Old Saybrook Votes to Approve $49,000 for Parks and Rec Strategic Plan

OLD SAYBROOK — After a debate and vote before a packed room, the Town of Old Saybrook approved $49,000 from the capital non-recurring fund to hire a consultant to develop a strategic plan for the Parks and Recreation Commission focusing on four town parks. “We feel strongly that we need to improve our beaches, fields, parks and facilities that were mostly designed in the 50s. There are other towns that are better,” said Kevin Lane, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission. “We need to put some tax dollars into planning what to do.” The hope, according to Lane

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Niantic’s Peter Carlson on Life and Lighting Design

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LYME — For years, interior designer Peter Carlson searched for unembellished lighting that would complement his clients’ spaces. “I was always looking for lights, especially very simple lighting, not an ‘event,’ just something simple that did the job and looked attractive,” he said. “I had a hard time finding anything so I thought if I’m having this problem, then other people must be having it as well.” One of his odd jobs was driving socialite and cabaret performer Edie Bouvier Beale from Newark to the Reno Sweeney in Greenwich Village. He also worked at Studio 54, a job he said

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A Tale of Two Projects

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When the Connecticut legislature passed a ban on most pesticides for athletic fields used by kindergarten through 8th-grade students in 2010, who knew (not an entirely rhetorical question) that a common alternative — even for towns less wealthy than Old Lyme — would be to construct playing surfaces out of countless tons of tires recycled into pelletized rubber? Before we agree to Milone & MacBroom’s May 2017 estimate of $990,000, or Milone & MacBroom’s December 2019 estimate of $2.3 million or Board of Finance Chair Andy Russell’s (presumably) more conservative number of “up to $4 million,” for an artificial turf

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Old Saybrook Police Commission Votes for 3.8% Budget Increase

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OLD SAYBROOK — The Police Commission voted on Monday to approve the chief of police’s recommendation of a $5,238,272 fiscal year 2020-21 operating budget for the Department of Police Services, a 3.8 percent increase over the previous year. For fiscal year 2019-20, the $5,046,205 police budget accounted for about 10.8 percent of Old Saybrook’s overall budget of $46,520,189, the most for any department in Old Saybrook’s municipal budget, excluding school spending. Police Chief Michael A. Spera said this year’s increase is driven by the contractual obligations of salaries, benefits, insurance, and other staffing costs. “The message that I have this

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Letter: Appraisal Estimates Don’t Add Up for Residential Owners in Sound View

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At the conclusion of the December WPCA meeting, Chairman Prendergast made the following statements recorded in WPCA minutes and CT Examiner:  His White Sands property and those of his neighbors had gone up 20 – 30% in the latest appraisal.  “Beach property values generally go up when the rest of the town goes down. When people install sewers, generally the property is worth more” he said.    I have had discussions with the town assessor and with other assessors in neighboring towns.  The professional consensus is that location, condition, and amenities drive price, and that buyers place no additional value

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12-and-Over Library Policy Raises Concern in Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK — At the Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook, all children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. “It’s been our policy since at least 2004, but it was not enforced,” said Amanda Bouwer, the library director. “We aren’t here to act instead of the parent, so we ask parents with those under 12 to come with them. We just want to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable.” The child safety policy was reviewed, discussed and reapproved by the library’s board of directors this past November as part of the board’s efforts to

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Developer Explains the Housing and Retail Market in East Lyme

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EAST LYME — “If you drew a big triangle down Route 2 to Groton, and back along I-95 almost to New Haven, there was nothing — no highly-amenitized, new-ish, multi-family communities. And, I think part of that is because the towns that make up most of that big triangle traditionally had not encouraged nor allowed multi-family development of any size,” said Newton Brainard, a Lyme resident, and vice president of Simon Konover Company, in a telephone interview with CT Examiner on January 15.  With 280 new apartments at The Sound at Gateway Commons fully-occupied, and an additional 120 “luxury” apartments

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Vaccine for Lyme Disease Shows Promise Treating Mice in Redding Backyards

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The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is one step closer to a reducing the risk of contracting Lyme disease, by targeting the bacteria in its most common carrier, the white-footed mouse. “Ticks can take the pathogen from the mice, if we are able to neutralize the pathogen in mice then it can’t be given to the ticks and then us,” said Scott Williams, an agricultural scientist at the experiment station and co-author of the study. For the study, scientists took a previously successful oral vaccine and used it to treat food for mice in the backyards of homeowners in Redding, Connecticut.

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Towns to Complete Local and Regional Planning for Natural Disasters

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In 2000, Congress passed the Disaster Mitigation Act to break cycles of destruction and rebuilding caused by natural disasters, the law required local government to plan for possible damage and mitigation long before it actually happens. Hazard mitigation, senior project manager Scott Choquette of Dewberry Engineers told a gathering of Old Lyme commission heads and emergency services professionals at a Wednesday meeting in Town Hall, could include “any action that you take to reduce or mitigate the impacts of disasters over the long term.” That includes structural updates like elevating buildings near to the coastline, adding culverts, repairing bridges or

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A Pesticide Ban, New Revenues, Among Issues Highlighted at Environmental Summit in Hartford

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With the legislative session just three weeks away, advocates, legislators and business owners filled Mather Hall at Trinity College on Wednesday for the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters 2020 Environmental Summit to settle on an environmental agenda for the February 5 start of session. “We got all the advocates and lawmakers in one room where everybody can hear the same thing about what we know the main drivers are going to be for environment and energy legislation this year,” said Lori Brown, executive director of the League. “It’s the whole environmental community in one room.” From a bottle bill to

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Regional Planners Seek $850,000 to Map Muncipal Boundaries in Connecticut

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Officials from Connecticut’s Regional Councils of Government are seeking a state grant of $850,000 to create a statewide municipal boundary dataset that they say would help reduce costs for towns, inform emergency services, enable environmental and economic development studies, and open the door to more cost savings for maintaining mapping data. According Sam Gold, chair of the Connecticut Association of Councils of Government, the project is an effort to address discrepancies of as much as a quarter mile between digital maps used by neighboring towns to locate municipal boundaries “We’re in the 21st century, and we don’t know where the

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Old Lyme WPCA Hires Consultant, Debates Sewer Funding and Tests

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OLD LYME — The Water Pollution Control Authority made incremental progress Tuesday night, approving a contract to hire a benefit assessment consultant, discussing a potential agreement with the three private beach communities, as well as considering an independent expert to evaluate water testing at Hawk’s Nest.  WPCA Chair Richard Prendergast said that hiring a assessement consultant will help define variables in the town’s Sound View Beach neighborhood which is slated for sewer installation, but has a wide range of commercial and residential properties. In a referendum on August 13, town voters approved a $9.5 million sewer construction bond for Sound

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Old Saybrook Board of Education to Phase-in Universal Pre-School

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OLD SAYBROOK — The Board of Education voted unanimously to authorize the superintendent to proceed with a phased-in approach to adding universal preschool for 4-year-olds in the Old Saybrook. “We move very deliberately in this district,” said Jan Perruccio, superintendent of Old Saybrook schools. “It is a safe way to pilot this that allows us to expand this without stretching it so far that it runs the risk of failing.” The phase-in will begin next school year, reducing preschool tuition from $4,300 to $3,450  for non-special education students, and increasing non-special education enrollment of 4-year-olds from 35 to 45 students.

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Plans to Add 15 Mosquito Testing Sites for EEE Uncertain With Connecticut Budget Crunch

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After four diagnosed cases — and three deaths — of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in southeastern Connecticut in 2019, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is requesting an additional $150,000 from the state to add 15 new mosquito testing locations. “We would like to add 15 additional sites in the east where we didn’t have a presence this year because we hadn’t seen EEE there before,” said Theodore Andreadis, the director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “We are hoping that the funding will be put directly in the budget because otherwise we need to go to legislators to advocate for it.

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Old Lyme Zoning Commission Tables Setback Rules, Proposes Study

OLD LYME — The Zoning Commission voted Monday night to table a controversial proposed amendment to the Tidal Waters Protection regulation the would have doubled the current 50-foot setback to 100 feet for new construction along the town’s coastal and riverfront properties.  Jane Marsh, secretary of the commission, who introduced the amendment on September 9, recommended that the town consider first commissioning a coastal resilience study similar to Old Saybrook’s 2018 Coastal Resilience & Adaptation Study.  “Probably what we should do is have a study for ourselves to identify … the areas that will be highly affected so when we

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82-Year-Old Old Lyme Resident Faces Loss of Home as Local Officials Consider Response to Flooding

OLD LYME — For more than a year David Berggren’s house has been sinking, and Black Hall Pond has been steadily rising due to beaver activity downstream, flooding his lawn, and dock, causing his plumbing to fail and mold to grow, and shifting the foundation underneath his home on Boughton Road. “I’ve known about Mr. Berggren’s problems for a long time,” said Todd Machnik, who served as chair of the Flood and Erosion Board for the town of Old Lyme for 25 years before retiring on January 1. “I talked to Bonnie [Reemsnyder] when she was around and I went

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In Draft Budget with 4.26 percent Increase, Superintendent Emphasizes Technology, Staffing

EAST LYME — Superintendent Jeffrey Newton proposed a $51.3 million operating budget for fiscal year 2020-21 to the Board of Education on Monday night, which would be a 4.26 percent increase over East Lyme Public Schools’ budget for 2019-20. Newton also proposed that the school board request $926,500 to be included in the town’s capital planning to purchase technology for the schools, explaining that an emphasis on technology is critical for preparing students for college and careers in a digital economy. “The story of this year’s budget is a lot around technology,” he told the school board, “and making sure

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The New and the Old of It

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If you read the newspapers in America in 1780 or so – just as the modern familiar incarnation of the Christmas holiday is taking shape – you might be surprised to find that already critics and observers are fretting the loss of the true meaning, the spirit, of Christmas, much as they do today – because loss is not a defect or corruption of the winter holiday, but instead has always been a defining feature of modern Christmas feeling and expression. And it is much the same, the historian Peter Fritzsche explained, with New England. “It is New England and

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Tim Griswold Sketches Out a Two-year Agenda for Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — After an eight-year hiatus, First Selectman Tim Griswold looked comfortable sitting at his desk in Town Hall on Friday afternoon.  “I would say there’s a lot on the plate and I would say we want to maintain the good quality of the schools. I think part of the message I got from the election is people like the rural character of the town. We want to move ahead, but not go ahead aggressively… keep it kind of the way it is,” said Griswold. Griswold, a Republican, served as First Selectman from 1997 to 2011 when he lost

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Tourism District Leaders Share Plans to Include Small Towns, Maximize Limited Funds

As the Eastern Regional Tourism District moves toward resolving a breach of contract dispute with the state regarding funding, the district will next need to determine what actually to do with the $400,000 or more that it will receive from the state government for marketing campaigns. “If we’re not effectively putting a positive effect on everybody’s bottom line in the region then we’re not doing our job,” said Chris Regan, who represents Stonington on the district board. “We have to look at how we can maximize that $400,000 to help everybody in our region, and that will help the state

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Borden Bankruptcy Stirs Memories of Old Lyme’s Elsie the Cow

OLD LYME — “My father had a cow that he had actually purchased off the island of Jersey, off the coast of France, and brought it back here. He was a little [smitten] because of how beautiful she was and her face just called to him,” said Old Lyme resident Jane Marsh of her father, Edward Marsh, a lawyer and prominent state legislator, and who raised dairy cows on the family’s farm in Old Lyme. In 1964, that face won the title of Elsie the Cow, the longtime mascot for the Borden Dairy Company, and represented the company for two

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Regional Complexity, Declining Enrollments, Weigh on Region 4 Budget Talks

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Declining student enrollment, shared staff and shortfalls in Regional School District 4’s reserves are expected to be significant topics of discussion as school boards of Chester, Essex, and Deep River craft five interconnected budgets for fiscal year 2020-21.  The district is anticipating a dramatic 5.2 percent drop in student enrollment heading into next year — but that doesn’t necessarily mean the district will be able to save costs as a result — Superintendent Brian White told the Supervision District Committee at a Wednesday night budget workshop. As of October 1, 2019, the district had 1,610 students enrolled in kindergarten through

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Lyme Academy Approaches Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Regarding Possible Land Purchase

LYME-OLD LYME — The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts approached the Lyme-Old Lyme school district concerning the possibility of selling a portion of abutting property just north of the main high school and middle school campus. “I will review the proposal and look for input from the board as to how you would like to proceed. This does not require board action,” said Ian Neviaser, superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme schools, at Wednesday evening’s board of education meeting. The board will await a report back from Neviaser after more details about the possible purchase are available. The land is part of

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Old Lyme Economic Development Commission Voices Disappointment with CERC Analysis

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OLD LYME — At its Wednesday night meeting, members of the Economic Development Commission voiced disappointment in the analytical report drafted by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center of last summer’s town-wide survey and requested a more in-depth and organized summary of the data. “What we have so far is what anybody could do, but what we hired CERC and the PhDs to do is to connect the data. What I see here I could have done on my own,” complained Commission Co-Chair Justin Fuller.. “When we look at the executive summary of the survey, my feeling is CERC has it

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Region 4 Debates Equity, Funding, for AP and IB Testing

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Out of a budget of about $20 million, the Region 4 Board of Education spends 0.2 percent, or $36,000, to subsidize half the cost of Advanced Placement exams, or $47 per test for every student. At Tuesday night’s board of education meeting that funding was called into question. “We bring this up because most schools do not pay for the actual fee for the testing, the idea was to get in line with other schools,” explained Jane Cavanaugh, vice chair of the Region 4 Board of Education. Across Connecticut such subsidies for AP exams on the district level are uncommon.

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Region 4 Board of Education Seeks Fresh Start with New Year

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ESSEX-DEEP RIVER-CHESTER — Hope for a fresh start was evident at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Region 4 Board of Education, after months of tense meetings and board turmoil, beginning with the announcement of an interim business manager, Richard Hewitt, replacing Kimberly Allen, who resigned from the post in November. “Mr. Richard Hewitt will support us through our day to day operations and budget season. Meanwhile, we are going to be talking more about what a process should look like for hiring the next business manager, or what that position should even look like. Is it a business manager role

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Code Variance Brings $268,000 in Savings for East Lyme Public Safety Building Project

EAST LYME — The State Building Inspector granted a code variance for the planned public safety complex, allowing the town to forego about $268,000 of structural reinforcements usually required for police buildings, officials said at a Tuesday night meeting. “It was nice to receive that,” said Selectman Paul Dagle at the Tuesday night meeting of the Public Safety Building Vision Committee, which he chairs. East Lyme voters approved spending $5 million to purchase and renovate the former Honeywell office building at 277 West Main Street as a public safety complex that would host the town’s police, fire marshall, and other

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State Sen. Heather Somers to Sponsor Bills Targeted at Drug Costs, Insurance, Mental Health and more…

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MYSTIC — When CT Examiner caught up with State Senator Heather Somers (R-18th) on Monday morning, she arrived with a long list of bills she’s getting ready to submit, and in some cases resubmit, during the upcoming legislative session. With measured optimism, Somers said it takes persistence to get a bill made into law. “I call it continuous bill commitment,” she said of several bills that have made progress each year. Drug rebates, health insurance Somers’ first bill is aimed at reducing drug costs for consumers by taking aim at drug rebates — negotiated for insurance companies by pharmacy benefit

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State Rep. Christine Palm to Sponsor Bills on Climate Change Education and Offshore Surveys

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“Last year I introduced 11 bills, three had a public hearing and two passed one chamber,” said freshman State Representative Christine Palm (D-36th). Heading into her second legislative session, Palm said her intention was to focus on passing those two bills — one mandating the inclusion of climate change in the public school science curriculum and the other prohibiting seismic surveying in Long Island Sound. Teaching climate change Palm’s first bill would require that all public school districts in Connecticut include the topic of climate change in the science curriculum, something that is currently recommended as part of the Next

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Wetlands Approval Poses Dilemma for Chester Housing Developer

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CHESTER — At its meeting on Monday, the Inland Wetlands Commission said the developer of Falcon Crest, a proposed 55-and-older residential complex at 88 Winthrop Road, will need to obtain a subdivision permit from the town before the commission will proceed with its recommendation on the project. If the town grants the subdivision permit, then developer Joseph Mingolello, principal of Connecticut Concrete Solutions LLC of Higganum, will be required to come before the Inland Wetlands Commission for approval of each of the project’s five lots proposed for the 34-acre triangular-shaped parcel bordered by Winthrop Road/Route 145, Butter Jones Road and

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