July 23, 2014

Essex Town Meeting Gives Unanimous Approval for $200,000 Contribution to Preserve Land Purchase

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Wednesday gave unanimous approval for a $200,000 appropriation as the town’s contribution for purchase of the 70-acre portion of the Preserve property in Essex. More than 100 residents turned out for the meeting in the town hall auditorium, with a round of applause following approval of the funding on a voice vote without discussion.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the $200,000 would come from an open space acquisition sinking fund available in the current town budget. The town meeting vote ends years of debate about the wooded property that includes the Essex acreage off Ingham Hill Road that had been the subject of a subdivision application  in 2011.

Paul Greenberg with the Essex Land Trust, said the non-profit group is expected to at least match the town contribution for purchase of the portion of the property in Essex. Greenberg said the Trust has applied for a state grant of up to $350,000 that is awarded in October. He said the Trust would also use private fundraising for the purchase.

Old Saybrook voters in a July 8 referendum approved $3 million in bonding for purchase of the much larger 930-acre section of the property in their town. State bond funds will also be used for the total $8 million purchase, which is being coordinated by the non-profit Trust For Public Land. The purchase of the total 1,000-acre property for preservation  as public open space is expected to close by the end of the year.

Greenberg said the Essex section of the property would be owned by the Essex Land Trust,  while the larger Old Saybrook portion would be co-owned by that town and the state. Greenberg said access to the property from Essex would be off Ingham Hill Road, with trails in to the property to be improved for greater public access next year.

Selectman Bruce Glowac, who lives on Ingham Hill Road, spoke for the crowd when he expressed appreciation for the public acquisition of the total property. “We look forward to having 1,000 acres in the town next to us and in our town,” he said.

Ballot News Ranks Connecticut’s 33rd Senate Race One of Most Competitive Statewide

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Emily Bjornberg, Democratic candidate for the 33rd Senate Seat

Ballotnews.org ranked the most competitive legislative races in Connecticut on their website today, with the 33rd Senate contest ranked as one of the top four.

The ranking comes a day after Emily Bjornberg, the Democratic candidate for the 33rd Senate Seat, was approved by the State Elections Enforcement Commission for a clean elections fund grant ahead of her incumbent opponent Art Linares.

State grants require the candidate to demonstrate significant support behind their campaign, with small contributions required from at least 300 constituents and at least $15,000 raised in the aggregate.

The 33rd Senate contest is one of only four state senate races statewide held by an incumbent to be ranked as competitive on the Ballotnews.org list.   The full list can be found at:  www.ballotnews.org/ state-legislatures/ legislative-lowdown- identifying-competitive- connecticut-elections-in-2014/ 

Connecticut’s 33rd State Senate District includes the communities of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Old Saybrook as well as Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Lyme, Portland and Westbrook.

 

Play Ball! 19th-Century Style

The historical societies of Chester, Deep River and Essex are teaming up to present a tri-town Vintage Base Ball game on Sunday, Sept. 21 at Devitt Field in Deep River. The 2 p.m. game will be free to the public.

Three teams – one from each town – are being formed. The teams will play by late 19th-century rules (such as no bunting or stealing) and customs to recreate the earliest days of America’s pastime, when courtesy prevailed on and off the playing field. There is no swearing, no spitting and no “ungentlemanly” behavior anywhere during the games.

Ballists (players) will use replica equipment such as authentic reproduction wooden bats and hand-sewn hard balls. No gloves are worn.

The three teams will play two or three-inning games in a round-robin format.

Men and women over age 16 who enjoy playing baseball and have an interest in the game’s history are encouraged to submit their name to chestercthistoricalsociety@gmail.com before July 29 to be considered for a team. Team members will be asked to pay $20 each for a vintage team shirt.

Deep River Selectmen Pick Three Firms to Build on Town-Owned Industrial Land

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has picked three firms to be offered a chance to build on a town-owned parcel at the Plattwood Park Industrial Area off Route 80. The firms are Winthrop Tool LLC, Top Notch Electrical Services, and  Moyers Landscaping Services LLC.

The firms will be allowed to construct three new industrial buildings as part of an economic development plan endorsed by the selectmen last year. The town purchased a four-acre parcel located off Industrial Park Road from local resident Gary Mislick for $270,000 to be paid in three annual installments. To pay for the acquisition, it used income derived from rentals in two industrial buildings that were constructed using state grant funds in 1997 and 2004.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the town will sponsor construction of a 300-foot road that would open up the parcel for three new industrial buildings. Under preliminary plans, Winthrop Tool LLC would construct a 12,000 square-foot building, Moyers Landscaping a 9,600 square-foot building, with Top Notch Electrical Services to construct a 4,500 square-foot building. Contracts expected to be signed later this summer would require the firms to begin construction within six months. Smith said Monday all three firms are ready to begin construction this year.

Under the contracts, the town will receive property tax revenue for the land, even though it is the land owner, and all buildings, equipment, and machinery on the parcel. Each of the three firms is already involved in the Plattwood Park Industrial Area, with Winthrop Tool and Top Notch Electrical Services currently leasing space in the two existing town owned buildings. Smith said the two firms have “maxed out,” in their rental space and are looking to expand. Moyers Landscaping Services owns an abutting parcel that contains a 12,000 square-foot building.

Smith said new buildings for Winthrop Tool and Top Notch Electrical Services would free up space in the two town owned buildings for new tenants. Smith said the board of selectmen next year would consider selling the two existing buildings, with income from the sale to be placed in a separate fund for future economic development efforts.

Saybrook Point Inn & Spa Donates $25,000 to The Preserve

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, Old SAybrook.

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, Old Saybrook.

OLD SAYBROOK –– The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, through the Louis F. and Mary A. Tagliatela Family Foundation, has donated $25,000 to “The Preserve,” a swath of 1,000 acres of coastal forest along the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, Connecticut.  As the largest unprotected coastal forest between New York and Boston, this land is rich in natural resources, wildlife and habitat that not only offers residents with outdoor recreational opportunities, but also provides an important coastal buffer against storm waters during natural disasters.  Residents of Connecticut treasure this 1,000-acre coastal forest as a place to connect with nature close to home. Known locally as The Preserve, the woodland plays an important role in maintaining water quality in Trout Brook and the Oyster and Mud rivers, which feed into the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. The partnership to preserve and protect this natural ecosystem in Connecticut consists of the State of Connecticut, neighboring towns (Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook), and The Trust for Public Land.

“On behalf of my family, we are proud to be able to preserve and protect one of Connecticut’s most sacred ecosystems for generations to come,” said Stephen Tagliatela, Innkeeper/Managing Partner, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa. “It’s always been a founding principle of our family to care and maintain the environment we live in. It’s through our efforts, in cooperation with the Trust for Public Land, Town of Old Saybrook, and Essex Land Trust, that we will conserve this important coastal forest to forever as a natural asset for our region and our state.”

On Tuesday, July 8th, voters in Old Saybrook overwhelmingly approved the purchase of “The Preserve,” which will now be protected in perpetuity as open space for Connecticut residents for generations to come. As the largest unprotected coastal forest between New York City and Boston, this 1,000-acre ecosystem will be permanently protected from future development. It will connect to 500 acres of existing town parkland providing expanded opportunities for hiking and viewing a variety of birds and other wildlife.

“We are very grateful that the Tagliatela family has made this very generous gift to support the Campaign to Protect the 1,000 Acre Forest,” said Kate Brown, Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land. “This is a wonderful boost that will help us move closer to the fundraising goal and permanent protection of the land.”

The Louis F. and Mary A. Tagliatela Foundation was established in 1997 by North Haven business leader Louis F. Tagliatela. Over the years, the Foundation has donated more than $9 million to support local non-profit organizations including hospitals, schools and churches. In addition, the organization helped establish the Tagliatela School of Engineering at the University of New Haven and the Tagliatela School of Business at Albertus Magnus College.

The Preserve is a 1,000-acre coastal forest located in Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook, Connecticut. It is the largest unprotected coastal forest remaining between New York City and Boston. The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a refueling stop for many migratory birds, and the many freshwater seeps on the property are home to amphibian species such as the northern dusky salamander, spotted turtles, and box turtles. Bobcats and fisher cats have also been spotted on the property.  The land includes 38 vernal pools, 114 acres of wetlands, headwaters of the Oyster River, and tributaries of the Mud and Trout Brook Rivers. These rivers eventually flow into Long Island Sound.

The property has a fifteen-year history of development proposals, foreclosure, and lawsuits by neighbors and conservationists opposing its development. The land is currently owned by Lehman Brothers Holdings, the holding company that emerged from the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. The holding company has agreed to sell the property to The Trust for Public Land for its fair market value of $8.09 million. If protected, this highly unusual intact coastal forest will be preserved and the public will have passive recreational access to the property via trails.

The Trust for Public Land is working in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environ-mental Protection, the Towns of Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook, the Old Saybrook Land Trust, the Essex Land Trust, The Connecticut Fund for the Environment, the Alliance for Sound Area Planning, Audubon Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy, and others to raise the funding necessary to protect The Preserve. The goal of the fundraising effort is to raise $10 million to cover the purchase price, costs and stewardship. We expect to raise $3 million via a private fundraising campaign, to supplement $7 million in public funding.

Since it opened 25 years ago, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa has adapted and changed. It has taken a decidedly green direction, win­ning numerous awards for its often best-in-class green practices, including the first Connecticut inn to be named a Certified Energy Hotel in 2007. The Inn now features SANNO, a full service European spa, as well as Fresh Salt, a restaurant designed by Peter Niemitz that opened to strong reviews in 2011.  The property employs more than 260 hospitality professionals in the town of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, and is among the town’s top employers and economic engines.

Saybrook Point Inn & Spa recently opened its new Three Stories guesthouse adjacent to the main Inn. Thiscompletely renovated Italianate home overlooking Long Island Sound was originally built in 1892 as a single-family home for the prominent engineer William Vars. The property has been fully refurbished and revitalized as a seven-room guesthouse with wrap around porches and private gardens, making it the perfect retreat for couples, families and friends to reconnect, rejoice and create lasting memories and experiences. Each individually designed room features a pri­vate balcony, fireplace, fine linens, heated bathroom floors, multiple showerheads, extensive water views, and original artwork by local artists. As a testament to its rich history, each room at Three Stories tells the story of a famed local resident who made sure that the history of the community was well preserved. This includes Katharine Hepburn’s mother, who was a co-founder of Planned Parenthood and leading suffragette, and Anna Louise James, who had the distinction of being one of the first African-American female pharmacists in America and ran the James Pharmacy locally.

About Saybrook Point Inn & Spa

Situated along the picturesque coastal community of historic Old Saybrook, Connecticut in the hamlet of Saybrook Point, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa features 82 elegantly appointed guestrooms, a rejuvenating full-service spa called SANNO, and a casual fine dining restaurant named Fresh Salt. Luxurious spa amenities include 11 treatment rooms, and diverse menu of services including massages, facials, body wraps, manicures and pedicures. SANNO is a latin word meaning to make sound or to heal. The goal at SANNO is to help guests be well, look well, feel well, and eat well. Fresh Salt diners savor fresh, seasonal and local cuisine served in Old Saybrook’s most spectacular setting – the spot where the fresh waters of the Connecticut River meet the salt of Long Island Sound. It’s a treasured and historic place, rich in life, and the restaurant reflects that lively diversity. The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa also features the historic Saybrook Point Marina, a landmark yachting dock conveniently located at the mouth of the Connecticut River with easy access to Long Island Sound. The marina is Connecticut’s first designated Clean Marina, featuring friendly concierge service, award-winning onsite cuisine, AAA Four Diamond accommodations, an indulgent spa, and a community-based member-driven health club. It can accommodate vessels from 12 to 200 feet and has received numerous premier Connecticut marina awards. More information is available at www.saybrook.com.

About the Trust for Public Land

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at www.tpl.org.

 

Master Plan Suggests Library Site for Chester’s North Quarter Park

Chester Library Is Considering an Expansion

Chester Library Is Considering an Expansion (photo by Jerome Wilson)

CHESTER— A proposed master plan has identified a potential site for a new library and other possible improvements for the town’s North Quarter Park. The plan recommended by the town’s North Quarter Park committee was presented to about 25 residents at a public information meeting Wednesday.

The plan for the 22-acre park on the eastern end of Main Street was prepared over the past eight weeks by landscape architects Richter & Cegan Inc. of Avon. A key component of the plan suggests locating a two-story, 8,000-square foot library on the front section of the parcel, with the main entrance from a proposed 50 space parking area in back of the building.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the plan would help guide the efforts of a separate library building committee that is currently working to develop preliminary plans for a new library building in time to meet an August 29 deadline for submitting an application for a state library construction grant of up to $1 million. “The committees are working together to do sufficient work to be positioned well for the grant application,” he said. The library building committee has recommended hiring LLB Architects (Lerner, Lads & Bartells) of Pawtucket, R.I. to prepare preliminary design plans for the library building.

Landscape architect Mike Cegan outlined other possible improvements for the park, including a pavilion and lawn area, a multi-purpose improved recreation field and trails that would provide access to the northern section of the park that has views of tidal wetlands and Chester Creek. The existing children’s playground would be relocated, with the site of the former community center building that has frontage on Route 154 recommended as the location for a parks and recreation storage shed. There would be no improvements in wetlands areas.

The proposed master plan drew a generally positive response from residents at the meeting, though two residents continued to question the decision made earlier this year by the board of selectmen and library board of trustees to abandon plans for a renovation and expansion of the existing 1907 library building on West Main Street (Route 148).

Joe Cohen contended there are “too many moving parts” to the library/park project and a separate plan to reconstruct a section of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 to the entrance of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. Cohen also questioned the total cost of the library project and possible park improvements.

Meehan said securing the state grant that is awarded in November would be a major step in lining up funding for construction of a new library, though a bonding authorization would also be required to pay for construction of the new building. Meehan said the town could pursue completion of other improvements at the park “over time” by setting aside funds in the annual town budget’s capital improvements plan, and seeking other grant funding.

Old Saybrook Gives Overwhelming Approval for $3 Million Preserve Land Purchase

Polling taking place at the Old Saybrook High School (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Polling taking place at the Old Saybrook High School (photo by Jerome Wilson)

OLD SAYBROOK— Voters Tuesday gave overwhelming approval for $3 million in bonding for the town’s share of a planned $8 million purchase of the Preserve property, described as the “1,000 acre forest.” The bonding for the 930 acres located in Old Saybrook was approved on a 2,002-242 vote in an eight-hour referendum.

About 20 percent of the town’s 7,361 registered voters turned out for the referendum, with 115 property owners who are not registered voters in Old Saybrook also casting ballots. The bonding approval is the key element in a combination of funding sources that is expected to lead to a closing on the property by the end of the year.

First Selectman Carl Fortuna said he was not surprised by the huge margin of support. “This has been a generational issue in this town and it’s finally being put to bed,” Fortuna said, adding that he was aware of no organized opposition to the bonding authorization while “there was certainly organized support.”

The parcel, which includes 70 acres in Essex and four acres in Westbrook, is located off Bokum Road and Ingham Hill Road in Old Saybrook and Ingham Hill Road in Essex. The property had been the subject of development proposals dating back to 1999 that once called for over 200 homes and a golf course. It is currently owned by River Sound Development/Lehman Brothers, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers setting the stage for negotiations that led to a purchase plan earlier this year. The purchase negotiations were coordinated by the non-profit Trust For Public Land.

Along with the Old Saybrook contribution, the plan calls for about $3.3 million in state funding and about $1.9 million from the Trust For Public Land. Essex voters will be asked at a July 16 town meeting to approve a $200,000 town funding contribution, with the Essex Land Conservation Trust also contributing through private fund raising. The Essex town meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m.at town hall.

Fortuna said the acreage in Old Saybrook would be co-owned by the town and the state. The Essex Land Conservation Trust will own the section of the property in Essex. Fortuna said trails through the vast property should be improved and ready for public use by the summer of 2015.

Supporters of the referendum near the polling station (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Supporters of the referendum near the polling station (photo by Jerome Wilson)

 

Blumenthal Urges “Yes” Vote for $3 Million Towards Purchase of ‘The Preserve’

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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at July 7 rally for a “yes vote” at July 8 referendum

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal came to the Old Saybrook Green on Monday, July 7, to urge Old Saybrook voters to vote “Yes” in a referendum to grant $3 million of town monies to help purchase 930 undeveloped acres in the open land known as The Preserve. The referendum for Old Saybrook voters will be held on Tuesday, July 8, at the Old Saybrook High School gymnasium, and the polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

Other public officials urging a “Yes” vote on the July 8 town referendum were: Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, State Representative Phil Miller; and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna said in his prepared remarks, “This property has been at the center of attention, good and bad, for 20 years. It is now time for resolution. We are optimistic that enough private and public funds can be raised to purchase the property and preserve The Preserve in its natural state. The Town will work cooperatively with all parties in this effort, including DEEP. Most importantly, I will work for and listen to Old Saybrook’s residents as they decide the future of this parcel.”

State Representative Miller said in his prepared remarks, “We’re grateful to the citizens of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, and our allies, the Trust for Public Land, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Governor Malloy, Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, Congressman Courtney, First Selectmen Fortuna and Needleman and the Connecticut legislature. A thousand acres forever preserved. What a rightful thing.”

Essex First Selectman Urges “Yes Vote”

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said in his prepared remarks, “Over in Essex, we’re excited about the proposition for acquiring this majestic property. Essex will hold a public hearing and town meeting to approve a $200,000 appropriation for the purchase on July 16 and look forward to joining our neighbors in Old Saybrook in support of this wonderful project.”

The Essex town meeting to consider approval of the town’s $200,000 appropriation to The Preserve’s acquisition will be held at 6:45 p.m. on July 16 at Essex Town Hall.

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Senator Blumenthal takes time to chat with Democratic State Senate candidate, Emily Bjornberg, at referendum rally

Other Supporters of Acquisition

Other remarks for the occasion were offered by Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, who said, “Coming off July Fourth weekend, this is an exciting time for Old Saybrook to exercise their patriotic rights and vote to protect this important piece of land here in town.”

Also, Alicia Sullivan, Connecticut State Director of the Trust for Public Land said, “We commend Governor Malloy and the General Assembly for the state’s early funding commitment to this significant landscape. Also, we are grateful to Senator Blumenthal and our congressional delegation for supporting federal conservation programs that the state will use for this acquisition.”

An audience of some 30 to 40 persons attended the pre-vote July 7 rally.

New Application for 444 Main Street Requires Variances from Deep River Zoning Board

DEEP RIVER— The new special permit application to allow a used motor vehicle dealership at 444 Main Street will require approval of variances from the zoning board of appeals before it can proceed to a scheduled July 17 public hearing before the planning and zoning commission. A public hearing on the variance requests is scheduled for July 8 at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

Local resident George Bartlett Jr. is seeking approvals for a used motor vehicle sales and service operation at the site of the former manufacturing building he purchased in 2012. The effort has led to two years of zoning disputes, and two lawsuits involving the planning and zoning commission and the ZBA.

An initial proposal in June 2012 led to a lawsuit with the ZBA that is now headed for a settlement to clarify exactly what variances the board approved after a June 19, 2012 public hearing.   The planning and zoning commission in May approved revised regulations governing motor vehicle dealerships and gasoline stations that eliminated one of the issues that forced Bartlett to apply for a variance in 2012, a requirement  that such uses have at least 150-feet of road frontage in the turnpike industrial zone.

But Bartlett, represented by Essex lawyer John Bennet, objected, and later filed a lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court challenging the zoning amendments approved by the commission on May 15. Bennet contends two other amendments that were approved, requiring that entrances be at least 30-feet wide with a 30-foot setback from adjoining lot lines and for paving of areas where vehicles are stored, would make it “virtually impossible” for Bartlett to develop the property as a motor vehicle dealership. Bennet also alleges in the lawsuit that commission members are prejudiced against Bartlett and his plans for the property.

But Bartlett has also filed a new special permit application for the vehicle dealership that will be considered by the planning and zoning commission under the previous regulations that were in place before the approval of the amendments. The application is scheduled for a July 17 public hearing with the PZC.

Under the new site plan, Bartlett is requesting variances of the requirements for an island for the parking area at the rear of the property, and to reduce the requirement for a 50-foot front yard setback to 30-feet. He is also seeking location approval for the motor vehicle dealership under a state law that requires approval from zoning appeals boards before a state license can be approved for a motor vehicle dealership.

Cathy Jefferson, zoning enforcement officer, said Monday she has not been instructed by the commission to appear at the July 8 ZBA hearing and speak in opposition to the variances, as was the case in 2012. Jefferson said the commission is ready to proceed with the July 17 public hearing on the new application. “If he gets the variances, we’ll take the next step,” she said.

Letter: Responding to the OS Economic Development Commission on The Preserve

To The Editor:

The OS EDC, which has itself endorsed the acquisition of The Preserve, recently released a letter asking five questions.  They deserve a response.  In order of importance, they are:

  1. Cost to the taxpayer.   In short, very little and perhaps nothing at all.  Read on.

    Acquiring The Preserve under the proposed agreement saves Old Saybrook potentially tens of millions of dollars the town would have incurred if development as planned had gone forward—and might still incur if The Preserve is left open to development.  Perhaps more important to some residents is that acquiring The Preserve will almost certainly save Old Saybrook money.  First, the cost to taxpayers for the bonding required for the town’s share of the purchase price—less than 40%–implies annual property taxes for a median home of $12 to $24 dollars, depending on the form of bonding.  So for $1-$2 a month, residents take control of an extraordinarily important 1000 acres, the headwaters of three rivers, a critical source of clean water for the area aquifer, and an environmentally important area.  Second, the costs the town now incurs will almost certainly go down.  The proposed agreement includes a very substantial permanent endowment (perhaps reaching $1 million) which will provide funds to cover proper management of The Preserve, including trail mapping, trail marking (so folks no longer get lost on the unmarked, tangled trails they now hike), and permit sustainable forestry practices.  In addition, because of the partnership with the State, state conservation officers will share the responsibility for policing the area, relieving Old Saybrook police of some of that responsibility.  And because the area will now be managed properly, residents in Old Saybrook and adjacent towns no longer face the very real threat of damage to the aquifer and degradation of their water supply—thus again saving potentially thousands of dollars for every household affected.  On balance, it is almost certain that town costs will fall by more than the cost of the bonding.

    Wen considering costs, beyond the offsetting savings we can immediately recognize, preserving The Preserve will create value for the town and the region.  Real estate professionals will tell you that the two things potential home buys ask about are the quality of the schools and access to public open space, whether parks or forests.  Multiple studies confirm that towns that acquire and manage significant open space clearly benefit along a host of vectors.   Given how well this acquisition is planned, with the creation of an endowment to provide continuous funding and the partnership with State, preserving The Preserve will deliver real value to the town and the region.

  2. Why the State is interested in assuming more than 40% of the purchase price: Connecticut has, since the early 1970s, taken a very strong bipartisan interest in preserving open space and improving environmental quality.  Perhaps some remember when the lower Connecticut River was heavily polluted and the target of quite embarrassing coverage by the New York Times.  The river is now remarkably clean and a major asset to the region.  Moreover, the Federal government provides significant financial incentives and support for these kinds of initiatives, which are so important to sustaining and strengthening a healthy natural environment.
  3. Has anyone approached Lehman Brothers directly?  I don’t know; I suspect not.  Frankly, Old Saybrook could acquire very little by trying to “go it alone” with its $3 million.  Buying two fifths of The Preserve appears absurd on its face—it avoids none of the potential costs the town would incur if the balance of the land were then developed (new school, new police and fire stations, roads and bridges to maintain—a frightening potential cost)—and captures almost none of the benefits.  It would not achieve environmental protection nor guarantee against degradation of the aquifer with the threat to the three rivers that draw on The Preserve; it would not create well-managed public access; it would not provide an endowment to provide funding to manage and maintain the property.  It is an approach that would have secured virtually no benefit but left the town open to potentially massive expenses in the future.
  4. Is hunting allowed?  Just as with the existing 500-acre Gleason property that Old Saybrook owns, state law does permit “regulated hunting” on these kinds of open spaces.  But Old Saybrook has never permitted hunting on the Gleason property, and it is unlikely that the town would permit it on The Preserve.  Moreover, given that this a state statutory requirement, if the issue ever did emerge—and there is no reason to anticipate that it will, as it has never come up with the Gleason property—then modifying the state law would be quite straight forward.   Besides, leaving The Preserve in private hands would make hunting in all forms much much more likely—just as leaving it in private hands runs the very significant risk of future developments that will impose significant continuing costs on the town.
  5. What are the pros and cons?  The comments above point to multiple pros.  Whether your interest is in environmental protection, assuring access to high quality water (the aquifer), avoiding degradation to rivers flowing form The Preserve, having easy access to a wide array of passive recreational activities, making the region more attractive to potential residents, or simply preserving the forest canopy which mitigates global warming (the NE is an important carbon sink, especially during some months), acuiring The Preserve for a comparatively small sum makes eminent good sense.  And then add the shared responsibility (and costs) with the state and the first-ever dedication endowment in support of a part or open space, and it is extremely hard to find an argument against this acquisition.

    The cons?  I have been listening intently for nearly a year.  I haven’t heard one argument against this initiative that withstood careful scrutiny and thought.   I believe that the answers to the OS EDC questions strongly confirms that view.

Acquiring The Preserve and thus preserving it for all time is simply a winner on every count.  Old Saybrook will be quite wise to join with the Trust for the Public Lands, the State of Connecticut, and hundreds of individuals who have pledged more than $1 million of their own money to make this happen.  Let’s take control of our future: vote “Yes” on July 8.

Sincerely,

Fred V. Carstensen

Professor of Finance and Economics
Director, Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis
University of Connecticut

Resident: Old Saybrook

Deep River Historical Society Exhibit Marks World War I Centennial

Arthur Winschel and Alice Johnson. Winschel's father was the parent of World War I veteran, William Winschel

Arthur Winschel and Alice Johnson stand in the new World War I exhibition at the Stone House Museum in Deep River. Winschel and Johnson’s father was World War I veteran, Pte. William Winschel. (Photos by Jerome Wilson.)

DEEP RIVER— The Deep River Historical Society is hosting an exhibit highlighting the role of town residents in World War I, which began as a conflict among the great powers of Europe in August 1914. The exhibit, at the society’s Stone House Museum on Main Street, opens Saturday and continues through the end of October.

America entered the war in May 1917 in the wake of German submarine attacks on ships in the Atlantic Ocean. Records show a total of 112 Deep River residents served during the 18 months of United States involvement in the conflict that ended with the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. The date that is now marked as the Veteran’s Day holiday.

Kathy Schultz, assistant curator at the Stone House, said the society reviewed its collection, and received several new donations and loans to prepare for the exhibit. The exhibit has uniforms and equipment, including helmets and gas masks, used by town residents during the war. There are also photographs and century-old postcards brought home from France, where most of the town residents served.

Uniform of World War I Sergeant Harry Mavin, who war the first Commander of American Legion Post 61 in Deep River

Uniform of World War I Sergeant Harry Mavin, who war the first Commander of American Legion Post 61 in Deep River

While the last of the town’s World War I veterans died in the 1970s and 1980s, there are several residents whose fathers served in the war that some called “the war to end all wars.” Siblings Arthur Winschel and Alice Johnson are the children of Private Willam Winschel, who entered the war at age 21 in the fall of 1917 as part of the New York-based 305th Infantry regiment. Winschel was wounded during fighting in France in November 1918, and returned to Deep River several months later.

Arthur Winschel said his father survived a German mustard gas attack that damaged his lungs. Despite the injury, William Winschel later worked at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and died in 1974 at age 77. The Winschel siblings, who were not yet born when their father was in the war, have donated several items to the exhibit, including his uniform.

Schultz said society members are hoping other residents from Deep River or nearby towns with relatives who served in World War I will visit the exhibit, and possibly provide information or photographs of area residents that served in the war. “We want it to be an ongoing exhibit,” she said.

The Stone House hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m., with the exception of Saturday, July 19, when Main Street hosts the annual Deep River Fife and Drum Muster.

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore Membership

Imagine coming to a country where the language and culture are foreign to you and only a smile is universal. Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore’s literacy program directly acclimates students to the English language, culture, and idioms. With expanding literacy skills, confidence grows and transition begins.  Imagine progressing from being functionally illiterate in the English language to gaining employment, building relationships, becoming a citizen or even owning your own business.  Memberships supports the literacy needs of you, your family, your employees or your neighbors to better improve their personal, work and life skills.

How is LVVS unique?  Our tutoring services are free, confidential, and supportive. LVVS endeavors to meet the student “where they are” and address their needs and wants. We have pride in what we do for the betterment of the community. LVVS is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit agency and your contribution, at any level, is fully tax deductible.  Visit our website www.vsliteracy.org to make a credit card payment or send a check to LVVS, Inc. P.O. Box 1006, Westbrook, CT 06498. Thank you for supporting an organization you care about in your community.

Saybrook Stage Producing “Rumors” By Neil Simon Live at The Kate – Jul. 24 – 27

The non-profit production company “Saybrook Stage” will be performing “Rumors” by Neil Simon live at The Kate!

This hilariously funny play by Neil Simon is a fast-paced comedy and will be performed live at The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center from  July 24th  through July 27th .  “Rumors” is an insanely funny comedy about four couples celebrating the 10th wedding anniversary of one of their friends. The couples arrive at the party only to find a rapidly developing set of unexpected, unlikely and unusual events that creates the humor that unfolds.

When:  July 24th  thru  July26th  at 8 p.m. and at 3 p.m. on  Sunday July 27th

What: Live production of ” Rumors ” by Neil Simon

Where: The Kate in Old Saybrook

Tickets  can be purchased directly at www.TheKate.org or  by calling  877.503.1286

Six Firms Express Interest in Building on Deep River Industrial Land

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen is expected to decide next month on three firms that would be given an opportunity to construct industrial buildings on a recently acquired town-owned industrial parcel on the western side of the Plattwood Park Industrial Area.

Six firms submitted letters on interest for use of the industrial land last month. The firms are Top Notch Electrical Services LLC, Winthrop Toll and Tackle LLC, Interpro, Colaner Inc., and Olsen Sanitation Co., all of Deep River, and Moyers Landscaping Services LLC of Killingworth.

The town purchased the four-acre parcel earlier this year from local resident Gary Mislick at a appraised price of $270,000. The land is to be paid for in three installments, using revenue generated from the two town-owned small business incubator buildings on Industrial Park Road. The buildings, which are usually fully occupied with tenants, were constructed using Small Cities Program grant funds, with the first building completed in the late 1990s, and the second about a decade ago.

Smith said engineers with the Chester firm Nathan Jacobson Associates have determined up to three new industrial buildings could be constructed on the parcel, two larger buildings of up to 12,00 square-feet, and a small 5,000 square-foot building. He said contracts would require a start of construction within six months of signing.

The new industrial buildings are expected to generate tax revenue on buildings, equipment and machinery, along with creating new jobs for area residents. Smith said the board would discuss, and possibly act, on the proposals at its July 8 meeting.

Saybrook Point Inn Sponsors Sea Scouts at CRM Boat Building Workshop

Commodore Marshall Parsons of the Sea Scouts and Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina shake hands to commemorate the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina’s sponsorship. The sponsorship will allow several Sea Scouts to take part in the Connecticut River Museum’s public Boat Building Workshop to be held in August. From left to right: Reggie Walden of Old Saybrook, Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parson, Steve Taglietela, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook and Cameron Fogg of Old Saybrook.

Commodore Marshall Parsons of the Sea Scouts and Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina shake hands to commemorate the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina’s sponsorship. The sponsorship will allow several Sea Scouts to take part in the Connecticut River Museum’s public Boat Building Workshop to be held in August. From left to right: Reggie Walden of Old Saybrook, Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parson, Steve Taglietela, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook and Cameron Fogg of Old Saybrook.

The Connecticut River Museum is pleased to announce that it has received a sponsorship from the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina that will allow Sea Scouts to build a CRM 12 skiff as part of a public three-day workshop in August.  The 12’ skiff is reflective of the traditional boats that were built locally in the late 19th and early 20th century.  With great versatility, these skiffs were used for fishing, rowing and sailing on the River and in the tidal marshes and tributaries.

After hearing that the Museum was piloting a summer boat building workshop for families and adults, Stephen Tagliatela (2012 “RiverMan” of the Year), managing partner of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina wanted to make a difference by sponsoring a boat that the local Sea Scout crew members could build.  Tagliatela’s father was an Eagle Scout and built model power and sail boats.  Two of the models won awards in the New York Boat Show of 1939 and are now displayed in Saybrook Point Inn’s restaurant, Fresh Salt.  He said “It is important to provide opportunities to our future adults and leaders.”  Tagliatela went on to say that “building a boat creates a sense of accomplishment and helps to develop the critical life skills of problem solving and teamwork.”

Since 1912 Sea Scouts has been part of the Boy Scouts of America.  Sea Scouts is a coed program offered to young adults 14 years (or 13 years and completed the eighth grade) through age 21. This youth maritime training program is organized to address members’ boating skills and promote knowledge of America’s maritime heritage.  The Scout units are called “Ships”.  The local Ship out of Westbrook is captained by AJ Maxwell. For more information about Sea Scouts, contact the New England Sea Scout Flotilla Commodore Marshall Parsons at twinpars@earthlink.net and/or 860-938-7681.  Mr. Parsons is excited to have this opportunity and noted that “we are opening this up to a limited number of parents and teenagers who would like to know more about Sea Scouts.”

The three-day boat building workshop that the Connecticut River Museum is offering for families and adults will be held on August 22 – 24.  Participants can either do the workshop as individuals or as a group (up to four people).  There is no previous boat building experience required to build one of these kits.  However, organizers do expect that participants will have basic woodworking knowledge.

Space is extremely limited for the boat building workshop.  Participants must be at least 10 years old (13 if they are doing it as part of the Sea Scout program) and accompanied by an adult.  The deadline to register is Monday, July 14.  The $1,500 program fee includes all the supplies needed to build the CRM 12, oars, and instruction.  By the end of the weekend, participants will have a nearly completed boat (all but paint) that is ready to take home. The basic kit is designed to be rowed.  However, a sailing conversion kit and sail is available for an additional cost.  Paul Kessinger, owner of Madison Kit Builders, has donated and constructed a CRM 12 that is now on display at the Museum for those interested in seeing the final product. Thanks to the generous donation of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, there is no cost toSea Scouts. For more information, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

The Sea Scouts gathered at the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Tagliatela, Chris Dobbs and Boat Building Volunteers to celebrate the sponsorship. The Scouts will be one of the groups that take part in the public Boat Building Workshop held at the Museum in August. Left to right: Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parsons, Museum Director Chris Dobbs, Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, Paul Kessinger of Madison, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook, Skipper AJ Maxwell of Chester and Tom Doggart of Niantic.

The Sea Scouts gathered at the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Tagliatela, Chris Dobbs and Boat Building Volunteers to celebrate the sponsorship. The Scouts will be one of the groups that take part in the public Boat Building Workshop held at the Museum in August. Left to right: Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parsons, Museum Director Chris Dobbs, Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, Paul Kessinger of Madison, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook, Skipper AJ Maxwell of Chester and Tom Doggart of Niantic.

 

Essex Island Marina to be Sold to the Highest Bidder at Auction on Tuesday, August 5

A bird's eye view of the Essex Island Marina

A bird’s eye view of the Essex Island Marina. (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneer)

One of the land marks of the Town of Essex, the Essex Island Marina, will be sold at auction on Tuesday, August 5. The auction will be held at the Essex Island Marina, which is located on its very own island, and which has the address of 11 Ferry Street in Essex. The auction will start at 11:00 a.m.

The Essex Island Marina will be sold at what is called an “Absolute Auction.” This means that the marina will be sold to the winning bidder, regardless of the price, as long as it is over $75,000.

A representative of JJ Manning, the company which is conducting the auction, was asked if this is not a dangerous strategy to open with such a low price. The representative said that in the long run, “having a low, opening price frequently attracts the highest sales price for the property.”

The Essex Island Marina’s property consists of 13.2 plus, acres on a private island on the Connecticut River. The site has 125 boat slips, a gas dock, a repair shop, a laundry, a swimming pool, a dog walk, and inside and outside boat storage facilities. There is also a restaurant on the site. In addition, the sale includes the boats used to take passengers to and from the island, and miscellaneous equipment and leases.

Property Tour on July 22

Boat storage at the marina (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneers)

Boat storage at the marina (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneers)

There will be a tour of the site for prospective bidders on Tuesday, July 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Terms for the winning big include: payment of a 10% certified deposit of the winning bid, due within three business days of auction, and payment of the full price of the bid, 45 days after the close of the auction.

JJ Manning, conductor of the auction, bills itself as, “the leading professional auction marketing firm in the Northeast U.S.” The company is headquartered in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts.

Marina Is Presently Family Owned

The present owner of the Essex Island Marina is Wallie Schieferdecker, who lives in Essex. Schieferdecker operates the marina with the assistance of his two daughters, Dawn and Kyle.

Paul Risseeu, the Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy in Essex, and who occasionally operates the ferry from the main land to the Essex Island Marina, says that the Essex Island Marina, “is a class operation.”  Risseuw also observes that, “the yacht business has been tough lately, because people are moving to owning smaller boats.” Also, “it is part of the five year recession in the country,” he says.

Editor’s Note:  Justin J. Manning, President of the Auctioneer Firm J.J. Manning, has provided the following clarification of the auction process: “The auction is Absolute, which means that it sells to the highest bidder, period.  The $75,000 is merely the initial deposit made by the buyer on auction day, not the starting bid.  This Marina appraised 14 years ago for $1.23 million and would likely appraise today for well over $2 million.  The real estate tax appraisal in $1.53 million.”

Essex Sets July 16 Town Meeting for $200,000 Contribution to Preserve Land Purchase

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has scheduled a July 16 town meeting to vote on a $200,000 appropriation that would be the town’s contribution towards the planned $8.1 million purchased of the 1,000-acre Preserve property that includes 70 wooded acres in Essex. The town meeting vote in contingent on referendum approval in Old Saybrook of a $3 million bonding authorization that would be that town’s contribution to the total land purchase.

Under a plan announced earlier this spring by state and Old Saybrook officials, the $8.1 million for the purchase would be raised through a combination of state grant funds, municipal funds, and private donations raised by the land conservation trust organizations in Old Saybrook and Essex. State grants, including some state bonding, would account for $3 million of the purchase price. Old Saybrook voters will be asked to authorize $3 million in bonding for the purchase in a referendum expected during the first two weeks of July, possibly on July 8. In addition to the proposed $200,000 in town funding, the Essex Land Conservation Trust is expected to provide a matching $200,000, mostly from private donations.

The 1,000 acre forest, the subject of failed development proposals dating back to 1999, can be accessed from either Ingham Hill Road and Schoolhouse Road in Old Saybrook, and from Bokum Road that connects Essex and Old Saybrook. The property became a target for acquisition and preservation as open space after the fall 2008 financial crash that began the Great Recession.

Paul Greenberg, with the Essex Land Conservation Trust, told the selectmen at Wednesday’s meeting that Bokum Road would be the access point in to the property from Essex, with plans to construct a small parking area and trails that would connect to a larger network of trails in the vast Old Saybrook section of the parcel.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the $200,000 would come from the town’s open space sinking fund, which currently contains about $225,000. Needleman said he believes town voters will support making a contribution to the Preserve purchase project, even though only 70 acres of the property are in Essex. The 70 acres in Essex has been valued at about $700,000 in two appraisals.

Ivoryton Farmer’s Market Open Through Oct. 11

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It’s summertime, and what is more exciting than the prospect of fresh local produce provided by your nearby farmers’ market? This season, don’t forget to buy your produce and goods at the Ivoryton Village Farmers Market.

Starting on June 21st, you can find the Ivoryton Farmers Marketon the Ivoryton Green, Main St, Ivoryton CT, every Saturday 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. through October 11th.

The Ivoryton Farmers Market is not only a great place to purchase local produce and goods, but it is a place to enjoy some time with family and friends. This year we will be having live music from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Opening day features the Juniper Hill Jumpers Jazz Band.

There’s no better way to strengthen your local community than to shop and eat locally! By visiting our farmers market, you support our localfarmers as well as businesses and community members.

If you have any questions about the market or wish to become a vendor, please contact Dave Sousa, Market Manager at (860) 767-4967 or visit our website at www.ivorytonfarmersmarket.com

 

Popular Jenny Tripp to Retire as Programming Librarian at the Essex Library

Departing Program Librarian Jenny Tripp and Chief Librarian Richard Conroy

Departing Program Librarian Jenny Tripp and Chief Librarian Richard Conroy

After nine years of creating some of the most interesting adult programs on the Connecticut shoreline, the Essex Library’s Programming Librarian, Jenny Tripp, is  be retiring from her position effective July 1.  During her service at the library Tripp has been the creator of many of the library’s most popular programs.

They include, the “Science for Everyone” series, which included talks on the “Mars Rover,” the concept of “Time Travel,” and a program on the similarities of the actions of human beings and monkeys. As Tripp puts it, “Each of the species [human and monkey] seem to be hard wired to make the same mistakes repeatedly.”

Another popular library program that Tripp created is the “True Crime” series.” This series featured discussions of “cold cases,” an examination of the murder trial of Martha Moxley, and a lecture by Dr. Henry Lee, a noted forensic pathologist, who has reviewed hundreds of cases of foul deeds.

Created Popular Bereavement Group

Another significant accomplishment of Tripp has been her creation of a Bereavement Support Group, which meets twice a month, and which she characterizes as “the program of which I’m most proud.” Roughly a dozen of evolving library patrons attend the sessions of the open group, based on personal need.

Another activity of Tripp has been chairing two of the library’s book clubs. One of the clubs is the Classic Plays Readers Club, which has exhaustively discussed Shakespeare’s plays, and other classic works as well. The next play to be discussed is Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie.

Tripp’s second book club, the Classic Readers Group, has tackled tomes as diverse as The Magic Mountain and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The current selection of the club is The Red and the Black by Stendhal. As if this was not enough, Tripp has also hosts a memoir writing group at the library.

In addition to these activities Tripp has been the editor of the library’s Ex Libris, the Library’s twice-yearly mailed newsletter. When asked about her, likely impossible to find, replacement, Tripp says dismissively that “You really don’t need a trained librarian to do this, just someone with some imagination who is prepared to make a lot of phone calls.”

For all her reputation as the “go to” person on perhaps every aspect of the library, Tripp has been actually a part time employee working only 24 hours a week. As for her own personal background, Tripp was an English major at the University of California (Berkley). She has also worked extensively as a screen writer, and is a lifetime member of the Writer’s Guild of America.

On a personal note about her work at the Essex Library, she says, “I have never held a job this long.”

Library Director Lauds Tripp

Essex Library Director Richard Conroy was fulsome in his praise of  Tripp’s work at the library. He said, “She has been one of the key factors in the success of the library this past few years,” He noted that library attendance is up, and that there has been an upgrade as well in the quality of the library’s services.

Conroy especially praised Tripp’s, “intellectually stimulating programs,” singling out the True Crime series, the Science for Everyone series, and her Shakespeare and Classic Book clubs as well. “How do we replace the irreplaceable?” he concluded.

As for her future plans, in addition to helping out at the Essex library from time to time, Tripp says that she is going to engage, “in helping people to write their books.” Asked if this this means she is going to be a professional “ghost writer,” her answer is, “Just call me Casper.”

Essex Garden Club Announces 2014 Scholarships

The Essex Garden Club is pleased to announce the winners of its 2014 scholarships.  Scholarships of $1,100 each were award to three Essex students:

Tyler Jaynes, Senior at VRHA, will attend the University of Vermont

Sarah Watson will be a sophomore at Gettysburg College

Allyson Clark will be a freshman at Drew University

Additionally, 13 campership awards of $125 each were given to Essex Park and Recreation Summer session.  These will be distributed by Park and Recreation.  Three awards of $520 were given to Bushy Hill Nature Center to be distributed by the Center.

The Essex Garden Club congratulates all the winners and thanks the Essex community for its ongoing support which allows the Club to provide these educational opportunities to our students.

Our Library Rocks! Returns at Essex Library – Sep. 13

Families enjoyed the food, fun, and entertainment at the 2013 Our Library Rocks!  party at the Essex Library

Families enjoyed the food, fun, and entertainment at the 2013 Our Library Rocks! party at the Essex Library

Join your neighbors at a fun-filled community celebration to cap the 125th Anniversary celebrations for the Essex Library at the “Our Library Rocks!” party, coming Saturday September 13th from 5 to 9 PM at the Library. This event offers entertainment for all ages, including an inventor’s workshop for kids from 3 to 12 years, a dazzling magic performance by illusionist David Garrity, a fun photo booth to commemorate your evening for a small extra charge, and the ever-popular gourmet brick oven pizza trucks.

The Andy Sherwood Jazz Quartet will provide musical entertainment, performing tunes from Dixieland through the Swing Era. Featuring some of New England’s finest jazz musicians, the group includes Andy Sherwood on clarinet and saxophone, Ian Frenkel on piano, Mark McCormick on bass and Tom Briggs on drums, all current or retired United States Coast Guard Band musicians with degrees from top music colleges. A silent auction will offer items that are sure to appeal to families and adults.

Food and fun are included in the price of admission. Tickets are on sale now at the Essex Library, priced at $20 for adults, and $5 for kids ages 12 and under; admission is free for children aged two or younger.  Soft drinks and lemonade are free, and beer and wine will be available with the additional purchase of a wristband. Tickets are limited, though, and last year’s event sold out quickly, so don’t delay.

All Bids for Deep River Sewer Expansion Over Budget

DEEP RIVER— Town officials and engineers will be revisiting a sewer expansion project planned for several streets in the town’s north end after all six bids opened last week were over the $4 million allocated for the project.

First Selectman Richard Smith said he and members of the water pollution control authority will meet with project engineers, with the Meriden firm Cardinal Engineering, to review options for scaling back the project to reduce the cost. Voters at a May 2013 town meeting authorized the project with a funding limit set at $4 million. The project, which would extend sewer service to about 120 properties on and around River Street and Kirtland Street, was to be funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a $1.2 million grant and a $2.8 million loan that would be repaid over 40 years at 2.75 percent annual interest.

All of the bids opened last week were over $4 million, with the lowest bid from Baltazar Contractors Inc. of Ludlow, Mass. coming in at $4,828,958 for a base bid and a bid of $5,5,507,658 that would include all project alternates. The second lowest bid was $5,397,039 and $6,066,954 from C. J Fucci Inc. of New Haven.

Smith said the project would be revised and rebid over the next few weeks. Smith said he is hopeful a revised bid for a scaled back project could be approved by the board of selectmen and WPCA in time for a late summer start of construction for the project.

Deep River Town Meeting Approves Revised $15.27 Million Budget After Initial Referendum Defeat

DEEP RIVER— A slightly reduced $15,277,887 town/schools spending plan for 2014–2015 was approved at a town meeting Monday on a 92-24 paper ballot. The budget, which will require a 0.80 increased in the property tax rate, was initially rejected on a 115-78 vote in a May 27 referendum.

After the referendum defeat, the finance board approved a $25,000 reduction, $12,500 from the town government budget and $12,500 from the appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. But the board was unable to make any changes to the major factor in the tax increase, the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget, after it was approved in a separate referendum on May 6. Voters in Deep River opposed the Region 4 budget, 156-69, but it was approved with support from the voters of Chester and Essex.

With more students attending Valley Regional  High School and John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River faced a steep $442,063 increase in it’s share of the Region 4 budget. The Region 4 increase accounted for all but $56,313 of a total spending increased of $498,376. With declining enrollment, the $5,461,500 appropriation for the elementary school was actually down by $49,658.

Finance board chairman John Bauer said the board was unable to make any reductions in the Region 4 appropriation that could have reduced the tax increase. “Nothing can be done after that budget is approved” in the three-town referendum, he said. Bauer said the town government and elementary school appropriations were already “very tight,” adding the town is unable to transfer any money from an undesignated fund balance that only contains about $500,000.

Richard Balducci, a former speaker of the house who also served on the local board of finance, urged the crowd to approve the revised budget, and then become more involved in the Region 4 budget process and referendum next year. Balducci contended the supervision district budget, which funds shared services in the school system and is then included with the Region 4 and elementary school budgets, can be a major factor in higher education costs even with lower student enrollment.

After about 30 minutes of discussion, voters lined up to cast paper ballots on the budget. The new tax rate of 25.88 mills represents $25.88 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Essex Town Meeting Amends Ordinances, Sanitary Waste Commission Discontinued

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Wednesday approved amendments to two town ordinances, effectively ending the role of the sanitary waste commission and revamping the 2004 delay of demolition ordinance for historic structures.

About 15 residents turned out for the town meeting that was preceded by a public hearing on the changes that were endorsed last month by the board of selectmen. One amendment, which drew an opposing vote from Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac, ends the joint commission status for the water pollution control authority/sanitary waste commission that was established under a 1991 town meeting vote. The seven appointed members of the dual commission will continue as the water pollution control authority with staggered two-year terms and a renewed focus on sewer avoidance and wastewater management issues.

The amendment ends the appointed sanitary waste commission that was first established in 1958 to supervise operations of the former town landfill, and more recently the solid waste transfer station and recycling center. First Selectman Norman Needleman recommended the change, noting the trash compactor and transfer station are currently managed by town employees under the supervision of the board of selectmen. Needleman said the amendment would “eliminate the theoretical purview of the sanitary waste commission in running the transfer site.”

But Glowac, who served on the sanitary waste commission before winning election as first selectman in 1991, maintained there is still a role for a volunteer commission in coordinating the town’s solid waste disposal and recycling efforts. “Municipal solid waste, bulky waste and recycling are ever changing subjects in today’s world and a volunteer commission can be an asset to the town,” he said. The amendment was approved on a nearly unanimous show of hands vote, with Glowac opposed.
The revision of the delay of demolition ordinance was approved on a unanimous vote without discussion. Needleman said the amendments clarify the process for an ordinance that was first adopted in 2004 at the urging of the late town historian and author Donald Malcarne.

The amendments do not change the 75 years trigger date where advance posting and notice are required before a demolition permit is issued by the building official for a potentially historic structure.. If the town historian or Essex Historical Society raises an objection, a 90 days delay would be required before the building official could issue a demolition permit.

Local Authors Donate to the Chester Chapter American Legion

From left to right; Art Christensen, Bob Sumner, Todd Curry, Christopher Abbott and Jerry LaMark (Photo taken by Bruce Watrous)

From left to right; Art Christensen, Bob Sumner, Todd Curry, Christopher Abbott and Jerry LaMark (Photo taken by Bruce Watrous)

Authors Todd A. Curry and Christopher D. Abbott have donated a portion of their profits from one of their recently released thrillers, to the Chester Chapter American Legion, Post 97. The donation is to offset the cost of flags that Legion members place on the graves of our fallen soldiers.

For more than 200 years, Old Glory has served as a symbol of our Nation’s freedom and as a source of pride for our citizens. On “Flag-day” we recognize our veterans who served to protect the flag. We honor those many soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice, in the name of Liberty, Unity, and Justice. The members of the American legion, post 97 in Chester, are just a few of the 800,000 members of the National American Legion, who volunteer millions of hours of their time yearly.

Curry and Abbott wanted to recognize the sacrifices these veterans make, and express their gratitude to the Legion members who volunteer their time. They decided to make the donation to the Legion, in order to help offset the cost of the flags. Curry, a veteran himself, said: “The guys here in Chester are all War heroes who never ask for anything themselves. They simply move forward every day volunteering time to help their brother and sister veterans, and their families.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Chester American Legion can do so by Jerry LaMark or mail a contribution to American Legion, PO Box 54, Chester, Ct 06412

Anyone interested in purchasing “Revolting Tales” can find links to it here: www.cdanabbott.com/ buymybooks.html

“Scouting For Food” Helps Fill Pantry Shelves

Members of the Essex Cub Scouts, Pack 4.

Members of the Essex Cub Scouts, Pack 4.

This spring local Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts participated in “Scouting for Food” service projects to benefit The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.

Twelve members of the Essex Cub Scouts of Pack 4 held a food drive, collecting 707 pounds of non-perishable food. The Essex Cub Scouts, who are between 7 and 10 years of age, each gathered an average of 55 items of food, or about 60 pounds of food each.

Also, a group of four Westbrook Boy Scouts from Troop 38 made a special visit to SSKP’s Westbrook Pantry to learn more about the issue of hunger along the shoreline, and presented a $200 donation on behalf of their troop.

“We sincerely thank the Cub Scouts of Pack 4 for their food drive, and the Boy Scouts of Troop 38 for their donation and their desire to learn more about those in need,” said Patty Dowling, executive director of SSKP. “It’s great to see Scouts of all ages working to help others. In the spring months we have a need for additional food drives, so “Scouting for Food” is very much appreciated. With the support of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and so many others in our community, we are able to make a place at the table for all our neighbors.”

Founded 25 years ago, The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River. Last year with a small staff and over 900 dedicated volunteers, SSKP served over 908,000 meals worth of food to shoreline neighbors in need.

Five New Eagle Scouts for Old Saybrook’s Boy Scout Troop 51

Eagles at candles

Old Saybrook’s Boy Scout Troop 51 gathered on April 6, 2014 at Grace Church to celebrate their five newest Eagle Scouts. The five new Eagle Scouts are Jack Frysinger, Daniel Puttre, Cody Walden, Joshua Chang and Timothy Foley. These fine young men received the Eagle Scout award, Boy Scouting’s highest honor that is achieved by just 5% of the Boy Scouts in the nation. Each of these new Eagles have spent years in scouting performing community service, earning merit badges, and helping to teach younger scouts camping and leadership skills. Additionally, each of these young men planned and executed an Eagle project to better the community.

Jack Frysinger chose to rehabilitate the pavilion at Town Park for his Eagle project. With the help of many scout and adult volunteers, he removed the broken supports for the old benches and installed and painted new benches outfitted with sturdy supports. He and his team also repainted the upright roof columns, replaced missing rocks in the stone foundation, and cleaned out years’ worth of trash and debris. Currently a senior at Old Saybrook High School, Jack will attend Northeastern University in the fall to study Computer Science.

Daniel Puttre’s Eagle Project was to refurbish the decking, steps, and ramp entrance to Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services. Dan enlisted the help of scouts and community members to complete his project. It entailed removing and replacing the wooden handrails and several balusters, sanding and staining all the wood surfaces, painting the metal handrails and the caution marks, and replacing the safety striping. Dan will graduate from Old Saybrook High School in June, and will attend Keene State College in the fall to study Sustainable Product Innovation and Design

Joshua Chang renovated the trailhead and restored the fishway near the Crystal Lake dam for his Eagle project. His project involved installing a drainage pipe and filter fabric under the trail, spreading gravel, sand, and round stones and placing large paving stones over the trail. The fishway in the trailhead area, which allows fish swimming upstream to access the lake to spawn, was damaged in the flood of March 2010. The restoration of the fishway included recovery of surge stones that were washed down stream by the flood and rebuilding of several weirs in the fishway. Joshua is completing his freshman year at Old Saybrook High School and plans to remain active in scouting for the remainder of his high school career.

Cody Walden’s Eagle Project was to further protect Long Island Sound by building and installing Fishing String Recyclers to help birds, fish, and turtles remain tangle-free from fishing line disposed of in the Sound. The recyclers were placed at major spots in town: the Causeway, Dock and Dine, Gardiner’s Landing, North Cove, Town Dock and three marinas in the Town of Old Saybrook. Cody is a senior at Old Saybrook High School and will graduate in June. Cody will attend Keene State College in the fall to major in History and Political Science.

Tim Foley’s Eagle Project was to refurbish the seawall, sidewalk and grassy area at Gardiner’s Landing in Old Saybrook. Tim and his team of fellow scouts also received assistance from the Old Saybrook Land Trust and Public Works. The project included filling large crevices and holes with riprap stone; covering the area with stabilizing tarp; adding topsoil and planting grass. Additionally, Tim installed a permanent pole for a fishing line collector. Tim is a senior at Old Saybrook High School, graduating in June. Tim will attend the University of Vermont in the fall to study engineering.

These new Eagle Scouts are grateful to their fellow scouts, leaders, adult volunteers, and family and community members for their assistance and guidance throughout their years in scouting and during their Eagle projects.  Troop 51 extends a heartfelt thank you to Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook, for their many years of support and sponsorship.  Old Saybrook is very fortunate to have such a successful program to guide and build independent young leaders. If your son would like to join Troop 51 or if you are interested in supporting this program, please contact Scoutmaster Bill Hart , or Committee Chairman John Puttre at 860-388-6116.

High Kicking in Old Saybrook – Irish Dance Teacher Joins Dance School

Riverdance: Photo Credit Jack Hartin reproduced courtesy of Riverdance

Riverdance: Photo Credit Jack Hartin reproduced courtesy of Riverdance

The Gray School, Old Saybrook is delighted to announce that Craig Ashurst, TCRG will be joining their faculty this summer.

“Craig brings with him enormous talent, impressive experience, and immense passion for Irish dance. We could not be more excited to officially welcome him into our Gray School family!” said Iris Gray, principal of the Gray School of Irish Dance.

Craig Ashurst,  TCRG (Photo courtesy of Christina Dozall)

Craig Ashurst, TCRG (Photo courtesy of Christina Dozall)

Craig started dancing in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia at the age of 5. By the end of his competitive career, he held 10 Regional titles and 9 Australian National titles, in addition to winning the British National, Great Britain, and North American Championships.  Craig also had the honor of winning the much-coveted All Ireland title while dancing with the prestigious Danny Doherty Academy in England.

Upon making the switch to performing in shows, he danced along side Michael Flatley during the filming of the Lord of the Dance 3D movie. Craig performed as a principle dancer in Riverdance for most of his 6 and a half years with the show and was also awarded his Irish dancing teachers certificate (T.C.R.G) from the Irish dancing commission in Dublin Ireland. Craig has instructed Irish dance at the Camp Rince Ceol Irish Dance Camp for five summers and has conducted various workshops in different parts of the world.

“In addition to his international career, Craig is well known to this part of New England through his performances as dance soloist and choir member with the show, Celtic Woman and is featured on their PBS special, DVD and in concerts at the Radio City Music Hall, NYC,” said Maura Gray, joint principal of the Gray School. “We are very pleased announce that Craig will be joining our  faculty.  Craig will be with us at our July camps and we look forward to more exciting times at the Gray School as we continue to grow.”

Irish Dance is a great sport no matter what direction you choose to take. It is fantastic exercise that builds both confidence and discipline and offers students the opportunity to participate both individually and as part of a team.  The Gray School of Irish Dance, is the premier School of Irish Step Dance in Connecticut, with over 35 years of experience teaching dance to children from all over Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.  They offer introductory or recreational dance class for fun and exercise, as well as competitive classes for those who wish to compete in the USA and Internationally. They offer classes and graded exams in Traditional Irish Dance taught to the standards of An Coimisiùn, Ireland for children and adults.

For more information about Craig and the Gray School of Irish Dance please visit:

http://www.grayschool.com/ pages/main/faculty.html or email Iris Gray Sharnick: iris@grayschool.com

Deep River Finance Board Approves $25,000 Cut, June 9 Town Meeting to Vote on Revised Budget

DEEP RIVER— The board of finance has approved a $25,000 cut in the $15.3 million budget plan that was rejected by voters in a referendum this week, with a June 9 town meeting vote scheduled on a revised budget for 2014-2015. The town meeting will convene at 7:30 p.m. in the town hall auditorium.

The finance board, meeting jointly with the board of selectmen Thursday, approved a reduction of $12,500 in the town government budget, and a $12,500 reduction in the appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. The cut will allow for a small reduction in a planned 0.85 mill hike in the property tax rate that had generated some controversy in this year’s budget process and set the stage for Tuesday’s 115-78 referendum defeat for the budge, the first rejection of a budget in Deep River since 2001.
The new tax rate would be 25.88 mills, a 0.80 mill increase from the current tax rate. The spending plan defeated in the referendum called for a tax rate of 25.93 mills. The new rate would represent $25.88 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

First Selectman Richard Smith said finance board reviewed various budget accounts during Thursday’s special meeting, often considering cuts of only $500. But after discussion with the selectmen, the board approved only a $25,000 reduction. He noted the review confirmed that most of the town budget accounts are “very tight,” with reductions possibly leading to budget overruns at the end of the next fiscal year.

Smith said the $12,500 cut in the town government budget would come from an additional $25,000 that was included for storm clean up in 2014-2015, an addition that was made in response to the harsher than usual past two winter seasons. The  $12,500 reduction in the elementary school appropriation will be determined by the local board of education.

There could be no changes in the town’s $5.6 million share of the Region 4 education budget that had been approved on a 319-253 vote in a May 6 referendum. Chester and Essex voters had supported the Region 4 budget, though voters in Deep River opposed the budget 156-69. With more students attending Valley Regional High School and john Winthrop Middle School, Deep River had a $442,063 increase in its Region 4 budget share that accounted for much of the total $523,376 spending increase that led to the proposed 0.85 mill tax increase.

Smith said selectmen and the finance board are prepared to publicly oppose the Region 4 budget before the 2015 referendum if it includes a large increase in the Deep River share that would require a tax increase for 2015-2016.

A Hole in the Ground Where There Once was a Slum House

A hole in the ground, where once was the Slum House (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

A hole in the ground, where once was the Slum House (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

Finally the unoccupied property on North Main Street has been demolished. Early in the morning of Tuesday, May 27, a work crew from Shea Construction brought heavy equipment to the site, and methodically demolished the property and removed the debris, leaving a hole in the ground where there once was a slum.  Read the full story:  Eyesore No More, Essex Slum House Is Taken Down.

Girl Scout Volunteer Receives Local Honor

Left to right: GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby, Maureen, and GSOFCT Board President Caroline Sloat. (Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of Connecticut.)

Left to right: GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby, Maureen, and GSOFCT Board President Caroline Sloat. (Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of Connecticut.)

OLD SAYBROOK — Girl Scouts of Connecticut is proud to announce that Maureen Francescon of the Marsh Service Unit (Old Saybrook/Westbrook) was awarded the prestigious Girl Scouts of Connecticut Pin at the organization’s Annual Meeting on May 28.

The Girl Scouts of Connecticut pin was developed exclusively by Girl Scouts of Connecticut and is the highest award given to adults on behalf of the Council. The Girl Scouts of Connecticut Pin recognizes any registered Adult Girl Scout giving outstanding service to a Council-wide assignment, or whose service and dedication impacts the success and development of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience for Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

Maureen Francescon has been the leader of Travel Troop #3 for 35 years, leading 45 girls in numerous opportunities abroad, including Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. She has also taken groups of girls to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. In addition, she ensures the troop participates in two community service trips per year.

The photo attached, from left to right: GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby, Maureen, and GSOFCT Board President Caroline Sloat. Photo credit is Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

For more information, visit www.gsofct.org.

About Girl Scouts of Connecticut

Girl Scouts of Connecticut is the largest girl-empowerment organization in the state, serving nearly 44,000 girls and more than 18,000 adult members. Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

For further information, visit www.gsofct.org or call 1 (800) 922-2770.

New Principal Appointed for Deep River Elementary School

The Deep River Elementary School Board of Education is pleased to announce the  appointment of Mr. Christian Strickland to the position of Principal at Deep River Elementary School. Christian Strickland has most recently served as the Assistant Principal at Griswold Elementary School in Berlin, Connecticut for the past four
years.

Strickland replaces an interim principal who has directed the school since January, Nancy Haslam of East Haddam. Haslam, who had worked previously as principal at an elementary school in Waterford, was hired by the local school board at the end of last year to replace Jennifer Byars.

A local resident who was hired in 2012, Byars left to accept a position as assistant superintendent of schools for the Ledyard school district. The previous principal was Jack Pietrick, who held the job for 13 years before retiring in 2012.

Prior to his experience as Assistant Principal, Strickland was a Math Instructional Specialist for two years. Strickland began his career in education as a third and fourth grade teacher in Maryland and then in the Berlin Public Schools. Strickland has been recognized as a Teacher of the Year, and nominated for the CAS Assistant Principal of the year. Outside of school, Christian is an avid swimmer and enjoys participating in Spartan Races.

Strickland completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary education, his Master of Science Degree and his Sixth Year Degree in Educational Leadership, all from Central Connecticut State University.

The Deep River Board of Education and Search Committee were very impressed with Strickland’s knowledge, commitment to excellence, integrity, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for elementary school students, families, and the Deep River community. The Board of Education unanimously endorsed Strickland on Thursday May 15th, at their Board of Education meeting. We are confident that Strickland will provide excellent leadership for the students at Deep River Elementary School.

Strickland resides in Middletown with his family. He will begin his tenure in the Deep River Public Schools on July 1st, 2014.

Proposed $15.3 Million Deep River Budget Plan Fails in Low Turnout Referendum

DEEP RIVER— A proposed $15,302,887 budget plan for 2014-2015 was rejected Tuesday on a 115-78 vote after an eight hour referendum. The board of selectmen and board of finance will hold a special joint meeting Thursday to consider any possible changes to the spending plan, which would then be submitted for a second vote at a town meeting expected in the second week of June.

While the spending plan presented Tuesday included a proposed $3.78 million town government budget, a $5.47 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, and the town’s $5.6 million share of the Region 4 budget, only the town and elementary school portions of the total spending plan are still subject to revision by the board of finance. The Region 4 budget was already approved on a 319-253 vote in a May 6 referendum, with Chester and Essex votes supporting the budget over a 156-69 opposing vote in Deep River.

The total spending plan rejected Tuesday would have required a 0.85 mill hike in the property tax rate, for a new rate of 25.93 mills. Of a total spending increase of $523,376, $442,063 is for the town’s share of the Region 4 budget that is determined by the number of students from Deep River attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School. A higher than anticipated increase in the Deep River average daily membership at the two schools made the town’s taxpayers responsible for a larger share of the Region 4 budget.

First Selectman Richard Smith noted that with the Region 4 amount locked in, there is little the selectmen and finance board can do to reduce the increase in the tax rate. “You’ve got to get close to $100,000 in cuts to have any real impact on the mill rate,” he said, adding that both the town and elementary school budgets are already “very tight.”
But Finance Board Chairman John Bauer said the board should make a final review of the town and elementary school budgets for any possible cuts, even with the understanding that cuts in these appropriations would bring little change to the tax rate. Bauer said the second vote on any revised budget should be done by voters at a town meeting, not a referendum. “It’s a waste of money for the amount of people who showed up today,” he said.

Eyesore No More, Essex Slum House Is Taken Down

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

It was a day of celebration in small town Essex. Finally, finally the town’s number eyesore was coming down. Early in the morning of Tuesday, May 27, a work crew from Shea Construction, which is headquartered on Westbrook Road in Essex, brought heavy equipment to the site, and methodically smashed the old slum house to the ground.

The pile of debris gets larger

The pile of debris gets larger

The crushed fragments were then loaded into a waiting dump truck, which took the debris to a local land fill. Joseph Shea, Owner of Shea Construction, was personally on hand to supervise the operation. “We will completely finish the job,” he said, including filling the hole left in the ground by the house’s removal with fresh clean land fill. Also, the work entails not only crushing and removing the entire building structure but also removing the old house’s septic system. This full process should take a week, Shea said. In addition, once the house has been removed, “All of the nails will be pulled out of the boards,” he said, as an environmental measure.

The trip to the dump is next

The trip to the dump is next

Among the spectators watching the destruction proceedings from the side walk was Tom Rutherford, who lives on nearby Laurel Hill Road in Essex, “We all have been ready for this to happen for a long time,” he said.” Rutherford also expressed his and the town’s gratitude to fellow Essex resident Ina Bomze, who paid $142,000 to purchase the property of the old slum house from the bank, and hired the contractor to clear the site. She will also fund the conversion of the property  into a new town park. “I think it is wonderful thing that she has done,” Rutherford said, referring to Ms. Bronze.

A central feature of the new park will be a solid bronze statue of Ms. Bromze’s late canine companion, “Morgana“, which she always refers to as a person. Also, the street address of the new park is 63 North Main Street, and Ms. Bromze, lives just across the street at 64 North Main Street. Once the new park is completed she will be able not only to see the new park, but also the memorial statue of “Morgana” from her front windows.

The Essex Land Trust has agreed to maintain the park in the future with its memorial statute to a beloved companion in full display.

Chester Museum at The Mill Tells Chester’s Story – Weekends

The Chester Museum at The Mill has been owned by the Chester Historical Society since 2000. It was first opened as a museum in 2010. Located on a waterfall on the Pattaconk Brook near the center of town, the mill site was once used to produce anchors, wagon springs, and augers. Photo by Katherine Hilliar

The Chester Museum at The Mill has been owned by the Chester Historical Society since 2000. It was first opened as a museum in 2010. Located on a waterfall on the Pattaconk Brook near the center of town, the mill site was once used to produce anchors, wagon springs, and augers. Photo by Katherine Hilliar

The Chester Museum at The Mill opens for its fourth year on Saturday, May 31. Owned and operated by the Chester Historical Society, the museum is located on the historic 1850s Griswold Mill site, overlooking a waterfall and the Pattaconk Brook near the center of town.

On the first floor is the exhibit, “Over the River and Through the Woods – Early Transportation in Chester,” telling the stories of the beginning of the town’s roads and highways, as well as the train, the trolley, the ferry, and the steamboat. The exhibit, which opened in 2013 thanks to partial funding by the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, has been expanded this year to include early bicycles and features a 54-inch Columbia Allbright “ordinary” on loan from the Connecticut Historical Society. New photographs and artifacts of trains, including “Old 97” from the movie, “It Happened to Jane,” have also been included this year.

The Columbia Allbright “ordinary” or high-wheeler bicycle, owned by the CT Historical Society, was made in Hartford in the late 19th century. At 54 inches tall, it sparks one’s imagination about how anyone could get on it to ride through the town. It can be seen at the Chester Museum at The Mill through the summer.

The Columbia Allbright “ordinary” or high-wheeler bicycle, owned by the CT Historical Society, was made in Hartford in the late 19th century. At 54 inches tall, it sparks one’s imagination about how anyone could get on it to ride through the town. It can be seen at the Chester Museum at The Mill through the summer.

On the second floor of the museum (reachable by elevator as well as stairs) is the permanent award-winning exhibit, “Streams of Change: Life & Industry along the Pattaconk.” Together, the two exhibits tell the story of the life, development and growth of Chester.

The Chester Museum at The Mill is open to the public on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through the end of October. It is air-conditioned as well as handicapped accessible. Admission is free. More information at www.ChesterHistoricalSociety.org.

 

Deep River Referendum Tuesday on Proposed $15.3 Million Town and Schools Budget

DEEP RIVER— Polls will be open from 12 noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the library community room for a referendum vote on the proposed $15,302,887 town and schools budget plan for 2014-2015.

The total spending package, which is up by $523,376 from the current amount,  includes a $3,826,230 town government budget and capital expenditure plan, $384,670 for debt service, a proposed $5,474,000 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, and the town’s $5,602,987 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 total was already approved in a May 6 referendum, with voters of Chester and Essex supporting the budget and Deep River opposed on a 156-69 vote.

With more students attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River is paying a larger share of the Region 4 budget this year. The town’s share of the budget is up by $442,063, or 8.57 percent, an increase that accounts for nearly all of a planned .085-mill hike in the property tax rate that is required to fund the spending total.

The proposed tax rate of 25.93 mills represents $25.93 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value, a 3.4 percent increase in the tax rate. The amount of the tax increase led the board of selectmen to decide to send the spending plan directly to a referendum vote. After more than a decade of  budget referendums with ever decreasing vote turnout, the town last year approved the budget by a town meeting vote for the first time since 2000.

Chester Town Meeting Approves $12.5 Million Town/Schools Budget Plan for 2014-2015

CHESTER— The spring budget season ended quietly Thursday night as voters at the annual budget meeting approved a $12,507,736 budget plan for 2014-2015. About 40 residents turned out for the meeting, with the budget and a related $350,000 transfer of funds for capital projects approved on unanimous voice votes.

The spending package includes a $3,649,681 town government budget, a $342,670 capital expenditure plan, a $4,150,677 appropriation for Chester Elementary School, and the town’s $4,364,508 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 budget was approved by voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 6 referendum.

The spending plan that won quick approval Thursday will require a property tax rate of 24.82 mills, an increase of 2.87 mills from the current tax rate of 21.95 mills. The new rate represents $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. The hike in the mill rate was driven by a 12 percent decrease in the grand list of taxable property that resulted from the townwide property revaluation completed last year.

But the drop in assessed values for residential property that came with the revaluation is also expected to cover or limit any increase in tax bills resulting from the new and higher mill rate. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said 57 percent of all property owners will have a decrease in their tax bill, while some total bills will remain the same or have a small increase.

Meehan said the selectmen and board of finance endorsed two transfers from the town undesignated fund balance to limit the need for additional tax revenue and calculate the tax rate at 24.82 mills. There was a direct transfer of $13,287, and an additional transfer of $350,000 to prefund capital projects for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 budget years
The transfer for capital projects, which was approved on a unanimous voice vote, includes $300,000 for road and sidewalk repairs, $150,000 in 2014-2015 and $150,000 in 2015-2016, and $50,000 for repairs and code compliance improvements at town buildings. The transfer is expected to leave about $1.8 million in the fund balance on June 30, 2015.

State Rep. Giuliano Supports STEAP Grant for Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK - State Rep. Marilyn Giuliano petitioned the Small Town Economic Assistance Program for a grant of $500,000 to fund the town of Old Saybrook’s creation of the Main Street Connections Park and Parking Lot Project.

“This grant will improve our Main Street business district with much needed downtown parking and a recreational park for people to enjoy our downtown attractions,” said Giuliano.

The town will use the grant funding for capital improvements including redeveloping the irreparably storm-damaged Police Department property.  Additional downtown parking and a park with a canopied pathway and seating area are planned.

Giuliano said, “Old Saybrook has made an outstanding effort to redesign our downtown area. I am thankful to all those who assisted with this project and I look forward to seeing the progress.”

Valley Regional’s Production ‘Secret Garden’ Receives 12 Nominations for Music Theater Awards

Valley Regional Musical Productions’ newest cast member(s), Mr. Robin, arrives at rehearsal of THE SECRET GARDEN at Valley Regional High School.  (Back, left to right): VRMP cast members Megan Ryan, Shelby Talbot, Kristen Kilby and Annie Brown. (Front): Puppet artist Linda Wingerter

Valley Regional Musical Productions’ newest cast member(s), Mr. Robin, arrives at rehearsal of THE SECRET GARDEN at Valley Regional High School. (Back, left to right): VRMP cast members Megan Ryan, Shelby Talbot, Kristen Kilby and Annie Brown. (Front): Puppet artist Linda Wingerter

Valley Regional High School’s 2014 Production of The Secret Garden received 12 nominations for Connecticut High School Music Theater Award this year. The Award ceremony will take place at the black tie gala on Monday June 2, at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. Good luck to all our nominees!

OUTSTANDING HAIR & MAKE UP ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING COSTUMING ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY

OUTSTANDING MUSIC DIRECTION

OUTSTANDING LEADING ACTRESS, Maggie Walsh -MARY LENNOX

OUTSTANDING LEADING ACTOR, Andrew Goehring -ARCHIBALD CRAVEN

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR, Casey McKeon – DICKON SOWERBY

OUTSTANDING CHORUS

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR

Carney Cruises to Victory in 23rd District Republican Convention

Devin Carney

Devin Carney

Devin Carney, Republican candidate for State Representative, won the 23rd District Convention by a vote of 10-4. His campaign was able to earn unanimous support from Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. This included votes from the Lyme First Selectman, Ralph Eno, the Old Saybrook First Selectman, Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., and the current State Representative for the 23rd District, Marilyn Giuliano, who also gave Carney his nominating speech and has endorsed him.

In a statement, Giuliano said, “I believe Devin will work for all of us with energy and integrity, and with an interest not in politics, but public service.” Giuliano lost her convention in 2002 by onlytwo votes on a second ballot vote after the first vote failed to determine a winner by majority, but defeated her opponent in a primary due to her showing in her hometown of Old Saybrook.

In addition to the support at convention, Carney has received support from each town – which can be seen through his strong fundraising effort. He collected 95 donations from Old Saybrook, 57 from Old Lyme, 35 from Westbrook, and 18 from Lyme.

Carney stated, “The results at convention were a testament to the hard work I’ve put in these past few months and to the confidence the delegates have in me to win in November. I bring new, fresh ideas to the table and can’t wait to get up to Hartford to offer some much-needed common sense. I am not your typical politician, but rather a regular person just trying to fix our economy, get jobs back in Connecticut, and help rejuvenate the Republican Party in this state.”

He continued, “Most importantly, I believe the people of the 23rd District deserve a representative who understands the unique issues in each of the four towns. While I live in Old Saybrook, my family is from Westbrook, my mother lives in Lyme, and my longtime girlfriend lives in Old Lyme with her children. I have a personal stake in each town and will be a representative for all; the people of the 23rd deserve nothing less.”

For more information about Carney’s campaign, contact Melissa Bonner at carneyfor23pr@gmail.com.

Essex Eyesore to be Demolished on May 27

Abandonned "Slum House" at 63 North Main Street in Essex

Abandonned “Slum House” at 63 North Main Street in Essex

Essex’s number one eyesore, the abandoned property at the corner of North Main Street and New City Street at 63 North Main Street, will be torn down on May 27. This is the promise of Ina Bromze, who purchased the property from the bank last April for $142,000.

According to Ms. Bromze, the highlight of the new park on the site will be a bronze statue of her beloved dog, “Morgana.” Morgana died last year, but when she was alive she and her mistress were a frequent sight walking around Essex.

Ms. Bronze still takes her walks around Essex, but now she walks alone.

Essex Finance Board Sets Tax Rate at 20.99 Mills For 2014-2015

ESSEX— The board of finance Thursday set a property tax rate of 20.99 mills to fund the total $23.05 million town/schools spending package for 2014-2015 that was approved by voters at the May 12 annual budget meeting. The rate, representing $20.99 in tax for each $1,000 in assessed property value, is up by two mills from the current rate of 18.99 mills.
Much of the two mill tax hike was required to make up for revenue lost after the townwide property revaluation completed last year led to a 7.72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property. Despite the increase, First Selectman Norman Needleman said Thursday about 80 percent of the town’s residential property owners would see only a “nominal” decrease or increase in the property tax bill they receive next month. Most, but not all, of the town’s residential properties had a drop in assessed value under the first revaluation conducted since the Great Recession began in 2008.
Finance Director Kelly Sterner presented the board with ten options for the tax rate, beginning with an “adjusted mill rate” of 20.62 mills to cover the drop in the grand list after revaluation. Sterner said the “break even mill rate,” with no planned deficit, would be 21.05 mills. She noted the finance board, in setting the rate at 18.99 mills last year, had projected a potential deficit of about $113,000, with the understanding that any possible deficit could be covered from the town’s estimated $2.7 million undesignated fund balance.
But with help from unanticipated revenue, a small Region 4 education budget surplus that was returned to the town, and under spending in some accounts, the projected deficit became a surplus of about $100,000 that will put the fund balance at about $2.8 million when the current fiscal year ends on June 30. Needleman predicted there would be some surplus remaining from the 2014-2015 budget, and urged the finance board to limit the tax increase to a 1.65 percent rise that would match the increase in spending.
A 1.65 percent increase would require a tax rate of about 20.96 mills, with a potential, but not certain, deficit of about $100,000. But board Chairman Keith Crehan said he would prefer to project a slightly lower deficit in the event there is less surplus remaining as the 2014-2015 fiscal year draws to a close. Crehan favored a tax rate of 20.99 mills, a figure that would project a deficit of around $55,000 at the close of the next fiscal year.
The 20.99 rate was approved on a unanimous and bipartisan vote, with Democratic members Campbell Hudson, Mary Louise Pollo, and Donald Mesite joining Republican Crehan in supporting the 20.99 rate. Democrat Fred Vollono and Republican Jeffrey Woods were absent fromThursday’s meeting.

Essex Town Meeting Approves $23.05 Million Town/Schools Spending Plan

ESSEX— A $23,056,963 combined town and schools budget plan for 2014-2015 won quick approval from voters Monday at the annual budget meeting. About 70 residents turned out for the meeting approving the budget on a voice vote with scattered opposing votes.

The total spending package, which is up by 1.64 percent from the current total, includes a $7,202,161 town government budget, a $7,742,313 appropriation for Essex Elementary School, and the town’s $8,112,489 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 budget was approved in a May 6 referendum, with voters in Chester and Essex supporting the budget while a no vote carried in Deep River.

The total spending package was approved at the meeting Monday without discussion, and no questions from the crowd on the property tax rate that will be required to support the spending. The board of finance is expected to set the tax rate for 2014-2015 at a meeting Thursday. The current tax rate is 18.99 mills, or $18,99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

An increase in the tax rate is required to cover a 7,72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property that resulted from the townwide property revaluation completed last year. The revaluation resulted in a decrease in assessed values for most residential property owners.

Letters: Senator Linares, Explain Your Voting Record

To the Editor:

The ValleyNewsNow.com (April 29) carries a press release written by supporters of Senator Linares expressing “marvel at what this young man has accomplished in such a short period of time”. Given Mr. Linares’s lamentable voting record, it is hard to understand what the release is talking about.

The record shows that Mr. Linares has waged a quiet but persistent campaign against a wide range of legislation that most constituents in his District support. For example, Mr. Linares has:

  • Voted against an increase in the minimum wage, a measure supported almost three to one by Connecticut voters (71% for, 25% against).
  • Voted against a measure that paves the way to allowing commuters, the elderly, working parents, and many others who have difficulty getting to the polls to exercise their right to vote by means of absentee ballot. Such provisions are prevalent in other states and enjoy strong public support.
  • Voted against bipartisan legislation on gun safety following Newtown that was supported by a super majority of Connecticut voters (anywhere from 68% to 93% depending on the provision) and even by many in his own party.

Mr. Linares’s web site does not even mention these important votes, let alone explain his reasoning for them. The web site is filled with details of his other exploits — toy drives, hosting flag collections, honoring a beauty queen (and, yes, his opposition to an increase in the gas tax and work on some other bills) — but not his opposition to major mainstream legislation that commands widespread public support. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Mr. Linares seeks to draw attention away from his record. Why?

One concern is that Mr. Linares may be more attuned to the interests of the Tea Party than those of the moderate center of his District. Mr. Linares has stated publicly that he was inspired to enter public service by his experience in 2010 working “proudly” for Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, known in political circles “the Crown Prince of the Tea Party”.  When it comes to voting, can it be that Mr. Linares hears the voice of the Tea Party more clearly than any other?

In the absence of information from Mr. Linares on his voting record, constituents can turn to Project Vote Smart, a well regarded, non-partisan, independently funded voter education website. It has posted a report on 10 “key votes” by Mr. Linares over the past two years.

In 7 of the 10 cases, Mr. Linares voted “no” — in other words, his “accomplishment” was to oppose any legislation. In an 8th case, he did not vote at all. In only one case in the sample did Mr. Linares vote for something that actually became law – the legalization of mixed martial arts competitions – a matter most voters would not consider a priority.

Mr. Linares, we are entitled to know why, in our name, you have opposed the exercise of basic voting rights, opposed economic fairness by means of increasing the minimum wage, and opposed protecting the public from gun violence. Please give us a full accounting of your votes on these key issues, so that we may know you by your actions, rather than your press releases.

Sincerely,

David Harfst
Essex

Region 4 Superintendent Dr. Ruth Levy Wins TTYS Award

Dr. Ruth Levy

Dr. Ruth Levy

Tri-Town Youth Services recently presented its 2014 Generativity Award to Region 4 Superintendent of Schools, Ruth Levy. Dr. Levy has been with Region 4 Schools for eight years. During her initial three years, she served as Assistant Superintendent.

Dr. Levy was chosen for this award because of her leadership of the schools in the tri-town area. Dr. Levy attributes much of the schools’ success to the extensive collaboration that takes place among educators, government, social services, prevention programming. She cites involvement with Whelan, law enforcement, Tri-Town, Camp Hazen and Boards of Selectmen, Boards of Finance and Boards of Education all coming together to benefit the children. As she says, “it’s a wonderful place for children to grow up.”

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex. We coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most. Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

 

Chester Selectmen Stand by Main Street Project with North Side Sidewalk

CHESTER— The board of selectmen Wednesday approved plans for the Main Street East project that include a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the road that has drawn objections from some residents in recent weeks.

The board accepted the recommendation of the volunteer Main Street Project Committee to direct project engineers to prepare final design plans that would include the north side sidewalk. The decision was unanimous and bipartisan, with Republican Selectman Tom Englert joining Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan and Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher in the vote.

The Main Street East Project, the first phase of a long-planned reconstruction of Main Street through the downtown village, calls for reconstructing 1,800 linear feet of Main Street from the entrance to the Laurel Hill Cemetery east to the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Route 148). The committee’s recommendation for a continuous north side sidewalk, made in March, drew a mixed response from residents at a well-attended April 22 public information meeting

Project engineers with the Mystic firm Kent & Frost Associates presented alternative plans at the session, with most of the discussion focused on the north side sidewalk option that would require some changes to residential properties at 131 and 137 Main Street. Many of the objections focused on the need to remove three mature maple tree in the vicinity of 131 Main St. and the School Lane intersection. But other residents supported the plan for a continuous north side sidewalk and safer and more convenient for pedestrians, particularly with the possibility the town will pursue construction of a new library on a section of North Quarter Park that is located off the north side of the street.

The property owners at 131 Main St., David and Lisa Meade, have expressed a willingness to accept the sidewalk with tree removal and work with the committee and engineers on landscape improvements and replacement of the trees. The property owners at 137 Main St., Jeff and Comer Gates, continue to oppose the project plans.

Comer Gates and three other residents continued to voice objections to the north side sidewalk before the board’s vote Wednesday. Henry Krempel suggested delaying a decision on the north side sidewalk until after plans and funding for a new library at North Quarter park receive approval from town voters.

But Meehan said the Main Street reconstruction is “long overdue,” with the north side sidewalk a much safer long range improvement for pedestrians. He noted all work for the four-foot wide sidewalk would be in the town’s right of way, with no need for taking of any private property for the project. Meehan said the town remains willing to work with both property owners, and pick up the cost for landscaping improvements on their properties.
Englert, who served briefly as acting first selectman in 2011, said he had initial concerns about the north side sidewalk, but was convinced by comments from residents at the April 22 information meeting that it would be a safer long term improvement for the town by reducing the number of crosswalks between the north and south side of the street.

Meehan said there would be no need for a town meeting vote on the project design plans, though a town meeting vote would be required at a future date to transfer any needed town funding for the project. Most of the project would be funded by about $980,000 in state grant funds, though some additional town funding would likely be needed before the project could be put out to bid. Officials hop to being construction of the Main Street East project in the spring of 2015.
In other business Wednesday, selectmen accepted a volunteer committee’s recommendation to hire the Avon firm Richter & Cegan inc. as the consults for drafting a master plan for North Quarter Park that would include a possible library site The other firm interviewed by the committee Wednesday was Kent & Frost.. Officials want the master plan completed by July 15.

Region 4 Budget Wins Referendum Approval on 319-253 Vote

 

REGION 4— Voters of Chester, Deep River and Essex approved the $18.37 million district education budget for 2014-2015 on a 319-253 vote in an eight-hour referendum Tuesday. The budget that funds the operation of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School won voter approval in two of the three district towns, but was rejected by Deep River voters.

The vote in Essex was 191-60 in favor of the budget. Chester voters approved the budget on a 59-37 vote. In Deep River, where a higher share of the budget is expected to lead to a 0.85 mill hike in the tax rate, voters opposed the spending plan on a 156-69 vote. The 66-vote margin for approval was much closer than last year, when the budget was approved on a 274-145 vote.

The $18,377,431 budget represents a $601,431, or 3.38 percent, increased over current spending. The total budget is reduced by $297,447 in anticipated revenue to a net budget of $18,079,984 that is assessed taxpayers in each town depending on the number of students from the town attending the two secondary schools.

The net budget is up by $579,395, or 3.31 percent. Each town had an increase in the Region 4 budget share, but Deep River had the largest increase of $442,063.

Board Chairman Chris Riley of Essex said he was hoping for better turnout, but is pleased the budget was approved. “While the turnout in Essex this year was a bit of a disappointment, I am pleased the Region 4 budget had been approved, he said. “Throughout our process of budget workshops, careful evaluation, and difficult decisions, our board has worked to balance the needs of students with being fiscally responsible to the communities we serve.”‘

Voter turnout for the annual referendum has been low and decreasing in recent years, but the total three-town vote of 572 was up from a turnout of 419 voters last year.  A total of 619 voters participated in the 2012 referendum.

 

Essex Savings Bank Center for Financial Training Certificate Awards

ESSEX –  Essex Savings Bank is pleased to announce that several employees were honored at the 67th Annual Graduation and Awards Ceremony of the Center for Financial Training.  Brenda Kim, Assistant Branch Manager of the Old Lyme Branch, received her Professional Teller Certificate, Advanced Financial Services Diploma and First in Class Certificate for Real Estate Finance.  Isabel Roberge, Senior Teller at the Chester Branch, received her Professional Teller Certificate and Suzanne Schneider, Accounting Representative at the Corporate Office, received a First in Class Certificate for Law and Banking:  Applications, Introduction to Financial Services Certificate and Introduction to Financial Services Operations Certificate.

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851.  The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook.   Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc, Member FINRA, SIPC. Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value and are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

Two New Rebud Trees on South Main

2014-04-25 09.54.47In celebration of Arbor Day, the Essex Rotary Club and the Essex Garden Club each donated a redbud tree to the Essex Tree Committee. These trees were planted on Friday, April 25 on South Main Street (opposite Collins Street) by Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden and Chairman of the Tree Committee with the help of Fred Weber Tree and Landscape Experts. Richard Levene and Dr. Peter Pool from the Rotary Club and Linda Newberg from the Essex Garden Club, the Club’s President were on hand to add the final touches to the planting.

The Eastern redbud (cercis Canadensis) is one of the first trees to flower in the spring with large showy clusters of soft pink to magenta buds that pop out directly on the branches and trunk. After blooming, light green, heart shaped leaves appear. These darken to an emerald green and in the fall turn to a golden yellow. The disease resistant trees mature to a height of 20-30 feet.

These new trees are just two of many that were added to the Essex landscape this year thanks also to the Essex Land Trust and the Dept. of Park and Recreation. To see any of the new trees take a walk across the Town Hall campus, stroll into Cross Lots, check out the new trees at the Essex Elementary School and the Ivoryton Green.

Once again the Essex community enhances the beauty to our streets and parks! If you or your organization would like to fund/donate a tree, please contact Augie Pampel at augiepampel@att.net.

Chester Town and Elementary School Budgets Head for May 22 Town Vote After Quiet Public Hearing

CHESTER— A proposed $3.64 million town government budget and a $4.15 appropriation for Chester Elementary School head for a town meeting vote on May 22 after a quiet public hearing Monday.

Barely a dozen residents turned out for the budget hearing, with no calls for changes or reductions to the spending plans. The town government budget is up by $132,627 over the current appropriation, while the requested budget for the elementary school has decreased by $31,696. The total $12,507,736 spending package also includes a $342,870 capital expenditure plan, and the town’s $4,364,508 share of the Region 4 education budget.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan explained that a sharp 12 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property resulting from last year’s townwide property revaluation would require an increase in the tax rate, though decreases in assessed values for nearly all residential properties would mean that nearly all property owners would see either a decrease, or no change, in their current tax bills. The recommended tax rate for 2014-2015 is 24.82 mills, an increase of 3.87 mills from the current rate of 21.95 mills, The proposed rate represents $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Meehan said calculations by the assessor and tax collector indicate 57 percent of all property owners would have a decrease in their tax bill, even with the higher mill rate. This total includes 60 percent of all homeowners, 65 percent of all owners of vacant land, and 17 percent of all owners of commercial property. Meehan said the finance board has decided to use about $350,000 in surplus funds to “prepay” for key items in the capital expenditure plan for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. He said this would help limit tax increases for 2014-2015 and subsequent years.

The plan recommended by the board of selectmen and finance board would also transfer $13,287 from the town’s unexpended fund balance to cover spending in the next fiscal year, while leaving an estimated $1.83 million in the fund balance on June 30, 2015. The spending plan also includes $20,000 to fund  architectural design work for a possible new library building in North Quarter Park.

The annual budget meeting to vote on the town government and elementary school budgets is set for Thursday May 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the second floor meeting room at town hall. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on Tuesday May 6.