The next big storm is not a question of if, but when. In the

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A Decades-old Promise of Sidewalks on Route 1 in Pawcatuck

“The department of transportation can’t take care of sidewalks along with everything else we have to do,” explained Kevin Nursick, spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT). “It is the norm for towns to put sidewalks in themselves.” But for years the Town of Stonington has been hoping for different result at least for the section of Route 1 running through Pawcatuck. “We have been requesting funds from the Connecticut DOT for a decade, we’ve been applying for grants, we have been up and down this roller coaster for ten years,” said Rob Simmons the first selectman of Stonington.

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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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The Kate Celebrates 10 Years in Old Saybrook

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OLD SAYBROOK — On September 11, 2019 The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center — The Kate — will welcome back Pure Prairie League, the first band ever to perform on their stage, to celebrate ten years of bringing music, opera, dance and theater to downtown Old Saybrook. “Try to imagine Main Street without it now,” said Carl Fortuna, the first selectman of Old Saybrook. “It’s hard.” “Hard,” because The Kate attracted over forty three thousand visitors to Old Saybrook’s Main Street in the last fiscal year alone, more than 78 percent of those from out of town; visitors who eat

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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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Sapia Builders Plans Commerical Development in Essex

ESSEX — Sapia Builders Corp. of Old Lyme, has proposed building a 7,400 square foot office building at 130 Dennison Road in Essex. The design of the two-story structure is intended to resemble a barn.  “I’m an Essex local and I grew up on the road that the building would be on. The area has been undeveloped my whole life,” said Nick Sapia, owner of Sapia Builders. “It’s a residential road, but the property buts up against another commercial property, the railroad track, and Route 9.” The location is close by both Centerbrook Village and the Route 9 Gateway, but

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Few Eligible Families Apply for Daycare Benefit in Southeast Connecticut

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On September 1, the reimbursement rate for families receiving state subsidies to send their children to center-based daycare will increase yet again. In the South Central Region, which includes Old Lyme, families that meet the income qualifications and have an infant or toddler in full-time daycare will received $300 per week, an increase of $65 from last year. However, for the second year in a row, no families in Old Lyme have applied and received subsidies through the Care 4 Kids program. “What’s more of a story is that no family in Old Lyme has applied for Care 4 Kids,”

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Public and Private Pre-K Options Expanding in Old Saybrook and Old Lyme

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OLD SAYBROOK — Just two years after opening its doors, Bright & Early – a daycare and private preschool – in Old Saybrook is expanding. On November 1, five additional classrooms for a total of 44 new full-time students from infants through preschoolers will be added to Bright & Early’s current enrollment of 138. More than half of those not-yet-available spots are already filled. “My director Kara said to me we are completely filled and we have a waiting list of 13 families and another 12 families that are pregnant,” said April Lukasik, the president of Bright & Early. “Our

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Zoning Approval for Hanford Commons in Old Saybrook Delayed

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OLD SAYBROOK — A decision on whether to approve or deny the proposed Hanford Commons mixed-used development was again postponed by the Old Saybrook Zoning Commission. The public hearing is scheduled to be continued on Wednesday, September 4. The commission is waiting for a final report from the town engineer, as well as information on the height of the cupola on the 8-unit apartment building at 99 Lynde Street and the percent of the property that will be landscaped. “The applicant has granted the town an extension of 65 days to the review period that is typical,” said Christina Costa,

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Connecticut Towns to Meet ADA Sidewalk Standards Piecemeal Over Several Years

In 2018 and 2019, Connecticut’s Department of Transportation spent about $3.5 million on new sidewalk ramps statewide. The new ramps are compliant with Americans with Disability Act (ADA) standards that permit wheelchairs, walkers and strollers access to sidewalks.   “About a year ago it was mandated that when the DOT is engaging in substantial roadway projects we have to address the sidewalk ramps as well to meet the new ADA requirements,” said Kevin Nursick, spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Tranportation (CTDOT). The latest requirements include not only a gradual ramp to the street level, but also a grooved track pad

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Of Note: The Matter of Contacting Property Owners Before a Vote

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On Thursday, the Old Lyme Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) met for the first time since voters approved a plan to borrow up to $9.5 million to install sewers in the shoreline neighborhood of Sound View. About 40 people attended, many were property owners from the Sound View neighborhood and upset about being saddled with the great bulk of the cost of installing sewers. Two police officers also were on hand, and stood at the back of the room, but the meeting was entirely peaceful. WPCA chair Richard Prendergast was absent, and the Vice Chair Frank presided in his stead.

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Lyme – Old Lyme Schools Water Athletic Fields From Selectman’s Ice Pond

OLD LYME — Pre-season for fall sports begins next week, but this year practices will take place on fields irrigated with water almost entirely from Tooker Ice Pond, a beaver pond which is also used as a backup water supply by the volunteer fire department. “We have a new irrigation system this summer that allows the fields to be watered only with water from the pond,” said Ian Neviaser, superintendent of schools for Lyme and Old Lyme. “This has allowed us not to use any potable water to support our fields, and they look great.” Previously Lyme Old Lyme Schools

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Life Among the Beavers in Southeast Connecticut

ESSEX — More than any average budget hearing, the meeting is so packed that it had to be moved to an auditorium. Residents as young as 10 came to speak their mind on the issue at hand… beavers. “I still remember that meeting of the conservation commission. It was the most contentious I have ever been to,” said Norm Needleman the first selectman of Essex, about a meeting five years ago following the flooding and destruction of a section of Viney Hill Brook Park near Quarry Pond in Essex. “Yes, we have a beaver problem, like every other town around

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Editorial: Strategy, Liability, and Planning for Sewers in Old Lyme

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Now that the votes are counted, and the referendum to borrow up to $9.5 million approved, I guess it’s too late for the relatively tiny neighborhood of Sound View to reconsider a strategy which, when you think about it, amounted to convincing the vast majority of residents what a fantastic deal they’d be getting by approving the plan. Whether that deal holds up remains to be seen — Sound View residents have hired a lawyer and are mounting a well-funded legal challenge — and the actual text of the resolution (you did read the full text of the resolution, didn’t

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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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The Healthcare of Loneliness Across Southeastern Connecticut

Every day, Karen Veselka, the town nurse for Lyme and Old Lyme, makes home visits free of charge to many of the older and retired residents of the area. “A lot of the people are the older population and a lot of times I’m the only person that they see for a while, and I only see them once a month,” Veselka said. “There’s a lot of loneliness and it’s very sad.” Veselka said many of her patients who are experiencing loneliness or social isolation may stop eating, sleep for large parts of the day or become depressed. “Lots of

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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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Letter: Pappalardo Weighs in On Sound View Referendum Result

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Today’s referendum vote in favor of a $9.5 mil bond for sewers creates a number of questions that must be answered. First and foremost is cost recovery: How the town expects to pay for the bond. The WPCA and our Board of Selectmen have gone on record stating that the entire bond cost will be paid by the property owners in Sound View and area B. This unprecedented method for a public works project cost recovery should be troublesome to all taxpayers. What’s to prevent other town projects to be paid only by those that are affected? Will Rogers Lake

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Old Lyme Referendum to Fund Sewers on Shoreline Passes 883 to 565

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OLD LYME — A sizable voter turnout to a midsummer referendum gave the Town of Old Lyme the needed approval, by a significant margin, to borrow up to $9.5 million to fund the planning and installation of sewers in the Sound View neighborhood and adjacent “miscellaneous area B” off Route 156. The referendum also gives the Board of Selectmen significant flexibility to negotiate and modify the planning and funding of the project moving forward. In a number of public statements First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder has pledged that the cost to the town will be repaid by property owners in Sound

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Old Lyme Searches For New Zoning Enforcement Officer As RiverCOG Staffers Fill In

OLD LYME — As of Monday, August 12, Torrance Downes and Dan Bourret, will serve as interim zoning enforcement officers in Old Lyme, after the long-expected departure of Keith Rosenfeld. Downes and Bourret are staff members at the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Government. This week each will spend 4 hours filling in on Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon in an effort to provide services previously performed by Rosenfeld.  “Our work allows things like private resident projects to keep moving along,” Downes said. “But, enforcement work will fall behind because it takes too much time.” A zoning enforcement officer

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