April 17, 2014

Chester Elementary School Budget Proposed at $4.12 Million, a Decrease from Current Amount

CHESTER— The local board of education has approved a proposed $4,122,077 budget for Chester Elementary School for 2014-2015, a total that is $67,021 less than the current budget appropriation for the school.

Declining enrollment at the kindergarten through sixth grade school is the major reason for the reduced spending. A current enrollment of 214 students is projected to fall to 200 students by the start of the 2-14-2015 school year. The budget includes savings of $60,430 from staffing changes and $11,693 from a reduction in hours for a physical education teacher position.

But the spending plan include $1,635 for a new part-time extra curricular programs mentor position. There is also $18,000 to replace the sidewalk around the back of the school, and $7,647 for new furnishings, including classroom furniture, library tables, and gymnasium mats. The budget funds 33 full and part- time positions; along with three para-educator positions that are funded by grants.

The budget plan for the elementary school has been reviewed by the board of finance, and will be presented with the proposed town government budget at the annual budget hearing later this month. The elementary school and town government budgets for 2014-2015 will be presented for voter approval at the annual budget meeting in May.

Chester Library Hosts Spring Book Discussions

“Views from the South:  Looking Forward, Looking Backward”  will be the subject of this spring’s Mark Johnson Book Discussion Series at Chester Public Library, once again led by Charlotte Rea. Dates for the discussions are Wednesdays, April 30 and May 7, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Former Head of School at the Williams School, Rea’s academic background is in English and theater. She explains her choice of these books for this year’s discussion series. “Thomas Wolfe, writing in the 1920s, Eudora Welty, writing in the ‘40s, and Flannery O’Connor, writing in the ‘50s, all portray a vision of life in rural, small-town South as seen from the inside—inside the family, the friendships, and the community.  Strong nets of family and friends and expectations surround the characters with comfort, love, suspicion, jealousy and exclusivity—as well as a sense of superiority for the civility and civilization that is consciously cultivated in the South.” 

How does this strong sense of connectedness interact with Southern warmth and pride to create a world in which outsiders are viewed with suspicion?  Within this tight world, the characters in these stories yearn for the wider world, for more learning, for greater adventures.  The abundant work ethic and risk-taking behaviors shape the characters’ worlds just as their orthodox views of human behavior control their actions.  How does this tension between yearning for stability and comfort war with the drive to experience the outside world?  What role does the strong sense of the past play as characters shape their own and the region’s futures? 

The rhythmic, rich language of the three authors becomes a way of life and brings great rewards for the reader.

On Wednesday, April 30, discussion will center on Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel, in which the protagonist seeks to shape his identity in contrast to and in harmony with his family and Southern community.

On Wednesday, May 7, the group will look at the view from two famous women novelists, Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty, who in their short stories, “Good Country People” and “Why I Live at the P.O.,” imagine the inner world and outer actions of bright, adventuresome, misfit women living circumscribed lives.

Books on paper and on CD are available at the library. EBook versions of both titles can be downloaded from Overdrive. Please call the library at 860-528-0018 to register. Registration is required for these free discussion programs, which are sponsored by the Friends of Chester Public Library.

 

The Chester Sunday Market is Getting Ready for the 2014 Season – Needs Volunteers

1549511_10152270475780956_1455827127_nThe Chester Sunday Market is getting ready for the 2014 season! The market is run by community volunteers, and we’d love to have your help. Please visit our website at chestersundaymarket.jimdo.com/ to contact us for more information. We’re planning on the market starting up in mid-June; like us on Facebook so you’ll be updated on what’s happening at the Market.”

Chester Selectmen Appoint Planning Committee for North Quarter Park as Potential Library Site

CHESTER— The board of selectmen Tuesday appointed a seven-member North Quarter Park Master Plan committee that will study the park on the west end of Main Street as a potential site for a new public library.

The volunteer committee will work with the selectmen to pick an engineering consultant to prepare a study of the 22-acre park, including analysis of its suitability as the site for a new library. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said a request for proposals for a consultant would be published soon, with a goal of completing the report and site analysis by mid-July. A mid-July completion could allow town officials, including the library board of trustees, to make a decision on a library site in time to meet a September deadline to apply for available state grant funds for library building projects.

After nearly two years of considering options for a renovation and expansion of the historic 1907 library building on West Main Street, library trustees in February agreed to a suggestion from the selectmen for further study of North Quarter Park as a potential site for a new library building.

Meehan noted Tuesday that North Quarter Park has been a subject of previous town-sponsored studies in past years that could be used in the latest analysis of the property. “We want to move this along,” he said.

Members of the new committee include Doreen Joslow,, representing the planning and zoning commission, Robert Gorman, representing the library board of trustees, Matt Sanders, representing the parks and recreation commission, Steve Teizzi, representing the Main Street Committee that is coordinating a long-planned reconstruction of Main Street, Richard Nygard, representing the board of finance, and at-large volunteer Dean Amato. Meehan will represent the board of selectmen on the committee. The committee is expected to hold its first meeting later this month.

Lyme Democrats Endorse Bjornberg, Stone

Emily Bjornberg

Emily Bjornberg

In addition to endorsing those democratic incumbent state office holders who have announced their intent to run for reelection, the Lyme Democratic Caucus endorsed two newcomers to the State scene: Mary Stone for State Representative, and Emily Bjornberg for State Senate.

The chairman of the Caucus, Steven Mattson, commented, “We are extremely pleased to endorse state legislative candidates as well qualified as Mary and Emily,”

Emily Bjornberg is a Lyme resident and is running for the seat once held by Eileen Dailey. “Emily is an exceptionally strong candidate, and we are confident she will be a superior Senator for the 33rd Senate District,” according to Mattson. The 33rd district covers Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. The seat is currently held by Republican Art Linares.

Mary Stone is an Old Lyme resident, who is running for the 23rd Assembly District consisting of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook. This is an open seat, due to the decision of Marilyn Giuliani not to seek reelection.

“Mary is the perfect candidate for this district,” according to Claire Sauer, who represented much of this district when she represented the 36th Assembly District.

Stone currently serves on the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals and is a former member of the Region 18 Board of Education.

Deep River-Chester Lions Club Pig Roast & Chicken Barbecue – Apr.26

Dreaming of Summer? Come on down to the Deep River-Chester Lions Club Pig Roast & Chicken Barbecue on April 26, starting at 6:00pm at St. Joseph’s Parish Center in Chester. Potato & macaroni Salads, baked beans, corn on the cob and dessert will also be served. The Lions are limiting the tickets to 200 this year, so be sure to get your tickets early and B.Y.O.B.

There will also be music, raffles and other exciting contests. And don’t forget to wear your favorite Hawaiian Shirt! Adults: $15.00, Children 10 and younger: $10.00. Tickets available at the Deep River Hardware store or from any Lion Member. All monies raised will be used for local charity.

Chester and Old Saybrook Receive $5K Energy Efficiency Grants

 L-R: Commissioner Robert Klee, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; Richard Holloway from the Chester Conservation Commission; Chester First Selectman Edward Meehan and Tilak Subrahmanian, Vice President of Energy Efficiency at Northeast Utilities.

L-R: Commissioner Robert Klee, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; Richard Holloway from the Chester Conservation Commission; Chester First Selectman Edward Meehan and Tilak Subrahmanian, Vice President of Energy Efficiency at Northeast Utilities.

Chester and Old Saybrook were among twenty-three Connecticut municipalities who were recognized during a ceremony Tuesday at the State Capitol for their participation in the statewide Clean Energy Communities program, an Energize Connecticut initiative that incentivizes cities and towns to support energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Municipal leaders from the communities were joined by their state senators and representatives to celebrate their city or town earning its first “Bright Idea Grant” through the program. These communities earned the grants based on the level of community participation in Energize CT programs. Bright Idea Grants awarded range from $5,000 to $15,000 and can be used toward a community selected energy saving project.

Together these cities and towns have collectively saved more than 277 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 2.8 million Ccf (one Ccf = 100 cubic feet) of natural gas through their energy efficiency efforts. Those savings are equivalent to the amount of power 33,000 homes would typically consume in one year, and result in avoided emissions of approximately 152,500 tons of CO2, which is the equivalent of taking 26,500 cars off Connecticut’s roads for a year.

“These cities and towns prove that energy efficiency can benefit an entire community, and we hope they encourage every municipality across Connecticut to join this valuable program,” said Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee. “Not only have these communities lowered energy use and costs overall, but have now earned money toward future projects that will help them use energy more efficiently.”

Under the Clean Energy Communities program, municipalities sign a pledge to reduce municipal building energy consumption by 20 percent by 2018, and to attain 20 percent of municipal electricity from renewable sources by 2018. Through community-wide participation in energy-saving and renewable energy programs, including resident and business participation, the community receives points toward rewards. For every 100 points earned through participation in energy efficiency programs, a community is eligible to receive a Bright Idea Grant. Similarly, for every 100 points earned through participation in renewable initiatives, a community can receive a renewable energy system equivalent to a one kilowatt solar photovoltaic system.

The nationally recognized Clean Energy Communities program expanded in 2012 to include energy efficiency. To date, 93 Connecticut cities and towns have signed the new pledge to support both renewable and energy efficiency initiatives.

Following the signing of the pledge, Clean Energy Communities program administrators work with municipalities to establish a local Clean Energy Task Force and aid them in developing a plan of action to reduce overall energy consumption, support renewable energy, and earn rewards for their efforts. Program administrators often host workshops at local public libraries and other municipal buildings to educate residents and businesses on available energy-saving and renewable energy programs that can help them earn points for their community.

The following Connecticut municipalities were recognized for earning a Bright Idea Grant during the March 24, 2014 ceremony at the State Capitol in Hartford:

$5,000

Ashford, Bridgewater, Chester, Coventry, Derby, Goshen, Litchfield, Old Saybrook, Sharon and Thomaston

$10,000

Brookfield, Cheshire, Rocky Hill, Suffield, Watertown, Windham and Wolcott

$15,000

Bristol, New Britain, New Haven, Shelton, Waterbury and West Haven

For more information on the Clean Energy Communities program, visit EnergizeCT.com/communities.

About Energize Connecticut

Energize Connecticut helps you save money and use clean energy. It is an initiative of the Energy Efficiency Fund, the Clean Energy Finance & Investment Authority, the State, and your local electric and gas utilities, with funding from a charge on customer energy bills. Information on energy-saving programs can be found at EnergizeCT.com or by calling 1.877.WISE.USE.

Connecticut Water Company to Flush Water Mains Local Towns

The Connecticut Water Company will be flushing its water mains in the towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex, including Ivoryton, beginning on March 30 and continuing through April 8, and Old Saybrook from May 4 through May 23.   Routine flushing helps to maintain water quality by scouring the inside of the water mains.

In Chester, Deep River and Essex night water main flushing will be conducted from March 30 through April 1 between the hours of 8:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. Daytime water main flushing will be conducted from March 31 through April 8 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

In Old Saybrook water mains will be flushed between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. from May 4 through May 6. Water main flushing will also take place between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday throughFriday from May 5 through May 23.

During water main flushing it is possible that some customers may experience discolored water and pressure fluctuations. The discolored water should clear within a few hours. While experiencing discolored water, customers should avoid using their washing machine, dishwasher, or other water using devices. Customers should call Connecticut Water at 1-800-286-5700 if discolored water persists for more than a few hours.

Connecticut Water’s water main flushing schedule is available on its Web site at http://www.ctwater.com/ in the ‘Customer’ section. Connecticut Water is also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CTWtr) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/CTwater).

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 Newest Eagle Scout!

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 newest Eagle Scout Dillon Eriksson (Photo  Lianne Rutty).

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 newest Eagle Scout Dillon Eriksson (Photo Lianne Rutty).

Troop 13 – Boy Scouts of America would like to congratulate our newest Eagle Scout, Dillon Eriksson of Deep River. Dillon is the 60th Eagle Scout in the history of Troop 13.

To become an Eagle Scout a boy must advance through the seven ranks by learning Scout and Life skills all while providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community. One on the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the boy’s community, school, or religious institution.

Dillon’s project was to show leadership over others by developing and implementing a plan that resulted in the construction of a crush stone base, blue stone slate walkway using historic site pieces on the property of the Deep River Congregational Church. Completing this project entailed working with various private and municipal agencies to meet permitting requirements, securing donations for supplies, designing and overseeing volunteers through the construction and installation of said walkway. The completed project provides an important service to the members and guests of Deep River Congregational Church, in particular the youth members by providing for a more stable ground area connecting the hall to the play yard.

Information about Troop 13 – BSA

Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead. The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun. To learn more information about joining Troop 13 please contact our Scoutmaster, Steven Merola @ 860-526-9262

 

Fire Destroys Clubhouse of the Pattaconk Yacht Club in Chester

Remains of burned out Pattaconk Yacht Club House after fire (Photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson).

Remains of burned out Pattaconk Yacht Club House after fire (Photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson).

CHESTER— State and local fire marshals are investigating to determine the cause of a Friday night fire that destroyed the clubhouse of the Pattaconk Yacht Club at 61 Dock Road.

The fire, reported by nearby property owners around 9:30 p.m., was full involved, with flames breaking through the roof, when volunteer firefighters from the Chester Hose company arrived on the scene. The clubhouse is located directly on the Connecticut River, with firefighters drawing water from the river to battle the blaze.

Chester firefighters were joined under mutual aid by firefighters from the Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Old Saybrook, and the South District of Middletown. Dozens of firefighters were on the scene for about three hours to extinguish the blaze. There were no injuries to firefighters, but the clubhouse building was completely destroyed.

Chester Planning and Zoning to Hold Thursday Public Hearing on Stone-Cutting Business at Industrial Park

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing Thursday on two related special permit applications for a decorative stone business on two parcels on Airport Industrial Park Road. The hearing ,which was rescheduled from the February meeting due to snow, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the community meeting room at town hall.

A.I.S Properties LLC of Deep River is seeking permits for two parcels at 25 and 35 Airport Industrial Park Road. The industrial park is located in the western section of town, off Route 145 near the Chester Airport.

The company is seeking a permit for a 50-foot by 80-foot industrial building at 35 Airport Industrial Park Road for the cutting of decorative stone. The business would have four employees, with hours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturdays. A.I.S. Properties is seeking a second permit for outside storage of raw stone material on a lot at 25 Airport Industrial Park Road.

Six Member Committee to Direct Review of North Quarter Park for Potential Library Site, Other Uses

CHESTER— The board of selectmen will appoint a six-member volunteer committee to direct a review of North Quarter Park as a potential site for a new library and other possible uses.

Acting on a suggestion from First Selectman Edmund Meehan, the board Tuesday endorsed the idea of a coordinating committee, with members expected to be appointed over the next month. Meehan initially suggested a five member committee to be comprised of representatives of the board of selectmen, the planning and zoning commission, parks and recreation commission, library board of trustees, and the main street project committee, but later agreed to a suggestion for one additional at large member of the volunteer panel.

Meehan said the new committee would coordinate the process of hiring a consultant to prepare a master plan for possible future uses of the 22-acre park located on the north side of Main Street near the intersection with Route 154. The site for a new public library would be one of the potential uses for the park, which currently contains only a small children’s playground.

The selectmen and finance board last month approved a $20,000 appropriation to pay for the study of North Quarter Park, a process which would help determine whether the park is a suitable location for a new library building that would replace the existing Chester Library located in a historic 1907 building on West Main Street. Meehan said a consultant should be hired by early April, with park study reported to be completed by June.

Library trustees have been hoping to reach a final decision on a library expansion project by August, in time for a September 1 deadline to apply for available state grant funding for library construction projects. Meehan said making a final decision, and completing the preliminary schematic plans that are required for the grant application, before September 1 is an “optimistic” goal. “It’s something to work toward,” he said.

Meehan said the consultant hired with the new appropriation for the park study may not be the same the firm that prepares any preliminary site plan for a grant application. He said funding for preparation of site plans for a new library would not be available until the start of the town’s next budget year on July 1.

Chester to Receive $450,000 State Grant for Initial Phase of Main Street Project

CHESTER— Town officials received good news last week with an announcement the town will receive a $450,000 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant for the initial phase of the long-planned Main Street reconstruction project.

The funding for Chester was one of six STEAP grants for municipalities announced last week by Gov. Dannel Malloy. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the funding would allow the town to complete the first phase of the Main Street project this year. The initial phase calls for a full reconstruction of Main Street, including new sidewalks from the intersection with Route 154 west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Later phases of the project, covering the commercial area in Chester Village, will be done in 2016 in conjunction with a state Department of Transportation plan to replace the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook. The initial phase of the project is expected to be put out to bid in May, with construction to begin later in the year.

State Rep. Phil Miller, D-Essex, who lobbied for the funding at the capitol, praised Meehan and town public works director John Divas for “doing their homework,” with the application process to make a strong case for the grant funding.

Chester Grand List Drops by 12 Percent After Townwide Property Revaluation

CHESTER— The 2013 grand list of taxable properties is down by 12 percent after the first full townwide property revaluation since 2003, with decreases in all three real estate categories and the personal property total.

Assessor Loreta Zdanys has filed an October 2013 grand list that totals $441,523,635, representing a decrease of $60,354,708, or about 12 percent, from the 2012 grand list total. Motor vehicles was the only category that showed a small increase over the 2012 total.

The townwide property revaluation conducted last year by eQuality Valuation Services of Waterbury was the first full revaluation, with visual inspections of all properties, done in Chester since 2003. The Waterbury firm had also handled the statistical update revaluation that was done in 2008. But the latest revaluation shows the full impact on property values resulting from the national Great Recession that began in the fall of 2008.

The grand list shows a real estate total of $398,423,780 for the town’s 1,858 accounts, a decrease of $60,362,060 from the 2012 real estate total. Along with residential. property, there were also declines in assessed value for the town’s 88 commercial and 14 industrial properties.

There was also a small decrease in the assessment total for the town’s 1,073 personal property accounts, with a 2013 personal property total of $14,434,390, down by $708,450 from the 2012 personal property total. The town’s 4,115 motor vehicle accounts show an assessment total of $28,665,465, up by $705,802 from the 2012 motor vehicles total.

Zdanys said more than 90 percent of the town’s real estate accounts showed a drop in assessed values, though some properties in the vicinity of the downtown village did not show a decrease. In contrast to past revaluation years where property owners were often objecting to higher assessments, Zdanys said there have been some complaints from property owners, particularly those considering selling, that their assessments were too low. Zadanys said the deadline for property owners to file applications to contest their assessments with the elected board of assessment appeals in March 20.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the decrease in the grand list was actually slightly less than he was expecting. “I was expecting closer to a 15 percent drop,” Meehan said, adding “it reflects market conditions.” Meehan said the selectmen and board of finance are prepared to support a transfer from the town’s undesignated fund balance “to ensure a smooth transition’ ‘in the tax rate for 2014.

The current tax rate is 21.95 mills, or $21,95 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. While the tax rate is likely to increase in 2014, most property owners would be paying the higher rate on a lower assessed value for their property. The town’s undesignated fund balance currently totals about $1.8 million.

In recent years, selectmen and the finance board have authorized transfers from the fund balance in the range of $150,000 to $200,000, to limit increase in the tax rate. Lower totals for education spending allowed the town to avoid any transfers from the fund balance for the current 2013 budget.

The town list of top ten taxpayers remained unchanged from 2012. The top ten taxpayers, along with their 2013 assessment totals are Chester Woods Inc. (Chester Village West)-$15,092,330, Whelen Engineering Co. Inc.-$8,400,010, Connecticut Water Co.-$5,181,300, The Eastern Company-$4,065,740, and Connecticut Light and Power Co.-$4,001,560.

Also Whelen Aviation LLC (Chester Airport)-$3,843,340, Roto Frank of America Inc.-$3,620,820, Hayes Properties LLC-$2,248,350, Margaret & Robert Sbriglio (Aaron Manor)-$2,214,990, and Chester Point Real estate LLC-$2,079,830.

Funding Approved to Study North Quarter Park as Potential Chester Library Site

A patron entering the small and historic Chester Public Library (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

A patron entering the small and historic Chester Public Library (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

CHESTER— A special appropriation of $20,000 has been approved for an engineering analysis of North Quarter Park as a potential site for a new Chester library. The board of selectmen and board of finance approved the expenditure last week.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the appropriation would allow the library board of trustees to hire an engineering firm to analyze the 22-acre park located on the north side of Main Street near the intersection with Route 154 as a potential library site. The study would also include preparation of a conceptual master plan for the park, which now contains only a small children’s playground.

The focus on North Quarter Park as a potential library site began earlier this month after the board of selectmen expressed reservations about a proposal for a $2.8 million renovation and expansion of the existing library building on West Main Street that would place most of the new construction underground. It was the second proposal in the last two years from library trustees seeking to upgrade and expanded the historic 1907 library building.

Meehan, in a meeting between the selectmen and library trustees on Feb. 4, had noted that building a new library could be less costly than attempting to renovate and expand the historic building, while also eliminating the expense and inconvenience of relocating the library during more than a year of construction.

Meehan said Monday the trustees would now seek proposals from engineering and architectural firms, with the plan and site analysis expected to be completed by early summer. The trustees are hoping to make a final decision on a library expansion plan, and complete schematic drawings for the building project, by August, a step that would allow the town to apply for an available $1 million state grant for library building projects. The grant application has a September deadline for submission.

New Chester Historical Society Unearthed Challenge…

What might you create with these rusted Es for the Chester Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge on March 22?   (Photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard).

What might you create with these rusted Es for the Chester Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge on March 22? (Photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard).

The Chester Historical Society has come up with another fun challenge linking Chester history and art.  This spring, those accepting the 2014 Unearthed Challenge issued by the Historical Society will be working with flat, rusted iron pieces found buried in an early Chester Center property – one of the oldest houses in Chester.

These rusty pieces measure 1 ¼ by 2 inches and look like the capital letter E. We do not know their origin, but they’re a great example of what one might find by digging in their own backyard!

As with the Bishop and Watrous Bone Art Challenge and the Bates Square Roots Challenge offered by the Chester Historical Society in past years, the Unearthed Challenge is for area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelry designers, and all others with a creative mind.

Anyone who wants to take the challenge can stop in at the Chester Gallery on Main Street in the center of Chester to pick up their rusty pieces and pay their entrance fee of $30, which includes two tickets to the event. The finished works will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge Reception on Saturday, March 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

For more information, call Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery at 860-526-9822.

Chester Historical Society Presents Program on Chester’s Cooks, Food Sales and Kitchens

Chester Center had a good many food stores, including the A&P and Checkers Store, as well as several meat markets and even a fish market.

Chester Center had a good many food stores, including the A&P and Checkers Store, as well as several meat markets and even a fish market.

Chester is famed for its plentiful restaurants. From pizza and vegan to Italian and French, there’s no shortage of food being professionally prepared and savored in Chester today.

There was no shortage of food in the old days either – but it certainly was different!

Squirrel and rabbits. Polenta. Ravioli. Eels and river shad. Home-grown vegetables. Weekly Sunday dinner for the entire family at Grandmother’s. Friday night food sales in front of the bank, and side-by-side supermarkets and meat markets “downstreet.”

Hunting filled an important need for food, especially during the Depression. Shown here are four Chester men who were known for their hunting skills:  Fred Walden, Layton Kelsey, Curt Bishop and Eddie Carlson.

Hunting filled an important need for food, especially during the Depression. Shown here are four Chester men who were known for their hunting skills: Fred Walden, Layton Kelsey, Curt Bishop and Eddie Carlson.

The Chester Historical Society invites you to “Stories from Chester’s Kitchens,” a program featuring tales of Chester’s cooks, food sales and kitchens shared by longtime Chester residents. The program will be Sunday, March 2 at 4:00 p.m. in the Chester Meeting House.

Food sales and townwide banquets hold special memories for many old Chester residents. We’ll be sharing stories at the Historical Society’s Crackerbarrel Program on Sunday, March 2.

Food sales and townwide banquets hold special memories for many old Chester residents. We’ll be sharing stories at the Historical Society’s Crackerbarrel Program on Sunday, March 2.

The program will revolve around the popular crackerbarrel format that has been successful for so many Historical Society programs. Audience participation is encouraged – we want to hear everyone’s memories of Chester’s cooks and kitchens. We’re also planning to show historical photos to whet your appetite for storytelling. This will be a great program for all ages, so children are invited too.

The program is free. Refreshments will feature some tastes of Chester’s past. More information at Facebook.com/chestercthistoricalsociety.

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 Announces Five New Eagle Scouts

Chester/Deep River Boy Scouts Troop 13 Five newest Eagle Scouts (L-R) Samuel Jones,  Tyler Johnson, Iestyn Norton, Gregory Merola, and William Brown

Chester/Deep River Boy Scouts Troop 13 Five newest Eagle Scouts (L-R) Samuel Jones, Tyler Johnson, Iestyn Norton, Gregory Merola, and William Brown

Troop 13 – Boy Scouts of America would like to congratulate our five newest Eagle Scouts: Tyler Johnson and Gregory Merola of Chester and Samuel Jones, Iestyn Norton, and William Brown of Deep River.

To become an Eagle Scout a boy must advance through the seven ranks by learning Scout and Life skills all while providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community.  One on the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the boy’s community, school, or religious institution.

Tyler’s project was at the Bushy Hill Nature Center in Ivoryton where he cleared a hiking trail and replaced a bridge to an island at the camp.  Tyler wanted to give back to the camp where he spent many summers and was a counselor at the camp.

Gregory’s project was to rebuild an amphitheater used by hundreds of campers each summer at Camp Hazen in Chester.  Greg led the Scouts in replacing benches, clearing the access trails, and installing new gateway and sign.

Samuel’s project was to GPS the location of all 701 storm drains in Deep River.  He also supervised the affixing of labels that informs the public that anything put in the storm drain will make its way into rivers and the ocean.

Iestyn’s project was to design and supervise the construction of a snack shack/storage building at Plattwood Park in Deep River for the residents and their guest to enjoy.  He secured many donations for material and labor to keep the cost down for the town.

William’s project was to replace the boardwalk through the historic Cedar Swamp at Bushy Hill Nature Center in Ivoryton. The old walkway had deteriorated over time and was posing a safety risk for campers. The walkway allows campers to walk through the swamp to view ecological diversity at the camp.

Information about Troop 13 – BSA

Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead. The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun.  To learn more information about joining Troop 13 please contact our Scoutmaster, Steven Merola @ 860-526-9262

Chester Library Trustees Are Asked to Consider Building a New Library at North Quarter Park

CHESTER— The library board of trustees has agreed to investigate the option of constructing a new library at North Quarter Park in place of expanding the historic existing library building on West Main Street.

The decision comes after a Feb. 4 meeting with the board of selectmen, where the selectmen asked the trustees to more fully explore the option of building a new library at the 22-acre park located on the east end of Main Street, near the intersection with Route 154. The trustees have been focused for the past two years on a building plan that would renovate and expand the historic 1907 library building on West Main Street.

Library trustees in December presented a revised plan for a $2.8 million expansion plan that would focus most of the new construction underground as an extension of the existing lower level of the building. A more costly $3.09 million expansion plan with above-ground extensions of the existing building had received a mixed response from residents when it was presented in 2012.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said this week he, and the other two selectmen, had numerous questions about the plan for an underground expansion. “I have some reservations about spending money on an underground library,” he said.

Meehan said the option of building a new library at North Quarter Park has never been fully explored since the library trustees began considering a building renovation and expansion project more than two years ago. Meehan said building a new library could be less costly than attempting to renovate and expand the existing historic building, while also avoiding the expense, and inconvenience, of relocating the library for more than a year during construction at the existing building.

Terry Schreiber, chairwoman of the elected library board of trustees, said the board, with reluctance among some members, had agreed at a meeting Monday to investigate the option of building a new library at North Quarter Park. Schreiber noted that residents had expressed a preference for retaining the existing library building during surveys and public forums held in 2011. She acknowledged that constructing a new building would avoid some of the problems associated with the existing site, including the need to move the library to an undetermined location for more than a year during construction.

Schreiber said the trustees would request an appropriation to pay for an engineering analysis of the feasibility and potential cost of building a new library at the park. A $20,000 state grant had paid for the preliminary plans that were prepared by a South Windsor architectural firm on the two expansion options for the existing building. Schreiber said the trustees are hoping to make a final decision on a building plan by August to meet a September deadline to apply for a $1 million state grant that will be available for library building projects later this year. The town would need a confirmed site, and preliminary schematic plans for a building project, to apply for the state grant

New Chester Marketing Firm to Focus on Non-Profits and Charitable Organizations

New business partners Michelle Paulson (left)  and Susan Daniels (right) have teamed up to make a difference for their marketing clients and their communities

New business partners Michelle Paulson (left) and Susan Daniels (right) have teamed up to make a difference for their marketing clients and their communities

Chester, CT – New business partners Susan Daniels and Michelle Paulson have a long history of bringing voice to their clients’ stories. Going all the way back to the 1980s and having lived parallel lives for most of their careers, the duo recently teamed up to form PaulsonDaniels llc, a marketing communications firm with a mission to help businesses grow while benefitting non-profit or charitable organizations. The innovative approach is a combination of two tried and true marketing disciplines – lifestyle marketing and cause marketing – where a client’s distinct brand beliefs, attitudes and social conscience are used as the foundation for engaging and communicating to consumers with similar views. “Every business has its own brand personality with foundational values that set it apart from like businesses,” explained Daniels, “We work with those values to create a greater awareness of our clients’ commitment to the customer experience and to the communities that support them.”

Case in point is the highly successful Dinner At The Farm benefit dinner series created by Paulson’s long-time client River Tavern restaurant. Continually sold-out for the past seven years, the project was developed to promote and support Connecticut’s farming community, and has helped earn the State a place in the local food movement and kept the River Tavern’s mission out in front through a multitude of well-placed feature stories including: Time Magazine, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Cooking Channel, Yankee Magazine, Connecticut Magazine and more. “The beauty of this approach is that it creates opportunities for customers and the community at large to make a difference and support a good cause while enjoying a very special dining experience,” commented Paulson, “It’s all good.”

Daniels’ work for Best Cleaner’s COATS FOR CONNECTICUT campaign is another example of the use of marketing to make a difference. The company’s deep-rooted tradition of doing what they do best to better the community was the inspiration for the development of the program where Best collectsgently-used winter coats donated by customers and the general public and then cleans and delivers them to Connecticut Salvation Army centers for distribution to those in need throughout the cold-weather months. Media partnerships with WFSB-TV 3, YZ 92.5, The River 105.9 and Young’s Printing helps get the word out and has resulted in over 20,000 coats collected in just five years.

According to the two partners who have an office in Chester, success has come from a shared passion and enthusiasm for solving problems anchored by a no-nonsense ability to get things done and keep the process simple. The firm offers a full complement of marketing and design services including brand development, strategic planning, website development, advertising, public relations, social media, direct marketing, photography, interior space planning and design.

ABOUT MICHELLE PAULSON

Michelle is a seasoned professional in the areas of public relations, advertising, graphic design and strategic brand management including social media and internet/digital marketing. She served as account manager for Connecticut’s leading advertising and creative agencies including Decker Rickard (now Decker), Mintz & Hoke and Cummings & Good managing corporate, state agencies, arts and non-profit accounts. In establishing her own marketing communications company for small to mid-sized businesses, Michelle has developed and directed communications programs for clients in the manufacturing, restaurant, environmental, and architectural/interior design industries, often wearing multiple hats as writer, designer, photographer, web & social media content developer and more. Michelle also co-founded the award-winning Dinners At The Farm , a summertime benefit event series that helped put Connecticut on the Local Food Movement map. Her efforts garnered local, statewide and national press (including AP, TIME, BusinessWeek, New York Times and the Cooking Channel) and led to her helping develop the State’s first Farm-to-Chef Harvest Celebration Week. For that good work, Michelle earned an invitation to the White House for the launch of Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools campaign, inspiring her to help create Region 4 School’s healthy school lunch initiative, Get Fresh 4 Schools. Michelle’s key operating principal: “Know your passion.” One of hers is photography which often comes in handy for certain client work.

Michelle studied Journalism at American University and has a B.A. in History with a Marketing Minor from Central Connecticut State University.

ABOUT SUSAN DANIELS

Susan is a business strategist who focuses on her client’s bottom-line growth opportunities. Her talent is identifying brand attributes that have real market value and delivering marketing communications plans that are strategically sound and highly actionable. Susan’s background includes both corporate and agency leadership positions within consumer, business-to-business and non-profit organizations, giving her an unusual blend of big-picture savvy and realistic, achievable goal definition. Susan’s experience includes local, regional and national work in the fields of retail, consumer products and services, healthcare, entertainment/leisure,new technology, public service and non-profit. Having served in the role of marketing director, agency account director, media planner, and broadcast producer/writer for a diverse range of companies, she has a comprehensive knowledge of all marketing disciplines with an in-depth understanding of market research, advertising, public relations, direct marketing and interior space planning and design. The end result is a marketing communications that is as efficient as it is effective for each and every client. Prior to establishing her own brand-planning consultancy and marketing company, Susan served as Vice President, Marketing for TJX Companies-Bob’s Stores. She also held the positions of Executive Vice President, Marketing Services for KGA Advertising, a retail marketing firm; Director of Sales and Marketing for the Arrow Prescription Center franchise; Account Supervisor at Maher/Hartford Advertising and Public Relations; and Broadcast Manager for Sage-Allen department stores. A confessed sports nut, she has worked with UCONN Division of Athletics, Hartford Whalers, Red Sox, Patriots, Boston Bruins, and the Greater Hartford Open. Susan’s non-profit work includes the Connecticut River Museum, Community Music School, Essex Elementary School Foundation and Community Foundation of Middlesex County. Susan has a B.A. in Psychology from Trinity College, a M.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Hartford, and a certificate in Interior Design from Rhode Island School of Design.

 

 

Chester Democrats and Republicans Select Town Committees for 2014-2016

CHESTER— Town democrats and republicans selected town committees for the 2014-2016 term at party caucuses held earlier this month. The new two-year terms for town committees begin in March.

Democrats have selected a 25-member town committee that includes four new or returning members. New members include Karen Badger, Marta Daniels, and former Old Saybrook First Selectman Roger Goodnow, who moved to Chester in 2012 after serving previously as the elected judge of probate in Old Saybrook. Returning to the committee is former school board member Lynn Pease. Six members of the current town committee stepped aside, including Robert Bibbiani, Lawrence DeBernardo, Pastelis Kehayias, John Yrchik, Issac Ruiz, and Margaret Meehan.

Incumbents returning to the Democratic town committee include Samuel Chorches,, Lori Ann Clymas, Joe Cohen, David Fitzgibbons, Robert Gorman, Errol Horner, Arthur Heneck, Charlene Jenecek, Henry Krempel, Justin Kronholm, Suzane Levine, First Selectman Edmund Meehan, James Miller, James Ready, Sandra Senior-Dauer, Lynne Stiles, Selectman Lawrence Sypher, Jane Zanardi, former selectman and current committee chairman Peter Zanardi, and Kurt Zeimann.

Republicans have selected a 26-member town committee that includes two new members, Alex Strekel and Virgil Lloyd. Stepping aside from the current committee is Alexa Jamieson.

Incumbents returning to the Republican town committee are current committee chairman Mario Gioco, Laura Gioco, Ashley Marsh, former Selectman Bruce Watrous, Beverly Watrous Joyce Aley, Joel Severance, Selectman Tom Englert, Terri Englert, Karl Ohaus, Tracey Ohaus, joni Malcynsky, David Clark, john Hutson, Kristan Seifert, Melvin Seifert, Carolina Marguez-Sterling, Maria Ruberto, Victor Hoehnebart, Jill Sakidovitch, Brian Sakidovitch, Jamie Grzybowski, Doreen Joslow and Jon Joslow.

Chester Planning and Zoning Rejects Town Plan Changes for Aaron Manor But Opens Option for Sewer Connection

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has rejected changes to the town plan of conservation and development that were requested by the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility, but in a carefully worded decision, gave the facility the option of pursuing a connection to the municipal sewer system.

The commission unanimously approved a motion on the Aaron Manor application after the close of a public hearing on Dec. 12. The nursing facility located off Route 148 is under an order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to upgrade its septic system, and opening the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system that serves the downtown village was the major reason the request for the changes to the town plan

Aaron Manor representatives, along with many town officials and commission members, believed a revision to the 2009 town plan was necessary for the planning and zoning commission, and other town commissions, to consider any proposal to connect to the municipal system. This led to three months of discussion on the merits of revising the town plan, including a Sept. 12 informal public hearing, a November town meeting, and the formal public hearing with the PZC on Dec. 12.

But after lengthy discussion, the commission determined that changes to the language of the town plan are not required for the town to consider any sewer connection plan put forward by Aaron Manor. Commission Secretary Sally Murray noted during discussion that the plan includes a phrase “where appropriate” that would allow alternatives to on-site septic systems under certain conditions. The motion approved by the panel specifies that changes to the town plan would be “redundant” because the plan already allows consideration of “numerous possible septage alternatives and designs.”

First Selectman Edmund Meehan, who had supported revising the town plan to provide an option for Aaron Manor, said the commission’s decision would give town agencies the option of considering any sewer connection proposal from Aaron Manor. “They left the door open,” he said.

Engineers for Aaron Manor have said both options, constructing a new and larger on-site sewage disposal system that meets state approval, or constructing a new sewer line more than 1.5 miles east along Route 148 to connect to the municipal system, are very costly. Meehan has said any sewer connection would have to be funded by Aaron Manor, and would require approval from the town’s water pollution control authority and voters at a town meeting.

Essex Savings Bank Donates to Local Communities

Old Saybrook 1

Essex – Each year all six branches and the corporate office of Essex Savings Bank hold a holiday contest designed to help those less fortunate in the local communities.  The goal of this year’s event was to collect food and non-perishables for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen as well as the food pantries in Chester and Madison.

The festive displays at each office location centered on a particular food course, and the entries ranged from breakfast selections to desserts.  Although this contest adds to the fun of the season, the deeper goal for all of the Bank employees is to help those in need as that is the true spirit of the season.

All donations were at the employees’ expense and generated by their goodwill.

As a result of everyone’s efforts, on Monday, Dec. 23, Essex Savings Bank employees delivered 845 pounds of food to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen.  Additional donations were made to the pantries in Chester and Madison.

Branch Manager/AVP Marla Bogaert serves on the Board of Directors for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and a team of Bank employees volunteer to prepare and serve dinner throughout the year.  The ingredients for these meals are collected through the generous donations from Bank employees.

Admin-HR

Editor’s Note: 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 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.

 

 

Essex Savings Bank Chester Branch Celebrates One Year Anniversary

Branch Manager/AVP Lisa Berube with the winner, Michael Cressman of Chester.

Branch Manager/AVP Lisa Berube with the winner, Michael Cressman of Chester.

The Chester office of Essex Savings Bank opened its doors on December 14, 2012 and has been embraced by the local community.  The anniversary was marked by a weeklong celebration at the branch.  Customers were treated with appetizers, desserts, beverages, giveaways, and raffles throughout the week of December 9 through 14.   All visitors to the Chester Branch were encouraged to enter their name for the grand prize drawing, an Apple iPAD.  On December 17, President and CEO Gregory R. Shook selected the winning entry.   Bank management is proud of the Chester Branch’s successful first year serving the Connecticut River Valley.

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 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.

Public Information Forum on New Chester Library Expansion Plan

CHESTER—Trustees for the Chester Library have scheduled a Jan. 11 public information forum on a new expansion plan for the library building that would focus most of the new space on an underground lower level. The “community conversation” on the new expansion plan begins at 10 a.m. at the Chester Meeting House, with a snow date set for Saturday Jan. 25.

The trustees and library supporters have been working for nearly two years to develop a plan to expand the historic 1907 library building and make the structure fully accessible for handicapped persons. Using a $20,000 state grant, the trustees hired a South Windsor architectural firm to prepare preliminary expansion plans. A plan for a 2,000 square-foot expansion, with a $3.09 million estimated price, that would double the size of the existing building drew a mixed response from residents at two information forums held early this year.

Architect Ken Best has prepared a new plan for a slightly smaller expansion that would extend the lower level on the west side of the building. The cost of the new, lower level expansion has been estimated at about $2.8 million. In a statement announcing the Jan. 11 session, the trustees noted the new plan would “preserve the façade of the building and its historic main floor while creating a fully accessible facility at a lower level.”

Library representatives presented the new plan to the board of selectmen at a Dec. 3 meeting, and were urged by the selectmen to hold another public forum to test community reaction to the new plan. Based on the public response, there could be a request for town funding for red test borings that would confirm feasibility of the new plan. The goal is to bring an expansion plan to the town’s voters in a bonding referendum sometime in 2014.

Aaron Manor Town Plan Revisions Draw Mixed Comments at Chester P & Z

CHESTER— Revisions to the town plan of conservation and development that would give the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center the option of connecting to the town sewer system drew a mixed response from residents and officials Thursday at a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission.

The nursing facility located off Route 148 at the Route 9/Exit 6 interchange has requested amendments to the 2009 plan that would give the facility the option of connecting to the sewer system that serves the downtown village and a section of Route 154. Aaron Manor is under order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to upgrade the on site septic system serving the facility. Earlier this year, the town inland-wetlands commission asked representatives of the facility to investigate the option of connecting to the town sewer system before pursuing an application for a new and larger on-site sewage disposal system.

Changes to the town plan are needed for the facility to begin a detailed analysis of the option of a connection to the municipal system, a costly project that would require installing an underground sewer line along about 1.5 miles of Route 148 east from Aaron Manor to the downtown village area.

About 20 residents, including members of the conservation and economic development commissions, turned out for the public hearing. Several residents, including First Selectman Edmund Meehan, spoke in support of the requested revisions. Meehan, a former municipal planner for Newington, presented a written statement from the board of selectmen endorsing the changes, and also spoke at the hearing. Meehan contended giving the 10-year plan the option of expanding the municipal sewer system would be a “good thing for Chester.”

“If you have it in the plan you can guide it and direct it,” Meehan said, adding that planning and zoning commission oversight and current zoning for minimum one or two acre building lot sizes would limit development and population density along any Route 148 sewer extension. “I don’t think this is going to upset the town’s land use patterns,” he said.

Steve Flett, chairman of the economic development commission, said the revisions represent a request for help from an existing business, not a plan to promote wider economic development. “If Aaron Manor is prepared to pay the bill, you should just let them do it,” he said.

But Michael Prisloe, chairman of the conservation commission, contended the changes to the plan could have “unintended consequences” for future development that would change the environment and character of. the town’s western gateway. The commission presented a statement urging further study before approval of any changes to the town plan. Prisloe also noted the changes to the plan could become effective early next year, long before completion of any sewer line from Aaron Manor.

The commission was expected to close the public hearing Thursday and begin deliberations of the Aaron Manor application at it’s Jan. 9 meeting.

Chester Selectmen Endorse Requested Aaron Manor Plan of Development Change

CHESTER— The board of selectmen last week endorsed changes to the plan of conservation and development that were requested by the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to give the facility an option of connecting to the town sewer system. First Selectman Edmund Meehan will present a statement from the board when the planning and zoning commission considers the request at a public hearing that begins Thursday at 7;30 p.m. at town hall.

The nursing facility off Route 148 is under order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to upgrade the septic system serving the facility. The inland-wetlands commission last year asked representatives of Aaron Manor to explore the option of connecting to the town sewer system before presenting an application for a new and larger on site sewage disposal system. The requested changes to the 2009 town plan would allow town boards and commissions to consider a request to tie in to the municipal sewer system.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan, a former town planner, said last week it would be “shortsighted” to hold to a plan that does not provide options for expanding the system that currently serves the downtown village and properties on Route 154. Meehan presented a written statement outlining several reasons to revise language in the plan.

The statement notes that “public sanitary sewers are a major infrastructure asset that benefits a community’s public health, water quality, and economic base.” It also suggests that a future sewer expansion could help the town’s “long range economic development and business retention options for existing non-residential land uses when on-site systems are not feasible.”

The selectmen unanimously endorsed the statement prepared by Meehan. Selectman Tom Englert said any future economic development along Route 148 west to the Aaron Manor property would be controlled by the planning and zoning commission and other town land use commissions, while the changes would simply give the nursing facility the option of investigating the feasibility of a connection. “It doesn’t say we are going to do it,” he noted.

Letter: Chester Library Expansion Clarification

To Editor:

As a Chester Library Trustee, I would like to clarify that the expansion “plan” mentioned in Mr. Stannard’s article is more of a concept. There are no specific architectural plans but conceptual drawings of an idea for a lower level. The Board of Trustees has scheduled a community conversation to present this concept to the people of Chester on Saturday, January 11 (snow date 1/25) at the Meeting House. Details to be announced soon.

Sincerely,

Deedee Prisloe
Chester Library Trustee

Chester Library Trustees Present New Expansion Plan

CHESTER– Trustees for the Chester Public Library Tuesday presented a new library expansion plan to the board of selectmen. The plan focuses on an underground expansion on the west side of the historic 1906 library building on West Main Street.

Library trustees, using a $20,000 state grant, hired an architectural firm to explore options for expanding the library. In the fall of 2012, the trustees presented a plan for a 2,000 square-foot expansion that would double the size of the library building at an estimated cost of $3.09 million with additions on both sides of the building.

Trustees chairwoman Terry Schreiber said the plan drew a mixed response from residents attending to public information sessions held last March. She said architects with the South Windsor firm Drummey-Rosane-Anderson Inc. were asked to develop an alternative plan.

The new plan calls for a slightly smaller expansion, with most of the new space extending west from the existing basement underground beneath an existing parking area. The plan has an estimated price tag of about $2.8 million.

The trustees told the selectmen the next step was conducting a series of test borings to a depth of 25-feet to confirm the feasibility of the underground, lower level expansion. The borings would cost about $6,000.

But First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the trustees should obtain more community input before the town expends funds for the test borings. Selectman Tom Englert said he was uncomfortable with the underground expansion. “Some people may not want to have most of the new space under a parking lot,” he said.

The trustees agreed to hold another public information session on the alternative plan in January. Meehan said the trustees could then approach the board of selectmen with a funding request for the borings and other preliminary costs for the project.

 

Related letter: Chester Library Expansion Clarification

Chester Rotary Gives Dictionaries to All Students

ROTARY DICTIONARIES (1)

Students in grade 3 at Chester Elementary School received their very own Webster Dictionary on October 16th. One of the Rotary Club’s goals is to promote literacy, and each year they fulfill that goal by donating a dictionary to each third grader at CES.

Rotary Club members met with the students during an assembly which concluded with a Vocabulary Quiz Show game. The assembly was held on October 16th, which is Noah Webster’s birthday.

Deep River Resident/Author Supports Local American Legion

Todd CurryTodd Curry has been a resident of Deep River for over twenty years and is a veteran of the US Army and a retired Madison Police Officer with 22 years of service. He recently wrote and published a book of short horror/thriller stories (“Revolting Tales“) which is widely available and a book signing tour is planned.

Concerned that the local American Legion branch had insufficient funds to purchase American flags to place at the grave sites of  fallen soldiers, Curry and his co-author decided to donate a portion of their profits to the Chester American Legion Local 97 in order to assist them with the purchase of flags.  The American Legion place flags by the graves of fallen soldiers twice a year, on Flag Day and Veterans Day.

Chester Sets Nov. 20 Town Meeting on Aaron Manor Town Plan Revision

CHESTER— Voters will be asked at a town meeting Wednesday to offer input on proposed revisions to the town plan of conservation and development that would give the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system that serves the downtown village area. The meeting convenes at 7:30 p.m. in the meeting room at town hall.

The town meeting was scheduled after lawyers for the town and the planning and zoning commission concurred with First Selectman Edmund Meehan’s contention that a town meeting was required as the commission considers the Aaron Manor request for revisions to the town plan. The commission opened a public hearing on the request in September, but last month agreed to convene a new public hearing on Dec. 12 to consider any input provided by a town meeting.

The nursing facility off Route 148 has been under a state Department of Environmental Protection order to upgrade the septic system that serves the facility. The town’s inland-wetlands commission early this year asked representatives of Aaron Manor to explore the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system before pursuing a wetlands permit application for a new and larger on site wastewater treatment system. Both a new on-site system and a connection to the municipal system would be very costly, and no decisions have been made on how the nursing facility should proceed. A revision to the 2009 town plan would give Aaron Manor the option of pursuing a connection to the town sewer system.

The call of the town meeting asks residents to “review and make comments to the Chester Planning and Zoning Commission” on the proposed town plan revisions requested by Aaron Manor. The resolution does not call for a vote, with the voters present at the town meeting having the option to decide whether to vote on a motion supporting or opposing the requested revisions. If a town meeting vote is held opposing the revisions, it would require a two-thirds vote of the nine member commission to approve any revisions.

Voters at the town meeting will also be asked to amend the 1997 ordinance establishing an economic development commission to reduce membership of the panel from seven to five members. The appointed commission has been having some difficulty in recent months mustering the required four member quorum for meetings.

New Chester Pewter Ornament for 2013

Chester Ornament 2013Chester has a new pewter ornament for 2013. It was created by Peter Good, of Cummings & Good in Chester, and features his tractor seat design from the 2013 Chester Carnivale. The ornaments are being sold at stores throughout Chester Center for $15 each. Profits will benefit Chester Merchants activities such as the 2014 Chester Carnivale.

Town Meeting Vote, Second Hearing for Requested Revisions to Chester Town Plan

CHESTER-– A town meeting vote, and a second public hearing before the planning and zoning commission, will be required for a requested revision to the town plan of conservation and development that could allow Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to pursue the option of connecting to the town sewer system.

At the commission’s Oct. 10 meeting, Chairman Jon Lavy announced that a second public hearing would be required for the nursing facility’s petition because the full language for the five requested revisions to the 2009 plan had not been provided to the board of selectmen for review a required 65 days before the commission opened it’s public hearing on the petition on Sept. 12. In a related development, First Selectman Edmund Meehan said Tuesday he has confirmed that a town meeting discussion and vote are required before the planning and zoning commission can consider the requested changes to the town plan. The board of selectmen is expected to schedule a mid-November town meeting on the town plan revisions requested by Aaron Manor.

The nursing facility located off Route 148 has been under a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection order for more than two years to upgrade a failing septic system that serves the facility. The town’s inland-wetlands commission earlier this year had asked representatives of Aaron Manor to explore the option of connecting to the town sewer system before pursuing a wetlands permit application for a new and more complex on site sewage disposal system.

Revisions to the town plan are needed for any expansion of the sewer system, which now serves the downtown village and areas running south on Route 154 to the Deep River town line. Alvin Wolfgram, engineer for Aaron Manor, had said at the Sept. 12 public hearing that connecting the nursing facility to the terminus of the existing sewer system, a distance of about 1.5 miles along Route 148, is feasible but very costly. Wolfgram added that constructing a new system on the Aaron Manor property would also be very costly.

Meehan said the town meeting on the requested town plan revisions would include a vote that would be advisory for the planning and zoning commission. If voters at the town meeting reject the requested revisions, it would then require a two-thirds majority, six votes on the nine-member panel, for the commission to further consider the Aaron Manor request. The commission has scheduled a second and “official”" public hearing on the Aaron Manor town plan revisions for Thursday Dec. 12.

Mystic Firm Expected for Design Work on Phase One of Chester Main Street Project

CHESTER— The Mystic firm of Kent & Frost is the recommended pick for preparing detailed designs and bid documents for phase one of the long-planned Main Street reconstruction project. The firm, which recently prepared a comprehensive plan for the entire project, has been recommended by the town’s Main Street Committee that is coordinating the project.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan told the board of selectmen at a meeting Tuesday that he is ready to follow the committee’s recommendation after resolving some final details on the exact scope of work that would be required for the project, which is a reconstruction of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 west to vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. Meehan said he hopes to sign a contract with the firm by the end of October.

Meehan said Kent & Frost was of of three firms interviewed by the 11-member volunteer committee. A total of seven firms submitted proposals for the project work in August. Meehan said the price from Kent & Frost, about $122,00, was slightly lower than prices from the other two firms interviewed, Millane & McBroom Inc. of Cheshire and Tectonic Engineers PC of Rocky Hill.

Meehan said the plan is to complete the project design over the winter5 months to be ready to seek bids for the project by April. The design plans would be presented at a public information meeting before bidding. Kent & Frost had estimated the cost of the phase one project at about $1.3 million in the full “Chester Village and Center District Master Plan” plan that was approved by voters at a town meeting in July

Chester Boy Scout Builds Bridge in Bushy Hill Nature Camp to Qualify for Eagle Scout Rank

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

Tyler R. Johnson, a 17-year old Chester resident, and six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, recently supervised the complete rebuilding of a much needed bridge in the Bush Hill Nature Camp in Ivoryton.

The bridge building project fulfilled for Johnson a necessary requirement for him to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. The new bridge connects the Red Trail to Berry-Berry Island in the Bushy Hill Camp.

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The new bridge is 22 feet in length and three feet wide, and it has new, four foot high, rope railings on both sides. All of the work on the new bridge was supervised by Johnson, who was assisted by 15 or more Boy Scout volunteers.

As a reward for their efforts, the volunteers received “services hours,” which are necessary for their advancement in the ranks of the Boy Scouts.  For Johnson the bridge-building project fulfilled for him the requirement to have an “Eagle Leadership Project” to become an Eagle Scout.

Johnson is a six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, and to reach the rank of Eagle Scout, he had to pass through the ranks of scouting from Tenderfoot to Eagle, with four other ranks in between. In the process Johnson earned 33 different Boy Scout merit badges, ranging from Swimming to Financial Management, from Citizenship to Small Boat Handling.

Commenting on his bridge building project, Johnson said, “I wanted to give back to the [Bushy Hill Nature]camp, which I attended for seven years, and for which I have fond memories.” Johnson also very much wants to have the impressive rank of Eagle Scout on his resume,’ as he searches for a college to attend next year.

Chester's Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Chester’s Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Chester P & Z Approves Pizza Restaurant for 69 Main Street

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has approved a special permit for a new pizza restaurant at 69 Main St. in the downtown village. The panel approved the permit on a unanimous vote at it’s Sept. 12 meeting.

The restaurant will be run by Jonathan Rapp, who also owns and operates the River Tavern restaurant at 23 Main St. in the downtown village. The 35 seat restaurant would be open daily from 5 to 11 p.m., offering pizza, salads, and gelato, along with beer and wine. The three-story building at 69 Main St. is owned by local resident Jonathan Schroder, who purchased it from the town several years ago.

The town had acquired the property in the mid-1990s for a possible expansion of town hall, which was located in a building on an abutting parcel until the current town hall opened in 2003 at 203 Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

The commission imposed several conditions with the special permit approval, including a ban on outdoor music and parking behind in the area the building which is reserved for tenants on the other two floors. Patrons of the restaurant will be required to use on street parking or park in any the three town-owned lots in the village. Rapp had included a provision for outdoor seating in the application, but he will be required to obtain a separate accessory use zoning permit from the zoning enforcement officer before any outdoor seating is allowed.

Chester P & Z Continues Hearing on Town Plan Change Requested by Aaron Manor

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has continued a public hearing on the request by Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for an amendment to the town plan of conservation and development that would give the facility the option of connecting to the town sewer system. The hearing that began Thursday will resume at the commission’s Oct. 10 meeting.

The 60-bed nursing facility, located at 3 Wig Hill Road off Route 148, is requesting revisions to the 2009 town plan that would give it the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system that currently serves the downtown village and areas south on Route 154 to the Deep River town line. The septic system for the 60-year old facility has been failing for several years due to seasonal high ground water, and Aaron Manor is under a consent order with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to resolve the problems.

Represented by Essex engineer Alvin Wolfgram, the facility last winter applied to the inland-wetlands commission seeking a permit for a new and expanded septic system and on-site treatment system. The IWC asked Wolfgram to also investigate the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system, leading to a withdrawal of the permit application last March. The town plan currently makes no provision for sewers west of the downtown village along Route 148, a situation that blocks any consideration of the hook-in option for Aaron Manor.

The idea of revising the town plan to accommodate Aaron Manor drew a mixed response from residents at the hearing. The hearing began with First Selectman Edmund Meehan contending the request should have been first presented to the board of selectmen, and could possibly require approval from voters at a town meeting. Commission lawyer David Royston said town meeting action was not required if changes are approve by a two-thirds vote of the nine-member commission. But Royston recommended continuing the hearing to allow for review and input from the selectmen.

Royston also urged the commission to “proceed cautiously” with any changes to the town plan, with an eye toward addressing any possible conflicts with a statewide plan of conservation and development that became effective in June. One possible conflict could be an increase in potential development density that could result from an extension of the sewer line west along Route 148.

Several residents objected to changing the plan, with some suggesting there should be another way to give Aaron Manor a connection option without amending the plan. Meehan said any decision on changing the plan should include a review of all vacant land that is available for development along Route 148 to the Route 9 Exit 6 interchange. “Part of this decision is what is the sewer service area the commission wants for the town of Chester,” Meehan said.

But a representative of one nearby property owner suggested connecting Aaron Manor to the municipal sewer system could be the most environmentally sound option for resolving septic problems at the facility. Joan Malloy, a Wallingford attorney representing the owners of nearby Chapel Farm, contended the new and larger on site system proposed last winter could lead to contamination of a stream that runs through the farm property.

Wolfgram said connecting Aaron Manor to the municipal system with a sewer line running more than 1.5 miles along Route 148 would be “physically feasible,”, but costly, while adding the new and larger on site septic system that would be required for Aaron Manor would also be “very expensive.”

Chester P & Z to Hold Public Hearing Thursday on Proposed Revisions to Town Plan

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing Thursday on proposed modifications to the 2009 town plan of conservation and development that are requested by the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The hearing convenes at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

The 60-bed skilled nursing facility located off Route 148 at 3 Wig Hill Road is under a consent order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to repair and upgrade the septic system that has served the facility for decades. Aaron Manor, represented by Essex engineer Alvin Wolfgram, had applied to the inland-wetlands commission earlier this year for a permit for a new and expanded septic system. In considering the application, the IWC had asked Wolfgram to also explore the option of connecting to the existing town sewer system which serves the downtown village and several properties extending east to Route 154 and south to the Deep River town line.

The system was expanded in 2009 and currently sends waste water from Chester south to the Deep River sewer system and the waste water treatment plant on Winter Avenue in Deep River. Under a 2005 agreement, Deep River agreed to accept waste water from Chester for treatment at the Winter Avenue plant.

The town plan that was last updated in 2009 makes no provision for an expansion of the municipal sewer system to the west along Route 148. Aaron Manor is requesting changes to four chapters in the town plan that could allow for consideration or any proposal for a future expansion of the system west along Route 148.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said last month the town has no plans for any westward expansion of the sewer system on Route 148 to the Route 9 Exit 6 interchange, an area that includes Aaron Manor. Any expansion to the area, a distance of about 1.6 miles from the end of the existing system, would have to be self-funded by Aaron Manor, possibly with assistance from state and federal grants. A change to the town plan of development would at least allow Aaron Manor to consider a connection option as it works to comply with the state consent order.

Sen. Linares, and Rep. Carpino Hear from Local Manufacturers in Chester Meeting

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Chris Dimou, President of Roto Frank, Inc. (right) pause at the entrance to the Chester-based manufacturer which hosted the Sep. 6

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Chris Dimou, President of Roto Frank, Inc. (right) pause at the entrance to the Chester-based manufacturer which hosted the Sep. 6

State Rep. Christie Carpino and State Sen. Art Linares on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion with local business owners to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.

The meeting, which was held at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc., brought together area job creators with the goal of crafting and improving the state’s business climate.

“It was a productive meeting and a great turnout,” Rep. Carpino said. “We want business leaders throughout our districts to know they have partners at the State Capitol who will fight to pass policies which grow jobs and make our state a more attractive place to do business. We heard real-life examples of some detrimental state legislation that hinders job creation and growth. This is unacceptable! We look forward to future meetings like this where we can continue to exchange ideas.”

“We view these manufacturers – and all taxpayers – as our customers,” Sen. Linares said. “We want them to know that their voices matter and that they will be heard in Hartford. Whatever Rep. Carpino and I can do to help respond to their needs, we will do.”

Among the business leaders in attendance were:

  • Chris Dimou, President of Chester-based Roto Frank, Inc.
  • Chip Merritt, CEO of Colchester-based InCord, Ltd
  • Andrew J. Gibson, CEO of Chester-based AeroCision
  • Robert Reynolds, Co-CEO and Chief Operating Officer at Portland-based Standard-Knapp Inc.
  • Kelli-Marie Vallieres, President/CEO at Old Saybrook-based Sound Manufacturing, Inc./Monster Power Equipment
  • Rick Puglielli, President at Portland-based Promold Plastics
Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Christie Carpino listen to comments from local business leaders on how Connecticut can improve its business environment. The legislators on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc. to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.

Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Christie Carpino listen to comments from local business leaders on how Connecticut can improve its business environment. The legislators on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc. to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.

Chester Village West, a Luxury Retirement Community on Top of a Hill in Chester

Entry sign of Chester Village West, located on the western boundary of Chester

Entry sign of Chester Village West, located on the western boundary of Chester

To reach Chester Village West come north on Route 9, and then get off at Exit 6. Next, at the bottom of the ramp, take a left on to Route 148, and then drive up what feels like a long, long hill.  As you climb, there is almost nothing but full grown tress along both sides of the road.

Then, suddenly, on your left you see the large sign for Chester Village West. You have now reached a state of the art, fully developed, top of the line, retirement community.

Entrance road into Chester Village West, a meticulously kept retirement community

Entrance road into Chester Village West, a meticulously kept retirement community

Running the show at the retirement community is Executive Director Robert Taylor, who terms Chester Village West, “a premier, senior living community.” There are presently 105 residents at the “community,” tended, and cared for, by a staff of 43.

A key member of the staff at the community is Nurse Navigator Catherine Balliett. She is the “go to” person, whenever a resident has a medical question, which can range all the way from a troublesome hang nail to a worrisome pain in the chest.

The living quarters at Chester Village West consist of 90 apartments and 15 semi-detached houses. The apartments have four layouts, which are: one bedroom, one bedroom with den, two bedrooms, and two bedrooms with den. As for the semi-detached houses, they all have two bedrooms, with a choice of two different layouts plans.

These accommodations, as well as the other amenities at the community, are located on 25 acres of developed land on the western town line of Chester. Abutting the developed acreage, are 25 more acres belonging to Chester Village West, which are wetlands.

The Large Corporate Owner of Chester Village West

Chester Village West is wholly owned by Life Care Services, which has its headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. In total the company owns 17 senior living facilities, including Chester Village West, and it is also the managing partner of 112 other senior living facilities. In total the company has operations in 38 states.

The relevance of this wide experience, says Chester Village West’s Executive Director Bob Taylor, is that when it comes to senior living,  “We perfected it.” Taylor is also not reluctant in comparing his retirement facility in Chester with Essex Meadows in Essex. “We consider Essex Meadows as one of our competitors,” he says.

Taylor’s number one desire for residents at Chester Village West is that he wants all of them to feel that, “This is your home.”

The Array of Services at Chester Village West  

The services that are available at Chester West are truly staggering. They include one meal a day prepared by a, “five star,” Master Chef in the person of Chris Pardue, who even has his own herb garden.  Furthermore, residents are offered not only “gracious” dining with full table service, if they prefer there is “take out” service as well.

In addition to the one table served meal a day at Chester Village West, there is also complementary morning coffee and Danish as well. Also, at the community, residents are provided with: housekeeping services, linen services, scheduled transportation, utilities services, a full-time maintenance staff, lawn and garden care, 24-hour security, a full time Activities Director, shopping services, and a 24-hour Home Health Aide.

Also, the community has a backup generator to use, just in case regular power goes out. “It was a top priority upon my arrival, “says Executive Director Bob Taylor. In addition, Chester Village West is “pet friendly.”

More Features at the Chester Village West

Other attractive features at Chester Village West include: apartments with eat-in kitchens, which have either balconies or patios, and semi-detached houses with garages and fireplaces. Also, on site are an indoor swimming pool, a pub, a library, a music room and theater, a card room, a creative arts room, a beauty shop/barber shop, an exercise room, a greenhouse, and a pond with a gazebo.

In addition, for emergencies there is an emergency response system in each apartment or house, as well as a fire alarm system throughout the facility.

In conclusion, Executive Director Bob Taylor says, “The true value of Chester Village West can only be appreciated by touring the community, walking its many trails, and meeting staff and residents first hand.”

For further information, and for a private guided tour, interested parties can contact Sara Philpott, Marketing Director, Chester Village West, at 860-526-6800.

Chester Selectmen Endorse State Plan for Improvements to Road in State Forest

CHESTER— The board of selectmen Tuesday endorsed a plan by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for drainage improvements to Cedar Swamp Road in the Cockaponset State Forest.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the DEEP Forestry division is planning to install low water flow culverts on sections of Cedar Swamp Road, an unimproved town road that runs south through the state forest to the Winthrop section of Deep River. Meehan said the drainage work is intended to reduce storm water flows that have led to rutting in the road and damaged forest vegetation after use by various all-terrain vehicles. The drainage work would be done in the spring of 2014.

The plan for improvements was also reviewed by the town’s conservation commission, which asked the DEEP in install signs near the end of the improved section of the road in Chester declaring the road is suitable for use only be 4-wheel drive vehicles. In 2009, the state began closing and blocking the road at both the Chester and Deep River ends during the winter months. But the rugged unimproved road is open for use during the warm weather seasons.

In other business Tuesday, the board agreed to ask voters at a town meeting to amend a town ordinance to set the membership of the appointed economic development commission at five members. Meehan said the town ordinance establishing the economic development commission sets the membership for the panel at seven, though only four members are currently serving on the commission. Meehan said this has led to problems securing a quorum of members to hold legal meetings. The proposed amendment, to be included on the agenda of a town meeting to be held this fall, would specify an EDC with five members to be appointed by the board of selectmen for three year terms.

Decision Pending on Proposed Downtown Chester Pizza Restaurant

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has closed the public hearing on a special permit application for a new pizza restaurant at 69 Main St. in the downtown village. In other business at the Aug. 8 meeting, the panel approved a special permit for a newly constructed seasonal restaurant at the 72 Railroad Avenue property of the Chester Point Marina.

The proposed new pizza restaurant would be run by Jonathan Rapp, owner of the River Tavern restaurant at 23 Main St. The three-story building at 69 Main St. is owned by local resident Jonathan Schroder, who purchased the property from the town several years ago. The town had purchased the property, which abuts the former town hall site, in the 1990s for a planned expansion of town hall in the downtown village that was later abandoned in favor of the current town hall at 203 Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

The proposed 35-seat restaurant would serve pizza, salads, gelato, and beer, with seasonal outdoor seating. The restaurant hours would be daily from 5 to 11 p.m. The proposed restaurant drew questions, but little specific opposition, at the Aug. 8 hearing.

But one nearby resident, Jean Davies of 73 Main St., opposed the application. She called on the commission to limit outdoor seating and take-out service for the pizza. The commission has until early October to act on the permit application, with discussion expected at the panel’s Sept. 12 meeting.

The commission also approved the new seasonal restaurant at the Chester Point Marina that was the subject of a public hearing in July. The restaurant, which would operate from April to October, would be part of a new 5,561-square-foot building. About 2,650 square-feet would be restaurant space, with the remainder containing marina offices and a display area. An existing building that also had a seasonal restaurant would be demolished. The marina on the Connecticut River contains docking slips for 135 boats.

Chester Rotary Announces 2013 Citizenship Award Winners

Rotary 2013 Citizen Award Winners-1

From left to right in the photo are Kronkanok Ratanasaka, Maggie Calamari, Anna D’Agostino, Karen D’Agostino

The Rotary Club of Chester is proud to announce the recipients of its 2013 Citizenship Award.  Each year this award is given in the form of a scholarship to two graduating high school seniors who are residents of the Town of Chester. This year’s awards were won by Anna D’Agostino, the daughter of Karen and Edward D’Agostino, and Margaret (Maggie) Calamari, the daughter of Kronkanok Ratanasaka and Paul Calamari.  Each recipient was presented with a $2,000 scholarship at Valley Regional High School’s Senior Awards Night held on June 5, 2013.

Both Anna and Maggie have displayed the principles and values of Rotary in their daily activities.  These include community involvement, scholastic achievement and athletic achievement that exemplifies Rotary’s “Service Above Self” maxim.  The Chester Rotary Club hosted a dinner on July 17, 2013 for Anna, Maggie and their families to celebrate the accomplishments of the two exceptional young women.   Anna will attend Fordham University based in New York City and Maggie will be attending Drexel University located in Philadelphia. The Rotary Club of Chester is pleased to recognize these two outstanding students.

The Rotary Club of Chester is a 501c(3) not for profit organization.  We encourage you to visit our website at www.chesterrotary.org for more information regarding our club and it’s fund raising efforts, updates for our upcoming events and links to Rotary International.

Chester Historical Society Reprints Classic Children’s Book, Ferryboat

Ferryboat Cover photo

Front cover of the book Ferryboat, reprinted by Chester Historical Society

This spring, as the State of Connecticut debated raising the fares for the historic Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, the Chester Historical Society focused on the history of the ferry as it opened its new transportation exhibit, “Over the River and Through the Woods.” After all, the ferry has been an integral part of Chester history since it began in the 1700s.

And now the Historical Society has reprinted the children’s book, Ferryboat, written about that historic ferry by Betsy Maestro and illustrated by Giulio Maestro and originally published by HarperCollins in 1986.

Ferryboat went out of print several years ago, but the Maestros have permitted the Chester Historical Society to reprint 1000 copies of the book.

“We couldn’t be happier to be bringing this wonderful and colorful book to a whole new generation of readers and their families,” said Society president Skip Hubbard.  “Over the years we have had some requests, so I expect there will be plenty of interest. It’s a pleasure to read it with a child and it makes a great gift.’’

Ferryboat inside photo

The Maestros, who lived for many years in Old Lyme, where they raised their son and daughter, said, “We created the book because we loved the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry and enjoyed riding on it with our children when they were small. The children in the book are loosely based on our own son and daughter. Over the years, it was fun to share the book with other children at schools all over the United States as an example of something unique and scenic near our home in Connecticut.”

The Maestros now live in Arizona, “not far from the red rocks of Sedona,” where they continue to write and illustrate children’s books.

Ferryboat, chosen by Yankee Magazine in 2000 for its list of Classic New England Children’s Books, has also been referenced in Southwest Airlines’ Travel Guide, where the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is described as “a popular means of crossing the river during the summer months. It’s more than a tourist attraction – it’s an educational outing for children and adults into the workings of a modern-day ferry.” (Connecticut DOT, take note!)

Publishers Weekly wrote about Ferryboat, “Their words and pictures are so completely involving that it’s almost like being on the real thing. The author carefully explains the workings of the ferry and takes readers from shore to shore, lovingly describing the sights and sounds of the ride….The double-page spreads, with a deep blue river and lush tree-lined shores, are colorful and appealing.”  School Library Journal called the book “a charming treat,” adding,” How the ferry operates (it never needs to turn around since the front is the same as the back!) is sure to fascinate young armchair mariners.”

The book is available for purchase at the Chester Museum at the Mill in Chester, open weekends 10-4, and also at Century 21 Heritage Real Estate office in Chester. Ferryboat can also be found at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme; Gillette Castle in East Haddam; and the Connecticut River Museum and the Valley Railroad in Essex. It is priced around $12.

Letter: Chester Organon Market Planning Process

To the editor,

As a Chester resident, former P & Z Commissioner, and owner of property abutting the Organon Market on Route 154, I have been following Charles Stannard’s coverage of the story quite closely.

I have found his coverage to be an evenhanded and accurate depiction of the complicated issues that have surrounded the project for the past three years. I would, however, like to comment on a couple points made in his article entitled: Organon Market to Close for Remodeling – Permit Application to Chester P&Z.

First, Mr. Stannard writes that (market owner) “Peter Kehayias also acknowledged the market at 56 Middlesex Avenue, also known as Route 154, would probably never reopen if the commission does not approve some revisions to conditions that the panel imposed when it approved a special permit for the market in September 2011”.  It is important to understand that P&Z did not  “impose” any conditions.  Rather, the special permit was negotiated by Mr. Kehayias and his attorney(s) with input from the commission.  In fact, many of the conditions that Mr. Kehayias is now trying to alter were authored by Mr. Kehayias himself.  They were presented for the record during the public hearings and are memorialized in the meeting minutes and in his application.   These issues include the type and amount of allowable exterior signage and Mr. Kehayias’ agreement to forgo seating and the on-site consumption of food.

Mr. Stannard quotes Mr. Kehayias as saying “ The market should be allowed to run as a market…..I can’t be looking over my shoulder all the time”.   Mr. Kehayias seems eager to lay the Market’s problems at the feet of his neighbors, the Zoning Enforcement Officer, and P&Z.  The truth is that P&Z did not write the statutes which he feels have limited his operation.  Local Town commissions are mandated to follow State Statute on Zoning (and other) matters, and the Town would be terribly, as lawyers would say, “ exposed”  if they were to approve activity forbidden by the State.  Mr. Kehayias purchased a property in a residential zone which, by definition, restricts many types of commercial activity.  This is not opinion, this is law.

During the application and construction process, Mr. Kehayias enjoyed the counsel of architects, assorted licensed contractors, traffic engineers, and at least (by my count) four different attorneys.    It is difficult for many of us to fathom how he can now suggest that the Town is restricting his activities and not allowing him to succeed.  The application process for the market was extremely long and detailed, with considerable discussion and negotiation on everything from the menu and operating hours to the noise generated by the kitchen equipment.  The process was completely transparent, and we all should have known what to expect and what rules we’d have to play by.

Sincerely,

Richard Gold
Chester, CT

Chester Selectmen Seek Engineering Firm for First Phase of Main Street Project

CHESTER— The board of selectmen is seeking proposals from engineering firms for design of the initial phase of the Main Street Project, a reconstruction of Main Street from the entrance to Laurel Hill Cemetery east to the intersection with Route 154. The deadline for submitting proposals is Aug. 15

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the volunteer Main Street Committee, which is coordinating the long-planned project, recommended proceeding with the initial, eastern, phase immediately after voters approved a long-range plan for the project at a July 23 town meeting. The full project calls for a complete reconstruction of Main Street in the downtown village, including improvements to two parking lots. But subsequent phases of the project would not begin until after the state Department of Transportation completes a replacement of the Main Street bridge in 2016.

Meehan said the engineering firm would be asked to complete bid-ready plans for reconstruction of the eastern segment of Main Street, including a detailed cost estimate. He said a firm could be hired by October, with the design plan to be completed by the end of the year.

Meehan said the project could be put out to bid by March, with construction to be underway during the spring and summer of 2014. The town currently has about $800,000 in hand for the project through a combination of town funds and state grant funds. Meehan said an expenditure of funds for the “Main Street East” project would require approval from voters at a town meeting.

Organon Market to Close for Remodelling – Permit Application to Chester P & Z

Organon Market located at 154 Main Street, Chester

Organon Market located at 154 Main Street, Chester

CHESTER— The Organon Market on Route 154 will close for remodeling on Aug. 11, with its reopening depending on the approval of a revised special permit application from the planning and zoning commission.

Market owner Peter Kehayias said Thursday he hopes the closing will be only temporary, giving him time to pursue an amended special permit application with the commission while also seeking advice and possibly other assistance from the state Department of Economic and Community Development. But Kehayias also acknowledged the market at 56 Middlesex Avenue, also known as Route 154, would probably never reopen if the commission does not approve some revisions to conditions the panel imposed when it approved a special permit for the market in September 2011.

“The market should be allowed to run as a market,” Kehayias said, adding I can’t run a business and be looking over my shoulder all of the time.” Kehayias said he is prepared to reopen the market later this year “but certain things have to fall in to place.”
During the remodeling, Kehayias plans to submit a new application to the planning and zoning commission requesting changes to some of the conditions to the original special permit that was approved by the panel in September 2011. Kehayias said limited seating for customers and some easing to restrictions on signage are needed for the market to continue in operation. “”All of my customers are asking for seating,” he said, while adding the limits on signage prevent him from highlighting sales and specials that could attract additional customers.

The market has generated strong opposition from some nearby property owners since it was first proposed in 2010. The nearby residents contend the market represents an improper expansion of a pre-existing, non-conforming commercial use in the surrounding residential zone, with some also claiming Kehayias hopes to expand the market in to a full-service restaurant. The building at 56 Middlesex Avenue was formerly a gasoline station, and most recently a bicycle repair shop, but had been vacant for several years before the market opened in July 2012.

The group of nearby residents opposed the market during the initial public hearings in 2011, and also objected to an effort by Kehayias earlier this year to amend the special permit. Kehayias had requested amending the permit to allow up to 12 chairs or two benches inside the market for customers.

While the requested revision drew support from some residents at a March public hearing, a divided planning and zoning commission denied the requested amendment on a 5-4 vote in April. Kehayias is an elected member of the commission, but has recused himself from participating in the panel’s review of his own business.

In the latest development, a letter of complaint from six residents led Zoning Enforcement Officer Judy Brown to issue a cease and desist order to Keyhayias last month. Brown said this week the cease and desist order focused on exterior issues, including the location of trash containers, signage, and lighting.

Kehayias said he hopes the application for permit revisions can be considered by the commission at a public hearing this fall, possibly in October. Kehayias said his employees, including six full-time workers and six part-time workers, would be laid off during what he hopes is a temporary closing.

Chester Planning and Zoning Sets Aug. 8 Public Hearing on New Main Street Restaurant

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has scheduled an Aug. 8 public hearing on a special permit application for a new restaurant at 69 Main St. in the downtown village. The public hearing convenes at 7:30 p.m. in the large meeting room at town hall.

Monroe Properties LLC and local resident John Schroeder are seeking approval for a restaurant in the ground floor of the three-story building at 69 Main St. The restaurant, serving wood-fired pizza, salads and gelato, would be operated by Jonathan Rapp, owner and operator of the popular River Tavern restaurant that is also located on Main Street.

The restaurant would be open seven days per week from 4-11 p.m. It would have 30 seats inside, with up to 20 outdoor seats for seasonal outdoor dining. There would also be take out service. In a statement submitted with the application, the applicants suggest that because the restaurant would only be open evenings, when most downtown shops are closed, existing on-street parking and “underused public lots” on Maple Street and at the entrance to the nearby Laurel Hill Cemetery would “more than adequate to support the demands of this proposed use.”

The 69 Main St. building abuts the former town hall property at 65 Main St., and had been purchased by the town in the early 1990s in preparation for a planned expansion of the town hall building. Residents decided in 2003 to construct a new town hall in an existing building at 203 Middlesex Avenue (Route 154), and the 69 Main St. property was alter purchased by Schroeder.

The commission has also continued to the Aug. 8 meeting a public hearing that opened July 11 on a special permit application from Chester Point Real Estate LLC to construct a new 5,561-square-foot building at the Chester Marina property, 72 Railroad Avenue. The proposed new building that would replace a smaller existing building would house a seasonal restaurant, along with an office and display area.

Chester Town Meeting Approves Long-Range Plan to Guide Main Street Improvements

CHESTER— Voters at a town meeting Tuesday approved a long-range plan to guide improvements to Main Street in the downtown village. About 35 residents turned out for the meeting, approving the plan on a nearly unanimous voice vote after about 40 minutes of discussion.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan told the group the plan, officially called the “Chester Village and Center District Master Plan”, is “a public works project first with some embellishments.” The plan was prepared by an 11-member volunteer committee appointed in late 2011, with assistance from the Kent & Frost engineering consultants of Mystic.

While a preliminary cost estimate of all of the potential improvements that totals $5.49 million drew some questions, Meehan stressed that improvements would be done in phases as funding for the work becomes available. He said many of the improvements would not be completed until late in the decade, while some may never be done depending on decisions by voters at future town meetings. Along with a reconstruction of Main Street with new curbing and sidewalks, the plan also calls for improvements, including better lighting, to town-owned parking lots on Maple Street and Water Street.

Improvements to the core area of Main Street would not begin until after completion of a state Department of Transportation funded replacement of the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook, which is now scheduled to be done in 2016. But Meehan said some of the improvements could begin sooner, possibly next year.

The initial phase as outlined in the plan would be a reconstruction of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery, a mostly residential section that also passes the Chesterfield’s Health Care Center. The cost estimate for this phase is $1.37 million, a figure that includes a $650,000 contingency Meehan suggested is higher than would likely be funded for the work.

Meehan said the overall plan would help the town apply for and secure additional state grants to help fund later phases. Specific funding appropriations for each phase would require separate town meeting approvals. The town currently has about $750,000 in available funding, including about $500,000 in state grants and about $250,000 in set aside town capital projects funding.
Meehan said the next steps for the plan would be hiring an engineering firm to prepare the initial phase covering the eastern section of Main Street for bid documents. The plan also suggested some of the parking lot improvements could be done before the 2016 bridge replacement.