November 29, 2014

Chester Committee Drops Plan for Main Street North Side Sidewalk as Town is Awarded $1 Million Grant for Library Project

CHESTER— In an abrupt change of plans, the Main Street Project Committee voted Tuesday to drop plans for a continuous north side sidewalk as part of the Main Street East reconstruction project. The decision came as town officials learned Monday that Chester has been awarded a $1 million state grant for construction of a new library at North Quarter Park, the 22-acre town park that would have been served by the proposed north side sidewalk.

The Main Street Project Committee, working with engineers Kent & Frost Associates of Mystic, last March recommended the continuous north side sidewalk as part of the Main Street East plan to reconstruct 1,800 feet of Main Street from the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Route 154) west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. The plan drew a mixed response at an April 22 public information meeting, with some residents objecting to removal of two mature maple trees along the section of street, while others agreed a sidewalk was necessary, particularly if the town pursues construction of a new library at North Quarter Park.

The plan also drew strong objections from Jeff and Comer Gates, property owners at 137 Main Street, who contended the sidewalk would be too close to the front of their house. The board of selectmen later endorsed the plan with the north side sidewalk, and directed engineers to prepare design plans that included it. Officials were hoping to put the project out to bid this winter.

But earlier this fall, selectmen learned the total cost of the project would be about $1.3 million, exceeding the approximately $1,154,000 in available funding that included  $780,000 in state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants, and $374,000 in set aside town capital funds. Engineers were reviewing the plans for possible cost savings as the board of selectmen last week scheduled a Dec. 9 town meeting to vote on authorizing a release of the $374,000 in set aside town funds for the project. The Gates’s continued to oppose the plan, posting a large sign on the front of their property calling for removal of the continuous north side sidewalk to save money.The board of finance at a Nov. 20 meeting expressed concerns about the approximate $150,000 funding gap, and tabled a any decision on authorizing release of the town funds.

As the Main Street Project Committee convened Tuesday evening, Chairman Michael Joplin announced that he would recommend scaling back the project to include only the area from the intersection with School Lane west to the parking area at the entrance to Laurel Hill Cemetery, deferring any work east of School Lane including a continuous north side sidewalk. Joplin said the reluctance of the finance board top approve release of the town funding indicated the plan could face opposition, and possible rejection, by voters at the Dec. 9 town meeting. He said a town meeting defeat could jeopardize the state grant funding that is needed for the project.

Other committee members, and First Selectman Edmund Meehan, reluctantly agreed. Meehan said the plans for a continuous north side sidewalk could be “pulled off the shelf,” and revisited when the town is closer to completing final plans for a new library at North Quarter Park. The committee later voted to direct project engineers to revise the plans to focus on the segment west of School Lane, along with some limited, and possibly temporary, improvements to roadway from School Lane east to Route 154.

Meehan said Wednesday the board of selectmen would discuss the Main Street East Project, and the proposed new library, further at its Dec. 2 meeting. The selectmen over the summer appointed a library building committee that has hired a Pawtucket, R.I. firm, Lerner, Lads & Bartells, to prepare preliminary plans for a new 5,600-square-foot library on the front section of North Quarter Park.

Meehan said the terms of the $1 million grant require the town to approve full funding for a library project within three years. He said the grant is only expected to cover about a quarter of the total cost for a new library, with an authorization of town bonding funds and private fundraising expected to be needed for the plan for a new library to move forward.

Essex Meadows Donates $200,000 to Help Acquire The Preserve

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ESSEX — Residents of the Essex Meadows have contributed $200,000 to help acquire for public use a privately owned, 1,000 acre tract of open land, which is known as The Preserve. Essex Meadows is a senior retirement community in Essex, Connecticut. The Preserve property is principally located in the Town of Old Saybrook, with seventy of its acres in Essex, and four in Westbrook.

The land for The Preserve is, reportedly, the largest parcel of vacant, “coastal forest” between New York City and Boston. A small portion of The Preserve borders Essex Meadows’ property.

The Land of the Preserve

The Preserve land consists of heavily forested land in some areas and open land in others. The property has 38 vernal pools, and 114 acres of wetlands, within its boundaries. In addition, the land serves as a “rest stop” for migratory birds, making their migratory journeys north and south.

If the present fundraising efforts to purchase the land for The Preserve are successful, 1,000 acres of open, recreational space will be saved for the use of present and future generations.

The purchase price of the land for The Preserve is $10 million. To date, the State of Connecticut has pledged $3 million, the Town of Old Saybrook by referendum has approved $3 million and the Town of Essex has approved a contribution of $200,000. The remaining monies for the purchase of the Preserve property are being raised from private and public donors by the Essex Land Trust and other organizations.

Letter from Paris: New European Union Commission Leadership Faces Rocky Road

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

On Nov. 1, following the mandate of Manual Barroso (2009-2014) from Portugal, the 12th Commission of the European Union (EU) moved into its headquarters at the Berlaymont  in Brussels.

The selection process of the Commission – the key institution of the EU and a formidable machine employing 25,000 persons – has greatly changed since its beginnings in 1951.  The mandate was shortened from nine years to five ;  whereas the president of the Commission used to be designated by the Council of Ministers (equivalent to the present European Council), he (or she) )  is now elected by the Parliament.  A major turn in the composition of the Commission took place in 2004 with the addition of 10 new members from Central and Eastern Europe.  The present rule assigning one commissioner per country creates an odd situation: Malta, with a population of 400,000, has the same representation as Germany with a population of 82 millions.

Jean-Claude Juncker from Luxemburg, a member of the European People’s Party, was elected by the Parliament with 422 votes out of 751 as the new president of the Commission.  Angela Merkel strongly supported him.  Linguistically and culturally he stands half way between France and Germany – a real asset for the most important official of the EU.

Upon his return from the G20 summit meeting in Brisbane, Australia, in mid November, Juncker had to face the “Luxleaks” crisis exposed by the press.  Forty international newspapers, including Le Monde, the Guardian and the Suddentsche Zeitung, investigated the tax breaks granted by Luxemburg to 340 multinationals, like Google, Apple or Amazon.  Yuncker’s critics said that, while he was serving as prime minister and minister of finances, Luxemburg became the leading tax haven of Europe.  To put an end to these practices, the “rulings” – holding companies and other devices used for tax “optimization” – were suspended.  As the new president of the Commission, Yuncker reaffirmed his commitment to fight tax evasion.

The post of commissioner of economy and budget was given to Pierre Moscovici, the former French minister of economy. The choice seems ironic since France almost flunked the rule imposed by the Pact of Stability and Growth requiring a deficit of 3 percent of the GDP (France’s deficit has reached 4.4 percent)

The new High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs is Federica Mogherini , 41,  a diplomat with an impressive record.  Her intention to improve relations with Russia was not appreciated by some of the Eastern European countries.

Tibor Navracsics, a former minister with the ultra conservative Hungarian government was to become commissioner of culture, but his nomination was voted down by the Parliament.

It is a tumultuous time for the new team of the EU.  In the guidelines he presented to the plenary session of the Parliament in July 2014, Jean-Claude Yuncker set his priorities as follows: a plan of public and private investment of 300 billion over three years to stimulate the economy, harmonizing budgetary policies of the member states and coping with the explosive surge of refugees.

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter.  She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries.  She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe.  Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents.  Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

Essex Garden Club Decorates Essex for the Holidays

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In preparation for the holidays, the Essex Garden Club members have decorated merchant window boxes and tubs of the villages of Essex as well as the town park gazebo on Main Street.  Using a variety of evergreen cuttings from members and other generous donors from the community, designers helped the town put on a festive face for the upcoming “Trees in the Rigging” on Sunday November 30 as well as the Holiday Stroll on December 6.  The “Silent Policeman” this year was transformed into a tribute to the late Oscar de la Renta, famed haute courtier known for his ruffles and flowing trains.  This year’s creation features an elegant skirt, bodice complete with corsage, topped by a lighted headdress, and was created by Dee Dee Charnok, Gay Thorn, and Sandy Meister, pictured here.

Special thanks go to Goody LeLash and Bette Taylor for organizing the decorating done by the members, and to David Caroline for seeing that the lights were turned on.

The Essex Garden Club extends its best wishes to all the residents of Essex, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton for a healthy, happy holiday.

Letter: A Nature Preserve Preserves All Living Creatures

To The Editor:

The Viney Hill Brook Nature Preserve is just that, a nature preserve. A nature preserve preserves all living creatures, especially those creatures that are indigenous to the area and benefit the ecosystem.

Beavers benefit our area in many ways. Look it up, it’s so easy with the world of Google. See for yourself.

Please, put Dec. 4, 7:30 on your calendar as a priority event to attend the Essex Conservation Commission’s meeting and let your voice be heard. It counts!

The Beaver family has received a stay of execution until Dec. 5. We can change this inhuman, backward thinking and irresponsible act of murder.  The Essex Conservation Commission has apparently not read their charge which is preserve not to kill.

Sincerely,

David Dorrance
Essex

Letter: Find Non-Kill Alternative for Beaver Issue

To the Editor:

The Conservation Commission of Essex currently plans to trap and drown a family of beavers at Viney Hill Brook Park.  There is considerable science that beavers are a vital part of our ecosystem and beneficial to our environment.  Where there are issues, there are also solutions that do not involve killing the animals, have proven successful at least 90% of the time, and cost less than the current plan to trap and drown.

The commissioners will assert that there is no direct cost to the town, but that is only because they have engaged a trapper who derives his bounty from the sale of the animals’ pelts.

If you agree that non-kill alternatives should be considered, please attend the Conservation Commission’s meeting at Town Hall on Thursday, December 4 to make your voice heard.

Sincerely,

Candace W. Konrad
Essex

Essex Republican Town Committee Supports Capital Project Bonding

elephant_party_republicanESSEX – The Essex Republican Town Committee supports the proposed bonding of $8.085 million for needed capital projects in Essex and encourages residents of Essex to vote in favor of the authorization at the referendum on December 15.

“The Essex Republican Town Committee appreciates the work of Capital Projects Building Committee members Bruce Glowac, Leigh Ann Rankin and Kelly Sterner.  We trust and respect their thorough research and reasoning and thank them for their service to the town,” said newly appointed Republican Town Committee Chair, Bruce MacMillian.  “We also feel strongly that the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance consider using some of the $2.9 million in the undesignated fund balance to reduce our bond obligation where appropriate.”

The Republican Town Committee encourages all Essex residents to exercise their rights and participate in town government by voting in the referendum on Monday, December 15 from 6am-8pm at Town Hall.

Fifth Annual Ivoryton Illuminations – Dec. 6

Tree4IVORYTON—  Looking for a different way to celebrate Christmas? Then head over to Ivoryton for the Fifth Annual Ivoryton Illuminations on December 6 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Ivoryton Alliance is pleased to announce that the TREE is back! The massive evergreen in the park is better than ever after recuperating for a year and will be fully lighted.

The entire village of Ivoryton will be participating in this Holiday Extravaganza with carol singing, Santa’s Grotto, Holiday Craft Bazaar, culminating with the lighting of the Ivoryton Illuminations at 6pm (over 250,000 lights!) and the arrival of Santa.

Family activities include writing letters to Santa, cards to our soldiers and Toys for Tots at the Ivoryton Library; Santa’s Grotto and visiting with Santa in the Playhouse (bring your camera if you want a picture!); Santa’s Christmas Workshop and Holiday Bazaar run by local church groups; Christmas books display at Essex Books: and music by The Sweet Adeline’s, VRHS Madrigals, and the CT Barbershop Quartet, all of whom will be playing at various locations throughout the village. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire plus more, provided by the Essex Lions Club, and special menus at The Ivoryton Tavern, The Blue Hound Cookery and The Copper Beech Inn.

Free parking will be available at the First Congregational Church, The Copper Beach Inn and The Essex Elementary School with shuttle bus service to the village. The Illuminations will remain through January 6th and visitors can tune their radios to 101.5FM and watch as the lights dance to the music!

This event is supported entirely by volunteers and corporate sponsors including Essex Lions, First Niagara, Essex Savings Bank, Citizens Bank, Guilford Savings Bank, Essex Meadows, Valley Courier, Riggio’s General Contractors and Essex Rotary Club.

Families in the tri-town area can join in the fun by entering our Outdoor Lights Competition. Simply elegant white or wild, crazy and colorful – celebrate in your own style! There are many great prizes donated by hometown businesses. Registration is free – you can register in person at The Hammered Edge Studio & Gallery LLC at 108 Main street in Ivoryton. You can also register by calling Chris Shane at 860-767-1147 or by email at yobbo1@hotmail.com. Just provide your first and last name, phone number and home address to register.

If you want to experience some real Christmas cheer, then come and join the party in Ivoryton, the brightest little village in Connecticut!

For more information, visit us online at www.ivorytonalliance.org

Essex Conservation Commission Considers Lethal Trapping of Beavers at Town Park

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ESSEX— The conservation commission will discuss possible lethal trapping of beavers in a pond at Viney Brook Park at its next regular meeting on Dec. 4. The meeting is set for 7:30. PM at town hall.

The appointed commission, which supervises town open space land, had already voted unanimously at a Nov. 6 meeting to pursue the trapping with a state licensed trapper that had worked with the commission previously. But word of the plan to allow lethal trapping of the beavers has drawn objections from some residents, including several residents who expressed their opposition at the Nov. 19 meeting of the board of selectmen.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the commission has decided to receive public comment on the plan at the Dec. 4 meeting, and then vote again on whether to authorize the trapping. The panel is concerned that a beaver lodge in one of the ponds in the 90-acre park is leading to damage to trees and a trail. The commission had previously authorized lethal trapping of beavers at the park in March 2011, a decision that also generated objections from some residents.

Letter: Beaver Policy is Short-Sighted

To the Editor:

I am writing as a concerned citizen of Essex and a daily walker in Viney Hill Preserve.  I felt 2 1/2 years ago and continue to feel that the “Beaver Control” policy of this “Preserve” is short-sighted and antithetical to the stated mission statement of the Preserve.

I say short sighted because 2 1/2 years ago, after the last Beaver Kill, a group of residents presented the Commission with a report and an alternative avenue for “Preservation” at No Cost To The Town.  Apparently, this was never investigated or pursed.  Rather than address what is obviously going to be a continuing saga, the Commission is again pursuing a kill policy.

I feel as a “Conservation Commission” they should, at the very least have investigated alternatives.  It is my hope that it is not too late to change this destructive course of action.

Sincerely,

Carol Richmond
Essex

Letter: Beaver Keystone Species in Ecosystem

To the Editor:

As a resident of Essex, it has come to my attention that a family of beavers in residence at Viney Brook Park is being threatened with “Lethal Entrapment”. This is death by drowning as sanctioned by the Essex Conservation Commission. This family of beavers lives within the confines of Essex Conservation Land.

It should be recognized that all species are important in an ecosystem, but keystone species like the beaver are especially vital in creating a habitat for wildlife. Conservation Commissioners are entrusted to be stewards of the environment. Their mission should be to preserve and protect the flora and fauna within our preserves and this includes the beaver!

Sincerely,
Joanne Deschler
Essex, CT

All Hat Day at Chester’s Holiday Market – Dec. 7

Eleanore Provencal is perfectly dressed for All Hat Day at the Chester Holiday Market as she sells GourmAvian all-natural poultry. She is one of about ten vendors of locally grown and produced foods who will be in Chester for the four weeks of the Holiday Market.

Eleanore Provencal is perfectly dressed for All Hat Day at the Chester Holiday Market as she sells GourmAvian all-natural poultry. She is one of about ten vendors of locally grown and produced foods who will be in Chester for the four weeks of the Holiday Market.

It’s All Hat Day in picturesque Chester Center on Sunday, Dec. 7, the second Sunday of the town’s annual Holiday Market.

Warm hats, fuzzy hats, funny hats… Feel free to don a hat to shop for your locally grown and produced foods from the Holiday Market vendors and keep it on as you browse through the specials at the galleries and shops in town. If you wear a hat to Lark, for instance, the shop will pay all the sales tax on your Lark purchases.

Margie Warner, songwriter, recording artist, storyteller and music consultant for young children, will perform many songs from her children’s CDs during a free, interactive musical extravaganza in the Leif Nilsson Gallery on Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Margie Warner, songwriter, recording artist, storyteller and music consultant for young children, will perform many songs from her children’s CDs during a free, interactive musical extravaganza in the Leif Nilsson Gallery on Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

You can even bring your knitting and get to work on your own hat at the Lori Warner Gallery in the relaxing company of other knitters. Donated new hats will be collected at the gallery for Safe Futures in New London, as well as throughout town for the Chester Community Holiday Gift Program.

If you’re a hat lover, you’ll definitely want to shop at C&G Unparalleled Apparel to see Jan Cummings’ collection of hats, check out the hat sale at CT River Artisans, and visit Dina Varano’s shop to see what she has specially created for Hat Day. And when you get chilly, warm up with cup of hot chocolate from The Villager or make your own Bloody Mary at the Pattaconk’s Bloody Mary Bar.

The Chester Historical Society is one of several community groups participating in the Chester Holiday Market. Here, wearing their hats for All Hat Day, are Historical Society trustees Matt Sanders and Diane Lindsay with a tableful of books and CDs about Chester for holiday gifts.

The Chester Historical Society is one of several community groups participating in the Chester Holiday Market. Here, wearing their hats for All Hat Day, are Historical Society trustees Matt Sanders and Diane Lindsay with a tableful of books and CDs about Chester for holiday gifts.

Held every Sunday until Christmas, the Chester Holiday Market is all about having fun in a festive setting while you shop. Market hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., but the shops are open all day. Free parking is available in two public parking lots, an easy way to town. More info is at http://chestersundaymarket.jimdo.com/, Facebook.com/ChesterHolidayMarket and Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT.

 

Letter: Conservation Commission Sanctions Barbaric and Inhumane Tactics

To the Editor:

The conservation commissioners of the Town of Essex have sanctioned barbaric and inhumane tactics — lethal entrapment and drowning — to eradicate a family of beavers at Viney Brook Hill Park, a local conservation property entrusted to the commissioners for safekeeping. Acting without clear and irrefutable scientific evidence of material environmental damage, the commissioners decided on November 6 to engage a trapper to exterminate the beavers as still sanctioned by the Connecticut General Statutes.

The Humane Society of the United States, like other responsible mainstream animal and environmental conservation advocacy organizations, decries trapping and drowning as inhumane under any circumstance.

A group of concerned citizens has asked for a stay of execution on the beavers’ behalf, and has secured a conceptual proposal from a globally-recognized wildlife biologist who has successfully mitigated beaver damage in scores of cases throughout New England alone. For a sum of under $2,000, this expert will conduct a site assessment and develop a tailored animal-friendly beaver mitigation strategy including the use of baffles and other noninvasive mechanical equipment. The concerned citizens are willing to bear the expense themselves, to spare the Town of Essex any cost.

If your readers, like our family, value responsible animal-friendly environmental conservation, I encourage them to attend the Town of Essex Conservation Commission’s meeting on December 4 and to ask that the Commission:

(1) Rescind its November 6, 2014 decision to lethally exterminate beavers

(2) Present incontrovertible expert scientific evidence of material environmental impairment at Viney Brook Hill Park; and

(3) If environmental damage is confirmed, explore and adopt a non-lethal, humane conservation strategy that protects both the wetlands AND their animal inhabitants.

Without action, our local beaver family — and possibly, other unsuspecting wetlands mammals — will be in mortal danger as soon as December 5.

Sincerely,

Scott Konrad
Essex

Letter: Ask for Beaver Reprieve

To the Editor:

While the competition for “Head Scratcher of the Year” is always stiff, I may have just encountered 2014’s winner.  

The Conservation Commission of the Town of Essex, established for “the purpose of protecting native plants and wildlife” has recently voted to exterminate a family of beaver at a town nature preserve.  Beaver are enjoying a renewed appreciation all around the Northern Hemisphere as they provide free eco-services to the habitat we all share. There are well established procedures for accommodating their presence.  The results are well worth the minimal attention these procedures require.  The Conservation Commission has been presented with these alternatives more than once yet more than once they have handed down their beaver death sentence.  After the residents of Essex are done scratching their heads about this, I urge them to contact Town Hall and ask for a Beaver Reprieve!

Sincerely,

Paul Leach
Essex

Letter: Beavers – Set Example for Our Children

To the Editor:

As another former member of the conservation commission I want to add my voice to those seeking justice for the beaver family in Viney Brook park. I see no reason to trap and then kill by drowning such a useful and hard working family living as nature intended them to do. What harm to the park and the environment will be prevented to justify this senseless act? Let’s show mercy in this case and set an example for our children we can be proud of.

Sincerely,

Rick Silverberg
Essex

Letter: Essex Conservation Commission Please Rethink Beaver Plans

To the Editor:

Below is a copy of a letter I sent to the Essex Conservation Commission on November 15, 2014:

Dear Conservation Commission,

As a former member of the commission I have tried to stay informed about your ongoing work and in as much just read the minutes from the November 6th meeting  and I find it disturbing that after several years, the commission seems again to be choosing an inappropriate measure in dealing with the beavers.

Viney Hill Brook Park was purchased by the Town as a nature preserve, and all that inhabits the preserve should be just that – preserved.  There is ample research and many appropriate alternatives to killing.  Beavers are indigenous to Connecticut and deserve the same protection any other animal living at Viney Hill Brook Park is afforded.

Further, your potential actions are in direct conflict with the rules and regulations you publish  –from the Conservation Commission brochure about Viney Hill Brook Park:

Please observe and follow the posted guidelines:

PASSIVE RECREATION

The passive recreation area of the park, managed by the Essex Conservation Commission, is open to the public for walking and hiking. It is not a playground, hunting area, bike path or campground. The area is a place where people can enjoy native plants and animals without altering or…

The State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has published a fact sheet on their  website providing details, among other things, of the benefits of beaver communities and options to help alleviate problems caused by beavers.

I urge you to rethink your plans and use a better measure to work and live with the beavers of Viney Hill Brook Park.

Respectfully,

Susan Malan
Essex, CT

 

Letter: Stand up for The Beavers

To the Editor:
It is beyond comprehension that the “Conservation Commission” would even think about destroying the natural habitat of Viney Brook Park in Essex by drowning a family of beavers! And I have to say I am disgusted to hear that this is not the first time this has happened. This makes no sense and is not at all like killing a poisonous snake in a populous area.
The beavers are only in their natural habitat…a place that you would think the “Conservation Commission” would want the natural lives of plants and animals to survive. Will they just keep killing every family that moves in? No doubt there will be more that come to live there.
Hopefully somehow this action will be stopped.
Sincerely,
Terri Temple
Essex, CT

Letter: Let the Beavers Stay

To the Editor:
Today I read a letter to the Editor pleading for the case of some recent immigrants to our village who are threatened with eviction, deportation, or maybe even decapitation. One shudders to think such treatment would ever be dealt to any who choose Essex as their home. Yet that’s what some newly arrived beavers face as the forces of normalcy and order are marshaled against them. I must say I am on the side of the writer and of the beavers. There are many well-intentioned folks who say we must preserve nature the way it is. Well, beavers are a vital and interesting part of that nature. I’m sure the Parks & Recreation Department can spare a few trees at Viney Hill. Who knows, the village may have just acquired a new “official mascot”. I say, let them stay!
Sincerely
Steve Haines,
Essex