Letter: East Lyme’s Public Safety Building Undertaking is a Needed and Positive Endeavor

The citizens of East Lyme have heard and read many thoughts and opinions concerning efforts to provide our Police Department, Dispatch, Fire Marshal and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) a professional and efficient co-located work space.  Some of these thoughts and opinions have been more destructive than constructive.  The official task of the East Lyme Public Safety Building Vision Committee is to select an architectural firm and work with that firm to design the needed work space within the $5M budget the tax payers approved.  The Vision Committee has been collaboratively working to accomplish this goal and plans to continue to

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Editorial: 5 Questions, a Possible Criminal Referral, 220k in “Contributions from Developers”

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In case you didn’t know, an audit of the Connecticut Port Authority for fiscal years ending in 2018 and 2019 was released on October 31 — a Thursday. The timing was not a surprise – give or take a day – after State Comptroller Kevin Lembo (who has come across pretty darn well in this whole mess) gave the CPA just three days – until Friday, November 1 — to explain why the authority had failed to release accurate financials to his office.  The “incomplete” accounting of expenditures  – among other failings – were acknowledged in an October 18 letter

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Letter: Missing Building Inspection Raises Questions in East Lyme

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Time for me to step out.  I had hoped The Day would do the right thing in East Lyme’s First Selectman race and give the nod to Camille Alberti.  But their endorsement, albeit very weak, went to Mark Nickerson, “despite his missteps.”  Incumbents really do have the advantage, regardless of performance, don’t they? My name is Lisa Picarazzi and I am the vice chair of the Board of Finance (BOF) and a member of the Public Safety Building Vision Committee (PSB).  I was appointed to this committee to ensure YOUR tax dollars are not mismanaged.  Sorry to tell you all,

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Letter: How the Politics of Sewers Impacts One Old Lyme Family

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Originally the scope of the sewer project in Old Lyme — as determined by the Old Lyme Water Pollution Control Authority and DEEP — included the public beaches of Sound View, White Sands Beach and Hawks Nest. The private beaches were already marching forward.  At the October 2014 meeting of the Old Lyme WPCA, as a result of a motion raised by Mr. Prendergast, White Sands was removed from the project, citing cost. Area B (near the railroad tracks) was subsequently added. The estimated cost to sewer the three Sound View public streets – Portland Ave, Hartford Ave and Swan Ave

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Letter: Private-Public Partnerships Offer Opportunities for East Lyme

While many of us have all heard of mixed-use development for commercial and residential properties, most have not learned of private-public partnerships for mixed-use development. This could be very valuable in times of fiscal challenges which include uncertainty in state municipal funding, rising costs of facility construction, renovation and acquisition. This concept entails initiation of collaborations or agreements between municipal governments and private enterprises which allows private property to remain on the tax rolls while providing utilization of these spaces by local governments either through lease/rental contracts or service provision. Additionally, financing and operation of municipal projects may also be applicable under

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Letter: Who Will Run Old Lyme?

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I attended the debate between Bonnie Reemsnyder and Tim Griswold. One issue stood out. Our current Selectwoman continually explores solutions to our problems by going to outside sources. She is content to have East Lyme, New London, New Haven, and Hartford address our problems and manage our community. Tim Griswold believes in the people of our town. Your friends and your neighbors. Tim acknowledges our town is unique, and we the people of Old Lyme are well equipped to solve our problems. Policing, affordable housing, and Halls Road are all examples of outsiders being courted to change Old Lyme versus

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Letter: Griswold Offers Measured Leadership to Challenges Facing Old Lyme

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There are many reason to support Tim Griswold for first selectman of Old Lyme, but here are three issues that I believe we should carefully consider before voting in the November 5 election. Halls Road For 5 years, the current administration has outsourced Halls Road improvements to an ad-hoc “Halls Road Improvement Committee” with no results except for a cost of $40,000 paid to the Yale School of Urban Design (YSUD).  Alan Plattus, of the YSUD, stated in a public meeting that: “Halls Road is Broken.” I think that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Halls Road, specifically the Old

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Letter: Judge Politicians by Actions not Words

The proverb “talk is cheap” is more than 150 year old. It should be familiar to we New Englanders. The expression can be found in a 1843 fiction entitled Attache, written by T. C. Halliburton, whose Yankee character Sam Slick encouraged a minister to “[t]alk to these friends of ourn, they might think you considerable starch if you don’t talk, and talk is cheap.” These days, not only is political talk cheap but it is also unreliable, perhaps more unreliable than at any other time in American history. Increasingly you are better off ignoring what a politician says and just

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Letter: Griswold Makes Case for Old Lyme First Selectman

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After serving 14 years as Old Lyme’s First Selectman through 2011, I am running again to lead the town.  At our Republican caucus in July, we had excellent candidates for all open positions, save that of First Selectman.  Within days, news broke that our current First Selectwoman, who was the long-standing chair of the finance committee and then chairwoman of the board of the Connecticut Port Authority, was involved with serious problems there.  I felt compelled to run for First Selectman to challenge my opponent’s ethically-challenged leadership.  I undertook a petition drive and gathered twice the amount of signatures required.

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Editorial: On Denying Old Lyme Residents a Meeting by Petition

I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of a town in Connecticut denying residents the right to petition for a special meeting. In Old Lyme, at least, it’s not often that this quaint provision of small-town New England democracy is ever even attempted. I can’t cite a case when it’s been abused. To be sure, Connecticut General Statutes set a notably low legal bar – the petition of “twenty inhabitants qualified to vote in town meetings” – to hold the selectman duty-bound to honor the request. So, it demands some legal explanation, when sixty-one residents of Old Lyme petition the

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Letter: A Conversation That Needs To Occur

I attended the debate Wednesday evening between Bonnie Reemsnyder and Tim Griswold. In listening carefully, one issue stood out like a sore thumb: Our First Selectwoman repeatedly claimed that recent actions taken by the Town were only conversations based on input from her constituents – the people of Old Lyme. She addressed the questions on Affordable Housing, the Halls Road Improvement Plan, and amalgamating the Old Lyme Police with the East Lyme Police Department in this manner. She kept saying: These were conversations that needed to occur. If you attended the debate or see it televised later and are not

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Letter: Establish Priorities and Pursue those with Vigor, says Selectman Chris Kerr

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We have spent a lot of time in Old Lyme discussing many big, important and impacting initiatives:  Large plans for Halls Road privately-owned businesses, apartments at I-95 and Route 156 intersection, sewers at Soundview, and merging police with East Lyme, among other issues.  I am asking for your vote November 5th to bring back honest discussion at the start of town initiatives. I strongly support: Halls Road improvements that can get done soon:  sidewalks, crosswalks, planted traffic islands, improved sign guidelines and accommodating zoning.  I do NOT believe the government should act as a master developer of land they do

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Editorial: A Lesson On Quasi-Publics and Tolling

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By any measure I should be an easy ‘get’ for the Lamont administration on transportation. Months ago I actually penned an opinion piece for CT Mirror advocating for the new administration’s signature transportation project to speed travel times to 30 minutes by rail between paired cities: Hartford and New Haven, New Haven and Stamford, Stamford and New York City. As opposition blossomed across Connecticut to the governor’s support for tolling, I sat on the fence — attracted by the idea of capturing out-of-state dollars, but wary of overhead, accountability and what could be construed as a near perfect clawback of

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Editorial: A News Roundup and 5 Questions on Doubling the Shoreline Setback in Old Lyme

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At September 9 meeting of the Town of Old Lyme Zoning Commission, board members introduced a text amendment – what board secretary Jane Marsh described as a “new philosophy” – to address “a trend of the coastline advancing on our town.” This amendment would do two things: Increase the setback for new construction to 100 feet, doubling the current setback of 50 feet. Prohibit the Zoning Board of Appeals from granting a variance. “Because that’s what the Zoning Board of Appeals is — it’s an individual, case-by-case basis. That might sound good but it results in a patchwork of outcomes,”

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On Party Politics and Ground Rules for CT Examiner’s Political Coverage

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On Monday, October 14, CT Examiner will roll out its local campaign coverage for the region beginning with the race for First Selectman of Essex. Reporters Cate Hewitt, Julia Werth and Christopher McDermott have spoken to dozens of Democratic and Republican candidates in competitive races across the region from Stonington to Essex. That’s night and day from Old Lyme, where — with notable exceptions of Jim Lampos and Jane Cable who sat for interviews — every other Democratic candidate we asked declined to be interviewed (most frankly didn’t respond at all) that includes Sarah W. Bowman, Jason L. Kemp, and

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A Call For Connecticut Port Authority Hearings

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If you believe in the ability of government to accomplish great good – think Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — then it’s incumbent on you, when you see government misbehaving, to hold it accountable. To say that accountability has been lacking in the case of the Connecticut Port Authority is an understatement. If you think you know why the quasi-public agency, with oversight over millions of dollars of public money, all but dissolved this past summer, you are mistaken. Even David Kooris, the current acting chair of the port authority, by his own account has never once met with the

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Letter: Focus on Region 4 Superintendent “misplaced and distracting.”

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To the Editor: Singling out newly-hired Superintendent Brian White as the focal point for your editorial about Region 4’s finances is misplaced and distracting. (“Hard look at Region 4” September 29. 2019.)   Mr. White became superintendent of Region 4 Schools in July 2019 (only three months ago) when Dr. Ruth Levy retired after 11 years in office with two years remaining under her current contract. By the time of his arrival, the district had also changed facilities directors, business managers and many board members from those involved in the Mislick property purchase and decisions about capital accounting. So it

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Editorial: A Hard look at Region 4 — Essex, Chester and Deep River

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Perhaps you don’t live in Essex, Chester, or Deep River and have decided to skip over Julia Werth’s remarkably damning news story detailing years of failure to follow state law and to exercise adequate financial oversight, both by the superintendent and the school board. Well don’t. If ever there was a learning moment… it would be a forensic analysis of how the Region 4 school district managed to spend more than $379,000 on a piece of property, without a public vote as required by law and without having money set aside to pay for it. We’ll have more on that

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45-Day Window for Connecticut Port Authority Hearings

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It’s remarkable that former board chairs Scott Bates and Bonnie Reemsnyder have so far not answered a single substantive question from either the press or state legislators about their leadership roles in either the pending wind energy deal with Eversource and Ørsted, or in the near dissolution of the Connecticut Port Authority. The same can be said for Executive Director Evan Matthews, who for all we know may still be be drawing a salary from the state of Connecticut. In that regard, I’d like to join State Sen. Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) and State Rep. Christine Conley (D-Groton) in calling for

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Reporter Christopher McDermott Joins the Staff at CT Examiner

We are very excited to announce the hire of Christopher McDermott as staff reporter at CT Examiner. Chris joins senior reporter Cate Hewitt and staff reporter Julia Werth. His hiring marks a deepening commitment by CT Examiner to covering the towns of Essex, Deep River, Old Saybrook, and East Lyme, and an added emphasis on capturing more voices from the business community. Chris comes to the Examiner after writing for Manchester’s Journal Inquirer and for the weekly Berkshire Record in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He also worked as news editor for the Daily Campus while completing a degree in English at

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Editorial: Sexual Misconduct, and Taking Responsibility for our Schools

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Young people are the pivot around which everything turns. In southeast Connecticut, education budgets dwarf the size of most other town expenses. Old Lyme will spend about $27.5 million of the $38.9 million FY 2019/20 budget on education. Hand me a hot button issue – whether it’s 8-30g affordable housing or the balance of revenues between property taxes and income taxes – and I’ll show you most likely that a good bit of it comes down to how and where we raise our children. Quality schools are a major driver of property values, which attract the young, but also provide

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Letter: Comments on Zoning Change Not From DEEP

To the Editor: The CT Examiner article published on September 10, 2019, entitled “Old Lyme Zoning Commission Proposes Limits on Waterfront Building” referenced a letter written to Jane Cable, Chairman, Old Lyme Zoning Commission from Karen Michaels, DEEP Environmental Analyst, Land and Water Resources Division.  The article referenced a comment from Ms. Michaels’s letter saying that the “DEEP would like to take this opportunity to applaud the Zoning Commission on this initial revision of Section 4.3 to increase protection of critical coastal resource management areas within the community and addressing the impacts of future sea level rise to people and

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Letter: Wind Energy News is Lipstick on a Pig

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To the Editor: RE “Ørsted and Eversource Pitch “Non-zero-sum Game” for Agreement with Port Authority” (Sept. 12, 2019): This is quite simply just a politically driven charade the cost of which, assuming it ever gets permitted, will all fall on the backs of the ratepayers. Just ask the Danes who now pay the highest electric rates in Europe even with their wind farms being able to depend on cheap hydro from Norway and Sweden for backup power, or the Germans who have had to import more coal to keep their baseload plants going which has actually INCREASED carbon emissions. Where

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Editorial: On “Churnalism” and Town Public Relations

On September 4, like many local residents, I opened a news story on a local media outlet, only to receive the same news story the next day in an email from the Town of Old Lyme. It’s not clear whether the story was written by town staff and forwarded in advance to the media outlet, or whether the media outlet wrote the story and it was later forwarded to residents by the Town of Old Lyme. Both stories are word-for-word the same, and neither are attributed, so it’s a bit of a chicken and an egg. On the one hand,

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Notes From the Editor

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I am very excited to announce that on Friday we hired a third reporter with an immediate goal of increasing our coverage of Essex, Old Saybrook and East Lyme. He starts work for us on September 16. That follows a strong launch on May 20, stronger than anticipated growth over the last three months. Perhaps nowhere was that early success more apparent than on the editorial page of the The Day on Friday, where pointed criticism of the paper in an editorial earlier that morning sparked an unexpected change of course on the port authority issue. One more thing. We

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Editorial: Deeply Wrong at The Day

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Let’s just say that it is an open secret that something is deeply wrong at The Day, from its wildly gyrating attitude toward the port authority story, to its sometimes snarling headlines, to its willful disregard for context at the expense of the truth. This is not a case of the blind leading the blind, it’s worse—the newspaper of record in southeast Connecticut eyes-wide-open walking off a cliff. “Gov. Lamont spits on New London” is perhaps the most egregious example of a headline by the paper’s much-read “news columnist,” David Collins. We’re not exactly sure what rules govern a news

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Editorial: Unresolved Questions and Today’s Port Authority Hearings

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Twelve weeks ago, someone filed a whistle-blower complaint alleging some sort of misdoings regarding Connecticut Port Authority finances. At the time, Scott Bates was board chair of the Connecticut Port Authority. Bonnie Reemsnyder was finance committee chair. Evan Matthews was executive director. Gerri Lewis was office manager and ethics compliance officer. All have since departed. First, Bates stepped down as chair. He was replaced by Reemsnyder. Gerri Lewis was fired by Matthews. Matthews was then placed on leave. Then Reemsnyder resigned, and finally Bates. It’s frankly damning that twelve weeks later no one has been able to provide a half-plausible

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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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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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