Economic Development Commission Looks to Improve Approval Process in Chester

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CHESTER — The Economic Development Commission is pursuing the formation of a “New Applications Group” that would provide businesses and developers with a pre-application process for vetting ideas and plans prior to submitting a formal application.  “It is a best practice among communities that do economic development well,” said Patricia Bandzes, EDC member. “In Portland [CT], they call it the ‘development team’ and their motto is ‘don’t spend a dollar until you come see us first.’” The idea has been discussed at April, May and August meetings of the EDC, but has not yet gained traction with town officials and

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East Lyme Officials Approve Outlines for One-Floor Public Safety Building

EAST LYME — Town officials on Tuesday night approved a schematic design for renovation of the former Honeywell Office building into a police and public safety complex. The architects will next prepare a detailed design to take out for bids in the next few months. The schematic designs from Silver / Petrucelli + Associates divided costs into four sections — a basic plan and three supplemental additions that might not be included in the final plan. The base schematic design is estimated to cost about $1.7 million, funds already approved for the renovation. Selectman Paul Dagle, who chairs the committee

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Editorial: Local Oversight and Regional Budgets

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It’s simply unimaginable as part of the budget, anywhere in Connecticut, that a town employee could propose a $2.5 million project, with significant, ongoing and uncertain maintenance costs, as well as ten year replacement costs, and expect to plan and approve the project without early and broad public engagement, and without the promise of a townwide vote. Whether or not a synthetic turf field is a good or bad idea for Lyme-Old Lyme schools, we’ll set aside for a moment. But let’s be clear — a good idea or not — everything about the decision-making process so far gives the

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At Over $50,000, Old Lyme Spending Higher than Comparable Towns for Election

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OLD LYME — Democrats and Republicans together spent more than $50,000 on mailers, digital advertising, consultants, and other campaign expenses leading up to the November 5 election in Old Lyme. That sum is significantly more than comparable elections for several larger towns across the southeast Connecticut. Old Lyme also had the highest turnout for any town in the state, at about 56 percent. According to campaign finance statements filed by each of the parties at the end of October, the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee spent more than $26,500 and the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee spent just over $25,000.

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Plans for Synthetic Turf Field Raise Questions, Emotions, at Lyme-Old Lyme Meeting

There were more questions than answers at Monday night’s meeting of an ad hoc Board of Education athletics committee on the proposed construction of a synthetic turf field behind the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School and High School. Questions raised at the meeting include the choice of infill, the challenges that face the current athletic department, the use of the field for competitive games which would require lighting. A stadium and scoreboard were also discussed. Most pointed were questions concerning public support and the financial sense of a new synthetic field. “Right now we are going to be spending a million

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Emotional Farewell for Reemsnyder as First Selectman of Old Lyme

OLD LYME — Bonnie Reemsnyder, former chair of the Connecticut Port Authority and its Finance Committee, responded “no comment” on Monday when asked whether she would attend and testify at an informational forum to be held by the state legislature’s Transportation Committee on December 4. “I don’t have any comment on that,” said Reemsnyder, a Democrat, after an emotional ending to four terms as first selectman of Old Lyme. On Saturday, Scott Bates, Deputy Secretary of the State and former chair of the authority, confirmed by email that he looked forward to “attending and sharing [his] perspective” at the December

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Barely Half of Connecticut Students Meet Minimum Standard of Physical Fitness

A one mile run. As many sit-ups, and push-ups, as you are able. Sit and reach for your toes. It’s the physical fitness test that students, from elementary through high school, have taken in some form for decades, not that Connecticut students are getting better at it. In 2018-19, in fact, just 52.9 percent of students statewide met or exceeded a minimum standard of physical fitness. Only one school district in southeastern Connecticut – Deep River – met the state’s target of 75 percent, with a score of 84.3 percent. Statewide just 12 other districts met the state standard. “That’s

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Bates Will Speak at Transportation Committee Hearing on Port Authority

Scott Bates, Deputy Secretary of the State and former chair of the Connecticut Port Authority, said he will attend and speak at the December 4 Transportation Committee’s second informational forum regarding the Connecticut Port Authority and concerns about the state audit on the authority’s accounts. In an email to CT Examiner Saturday, Bates said he responded to an invitation from the Transportation Committee on Friday. “Last evening I received an invitation to attend and provide testimony at the Transportation Committee informational forum on Dec 4th regarding the Connecticut Port Authority,” Bates wrote. “I have conveyed to the Co-Chairs that I

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No Gateway Approvals for “Living Shoreline” Project off Fenwick

OLD SAYBROOK — The living shoreline planned by the Connecticut River Conservancy and Lynde Point Land Trust for Fenwick will be the second public project of its kind, but three other living shoreline projects have been constructed successfully by private landowners since the 2012 legislation permitting them was passed.   “In 1980 a law was passed limiting the use of hard flood and erosion control structures, but in 2012 an exception was passed,” said Brian Thompson, director of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection land and water resources division. “A living shoreline is an example of that exception with structural

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Sunny Weather in Beach Season Brings Increase in Parks Revenue

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OLD SAYBROOK — Harvey’s Beach and mini golf games showed a hearty increase in gross income of 13 percent during the 2019 beach season compared to last year, which the town’s parks director said was likely due to consistently warm and sunny weather during summer weekends. “I think we had a really good summer. The weather always plays a major factor in what we’re doing in our summer facilities,” said Parks and Recreation Director Raymond Allen. “If you recall this summer every weekend was beautiful and that certainly is a factor. Our weekends tend to be more busy than during

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Developer Proposes 60-100 Condominium Project in Chester

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CHESTER — A developer presented preliminary plans for Falcon Crest — a substantial development for residents ages 55 and over, to the Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night. The project, which is in the conceptual stage, is designed for between 60 and 100 condominiums in buildings of 10 units each on a 34-acre triangular-shaped site located on Winthrop Road bordering Deep River’s town line and abutting part of Old Butter Jones Road. “We’ve done everything looking at 60 to 80 units … so eight buildings is more realistic but 10 is max,” attorney Joseph Rini, who represented Joseph Mingolello, principal

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Fenwick is Site of Second Living Shoreline Project in Connecticut

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Last winter, after years of increasing erosion exacerbated by sea level rise, Long Island Sound breached a protective sand dune offshore of Fenwick leaving a recently restored marsh behind it vulnerable. “There is concern that there is going to be more flooding, especially during large storm events,” said Juliana Barrett, an extension educator for the Connecticut Sea Grant project at the University of Connecticut who has been working in Fenwick for more than a decade. “The other thing is the sociological aspect of it. There is an informal walking path around the beaches of Fenwick. This is where you would

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New First Selectman Underscores Outdoor Recreation for Business in East Haddam

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EAST HADDAM — In a Tuesday morning interview one week after taking office, First Selectman Robert Smith said the town should strengthen and maintain its wealth of hiking trails and emphasize outdoor recreation as an economic driver for the town. “We really need to look at emphasizing and reaching out to companies that would want to work with our recreation potential here,” Smith said. “We have 70 miles of hiking trails in town between the Nature Conservancy, the land trust, the town, and of course the six state parks. We have six state parks here, and the western boundary is

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Finding a Turkey for the Thanksgiving Holiday

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IN THE REGION — Thanksgiving falls late this year, but turkey sales start early, and shops across southeast Connecticut are offering a variety of choices and price points for home cooks preparing for November 28. Walt’s Food Market in Old Saybrook is preparing for the holiday by making over 800 pounds of gravy, starting a full two weeks before Thanksgiving. “It’s nothing, but turkey, we don’t do any of that fake canned turkey gravy,” said Walt’s meat manager Dave Crosby. “We make our own stock from scratch, boil it down and make it that way all from turkey necks and

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Zoning Tables Setback Requirement, Approves Art Academy Lease

OLD LYME — The Zoning Commission unanimously tabled its controversial petition Tuesday that would have doubled the setback for new construction along riverfront and coastal properties from 50 to 100 feet, citing the need for more research on the rate and effects of sea level rise. At the same meeting, the commission unanimously approved Lyme Academy of Fine Arts’ request for permission to lease space for up to five years to the France Foundation, a medical education company. The lease would provide a stream of revenue to help the financially-ailing academy, that lost its accreditation after University of New Haven

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High Costs, Diverse Outcomes for Educational Special Needs in Connecticut

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Sarah Tyszka’s son is in sixth grade, but reads at a preschool level. He has dyslexia, a condition that typically requires one-on-one reading instruction to learn to read and write, according to the Dyslexia Society of Connecticut. Last year Tyszka’s son received one-on-one instruction, but this year his school does not have a teacher certified for that instruction. “He clearly needs intense intervention to be successful, yet they lie and say he’s getting small-group instruction, when in reality that means he sits at a table of four in a classroom of thirteen,” Tyszka said. “He’s not learning to read in

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Opinion: We Owe It To Public Health to Take Action on Vaping

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Late last month, I joined State Representative Jesse MacLachlan and prominent community leaders in Clinton for a panel discussion on vaping. I only wish we scheduled it sooner. In recent months, vaping and associated injuries and deaths have become a pressing issue. We must take it seriously and protect public health. As of November 1, more than three dozen vaping-related cases of lung disease and injury were reported to the state Department of Public Health, part of a national trend of more than 1,800 injuries and 37 deaths. Vaping experts are currently studying and searching for answers as to what’s

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Stonington’s Chesebrough Sets out an Ambitious Agenda for her First Term

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STONINGTON — “Working on the shorter-term plan with a longer-term vision mixed in,” was how Danielle Chesebrough — who will be sworn in as Stonington’s first selectman on November 19 — described her state of mind Friday morning. “Initially what I’m trying to do is meet with all the directors… all of my ‘direct reports.’ But, I also want to identify and meet with other people throughout the org chart,” she said in a phone conversation with CT Examiner. “I think it’s really important to meet with people at all different levels — they have all different vantage points.” She

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Attorneys Offer Timeline, But Few Answers on Region 4 Land Purchase

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DEEP RIVER — Residents and elected officials from Chester, Essex, and Deep River asked questions and offered criticism of the Board of Education for Region 4 schools, and its attorneys, at a special Monday night workshop devoted to a controversial 2017 land purchase for $380,000 that board members later discovered had not been budgeted. “You don’t have much of an answer to anything,” Charlie Barton, a Chester resident, told the board and their attorneys. “That’s one of the problems here. I want to know who said to go ahead with this. That should be forthcoming — either the regional superintendent, the

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Groton Officials Unveil Redevelopment Plans for Mystic Oral School Property

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GROTON — Town officials unveiled conceptual plans on Thursday for the 77-acre Mystic Education Center site that, if realized, would revitalize the long-fallow property into a village-style development with a variety of commercial, retail and co-working spaces, along with about 750 residential units. The property is the former state-run Mystic Oral School, once known as the Whipple School for the Deaf, at 240 Oral School Road. “There are a lot of moving pieces and it was everyone’s desire, including the developer, to come forward at the appropriate time and I think that time is now,” said Paige Bronk, the town’s

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Letter: Needleman Thanks Essex Volunteers and Voters

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We are honored that Essex voters have given me another opportunity to serve the town we all love. It is gratifying that so many of our fellow citizens exercised their right to choose the officials who will help sustain and improve the quality of life in Essex. Our names were on the ballot, but many other people helped make this election a success for us and for all of the candidates endorsed by the Essex Democratic Town Committee. To those who volunteered their time and resources, we am deeply grateful.  Your energy and commitment are essential to keeping our community

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Courtney Boosts Job Training to Old Saybrook Rotary

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OLD SAYBROOK — Congressman Joe Courtney said Wednesday that Electric Boat is expected to add jobs in the coming years but that schools and governments will need to support workforce training programs to ensure that there are enough workers with the technical skills. Courtney took questions and had lunch with the Rotary Club of Old Saybrook at Luigi’s Restaurant that afternoon. EB and the U.S. Navy are currently working on a contract — which Courtney said was worth roughly $20 billion — that would have the Groton-based manufacturer building at least nine Virginia-class submarines between fiscal years 2019 and 2023.

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Rob Brule Elected First Selectman of Waterford in Strong Showing by Republicans

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WATERFORD — Republican Selectman Rob Brule won the open race to be the town’s next first selectman on Tuesday by a definitive margin, and Republicans had a strong showing in all other races for town boards. Brule defeated Beth Sabilia, a Democratic member of the Representative Town Meeting and former New London mayor, 3,012 to 2,370, or roughly 56 percent to 44 percent. Brule will succeed First Selectman Daniel Steward, who did not seek re-election after serving 14 years as the town’s chief executive. For the Board of Finance race, all three Republican candidates will be seated: incumbent James M.

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Nickerson Re-elected, Democrats take Board of Finance in East Lyme

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EAST LYME — Republican First Selectman Mark Nickerson won a third full term as the town’s chief executive on Tuesday, but with a thinner margin of victory than in his previous two elections, while town Democrats took a majority on the Board of Finance and made gains on other boards.  The election was set against the backdrop of a partisan debate about plans for a new emergency safety services complex. “This was a very tough campaign, a very ugly election season,” Nickerson said in a victory speech at Flanders Fish Market. “A lot of ugliness, a lot of Washington-style politics,

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Republican Candidates Sweep Election in Stunning Outcome for Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — In a stunning outcome to a widely-watched race, Republican candidates swept every competitive race in Old Lyme, and returned Tim Griswold to office as First Selectman after an eight year hiatus, beating incumbent Democrat Bonnie Reemsnyder who had been on the board since 2003 and First Selectman since 2011. The town’s voter turnout was the highest in the state at about 56 percent. With 3223 votes cast, the turnout was also 453 votes higher than the 2,770 votes cast in 2017. Griswold ousted Reemsnyder in a margin of 1,774 to 1,403 votes, or 55.8 percent to 44

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Fitch Announces Upgraded Bond Rating for New London

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New London — Fitch Ratings upgraded New London’s bond rating from A+ to AA- on Friday and announced the city’s rating outlook has been revised from positive to stable. Fitch, along with Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, is one of the major credit rating agencies known as the “big three.” Fitch assigns long-term credit ratings on an alphabetic scale beginning with AAA as the highest and scaling to D as the lowest, with =/- modifiers in between. According to Fitch Ratings’ report, the one-notch rating upgrade for the city’s Issuer Default Rating (IDR) and general obligation (GO) bonds “is driven

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Engineers Map Right of Way for Sidewalk Installation at Hartford Avenue

OLD LYME — Members of the Community Connectivity Grant Committee met with engineers and several residents Monday morning to do a site walk along the northern part of Hartford Avenue and a portion Route 156 where sidewalks will be installed next year . The project will be largely funded by a $400,000 connectivity grant sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. “We are at the very early stages of the design process. Today is a great opportunity to walk with the committee and folks that live in the area on the street and really for us to listen to your

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Letter: Mounting Legal Fees, Blurred Lines in Region 4 Schools

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This Monday, November 4, at 6 p.m. in the John Winthrop Middle School library in Deep River, three lawyers from a Hartford law firm will explain the nuances of the property purchase next to the high school over 2 years ago. Hopefully they will explain why they charged fifteen thousand dollars to close a three-hundred-fifty-thousand-dollar cash deal — with no bank work. Since the closing — again over 2 years ago — we have spent at least another fourteen thousand plus on this same purchase and same firm to clean up title problems, and fight with Deep River over the

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Letter: Holding the Elected Accountable in East Lyme

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I would like to publicly thank both Mary Biekert of The Day and Chris McDermott of the CT Examiner for their accurate reporting on East Lyme. I also have great appreciation for Lisa Picarazzi for her courage to share her personal experience as Vice Chairperson of the BoF and a Finance member on the PSB Vision Committee in the CT Examiner.  Accurate information allows the rest of us to determine and comment on implications and consequences based in both past events and emerging facts. By definition, “politics” is what determines the quality of our day-to-day lives. As citizens, many of

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Letter: Tinnerello Makes Case for Zoning Seat in Old Lyme, Emphasizes Balance, Transparency

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As a resident and realtor in Old Lyme I have decided to run for Zoning Commission. As a realtor, I understand the balancing act between the town’s interests and private property rights. Old Lyme characteristics make us long-time environmentalists — water, beaches, wetlands, woods. Zoning should honor these unique assets without stifling planned growth and development. I am a results-oriented problem solver who can manage complex issues. I have experience with managing many stakeholder viewpoints which often require compromise. I intend to make thoughtful decisions while always keeping an eye on the long-term effects they have on our town’s character

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