March 31, 2015

Old Lyme Historic District Commission Announces Applications to be Considered April 6

Dr. John E. Pfeiffer, Chairman of the Old Lyme Historic District Commission has issued the following announcement:

“Notice is hereby given that the Old Lyme Historic District Commission will hold Public Hearings on Monday, April 6, 2015 beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the upstairs conference room at the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall, 52 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT. The HDC will hear and act on the following Certificates of Appropriateness applications:

    • 5 Lyme Street – First Congregational Church of Old Lyme: 1,000 gallon propane tank, and fence.
    • 31 Lyme Street – Hinckley: house addition
    • 90 Lyme Street – Lyme Art Association: banner

The public is invited to attend and express its views. Letters may be sent to the Historic District Commission, 52 Lyme Street, Old Lyme CT 06371.

Relevant supporting material will be available at the April 6 Public Hearing.


Lynn Fairfield-Sonn Named Old Lyme’s 2014 Citizen of the Year

Old Lyme's 2014 Citizen of the Year Lynn Fairfield-Sonn stands with Selectman Arthur "Skip" Sibley at yesterday's Town Meeting immediately after the award was announced. All photos by Nigel Logan.

Old Lyme’s 2014 Citizen of the Year Lynn Fairfield-Sonn stands with Selectman Arthur “Skip” Sibley at yesterday’s Town Meeting immediately after the award was announced. All photos by Nigel Logan.

Despite bitterly cold temperatures last night, more than 75 people packed into Old Lyme’s Meeting Room at the Town Hall to hear who would be named the 2014 Citizen of the Year. The Board of Selectmen always keeps the name of the recipient a closely-guarded secret until the announcement is made, but this year that practice was made especially challenging with the cancellation of the first two scheduled dates for the meeting due to the weather.

After all the postponements, the time finally came at yesterday’s Annual Town Meeting to make the eagerly anticipated announcement. There were loud cheers and clapping when First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder announced the name of community leader and perennial volunteer Lynn-Fairfield-Sonn.

The moment of truth -- a thrilled Lynn Fairfield-Sonn shows her surprise  at the announcement while husband Jim Fairfield-Sonn (right - who was in on the secret) leaps to his feet in delight.

The moment of truth — a thrilled Lynn Fairfield-Sonn shows her surprise at the announcement while her husband Jim Fairfield-Sonn (right – who was in on the secret) leaps to his feet in delight.

Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal then read from the citation detailing the rationale behind the award saying Fairfield-Sonn’s, “volunteer commitments are testament to her steadfast loyalty and dedication,” and that, “Through her efforts both locally and regionally, our 2014 Citizen of the Year has demonstrated those values time and time again.”

A view of the Meeting Room.

Former Citizens of the Year gather at the front of the Meeting Room to congratulate Lynn Fairfield-Sonn.

Quoting from the citation, Nosal continued, “Jim and Lynn Fairfield-Sonn searched for over a year before moving to Old Lyme in 1984. They chose their Lyme Street location so that the children they would raise here — Anne, Jimmy, and John — could walk to school and get involved.”

Nosal then stated the root cause of why Fairfield-Sonn was so deserving of the award, “Lynn wasted no time getting involved herself.”

Former Old Lyme Citizens of the Year assemble for a group photo.  From left to right, Lynn Fairfield-Sonn (2014), Peter Cable (2013), (2011), George James (2010) and Bob Pearson (2012)

Former Old Lyme Citizens of the Year assemble for a group photo. From left to right, Lynn Fairfield-Sonn (2014), Peter Cable (2013), Jeff Sturges (2011), George James (2010) and Bob Pearson (2012)

Going on to list Fairfield-Sonn’s numerous volunteer commitments, Nosal detailed, “She has served as president of the Junior League of Greater New Haven as well as the Old Lyme Day Care (now Children’s Learning) Center, and served on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce of Southeastern Connecticut, the Coordinating Council for Children in Crisis, Janus House, and New Haven Habitat for Humanity. Lynn was a Board of Selectmen appointee to the Historic District Commission for eight years.”

Nosal continued, “To support her children’s interests, Lynn was co-president of District 18’s Friends of Music for four years, and President of the Football Booster club for six. She has twice served the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Board as its Treasurer,” and in perhaps what was her most visible role in the local community, “served as Chair of our Board of Education for eight years.”

Lynn's husband Jim congratulates his wife and all the former recipients of the award since 2010.

Lynn’s husband Jim Fairfield-Sonn congratulates his wife and all the former recipients of the award since 2010.

The citation notes, “Fairfield-Sonn’s values have been imprinted on multiple community organizations,” but highlights the Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut as the one on which her involvement has made an especially indelible mark. Fairfield-Sonn first volunteered for Child and Family in 1989 and currently serves as its Director of Development and Community Relations.

Refreshments followed the award presentation to celebrate and congratulate Old Lyme's 2014 Citizen of the Year.

Refreshments followed the award presentation to celebrate and congratulate Old Lyme’s 2014 Citizen of the Year.

Nosal summed up the board of selectmen’s reasoning for naming Fairfield-Sonn the 2014 Citizen of the Year in these words, taken from the citation, saying the board, “Honors Lynn Fairfield-Sonn for the loyalty and dedication that have defined her impact on our community.”


Xmas Tree Collection in Old Lyme Continues Through Jan. 30

Old Lyme Public Works will be picking up Christmas trees from Tuesday, Jan. 20, through Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. Residents are asked to place their Christmas trees at the curbside prior to Jan. 20 for pick-up and disposal.


MLK Day Closings in Lyme, Old Lyme

Lyme and Old Lyme Town Hall offices are closed today, Monday, Jan. 19, which is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The Lyme landfill is closed Monday for the holiday, and the Old Lyme Transfer Station is normally closed on Mondays.

The trash and recycling pick-up schedule in Old Lyme is not changing for this holiday.


Old Lyme Board of Selectmen Approves Appointments to Boards, Commissions

At Monday evening’s Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder introduced the agenda item on Appointments by saying that, although the board was about to confirm many appointments to town boards and commissions, “Lots of vacancies,” remain.  She noted, “Small towns like Old Lyme depend on volunteerism,” and then commended all those who have stepped up to serve the town, several of whom were in attendance.

Reemsnyder presented a slate of volunteers for appointment to a variety of town boards and commissions.  Selectman Arthur ‘Skip’ Sibley and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal alternated in proposing each candidate for appointment and, in each case, the appointment was approved unanimously.

The appointments made were as follows:

Doris Rand (D) – Commission on Aging – 3 yr. term exp. Jan. 2018

Lynn Philomen N/A – Animal Control Officer – 2 yr. term exp. Jan. 2017

Walter Kent N/A – Assessor – 2 yr. term exp. Jan. 2017

Catherine Frank (R) – Cable Advisory – 2 yr. term exp. Jan. 2017 Tim Devlin (R) – Cable Advisory – 2 yr. term exp. Jan. 2017

George James (R) – Conservation Commission – 3 yr. term exp. Jan. 2018 Maureen Plumleigh (U) – Conservation Commission – 3 yr. term exp. Jan. 2018

John Stratton (R) – Economic Development Commission – 5 yr. term exp. Jan. 2020 David Roberge N/A – Emergency Management Director – 2 yr. term exp. Jan. 2017

Steve Martino (D) – Flood & Erosion Commission – 2 yr. term exp. Jan. 2017 Ellie Czarnowski (U) – Flood & Erosion Commission – 2 yr. term exp. Jan. 2017

Donald Willis (R) – Flood & Erosion Commission, alternate – 1 yr. term exp. Jan. 2016 Lewis DiCamillo (R) – Inland Wetlands Commission – 3 yr. term exp. Jan. 2018 Robert DePianta (D) – Inland Wetlands Hearing Panel – 1 yr. term exp. Jan. 2016 William Dunbar (R) – Open Space Commission – 3 yr. term exp. Jan. 2018

Mary Ellen Garbarino (R) – Park & Rec Commission – 3 yr. term exp. Jan. 2018 John Flower (U) – Park & Rec Commission – 3 yr. term exp. Jan. 2018

Gil Soucie (D) – Pension Committee – 3 yr. term exp. Jan. 2018

Donald Willis (R) – Planning Commission, alternate – 1 yr. term exp. Jan. 2016 Barbara Gaudio (U) – Planning Commission, alternate – 1 yr. term exp. Jan. 2016 Todd Machnik (R) – Planning Commission, alternate – 1 yr. term exp. Jan. 2016

Elizabeth Rubitski (U) – Regional Mental Health Board – 2 yr. term exp. Jan. 2017 Robert Recor (U) – Rogers Lake Authority – 3 yr. term exp. Jan. 2018

Mervin F. Roberts (R) – Shellfish Commission – 3 yr. term exp. Jan. 2018 John Seckla (U) – Shellfish Commission – 3 yr. term exp. Jan. 2018

Valerie Goncalves N/A – Social Services Coordinator – 2 yr. term exp. Jan. 2017

Frank Maratta (R) – Sound View Commission, alternate – 1 yr. term exp. Jan. 2016 Sandra Ziemba (U) – Sound View Commission, alternate – 1 yr. term exp. Jan. 2016

Joan Flynn, MD (U) – Tree Commission, alternate – 1 yr. term exp. Jan. 2016 Tom Degnan N/A – Tree Warden – 1 yr. term exp. Jan. 2016
Anthony Vallombroso N/A – Veteran’s Rep – 1 yr. term exp. Jan. 2016 Ernest Lorda (U) – WPCA – 4 yr. term exp. Jan. 2019

Kurt Zemba (R) – WPCA – 4 yr. term exp. Jan. 2019
Stacey Winchell (R) – Zoning Commission, alternate – 1 yr. term exp. Jan. 2016


Five Towns, Including Old Lyme, Proclaim Feb. 15, 2015, as ‘Loving Parting’ Day

Mark Lander holds 'The Loving Parting Day' proclamation.

Mark Lander holds the ‘Loving Parting Day’ proclamation.

Mark Lander, Co-Chairman of the Old Lyme Historical Society (OLHS), came to Monday night’s Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting seeking First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder’s signature on a proclamation announcing Feb. 13, 2015 as ‘Loving Parting Day.’  Reemsnyder duly signed the proclamation following on from Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno, who had signed earlier in the day.

In a few short weeks, the respective signatures of the First Selectmen of East Lyme, Salem and Old Saybrook will join those of Reemsnyder and Eno on the document and the proclamation will be official.

Old Lyme Historical Society Co-Chair Mark Lander (left) explains the history of 'The Loving Parting' to the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen.

Old Lyme Historical Society Co-Chair Mark Lander (left) explains the history of the ‘Loving Parting’ to the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen.

Lander was invited by Selectman Arthur ‘Skip’ Sibley to explain the history of  the five towns that are celebrating the 350th anniversary of the ‘Loving Parting.’   According to the OLHS website, “Initially, Lyme was part of the Saybrook (“Saye-Brooke”) settlement centered on the west bank of the mouth of the Connecticut River.  It was established by the Earl of Warwick in 1631, occupied in 1635, and settled and named in 1636.”


The ‘Loving Parting Day’ Proclamation with Bonnie Reemsnyder and Ralph Eno’s signatures.

Lander noted that the ‘Loving Parting’ was signed on Feb. 13, 1665 as the formal acknowledgement of the separation of the lands on the east bank of the river, which were named after Lyme Regis in England, from the parent Saybrook colony.  He commented that the creation of Lyme marked the first time in the state’s history that a town had been formed by splitting it off from another settlement.

The Connecticut General Court named the new plantation “Lyme” on May 9, 1667.  Lyme set off the Town of East Lyme in 1839 subsequent to the latter town forming its own church, known as a ‘society.’  It seems likely that East Lyme’s church – the second ‘Society’ – was located on what is now Society Rd. in East Lyme.  The first – and original – ‘Society’ in Lyme was what is now The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

After East Lyme had formed its own ‘Society,’ Salem followed suit and was also declared a town in its own right.  Ironically, the final – and therefore youngest – town of the five to be created out of the lands originally identified in the ‘Loving Parting’ was the one called Old Lyme.

Lander said that in 1854-1855, the town of South Lyme on the shoreline at the mouth of the river was separated from part of the original settlement of Lyme to the north. Noting that there must have been, “Some sort of a disagreement between Lyme and Old Lyme,” Lander said that the residents of the southern area had petitioned for the separation and because the Town of Lyme was the aggrieved party, it was allowed to retain the name of ‘Lyme.’

Although the residents of the new southern portion originally accepted the name of South Lyme for their town, they soon felt, in Lander’s words, that, “It didn’t seem quite right,” and requested – and were approved to make – a change of town name to Old Lyme.

Some local folklore sources say that the choice of the ‘Old Lyme’ name by its residents was a final act of spite against their neighbors to the north in Lyme, who unquestionably lived in the older town!  But in 2015, all five towns will come together again as friends to celebrate the ‘Loving Parting.’  The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme will also be hosting a series of events to celebrate 350 years of continuous worship on its site this year.

All in all, 2015 promises to be quite a year for Lyme and Old Lyme!




Reemsnyder Clarifies Two Old Lyme Beach Associations, Not Town, to Receive $300K From State for Storm Sandy Restoration Project

01/07/15 Update:  At last night’s Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder clarified that the $300,000 grant announced by the state as apparently payable to the Town of Old Lyme is, in fact, funds payable to two private beach associations, Old Lyme Shores and Old Lyme Colony Beach.  Reemsnyder reported at the meeting that the associations had, in fact, applied for the grant rather than the Town and the associations, “Will be working [directly] with the state government,” on the Sheffield Brook Outfall Resiliency project.  Reemsnyder said she had become aware there was some confusion regarding the grant due to the information presented by the state..

12/30/14: Governor Dannel P. Malloy, alongside Department of Housing (DOH) Commissioner Evonne Klein, has announced $30 million in grants for the restoration and resiliency to existing infrastructure in municipalities impacted by Super Storm Sandy.

Included in the allocation to 21 projects in 11 communities is Old Lyme, which will receive $300,000 for the Sheffield Brook Outfall Resiliency. This project involves designing and constructing a new culvert and outlet to prevent extreme high tides from entering the culvert and damaging upstream structures.  The project will control future shoaling at the outlet so the structure can drain.

Other communities receiving grants include Bridgeport, East Haven, Fairfield, Milford, New London, Norwalk, Stamford, Stratford and West Haven.  The largest single grant of $4 million will improve stormwater volumes and drainage on New Haven’s Union Avenue.

“The damaging effects of storms along Connecticut’s shoreline are just a reality these communities must face,” said Governor Malloy. “With these grants, however, we can assist these municipalities and their cleanup efforts from the devastation of one of the most severe storms in Connecticut’s history, and help them to establish resiliency plans so they can be better prepared in the years ahead.”

Last year, the state was awarded a second tranche of funds in the amount of $66 million through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and its Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG–DR) program.  The CDBG-DR program, administered by the Department of Housing, was established to assist the most impacted and distressed areas recover from Super Storm Sandy.

“Earlier this year, DOH disbursed nearly $32 million in several communities ravaged by recent storms.  This second round of federal funding will build on the momentum started in rebuilding infrastructure projects,” said Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein.  “It’s also helping these same cities and towns take measures that will diminish the impacts of future storms.”

The primary goal in allocating funding for the rehabilitation and resiliency of infrastructure is to restore a suitable living environment in disaster impacted communities by rehabilitating or reconstructing existing infrastructure and adding resiliency to minimize damage from future storm events.


Old Lyme Hosts Solar Program Kick-off Workshop Tonight, All Welcome

solar_panelsThe Town of Old Lyme has been selected to participate in a cutting-edge solar program that makes going solar easy and affordable.   ‘Solarize Old Lyme’ is part of the ground breaking residential solar program administered by the Connecticut Green Bank (formerly known as the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority) through a partnership with SmartPower.

In addition to a robust on-the-ground outreach campaign, ‘Solarize Old Lyme’ will also incorporate a unique on-line “solar marketplace.”  Similar to various travel web sites such as Kayak or Expedia, will become a valuable tool for residents to receive bids from local pre-screened solar installers and request site visits from installers that offer the best prices for their homes.

The ‘Solarize Old Lyme’ program will kick off with a workshop on Thursday, Dec. 4, in the Memorial Town Hall at 7 p.m., where residents can learn about the program and be introduced to the new online solar marketplace that makes going solar convenient and affordable.

During the kick off workshop, residents will also have a chance to learn about the many flexible financing options available, including a no-money-down option. The Town of Old Lyme will join 14 other communities in Phase 5 of Solarize ConnecticutSM with a goal to more than double the amount of solar currently in Old Lyme over the 18-week program.  Over 40 communities have already participated in Solarize campaigns, resulting in over 2,000 homeowners signing contracts for solar.

Solarize is an increasingly popular program that increases residential solar through a proven formula.  It relies on an on-the-ground outreach campaign that helps educate consumers while at the same time creating awareness and walks the consumer all the way from awareness about solar to actually purchasing it.

Old Lyme’s First Selectman, Bonnie Reemsnyder comments, “I’m very excited that Old Lyme will be participating in such a worthwhile program as Solarize Connecticut.  It’s a great opportunity for all our residents, but especially those who have always wanted to “go solar”. The online portal allows easy access to information and estimates for individual homes.  Old Lyme has a proud tradition of taking advantage of environmentally friendly programs and I look forward a great partnership with Solarize CT.”

“CT Green Bank is extremely proud of what we have been able to achieve through the Solarize program.  We continue to see our financing tools and the Solarize model bringing down the cost of solar and making it affordable for more and more homeowners throughout Connecticut,” stated Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the CT Green Bank.  “We expect to achieve similar success as we begin the next phase of this innovative program with the participation of Old Lyme’s leaders and their dedicated volunteers.”

Residents who are interested in learning more about ‘Solarize Old Lyme’ are urged to attend the solar workshop on Thursday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. in Memorial Town Hall in the large Meeting Hall.  In order to participate in the benefits offered through the program, residents must sign a contract by April 10, 2015.

Old Lyme’s Solarize campaign has a dedicated group of volunteers led by Jean Dailey ( or 860.439.2912) and her team comprising John L. Forbis, Suzanne Colten-Carey and George James.  Contact any of the team members to find out more about ‘Solarize Old Lyme’ or to be put in touch with other Old Lyme residents, who have already installed solar on their houses.

More information about Solarize Old Lyme can be found by visiting


Tonight’s Old Lyme Selectmen’s Regular Meeting Cancelled

The Regular Meeting of the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen scheduled for this evening, Monday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. has been cancelled.

A Special Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting will be held Thursday, Dec. 4, at 5:30 p.m.  Their next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 15, at 7:30 p.m.


Town Hall Closings for the Thanksgiving Holiday

Old Lyme Town Hall offices and the Transfer Station will be closed on Thursday and Friday, November 27 and 28, for the Thanskgiving holiday.

The Transfer Station on Four Mile River Rd. will be open on Saturday.

Thursday’s trash and recycling will be picked up on Friday, Nov. 28.


Town of Old Lyme Seeks Volunteers to Serve on Boards, Commissions

A number of vacancies for volunteers exist on the Town of Old Lyme’s Boards and Commissions.

If you are interested in serving, complete a Request for Appointment form and return it to the Selectman’s Office ( by the end of this month.

The Town’s Boards and Commissions are established and regulated by State Statute and/or Town Ordinance.  In most cases, members must be electors in the Town of Old Lyme.  Balanced representation from major political parties on each board is also required.

Boards with current vacancies include:

Conservation Commission

Economic Development Commission

Flood & Erosion Control Board

Inland Wetlands Commission

Inland Wetlands Hearing Panel

Open Space Commission

Pension Committee

Planning Commission

Tree Commission


Zoning Commission


Changes Required to Boathouse Plans, Old Lyme Selectmen Discuss How to Move Forward


Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (left) discusses a point with First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder while Selectman Skip Sibley (right) listens.

At Monday night’s Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder introduced the agenda item of an update on the Hains Park Boathouse project by describing it as a “pretty big week.”  It transpired that the plans for the new boathouse went out to bid at the start of the week, but by the end of the week had been withdrawn.

Selectman Arthur “Skip” Sibley explained that the problems had arisen at a meeting held last Thursday between Town representatives including the First Selectwoman, the Building Inspector and Fire Marshal, the architect Nina Cuccio Peck, members of the Boathouse and Hains Park Improvements Committee (BHPIC)  and representatives of Regional School District 18.  Sibley noted, “The big thing that happened was the building [the boathouse] being an educational facility.”  It states on the BHPIC page on the Town’s website that the, “Need to comply with educational occupancy requirements was identified for the first time in the design process,” at this meeting.

When Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal later asked, “What makes it educational?” Reemsnyder noted that the building will be leased by District 18 from the Town and, “The students will be under the supervision of the Athletic Department,” and so, “District 18 has to meet the requirements of an educational building.”  These requirements include making the second storey accessible to all, which, in turn, requires the installation of an elevator.

Sibley described the elevator as a, “Not inexpensive,” item, which took the project financially beyond the scope of the already increased funding for the project.  The BHPIC therefore decided to, in Sibley’s words, “pull the bidding process.”  Members contacted the builders who had attended the Oct. 25 site meeting, refunded their $50 document fees where appropriate and advised them they would be notified when the bid process was restarted.

Sibley stressed that, despite the bidding setback, there was, “Good collaboration between the Town and the schools” on the project and that he was, “Very pleased with the progress being made.”  He added, “I’m very confident we’re going to end up in a better place.”  Reemsnyder commented that these changes meant the boathouse would not now be ready for the spring 2015 rowing season, which had the advantage that it gave time to, “Tighten up the whole management part of it.”  In another new development, District 18 is now looking, “To have an agreement with the Old Lyme Rowing Association (OLRA) to manage the building as a sub-contractor.”  This requires drawing up a Memorandum of Agreement between the two organizations — something on which the respective attorneys are currently working. Reemsnyder stated she had hoped it would be ready for last night’s meeting, but it was not due to, “All the developments,” making it, “A little bit complicated.”  She is now hopeful to receive the Memorandum by December.

Reemsnyder acknowledged that District 18’s position, “Had changed the whole thing,” and said the Selectmen’s response demonstrated, “We do listen, we pay attention,” noting all parties will now benefit from, “A cleaner relationship between District 18 and the OLRA covering liabilities and risks.”  Nosal added positively, “We are moving forward in a collaborative fashion.”

The revised plans for the boathouse, Sibley explained, will incorporate, “The elimination of the second floor and lower the overall height by up to four feet.”  Cuccio Peck is currently working on these plans and, in anticipation of their content, Sibley stated, “I don’t think you’re going to see a drastic change in the building.”

Nosal asked what the position was regarding the Town Meeting at which funds were approved for a building, which is now being changed in design.  Reemsnyder responded that, with the delay in construction, the Town has time to host a number of Public Information Sessions before building begins.  She said that only if the funds approved at the Town Meeting “Will be spent on anything else [other than the boathouse project] will the Selectmen go back to another Town Meeting.”

During public comment, Nancy Hutchinson made an impassioned plea for the membership of the BHPIC to be expanded, noting, “Almost every single one is a rowing coach,” and adding, “We need people that aren’t just rowing experts.”  Urging the board of selectmen to engender, “A win/win situation for the entire community,” she said, “I implore the board of selectmen to restructure the committee.”  Commenting that, “A lot of people support this project,” she suggested if the committee were expanded, the knowledge of both existing and new members could be leveraged — “Let’s help them,” she urged.

Reemsnyder agreed to discuss the suggestion at the board’s next meeting, but Sibley challenged Hutchinson’s contention that the BHPIC was lacking in experience.  He said one member was from the construction company O & G and another also worked in the construction business.  Hutchinson responded, “It’s sometimes helpful to refresh a committee,” adding, “My concern is that they go out to bid before they’re ready.”  Reemsnyder said firmly, “No contract is going to be awarded without it being to code.”

Timothy Griswold first suggested the Town should be using a specialist attorney for the project as the Town has done previously for such projects as the School Bus Barn.  He then commented on the overall changes of the project saying townspeople needed more information since what was being built had changed allegorically, “From a Lexus to a Ford.”  He told the board of selectmen, “I do encourage another Town Meeting so people know what they’re getting.”  Reemsnyder replied, “We don’t have the need for another Town Meeting, but we will have Information Sessions,” and stressed, “We don’t want to misrepresent to the town what we’re doing.”


Op-Ed: The Road to Disaster is Paved with Good Intentions — Thoughts on The Boathouse Issue

In 2013 the Old Lyme community was excited to learn that it had been granted a $478,000 Connecticut Small Town Economic Assistance Program (CT STEAP) grant to expand the Boathouse and improve Hains Park.  This grant was made possible by hard-working individuals involved with the District 18 rowing teams and the local Old Lyme Rowing Club (OLRA), which includes rowers from multiple towns in southeast Connecticut.

To oversee the project, the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen established the Boathouse/Hains Park Improvement Committee (BHPIC), with many of the same individuals involved in applying for the STEAP grant.   Initially the $478,000 CT STEAP grant was intended to cover all the costs of the project, so most of the community was happy to let them take the lead.  However, the BHPIC subsequently decided to demolish, rather than renovate, the existing Boathouse, while also removing/reducing other aspects of the project scope (removal of docks and improvement to the public restrooms, and multiple attempts to remove or reduce the size of the replacement basketball court).

These BHPIC decisions had several effects:  nearly doubling the project cost (from $478,000 to almost $900,000); reducing the benefit to the broader Old Lyme community; and potentially putting STEAP grant funds at risk by changing scope without obtaining written agreement from the state.  The BHPIC also proposed the Town of Old Lyme bear the full cost of the budget over-runs, raising the planned cost to Old Lyme taxpayers from $0 to $405,000.

Then, prior to providing the board of finance an opportunity to fully vet the project plans/costs or to prioritize this project versus other potential town expenditures, the Old Lyme Selectmen voted to rapidly push the project through to a Town Meeting to approve the use of $405,000 of the Town’s rainy-day fund to cover this large, unplanned capital expenditure.  The fact that the Town Meeting (Mon, Oct. 6) was scheduled less than one week from first public information session (Wed, Oct 1), and less than one full business day from the second informational session (Sat, Oct. 4) meant that adequate public review and input could not occur.

Prior to the Town Meeting, many community members (including those supportive of improving the boathouse) requested the Selectmen give the community more time for review/input, and to enable key questions/issues to be addressed.  However, the board of selectmen stated that the priority was to allow the BHPIC to begin construction in November, so the project would not impinge on the start of spring rowing season in March.  This rationale did not appear to align with the fiduciary responsibility of the Selectmen to put the best interests of the broader community first, nor did it appear justified since the existing Boathouse is functional (albeit not ideal), and that delaying the project until the following year would not have prevented the rowing teams/clubs from continuing all of their existing programs.   However, the Selectmen rushed forward with the Town vote anyway.

Following the Oct 6 town vote (100-73 in favor of appropriating $405,000 to cover the proposed project cost increase), many in the community asked that time be taken to address the many outstanding questions/issues/risks before going out to bid – after which it may be too late to address them without incurring additional costs/town liabilities.  Some of the issues included:

  • Lack of written agreement with the state on change in scope, to avoid risk of losing STEAP funds.
  • Lack of completed written agreements with District 18 on the transfer of ownership of the Boathouse to the Town of Old Lyme, and for future financial commitments to pay for insurance, operation and maintenance for the new Boathouse.  Without these in place before going to bid, the Town of Old Lyme takes on significant additional risk.
  • Significant code issues have been raised by both the Old Lyme Fire Marshal and Building Official.  Addressing these after the bidding process will result in expensive change orders.
  • Lack of plan reviews and safety assessments by District 18 to get buy-in and address potential issues with the configuration of the Boathouse (particularly bathrooms and locker rooms).  They are to be used by students and maintained by District 18, but do not align with safety guidelines for school construction design prepared by the US Dept. of Education and Dept. of Justice.
  • Last minute efforts to correct the size of the replacement basketball court, and lack of finalization (and broad community input) into a Hains Park Master Plan.  Ideally this should precede finalizing the Boathouse phase, to ensure that all community needs are met and related costs fully understood.
  • Rushing finalization of construction plans/documents, which will not leave adequate time for stakeholder review, and may result in errors that may also lead to costly change orders.

The fact that the Old Lyme Selectmen and BHPIC have initiated the construction bidding process without first adequately addressing these issues is very concerning in itself.  However, after release of the Old Lyme Public Notice Wed, Oct 22, 2014, there may be yet another serious issue:  lack of compliance with state requirements for the contract bidding process.  This must be addressed immediately to avoid potential loss of our CT STEAP grant funding.

Please!  It is time to stop rushing forward recklessly; we need take some time and work together to adequately address the many valid issues/questions raised.  We also need other community members/stakeholders to work with the BHPIC and rowing advocates.  This will be critical to ensuring that the project is most successful, that all of the community needs are met, and that town/state funds are not wasted or lost.

While I am sure everyone involved in the project has acted with good intentions, good intentions are not enough:  “The road to disaster is paved with good intentions.”

Let’s take a step back, and make this a truly inclusive Town project.  Let’s leverage our combined experience and allocated funds to deliver a project that is completed successfully and with the broadest possible community support.


Questions Brew About Hains Park Boathouse Design

boathouse 2

At a Special Town Meeting on Oct. 6, Old Lyme residents approved by a scant 27 votes the expenditure of an additional $405,000 from the town’s surplus account to be used to supplement the $478,000 Small Town’s Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant awarded in 2013 to fund the construction of a new boathouse and other improvements at Hains Park.  The current cost estimate of the project for the park, which abuts Rogers Lake, stands at $883,000.  

There are already strong indications, even before the project has gone out to bid, that changes to the design may be necessary to meet prevailing building and fires safety codes, which could lead to an increase in the construction costs.

Draft construction drawings submitted to Old Lyme Fire Marshal, David Roberge, earlier in October have raised a number of questions about compliance with fire safety codes, as well as possible building code deficiencies and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) non-compliance.

Roberge told LymeLine he has concerns regarding the adequacy of the emergency exits from the second floor, which, it was stated at the recent town meeting, would be an area available at times for the general public to use.  Roberge also noted that the plans he has received do not show adequate fire separation between the first and second floor.

The Fire Marshal has not yet been provided with the mechanical or electrical drawings for the proposed building, so has been unable to comment on the adequacy of emergency lighting or exit signage.

Based on his preliminary review of the draft plans, the Town Building Official, John Flower, has also expressed concern about some aspects of the building design and is planning to submit the final construction drawings, once received, to a third party for independent review.  Flower states that he has specific concerns about, “Possible under-sizing of support columns for the second floor,” and adequacy of the construction design for the front of the building.

As currently planned, the second floor will also have no handicap access and would require an elevator or wheelchair lift or other similar device to become ADA compliant, none of which are currently in the budget.  Addition of an elevator or wheelchair lift would also have fire safety and building code implications and would require review and sign-off before a building permit could be issued.

Although final construction drawings have not yet been submitted to the Fire Marshal or Town Building Department for review, the Town of Old Lyme published a Public Notice in ‘The Day’ Wednesday, Oct. 22, requesting bids on the project by Nov. 17 and announcing a mandatory pre-bid site walk, Oct. 25, at 10 a.m.

“If changes are required to meet fire safety codes after the bid has been awarded, it will require a change order,” noted Roberge, “and that usually means an increase in the construction cost.”


Presentation on Rte. 156 Bikeway, Sound View Improvements at Old Lyme Town Hall Tonight

Another in the series of informational presentations on the Rte. 156 Bikeway and Sound View Improvements Project will be given this evening, Wednesday, Oct. 22,  at Memorial Town Hall starting at 7:30 p.m.  Previous presentations focused on the project grant which covers 80 percent of the improvements.

This meeting will highlight the proposed design for the park, restrooms and pedestrian enhancements for Hartford Ave.

The improvements will connect the Old Lyme community via an on-road bike way from the Baldwin Bridge at Rte. 156, east to Hartford Ave. and south to a scenic park with restrooms. The project committee will be joined by the engineering consultant team to provide a presentation and answer questions. The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on Public Access Channel 14.

Information about the project can also be seen on Public Access Channel 14

For further information, e-mail


Deadline for In-Person Voter Registration is Oct. 28

The Old Lyme Registrars of Voters, Sylvia Peterson and Donald Tapper, have made the following announcement regarding the upcoming Nov. 4 election:

  • The deadline for mail-in voter registration was Oct. 21.  Oct. 28 is the deadline for in-person voter registration. Voters are encouraged to check their status with the Registrars’ office if they have moved, changed their name or not voted in several years.
  • The Registrars’ office will be open: Tuesday, Oct. 28  from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.  This is the last session for admission of electors for those who become 18 years of age, U.S. citizens, or residents of the town before Oct. 28, 2014.
  • Nov. 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for members of the armed forces or persons whose qualification as to age, citizenship or residence was attained after Oct. 28.

The Registrar’s office is located on Mezzanine Level of Town Hall.  For more information, call 860-434-1605 Ext. 226.  Regular office hours are Monday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Voter Registration applications are available at the Town Clerk’s office during regular Town Hall hours.



Large Turnout Sees Hains Park Boathouse Proposal Pass by 27 Votes


Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder addresses the audience in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium.

Around 180 people showed up at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School Monday night to vote on the question of whether an amount not to exceed $405,000 should be taken from the town’s surplus account to fund the overage on the construction of a new boathouse at Hains Park and also re-surfacing the basketball court.  First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder gave a presentation supporting the proposal, which she explained it was originally planned to fund from a Small Towns Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant of $475,000, which was approved in 2013.

She commented that a long-range Master Plan for the park had been developed, but not yet approved, stressing, “This is not a final plan,” noting that the proposed plan for the boathouse was, “Driven by function,” according to architect Nina Cuccio Peck.

Justifying why such a significant cost overrun had occurred compared to the STEAP grant amount, Reemsnyder said the original plan [submitted to the state] had included the addition of one bay to the existing building, rather than its demolition and reconstruction, which as now proposed. She explained, “The current building configuration did not support the program.”

Artist's rendering of the proposed boathouse.

Artist’s rendering of the proposed boathouse.

Reemsnyder said the plans would benefit the community because members of the public would be allowed to store their kayaks in the new boathouse. The current boathouse is owned by Regional District 18 but is being transferred to ownership of the town. Also, although improvements to the docks, which were in the original scope of work, are now excluded from the current proposal, renovation of the park’s basketball court has now been included.

After the presentation, Attorney Marilyn Clark, who moderated the meeting, opened the floor to questions from the audience. These ranged from whether the second floor, which is intended to be available for public use, was handicapped accessible (No) to who would hold the keys for the property (District 18, the Rowing Association and town officials) and whether the bathrooms inside the boathouse would be available to the public (No.)

Dr. Gregory Hack, Co-President of the Old Lyme Rowing Association, responds to a question at Monday's meeting.

Dr. Gregory Hack, Co-President of the Old Lyme Rowing Association, responds to a question at Monday’s meeting.

One resident asked, “How are you going to control growth out there [on the lake]?” to which Co-President of the Old Lyme Rowing Association (OLRA) Greg Hack responded that the club “actually has 37 or 38 boats” (not the 53 representing the boathouse capacity) and they already, “restrict hours of use, adding to rippled laughter, “We don’t want to have a total armada out there.” The questioner commented, “It’s an awful lot of money for the enjoyment of a select few,” to which Hack rejoined, “It’s a legacy gift … which will touch many more than the 100 involved this year” over subsequent generations.

Steven Cinami wanted to know why the boathouse was being designed for 53 boats when only 38 were owned and a total increase in the size of the association had been predicted to be 10 percent? He also questioned why the bathrooms were being renovated in a place with restricted access and were not being made accessible to all? Peck responded that building code required the construction of toilets in the boathouse.

Another resident was concerned about the opportunity cost of this expenditure by the town, asking, “If the town spends thi s much money on housing boats, are they going to have enough money for the lake?” Reemsnyder responded that the town already had formed a Rogers Lake Weed Committee that was “actively working” on that problem.

Former First Selectman Tim Griswold cautioned against use of the town’s surplus noting it’s, ‘Not a cookie jar,” and asked whether usage fees would be charged for rowers who are not from Old Lyme. Janet Sturges said she had been asked to clarify the board of finance’s position on the proposal. She stated that the board of finance had not approved the project, but simply recommended it be sent to a Special Town Meeting.

Voting by paper ballot was a lengthy process.

Voting by paper ballot was a lengthy process.

After a protracted period of voting by paper ballot, Clark announced the result (100 Yes, 73 No) to whoops of joy and much hugging by supporters of the project. A beaming Paul Fuchs, OLRA Co-President, told LymeLIne, “We’re just really excited we’ve got the support from the town on this. It’s gratifying to have the support of the town — we appreciate it.”


Proposal to Install Sewers in Old Lyme Faces New Challenges From Residents, Planning Commission


The issue of sewers in the Town of Old Lyme is becoming an increasingly complex – and thorny – one.  At a Public Information Meeting hosted last Tuesday by the Town’s Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA), the project engineers, Woodard and Curran, and First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, a packed house of over 70 residents fired question after question – including some heated exchanges — until the meeting finally ended close to 10:15 p.m.  Then, on Wednesday, in a related development, the Old Lyme Planning Commission took a vote at a Special Meeting not to endorse the proposed sewer project.

The engineers had opened the information meeting with a Powerpoint presentation based on these slidesIn summary, a Special Town Meeting is planned on Monday, Oct. 27, at which approval will be sought from residents to authorize the Town to bond the costs (between $42 and $47 million) for the proposed sewer project, which provides for installation of sewers in the project area (which include all the Town’s beach associations, except Point o’ Woods) and their extension to East Lyme and Waterford with treatment at the New London Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Although there were questions raised on a wide variety of issues during the evening, the main points of controversy appeared to revolve around three matters – who would be paying for the project, why the vote was being held at a time when most seasonal residents were out of town or state, and why White Sand and Hawks Nest Beaches had been included in the project when there was no record of pollution from their locations.

The first speaker in the question and answer session asked, “Why are you spending our money when we’re not here?” continuing, “Why wasn’t a referendum chosen so you could have absentee votes?”  Reemsnyder responded that they had tried, “Very hard,” to have the upcoming town meeting in the summer, but it had simply not proved possible to finish the research.


Several speakers were concerned that the town would end up funding a significant portion of the project, although the intention is that sewered property owners will repay the Town in full for the bond, which the Town will be obliged to take out to initiate the project.  Jeff Flower asked, “How can the Town not be paying?  Who picks up the slack?”  Another resident from West End Drive had a different take on the expense questioning why the costs were not being shared with the Town, noting, “The beach people had to pay for the high school.”

Sandy Garvin of Hawk’s Nest Beach asked pointedly, “What evidence is there that we’re polluting?” adding, “I’d like to see proof of your accusations that we’re polluting.”  Barry Harrison of White Sand Beach asked in the same vein, “Why did the Town offer up Hawk’s Nest Beach and White Sand Beach when there was no scientific evidence of pollution?”  Garvin noted that the inclusion of these two beaches,”… is adding much cost to the project,” suggesting to applause, “Let Miami and Old Colony [Beaches] do their own thing”  Those two beach associations along with Old Lyme Shores are already exploring sewer options separately, and Point o’ Woods has already installed them.

Meanwhile, the Old Lyme Planning Commission held a Special Meeting last Wednesday during which they made a motion to send a letter to the board of selectmen and the WPCA stating that the Commission cannot endorse the proposed sewer project for the following reasons:

  1. Lack of charter, regulations and documentation.
  2. Not consistent with the Town Plan of Conservation and Development.
  3. Lack of documented pollution on town controlled areas.
  4. Lack of information for outstanding questions.

The vote supporting the motion was unanimous with five votes in favor and none against.

There will be one more Public Information Session on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall prior to the vote at the Special Town Meeting on Oct. 27.


Meeting Tonight on Boathouse/Haines Park Improvements

This evening, Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 7:30 p.m., also in the Town Hall Meeting Room, the Boathouse/Hains Park Improvements Committee and Board of Selectmen will host the first of two two Public Information Sessions to review the request for additional funding of $405,000 from the Town of Old Lyme for the project.

There will be a short Powerpoint Presentation on the history of the project, the current state of the Boathouse and Hains Park, and the proposed work to be done.  Following the presentation, there will be open discussion and an opportunity to have questions answered.

The second Public Information Session is scheduled for Sat., Oct. 4, at 10 a.m. in Town Hall Meeting Room.

A Special Town Meeting to vote on the allocation of $405,000 for the project is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m.



A Closer Look at the Sound View Bike Path, Revitalization Project

Proposed route of new bike path.

Proposed route of new bike path.

In a recent interview with LymeLine, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder stated, “The Old Lyme town government has been attempting to pursue renovations of the Sound View beach since May of 2013.”   The desired outcome of the renovations will be a bike path that leads from exit 70 on the Baldwin Bridge following I-95, down Rte. 156 to Hartford Avenue.

This will lead bikers to what will be the new parking lot.  The community lot on Hartford Avenue, across from Sound View beach, will be redeveloped into a picnic area.  The lot will maintain 44 parking spaces, and the rest will be transformed into grassy regions for a more park-like feel.  The town was awarded a grant to revitalize the area, with instructions for the money to be put into specific stages.

The federal grant covers up to 80 percent of the project, and the town is responsible for the remaining 20 percent.  The amount of $148,500 has already been approved by the grant, but the construction costs will be determined after the design phase is complete.

The first stage is for engineers to “complete the ‘picture’ of the final product,” noted Reemsnyder.  They will draw up designs for the park area.  These documents will then go to contractors, who will decide on the cost of the project.  The bike path will need to be mapped and signed off as well.  Once all of the designs for the park and path are finalized and approved, the second stage of the project can begin.

The second stage is construction, which is projected to start in the fall of 2015.  Town meetings will be held at various points throughout the project, such as the one on Wednesday,July 16, which “went well” according to Reemsnyder.  Before construction can begin, the allocation for construction cost funds will need to be approved at one of these town meetings.

The revitalization is hoped to enhance tourism, improve business, and connect the beach to the rest of the town in a more accessible and friendly manner.

On the town website, under current projects, there is a link to more information regarding the proposal.