October 24, 2014

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, Dave 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 soundviewimprovements@gmail.com


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.


Story from ‘The Day': Old Lyme Votes to Accept Donated Land for Recreation

A land parcel off Halls Road with access to the Lieutenant River will soon belong to the town for public recreational use.

Residents voted at a special town meeting Tuesday to accept the donated land, about a half-acre in size, from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Read the full story in an article by Kimberly Drelich published July 30 on TheDay.com


Join a Business Breakfast Today to Discuss Sound View Changes, All Welcome

The Town of Old Lyme and the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce are hosting a business breakfast this Wednesday, July 16, from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Shoreline Community Center on Hartford Avenue.  Topics under discussion will include:

  • Sound View: Changes Ahead
  • Sound View Bike Path/Revitalization
  • Coastal Wastewater Management Project

All are welcome to this free event and a continental breakfast will be provided.

Free parking will be available in the Community Center parking lot across the street from the Center, and along Hartford Avenue)

A reply is appreciated to selectmansoffice@oldlyme-ct.gov or  860 434 1605, ext. 210


Old Lyme Residents Asked to Complete Recycling Survey to Help Determine Future Policy

recycle_logoThe Connecticut State Legislature recently approved increasing the State’s recycling goal from the current rate of 40 percent to 60 percent by the year 2024.  In response, the Town of Old Lyme is evaluating its recycling and trash services, and considering options to motivate residents to reduce trash through increased recycling.

The Town of Old Lyme has created a survey to gather information about your household trash and recycling habits. It will take less than five minutes to complete and will provide town officials with valuable information on which to base future policy.

Here is the link to survey:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1FzfaTeb4pQFUdMRkoaDvCwzjW0cDJ6kI5u_wSgju53M/formResponse

We urge all our readers, who are residents of Old Lyme, to complete it as soon as possible.


New KI Tablets Available for Old Lyme Residents

potassium_iodidePotassium Iodide tablets (known as KI) with an expiration date of January 2020 are now available at the Old Lyme Town Hall for Old Lyme residents. KI is a form of iodine that protects the thyroid gland when there is a chance of exposure to a harmful amount of radioactive iodine.

Connecticut State Health department officials will direct the ingestion of KI if it is warranted.

Boxes containing 20 KI tablets, along with information sheets on the use of the tablets, are available in the Selectman’s Office, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


No Beer at the Beach: Police Take Notice

Over the past weekend June 7-8, Old Lyme Town Police issued four State of Connecticut infractions to minors for being in possession of alcohol.

In addition, 13 adults were issued Town of Old Lyme tickets for being in possession of alcoholic beverages on the beaches in Sound View.


Old Lyme Trash/Recycling Schedules for Remainder of Week

Due to the Memorial Day holiday, trash and recycling pickup schedules in Old Lyme for the week commencing May 26 are as follows:

Trash pick-up moves up a day until Thursday and Friday, which remain on schedule.

Recycling pickup moves up a day until Friday, which remains on schedule.

All trash/recycling containers should be placed curbside by 6 a.m. on your scheduled day.


Old Lyme Residents Vote on Town Budget Tonight

The Town of Old Lyme holds its Annual Budget Meeting tomorrow, Monday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium.  A vote will be taken on the town budget, which includes Old Lyme’s share of the Region 18 school’s budget, which was approved in a referendum in early May. Click to read the full agenda at this link.


Old Lyme Town Hall Closed Today, But No Change to Trash, Recycling Schedules

The Old Lyme Town Hall and Transfer Station are both closed today, Good Friday, April 18.

The Transfer Station will be open on Saturday, April 19.

There is no change to the trash or recycling pick-up schedules on Friday, April 18.


Old Lyme Historic District Commission Meets This Morning

Notice is hereby given that the Old Lyme Historic District Commission (HDC) will hold Public Hearings today, Monday, April 7, beginning at 9 a.m. in the second floor conference room at the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall, 52 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT. The HDC will hear and act on the following Certificate of Appropriateness applications:

  • 75 Lyme Street, Awwa: fence
  • 26 Lyme Street, Pedersen: fence

The public is invited to attend and express its views.


Raising the Flag in Old Lyme for ‘National Donate Life Month’

Donate life 2
Around a dozen people gathered outside Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall on Tuesday morning, April 1, to acknowledge and celebrate the start of ‘National Donate Life Month’ (NDLM), which was instituted by Donate Life America and its partnering organizations in 2003.  Celebrated in April each year, NDLM features an entire month of local, regional and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.

Donate life 1

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder welcomed everyone and then led a moment of silence prior to the flag being raised.  Tom Kasprzak from East Lyme  (left in photo above), who is a Community Relations Specialist for CL&P, lost his daughter Mary (aged 15) nine years ago.  He and his wife, Joanne, donated Mary’s organs to other people, thus saving the lives of five people who received her organs.

Donate life 4

Lymes’ Senior Center Coordinator Stephanie Lyon (pictured left in photo above) noted her mother received a new heart five years ago.  The procedure changed her mother’s life and she now regularly swims for up to one and a half hours each day.

Donate life 3

The “Donate Life” flag will fly at the town hall throughout the month of April.  Kasprzak said, “By raising the flag we honor the thousands of donors who have saved the lives of countless others through their simple acts of kindness and compassion.”


Cease and Desist Upheld Against ‘Chocolate Shell’

After the hours of testimony in two Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals meetings and an Old Lyme Zoning Commission meeting, it took less than 30 minutes for the members of the ZBA to determine that there has been a change of use at The Chocolate Shell and to uphold Zoning Enforcement Officer Ann Brown’s Cease and Desist order on the café being operated in the store by owner Barbara Crowley.

Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Judith McQuade stressed that members must simply answer the question, “Has the use changed?  That’s what we want to know.”

Karen Coniff responded, “I do think there has been a use change.  I appreciate what she [Crowley] is doing there.  I just don’t think it’s the same use.”

Noting that although the café is, “a really nice thing for the town,” Kip Kotzan said, “I can’t say I really like it, so I’m going to pass on it [enforcing the regulations.]  He cited the re-doing of the space, the change of hours, the introduction of wi-fi and the extension of the fence as indicators of a change of use at the store.

Mary Stone similarly stressed that the board should confine their decision to “a very narrow area,” and then also expressed the view, “There has definitely been an expansion of use.”

McQuade said it was important to distinguish between an ‘expansion’ of use and a ‘change’ of use, as the former might be permissible.

Commenting, “It was a whole different proposition,” after the café opened, Arthur E. Sibley noted, “It wasn’t there before,” adding, “The decision was made in this town to preserve Lyme Street as much as they possibly could … I don’t think there’s any doubt this is a change of use … this operation is not really compliant and I don’t think we should allow it.”

Kotzan summed up that the café is “pretty clearly a change of use,” but stressed again that the board was, “not making a judgement that it was a bad thing.”  He suggested that if the process were followed, a permit application for the café might be approved by the Zoning Commission in due course.

When McQuade called the vote after a motion by Sibley was made to uphold the Cease and Desist, the vote was unanimous.




Old Lyme ZBA to Make ‘Chocolate Shell’ Decision Tonight

The appeal by Chocolate Shell owner Barbara Crowley against the Cease and Desist order on her business serving coffee is the only item on the agenda in an Open Voting Session at tonight’s Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) Special Meeting starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Meeting Room of the Town Hall.

The members of the ZBA will vote at the end of the Open Voting Session thus determining the future of the Cafe in the The Chocolate Shell.


Special Town Meeting in Old Lyme Tonight

A Special Town Meeting was held in Old Lyme this evening to consider the following agenda items:

  • To rescind the existing Chapter 187 of the Old Lyme code Design and Construction Standards adopted on 11/15/02 and to adopt new Design and Construction Standards for Public Improvements as recommended by the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Commission and to adopt pursuant there to an amended Chapter 144 of the Old Lyme Code Construction and Acceptance of Roads.  Copies are available in the Old Lyme Town Clerk’s office for inspection.
  • To authorize the expenditure of an amount not to exceed $148,500 for Phase I of the Rte. 156 Bike Path/Sound View Improvement Project, as recommended by the Board of Selectmen. A Connecticut Department of Transportation grant will cover a portion of this expenditure.
  • To authorize the expenditure of the sum of $13,000 for a kiosk at the Town Parking Lot in Sound View, as recommended by the Board of Selectmen.
  • To authorize the appropriation of an amount not to exceed $478,000 for the Hains Park Boathouse renovation and expansion project, as recommended by the Board of Selectmen, which project will be funded by a STEAP (Small Towns Economic Assistance Program) grant in said amount.
  • To hear an updated presentation by the Board of Selectmen and the Old Lyme Water Pollution Control Authority on the Wastewater Management Study.