June 29, 2016

Essex Zoning Commission Approves New Restaurant in Centerbrook Section of Town

30 Main Street, Centerbrook

30 Main Street, Centerbrook

ESSEX — The zoning commission Monday approved a special permit for a new restaurant to be located on the first floor of a partially vacant commercial building at 30 Main St. in the Centerbrook section.

The application of ECC Realty and Colt Taylor was unanimously approved after a brief public hearing where several residents spoke in support of the plans. Taylor told the panel he was raised in Essex,  has been involved with restaurants in both New York and California,and wants to return to open a restaurant in his hometown.

The three-story building at 30 Main St. once housed a restaurant for a few years in the late 1980s, but has housed mostly office uses in recent years. The plans call for a 130-seat restaurant and bar.
In approving the permit, the commission specified that use of the second floor would be limited to a small office for the business and storage. Taylor said he hopes to open the restaurant, which would offer “progressive New England comfort food,” before the end of the year.
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Bozzuto’s Inc. Kicks Off ‘Reach for the Stars’ Campaign to Help Special Olympics Athletes Shine

special olympicsDEEP RIVER – This summer, until Aug. 13, grocery shoppers can visit their neighborhood IGA supermarket (such as Adams in Deep River) and make a donation to help Special Olympics athletes reach for the stars.

Bozzuto’s Inc. and The IGA Hometown Foundation invite their customers and the community to join them in supporting local Special Olympics athletes by participating in their annual ‘Reach for the Stars’ campaign by making a donation of $1, $2, $5 or more at checkout. In recognition of each contribution, a “star” with the donor’s name (if desired) will be displayed in the store for the duration of the campaign.

The ‘Reach for the Stars’ campaign aims to help share the joy of sport and encourage inclusion and respect for people of all abilities – on and off the playing field. Since 2008, the hang tag promotion has been conducted to assist Special Olympics in providing year-round sports training and competition opportunities for thousands of athletes, statewide.

All proceeds from this effort will go to the local Law Enforcement Torch Run Program, which encompasses a variety of events supporting Special Olympics that include the annual Torch Run, and Cop-on-Top and Tip-A-Cop fundraising events, all hosted and run by volunteer law enforcement officers.

Bozzuto’s, Inc., is a family-owned, full service, wholesale food distribution company headquartered in Cheshire, Connecticut, that serves over 1,500 supermarket retailers in 10 states.  Bozzuto’s is a proud supporter of IGA and is a five-time winner of IGA’s highest honor, The President’s Cup.

The Hometown Foundation is a non-profit, charitable foundation dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for individuals and their families in hometowns and surrounding communities where it operates. The Hometown Foundation honors and assists five key areas of interest: Children, Cancer, Diabetes, Military, and Emergency Response Personnel.

Special Olympics Connecticut (www.soct.org) provides year-round sports training and competitions for close to 13,000 athletes of all ages with intellectual disabilities and Unified Sports® partners – their teammates without disabilities. Through the joy of sport, the Special Olympics movement transforms lives and communities throughout the state and in 170 countries around the world by promoting good health and fitness and inspiring inclusion and respect for all people, on and off the playing field.

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Essex Zoning Commission Approves 52-Unit Apartment Complex on Plains Rd.

The Plains Road property where the Iron Chef restaurant has been long empty has been approved for apartments.

The Plains Road property where the Iron Chef restaurant has been vacant for many years has been approved for the Essex Station apartments.

 

ESSEX — The zoning commission Monday approved plans for a three-building 52-unit apartment complex with an affordable housing component at a 3.7-acre parcel on Plains Road that includes the long-vacant former Iron Chef restaurant property.

The special permit for the Essex Station apartments at 21, 27 and 29 Plains Road was approved o a 4-1 vote, with commission Chairman Larry Shipman and members Alvin Wolfgram, Jim Hill and Susan Uihlein  voting to approve the permit and member William Reichenbach opposed. The application from Signature Contracting Group LLC was submitted under state statute 8-30g, a law intended to promote additional affordable housing in Connecticut.

The statute limits the jurisdiction of municipal land use commissions to issues of public health and safety, while requiring that at least 30 percent of the dwelling units in a development be designated affordable housing and reserved for people or families with incomes at or less than 80 percent of the median income for the municipality. At least 16 of the Essex Station units would be designated as moderate income housing with monthly rents expected to be about $1,800.

The plans were presented at a series of public hearings that began in February, and appeared to generate increasing objections from some residents as the review process continued. Many of the objections focused on the proximity of the site to the Valley Railroad tourist excursion line.

In more than 90 minutes of discussion Monday, the panel considered two draft motions prepared by longtime commission counsel Peter Sipples, one to approve the permit with conditions, and another to deny the application. In the end, the motion of approval included several conditions, most of which had been accepted by the applicant during the public hearing process.

The major conditions include a strict prohibition on any expansion or condominium conversion of the units, construction of a six-foot high security fence around the perimeter of the property,  installing sound barriers if needed between the residential units and the railroad, and construction of a walking-bicycle path on Plains Rd. that would extend east to connect with existing sidewalks on Rte. 154. There would also be a requirement for elevators in the buildings, particularly the single three-story building, and a provision in future leases that would note the proximity to other uses, including the tourist railroad and a nearby wood-processing facility. The development site is located in a business and industrial zone.

During the discussion, Shipman noted the apartments would be a better residential use near the railroad than owned condominiums, and suggested the requirements of the affordable housing statute limited the panel’s ability to control some aspects of the project, including density and building height. The sewage disposal system for the three building complex must be approved by the state Department of Public Health.
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Maple and Main Gallery’s Summer Exhibit Opens

"Daffodils and Oak," by Claudia Van Nes, at Maple and Main Gallery

“Daffodils and Oak,” by Claudia Van Nes, at Maple and Main Gallery

CHESTER – Over 230 new paintings and sculptures by 46 artists will be featured in the annual Summer Exhibit at Maple and Main Gallery, which begins Wednesday, June 22.

The opening reception will be Saturday, June 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. when appetizers and wine will be served in addition to a wine tasting by Staehly Farm and Winery of East Haddam.

This exhibit showcases a wide selection of art from traditional seascapes and landscapes to vibrant abstracts, from collage and encaustic to oil, pastel and watercolor.

The gallery is highlighting an artist each week who will show additional work and give a demonstration or talk. The first of these is Pam Carlson of Essex demonstrating her unique use of the palette knife as she creates a landscape on Sunday, June 26 from 1 to 3 p.m.

In the Stone Gallery during June is “Expressions,” an exhibit of abstract and exploratory work by gallery artists Carole Johnson and Ishita Bandyo.

Maple and Main, at One Maple Street, Chester, is open Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 6; Friday and Saturday from noon to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  For more information, visit mapleandmaingallery.com or call 860-767-6065.

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Hike the Pond Meadow Preserve with Essex Land Trust, Saturday

Pond Meadow2

IVORYTON – Since Pond Meadow was acquired in 2014, much has been accomplished to transform this unique Land Trust destination in Ivoryton. The property has three distinguishing aspects: an abundance of old trees; a swamp traversed by a 450-foot elevated walkway/bog-walk; and, when the trees are leafed out, a double canopy not unlike a rain forest. The property comprises 18 acres and includes a bridge over a stream that flows into the Falls River, built by Eagle Scout Dan Ryan and his Boy Scout Troop 12.

The Essex Land Trust will lead a Pond Meadow hike on Saturday, June 25, beginning at 9 a.m. at Comstock Park in Ivoryton. Hikers should wear appropriate footwear for wet soil conditions. Access and parking are at the end of Park Road, Ivoryton, across from Comstock Park. Bad weather cancels.

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Cello Recital by Eva Ribchinsky at Essex Library

Eva Ribchinsky

Eva Ribchinsky

ESSEX – A cello recital by local resident Eva Ribchinsky will be held on Saturday, June 25, at 4 p.m. at Essex Library.

Ribchinsky has just graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music and is headed to Carnegie Mellon University this fall to pursue a master’s degree in music. She will play works by Bocherini, J.S. Bach and Gaspar Cassado.

Admission to this program is free and open to the public. Please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 to register or for more information. The library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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Author Richard Friswell Discusses His Book of Essays at Essex Library, Saturday

friswellESSEX – Author and cultural historian Richard Friswell is on the faculty of Wesleyan University’s Lifelong Learning Institute. He is also the editor and publisher of ARTES, an international fine arts, architecture and design e-magazine.

He is an elected member of the Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art (one of only 450 individuals in the United States), and an award-winning writer, with two national medals from Folio:Magazine for his editorial contributions in the field of art journalism. He writes and lectures on topics related to modernism.

He will speak at the Essex Library about his book of autobiographical essays, “Balancing Act,” on Saturday, June 25 at 2:30 p.m. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

Admission to this program is free and open to the public. Please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 to register or for more information. The library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

 

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Fifth Annual ‘Run for Chris’ 5K Takes Place in Essex: Registration Open Through Race Day

Run for Chris 5K (VNN file photo)

Run for Chris 5K (VNN file photo)

ESSEX — The 5th Annual ‘Run for Chris’ 5K will be held Saturday, June 25, at Essex Town Hall. It is both a memorial and charitable event, the primary purpose of which is to raise money for educational endeavors in the schools of the Lower Valley of Middlesex County.

Chris Belfoure greatly appreciated the opportunities afforded to him that introduced him to new places, peoples and cultures, such as his time spent studying and working in China. (He had participated in the trips abroad while at Valley Regional High School.) He felt that every young person should have similar opportunities to expand their horizons, since his experiences had so profoundly impacted him and his worldview.

Thus, to honor his memory and perpetuate his ideals, the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund has been established at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County. The proceeds from the ‘Run for Chris’ go directly to these causes.

To preregister for the race, go to aratrace.com, and click on ‘Run For Chris.’ (Race day registration starts at 7 a.m.) Overall and age-group awards will be given, and all participants will receive a free, tech t-shirt. Fun Run for Kids 6 and under starts at 8:15 a.m. along with the CB4 Mile Run for ages 7-14. The 5K and 2 mile walk start at 8:45 a.m. The run through beautiful Essex is USATF Certified. There will be great raffle items and a face painter to add to the fun.

Registration link: http://www.chrisbel4mf.com/run-for-chris-5k.html

 

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Talking Transportation: Why Ferries Aren’t the Answer for Commuting in CT

Bridgeport to Port Jefferson Ferry

Bridgeport to Port Jefferson Ferry

Recently, NYC Mayor DeBlasio announced a $325 million plan to reintroduce ferry boat service to the five boroughs charging the same fare as subways.  The mayor says these boats could carry 4.5 million passengers a year.

So why don’t we have ferries in CT?  There are several reasons:

SPEED:  In open water, fast ferries on the Sound could make 30 knots (35 mph).  But if they must sail up inlets to the downtown areas of Bridgeport, Norwalk or Stamford, that speed is cut to 5 knots, extending travel time.

DOCKING: To keep to their competitive speeds, docks would have to be located close to the Sound.  That’s expensive real estate. And what about parking at those docks… and drive-time on local roads to reach them? Again, more travel time.

FREQUENCY: Metro-North offers trains to midtown New York every 20 minutes in rush hour carrying 800 – 1000 passengers per train. No ferry service anywhere in the country can compete with that frequency of service. Will travelers really be willing to wait an hour or two for the next boat?

COMFORT: In nice weather, a boat ride to work sounds idyllic. But what about in a Nor’easter?  The bumpiest ride on the train pales by comparison.

FARES:  The most optimistic of would-be ferry operators in CT estimate their fares will be at least double those charged on the train.  And people say Metro-North is too expensive?

OPERATING COSTS: Fast ferries are gas guzzlers, the aquatic equivalent to the Concorde.  When the Pequot tribe built high-speed catamarans to ferry gamblers to their casino in Connecticut to lose money, the service proved so expensive to run that the Pequots dry-docked the ferries in New London.

ECONOMICS: The final reason I don’t think ferries make economic sense is that nobody else does either!  Ferry operators (like the near-bankrupt NY Waterways) aren’t stupid. They’ve looked at possible service from coastal Connecticut, crunched the numbers and backed off. In a free market economy, if a buck could be made running ferries, they’d be operating by now. They aren’t operating, and there are lots of reasons why, many of which I’ve listed.

The only place ferries are run successfully is where they’re heavily subsidized (everywhere), have a monopoly (for example, getting to downtown Seattle from an island suburb), don’t duplicate existing transportation routes (like from Bridgeport to Port Jefferson), or offer advantages of speed because they operate on extremely short runs (from Hoboken to midtown).  Our situation here in Connecticut passes none of those tests.

You already know I’m a train nut. (The bumper sticker on my car reads “I’d Rather Be on the Train.”)  And I do love an occasional recreational sail on the Sound.  But it’s unrealistic to think that commutation by ferries is in our future.

 

Jim Cameron - Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council

Jim Cameron

About the author: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com

For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

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Deep River Resident Recognized for Excellence by Progressive Grocer

Silvana Baxter

Silvana Baxter

DEEP RIVER – Progressive Grocer, a leading retail food industry trade publication, has named Silvana Baxter of Deep River, a Stop & Shop Asset Protection Associate, as a 2016 Top Women in the grocery industry, which honors outstanding female leaders in the retailer and supplier community sectors.  

“Stop & Shop is very proud of the many accomplishments achieved by these dedicated associates who have gone above and beyond their positions within our company and have made many contributions within the communities they serve,” said Robert Spinella, Vice President of Human Resources, Stop & Shop NY Metro Division. “Congratulations to our honorees who serve as true role models for the future of their fellow colleagues.”  

Covering the retail food industry, Progressive Grocer’s core target audience includes top management and key decision makers from chain supermarkets, regional and local independent grocers, supercenters, wholesaler distributors, manufacturers and other supply chain training partners.

The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC employs over 61,000 associates and operates 419 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.

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Music, Dancing and All That Jazz! “Chicago” Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse, June 29

Lyn Philistine (Ivoryton Playhouse photo)

Lyn Philistine (Ivoryton Playhouse photo)

IVORYTON –Things are beginning to steam up in Ivoryton as the Ivoryton Playhouse gets ready to open “Chicago” on June 29.  Winner of six 1997 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival, “Chicago” has everything that makes theater great:  a universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz;  one show-stopping song after another; and the most energetic dancing you’ve ever seen!

Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the musical (book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb) is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins based on actual criminals and crimes. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the “celebrity criminal” – as timely today as it was when it first opened on Broadway in 1975.

“Chicago” was revived on Broadway in 1996 and holds the record as the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, and is the second longest-running show in Broadway history, behind “The Phantom of the Opera.” The London revival ran for nearly 15 years, becoming the longest-running American musical in West End history.

Christopher Sutton* returns to Ivoryton in the role of Billy Flynn and will be accompanied by his wife, Lynn Philistine* in the role of Roxie Hart. CCC award-winning actress Sheniqua Trotman* also returns to Ivoryton, this time in the role of Mama Morton. She was last seen in Ivoryton as Effie in “Dreamgirls.” Stacey Harris* will be playing Velma Kelly, Z. Spiegel is Mary Sunshine and Ian Shain is Amos Hart.

Christopher Sutton (Ivoryton Playhouse photo)

Christopher Sutton (Ivoryton Playhouse photo)

The production is directed and choreographed by Todd Underwood and musical directed by Paul Feyer, with set design by Martin Marchitto, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costume design by Elizabeth Cipollina. Executive producers are Michael A. Dattilo and Frank Perrotti.

Whether you’ve seen it before and want to recapture the magic or you’ve been thrilled by the Academy Award-winning film, “Chicago” always delivers.  Don’t miss the experience of this show live on stage at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

“Chicago” opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on June 29 and runs through July 24. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults, $45 for seniors, $22 for students and $17 for children. They are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Group rates are available by calling the box office for information. The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.
Photo – Christopher Sutton & Lynn Philistine
Photo credit – Ivoryton Playhouse
*denotes member of Actors Equity

 

 

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Chester Sunday Market is Open for the Season, Sundays

ChesterSundayMarketLogoCHESTER – The Chester Sunday Market takes place on Sundays through the summer.

The vendors are all listed on the Market’s website (http://chestersundaymarket.jimdo.com), with links to their websites.  They are:

  • Seven farms bringing produce – Chatfield Hollow Farm, Deep Hollow Farms, Dondero Orchards, Hunts Brook Farm, Sage Hill Farm, Upper Pond Farm and Wellstone Farm.
  • Meat, fish and poultry from Four Mile River Farm, Gourmavian Farms, Maple Breeze Farm and The Local Catch.
  • Beltane Farm bringing cheese & dairy products.
  • Bread from Alforno Restaurant and Howard’s Breads.
  • Plus, flowers and honey and jams and pickles and biscotti from: Hay House, Stonewall Apiary, Little Bird Provision Co. and Biscotti and Beyond.

Live music is lined up for each week, beginning on June 12 with Deep Blue Remedy. The bands play from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In the words of the organizers: “The philosophy of the Chester Sunday Market is to bring the community together with local products and to have a good time doing it. It is a weekly town-wide farmers’ market that brings our community together. We invite local vendors to sell produce, meats, cheeses, breads and so much more.  Our goal is to stay local so we can help the smaller farmers in the area. Having all these amazing vendors join us in our lovely little town is a great way to promote our community and see each other. Main Street is closed off for the market giving the patrons the freedom to walk about town. Music is provided along with a bistro area so you can sit and have a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza.”

Market hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Because Main Street is closed to traffic between West Main St. (Rte. 148) and Maple St., shoppers are invited to park in the town public parking lots on Maple Street and at 20 Water St. (Rte. 148). Well-behaved dogs are welcome.

Shops and galleries are open during Market hours and often offer special happenings. You can find late breakfast or lunch at the restaurants in Chester Center, or buy some pizza on the street from one of the vendors, Frank Andrews Mobile Kitchen.

More information about the Chester Sunday Market at: Facebook.com/ChesterSundayMarket and http://chestersundaymarket.jimdo.com/. You can also find out more about Chester at Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT and Facebook.com/AlwaysonSundayinChester.

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Ivoryton Village Farmers Market Open Saturdays

alliancemarket

IVORYTON – The Ivoryton Village Farmers Market turns 5!  Starting Saturday, June 18, at 10 a.m., the Ivoryton Green will once again be bustling with vendors showcasing CT-grown products and prepared foods, creations from local artisans and crafters, and live music every week.

Each week seasonal produce, meats, fish, cheeses, milk, ice cream, garlic, maple syrup, honey, coffee, flowers, shrubs, jams and jellies, bakery items and more will be available. Between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., families are invited to visit Ivoryton, shop the market and enjoy live bands playing each week in the Gazebo.

Sponsored by the Ivoryton Village Alliance, and located next to the iconic Ivoryton Playhouse, the mission of the Ivoryton Village Farmers Market is a simple one – to bring the farm to your table. Market Manager David Sousa says, “We offer fresh, locally grown food to our customers, and it’s a great way for everyone to learn about where their food comes from.”

With the array of fabulous foods on offer every week, he goes on to say, “We really just want people to think about supporting local farmers, shopping local, buying local.  Buying local builds strong communities and building a strong community is what the Ivoryton Village Alliance is all about.” More information at www.ivorytonfarmersmarket.com.

CT Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program – WIC/Senior (FMNP) Checks Accepted.

 

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