December 20, 2014

Old Saybrook Land Trust Contributes $30,000 Toward Preserve Purchase

 (l-r) Old Saybrook Land Trust President Joe Nochera and Treasurer Mike Urban present Alicia Sullivan and Lori Fernand (l-r) of The Trust for Public Land with a check for $30,000 toward The Preserve purchase. Photo by Bob Lorenz, taken at The Preserve trailhead on Ingham Hill Rd., Old Saybrook.

(l-r) Old Saybrook Land Trust President Joe Nochera and Treasurer Mike Urban present Alicia Sullivan and Lori Fernand (l-r) of The Trust for Public Land with a check for $30,000 toward The Preserve purchase. Photo by Bob Lorenz, taken at The Preserve trailhead on Ingham Hill Rd., Old Saybrook.

OLD SAYBROOK – Old Saybrook Land Trust (OSLT) President Joe Nochera, and Treasurer Mike Urban recently presented Alicia Sullivan and Lori Fernand of the Trust for Public Land (TPL) with a $30,000 donation toward the purchase and preservation of the 1,000 acre Preserve.

For more than a year The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and their partners including the OSLT, have worked to secure state, town and private funds toward the purchase of this large tract of coastal forest.

Public financial commitments have added up to significant funds toward the $10 million goal. The state committed to $3.3 million, Old Saybrook voters approved $3 million, Essex is working to raise funds for the 70 acres in Essex through a town fund and a state grant sought by the Essex Land Trust. TPL has also received large private donations.

Despite this success, State Director for the TPL Sullivan says $1.13 million is still needed by the December 2014 closing date.

According to Urban, “In addition to those from of our regular members and donors, we received funds from a number of people who indicated the funds should be used toward The Preserve purchase. We matched those funds with $15,000 that we have received over time through our Annual Fund and Membership drives. The purchase speaks to our cause, it’s the biggest land acquisition that will come up in our lifetime.”

“We’re working to purchase the property, and working to make sure we can fulfill the dream people have had to make it publically accessible. That includes things such as trailheads, parking, restroom facilities and trail work,” Fernand, TPL’s Associate Director of Philanthropy, said.

If you would like to donate online visit oslt.org, or http://www.razoo.com/story/Preserve-The-1-000-Acre-Forest-1. Mail checks to The Trust for Public Land, 101 Whitney Avenue, 2nd Floor, New Haven, CT 06510. Call 203-777-7367, ext. 6, for more information. Donations are tax deductible.

“This is our opportunity to preserve, for all and forever, the huge coastal forest in our very midst. This chance may never come again.  Let this be our legacy to generations yet unborn.” Bill Childress, Campaign Committee Chair.

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

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Emily Bjornberg, Democratic candidate for the 33rd Senate Seat

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, Old SAybrook.

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, Old Saybrook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Saybrook Point Inn & Spa

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

About the Trust for Public Land

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essex First Selectman Urges “Yes Vote”

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

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

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

Other Supporters of Acquisition

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

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

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

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

To The Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Fred V. Carstensen

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

Resident: Old Saybrook

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

Eagles at candles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riverdance: Photo Credit Jack Hartin reproduced courtesy of Riverdance

Riverdance: Photo Credit Jack Hartin reproduced courtesy of Riverdance

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

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

Craig Ashurst,  TCRG (Photo courtesy of Christina Dozall)

Craig Ashurst, TCRG (Photo courtesy of Christina Dozall)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girl Scout Volunteer Receives Local Honor

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.gsofct.org.

About Girl Scouts of Connecticut

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

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

State Rep. Giuliano Supports STEAP Grant for Old Saybrook

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

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

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

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

Carney Cruises to Victory in 23rd District Republican Convention

Devin Carney

Devin Carney

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy Tours ‘The Preserve’ in Old Saybrook

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Old Saybrook — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined representatives from the Trust for Public Land and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and about 40 other environmentalists and town officials on Thursday afternoon on a short guided tour of the Preserve in Old Saybrook.  The Trust for Public Land is currently working with the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook  to acquire the 1,000-acre forest for public enjoyment and to prevent it from further development.

“I’m thrilled to be here with you today,” said Murphy, “My family, for as long as I’ve been alive, has had a little tiny summer house in Old Lyme so this part of the world is like a second home to me.”

Sen. Murphy took off his office shoes and replaced them with hiking footwear as he joined the rest of the group on the hike through to the middle of the Preserve.

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Senator Murphy joins the group on the short hike through the Preserve

After a short hike, the group reached the center of the 1,000 acre property, overlooking Pequot Swamp.  Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, described the swamp as an area of particular environmental significance.  “Pequot Swamp is a 113-acre wetland area that feeds two tributaries of the Connecticut River and is an important resting site for migratory birds”, said Cryder.

Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, explains the environmental significance of Pequot Swmap to Senator Chris Murphy

Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, explains the environmental significance of Pequot Swamp to Senator Chris Murphy

The Trust for Public Land has been working with the towns of Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Essex, Land Trusts for the three towns, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Audubon Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy and the State of Connecticut to raise the necessary funds to purchase the property.  The Trust hopes to raise $2 million to $3 million in private donations towards the re-negotiated  price of $8.1 million.  The remaining funds could potentially come from the state and from the town of Old Saybrook, who will be holding a referendum in June when town voters will be asked to vote on the issue.  If successful, the land would be owned by the town and would be kept open to the public for hiking and recreation purposes.

“In our office, we eat, sleep and breathe land conservation,” said Murphy, “so this is really exciting when we have a big piece of iconic property like this that, hopefully with a little bit of luck and some good partnership, we can preserve for the ages.”

After returning to the trailhead, the group posed for a photo with Senator Murphy.

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New Commuter Rail Station in Westbrook; a Big Plus for a Growing Shoreline Town

 

“Train Approaching” at Westbrook rail station

“Train Approaching” at Westbrook rail station

 Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop can hardly contain his enthusiasm for the newly competed Westbrook railroad station. Costing $14.4 million dollars to build, the new station includes a new, two-story over the tracks building and 200 new parking spaces.

Passengers arriving at Westbrook station

Passengers arriving at Westbrook station

The new, two story station is described by the Connecticut Department of Transportation as having, “canopy-covered, high-level-platforms on the north and south sides of the track and an ’up and over’ system’ with elevators for passengers to conveniently cross from one side of the tracks to the other.”

New station building at Westbrook station

New station building at Westbrook station

 

Continuing, “The platforms are the length of four rail cars; there is parking on both sides of the tracks, a commuter drop-off and bus pick up area, and a full audio and visual messaging system.” Also, the new station, “is fully compliant with the American with Disabilities Act,”

The new Westbrook station, like the old station it replaced, is located just off Exit 65 of I-95. Also, the new station has a competitive advantage over the Old Saybrook train station, just up the line. All parking spaces at the Westbrook station are free. Parking at the Old Saybrook station can cost $10 a day in certain areas.

Commuters Applaud New Westbrook Station

Westbrook commuters are enthusiastic about the new Westbrook train station. In a recent interview, Colin Callahan of East Lyme said that he used to park at the Old Saybrook railroad station. Now, however, he is parking at the new station in Westbrook. “They did a wonderful job,” he says about those who built the new station.

Plenty of parking spaces at Westbrook station

Plenty of parking spaces at Westbrook station

Equally enthusiastic about the new Westbrook rail station is John Frost, who goes by the name of “Jack.” A resident of Essex, Frost said about the  new station, “It has been a long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait.”

Parking sign at Old Saybrook train station

Parking sign at Old Saybrook train station

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop estimates that as many as fifty percent of the passengers using the Westbrook station presently come from towns other than Westbrook. This percentage of out of town use of the Westbrook station will grow in Bishop’s view.  

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop with station design

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop with station design

“This will become a regional train station,” Bishop predicts. “People are going to come to Westbrook,” he says, “and this can’t but help our town’s economy.” Also, the First Selectman makes the point that, “the new station could never have been built with town money,” and that federal and state funds were involved. Bishop publicly thanked Daniel P. Malloy Governor, “for his commitment to public transportation.”

The Advantages of the New Rail Station

The following is a list of the advantages of the new station, according to First Selectman Bishop: 1) the new station allows passengers to go over the tracks comfortably by an elevator and an attractive walkway, 2) passengers can stay dry under the station’s new covered areas, 3) there is plenty of parking at the station, and 4) the station is just a three minutes away from Exit 65, off I-95.  

Bishop went on to note with emphasis that for Westbrook, “geography is our destiny.” Substantiating this assertion, he noted that within the town’s boundaries there are the following major attractions.

1) two major car dealerships, Honda and Toyota, 2) the large  Tanger Outlets mall with 60 brand name stores, as well as a movie theater, 3) the soon to be completed Middlesex Hospital emergency medical and outpatient center of 44,000 square feet, which can be expanded to 60,000 square feet, if necessary, 4) Brewer Pilots Point Marina, the area’s largest marina which provides over 800 slips for boaters, 5) the Water’s Edge, a premier resort and conference center on the New England Coast,  6) Westbrook’s historic town center, which is a two minute walk from the trains station, and 7) the Westbrook Elks Club, which is directly on the waters of Long Island Sound.

First Selectman Bishop says the new railroad station, “is a dream come true.” In fact, his excitement is so keen from the new station, it may give him an additional reason, why he comes to work every workday morning at 7:30 a.m.

Mobile Dental Services returning to Goodwin Elementary, Old Saybrook

The Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) has recently announced that its Mobile Dental program will be returning to Old Saybrook Public Schools, specifically Goodwin Elementary, once again after a three year hiatus. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, early childhood cavities are the most common chronic disease in children and although noteworthy improvements have been made in the past decade, oral health significance is still being overlooked. One major way CHC has helped increase children’s access to oral health services is through the mobile dental program which brings dental services directly to over 170 Connecticut Schools. Founded in 2002, the Mobile Dental Program currently serves over 7,000 patients throughout the state. CHC also has a dental office located on Main Street in Old Saybrook which would operate as a referral site for mobile dental.

“Our Mobile Dental Program comes directly into the child’s school, providing dental cleanings, sealants and in some cases, restorative services. The Program allows parents to stay at work, and the kids to stay in school,” stated Justin Gooley, the program manager for the statewide Mobile Dental program. “Often parents will not have the time to take off from work to bring their children to the dentist. We bring dental care to the child in a setting where they are most comfortable. We work hand in hand with the onsite Dentists,” mentioned Gooley. Mobile Dental services have been funded through different Connecticut Health Foundation grants which work to support the integration of oral health at every point where children and their families intersect with health care, human service and education systems.

Mobile dental is part of the School-based health services that are offered through The Community Health Center, Inc. These services are a proven strategy for reducing school absences, improving performance, and reducing health disparities in prevention and chronic diseases in children and adolescents. “If the child has regular dental visits with one of our Mobile Dental Hygienists, it will significantly lower the amount of decay in their mouth and decrease the number of days they are absent from school,” said Justin Gooley.

The first step is sending out enrollment forms to the elementary school and spreading the word about these services for Goodwin Elementary students. The goal is to operate within the Middle and High school in Old Saybrook within the next few years. Mobile dental care coordinators have been working with the schools, town social workers, the nursing supervisor for the town and parent representatives to help market these services and encourage registration. For more information about the Mobile Dental Program at CHC please call (860)224-3642 ext. 5163 or email GooleyJ@chc1.com .

About Community Health Center, Inc.

Since 1972, Community Health Center, Inc. has been one of the leading healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut, building a world-class primary health care system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. CHC is focused on improving health outcomes for its more than 130,000 patients as well as building healthy communities. Recognized as both a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission, CHC delivers service in more than 200 locations statewide, offering primary care in medical, dental and behavioral health services. For more information, visit www.chc1.com.

 

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.

Essex Savings Bank Donates to Local Communities

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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.

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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.

 

 

Country School Robotics Team Wins Two Awards at State Robotics Championship

Members of The Country School's Wise Guys Robotics Team at the First Lego League State Championship in December. Pictured, front row, left to right, are: Andre Salkin, Gordie Croce, Robbie Cozean, Ben Iglehart, Aidan Chiaia, and Joseph Coyne. Back row, left to right, are Nate Iglehart, Liam Ber, Emmett Tolis, and Coach Heather Edgecumbe. Missing from the photo is Sarah Platt.

Members of The Country School’s Wise Guys Robotics Team at the First Lego League State Championship in December. Pictured, front row, left to right, are: Andre Salkin, Gordie Croce, Robbie Cozean, Ben Iglehart, Aidan Chiaia, and Joseph Coyne. Back row, left to right, are Nate Iglehart, Liam Ber, Emmett Tolis, and Coach Heather Edgecumbe. Missing from the photo is Sarah Platt.

Madison, CT— Members of The Country School’s Wise Guys Robotics Team won two awards at the First Lego League state championships held at Central Connecticut State University in December. Of the 51 teams participating, the Wise Guys won a First Lego League core value award for Innovation and a second award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for the way they worked together to come up with an innovative solution to a problem. The IEEE award was accompanied by a $200 cash prize.

This was the second year that The Country School has fielded a robotics team and the second time a TCS team has qualified for the First Lego League Connecticut state championship. The team qualified during a competition held in Old Lyme in the fall. In addition to the Wise Guys, The Country School also fields a team called the Archimedes Owls. Nineteen students in grades 5- 8 participated on the school’s two robotics teams. The Country School also offers a summer robotics camp and hosts periodic Robotics Nights on campus for the broader community.

According to the First Lego League, the FLL Innovation Award is presented to a team that is “empowered by their FLL experience and displays extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit.” The award from the IEEE was presented to five teams who displayed an innovative solution to a problem caused by nature’s fury. The Country School team chose to focus on how towns can clear roads and clean up after blizzards in a safe and effective way.

The Wise Guys remembered how hard it was for Connecticut towns to recover from last February’s blizzard. Team member Sarah Platt, an 8th Grader, interviewed John Bower, Director of Emergency Management for the town of Madison, to try to identify the biggest issues the town had to deal with during the blizzard. Team members then came up with a plan for a robotic plow which, while plowing, would send snow into a container. There, the snow would be melted down to water, which would later be deposited in a safe area.

The Wise Guys are coached by Country School science teacher Heather Edgecumbe of Madison. In addition to Sarah Platt, a Madison resident, team members include Andre Salkin of Old Lyme (6th Grade), Gordie Croce of Killingworth (6th Grade), Robbie Cozean of Madison (6th Grade), Nate and Ben Iglehart of Guilford (both 6th Grade), Aidan Chiaia of Guilford (6th Grade), Joseph Coyne of Madison (7th Grade), Liam Ber of Westbrook (8th Grade), and Emmett Tolis of Madison (7th Grade).

The Country School, founded in 1955, is a coeducational, independent day school serving students in PreSchool through Grade 8. At The Country School, a rigorous academic program is accompanied by a commitment to hands-on learning and discovery and a focus on the whole child. The robotics program is part of the school’s commitment to advancing 21st century skills through STEAM, or integrated science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Learn more about Robotics and other STEAM offerings at The Country School by visiting www.thecountryschool.org/steam. The Country School will also have a special STEAM focus at its Open House on Sunday, January 26, from 1-3:30 p.m. Learn more at www.thecountryschool.org/openhouse.

 

 

Old Saybrook Photographer Releases Photo of the Preserve, Which He Helped Save from Development

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Aerial photograph of the undeveloped, forested Preserve courtesy of Robert Lorenz, Lorenz Photography

Old Saybrook resident, Robert Lorenz, has played a leading role in the effort to save to 1,000 acres of forested land from development. Specifically, he has served as the “injured party” in a number of legal actions against those who wanted to developer the Preserve with private homes, golf courses, country clubs, parking lots, and “other improvements.”

The reason that Lorenz has been able to play this role is that he is the co-owner of forty acres of land that abut the Preserve land. This gives him legal “standing” in court to assert that his personal property would be damaged by the various schemes put forward by the would-be private developers of the Preserve.

Lorenz is also a professional photographer, and to mark the recent agreement, whereby the Trust for Public Land will organized the purchase of the 1,000 acre Preserve property from River Sound Development, LLC, upon payment of $10-$11 million, he has made available for publication a striking aerial photograph of the undeveloped, forested Preserve.

In the aerial photograph that Lorenz took the general parameters of the Preserve can be made out. They include:

1) Very clearly, running along the bottom of the photograph one can see Route 153, sometimes called Plains Road and Westbrook Road. The vacant, forested land pictured above Route 153 marks the northern boundary of the Preserve.

2) As for the southern boundary of the Preserve property, it runs at the top of the photo, just below visible line developed property along the shoreline of Long Island Sound.

3) Very clear as well at the top left of the photo is the mouth of the Connecticut River, as flows into Long Island Sound.

4) Finally, in the midst of the forested land in the photo, there are two parallel lines, which are abandoned railroad tracks.

Only If You Are Eating at Pizza Works, Can You Park in the Restaurant’s Parking Lot

Pizza Works restaurant, right next to train entrance

Pizza Works restaurant, right next to train entrance

That’s right, if you want to park at one of the best parking spaces at the Old Saybrook railroad station, one that snuggles right up to the terminal entrance, you are supposed to be eating at the Pizza Works restaurant while you park there. Otherwise, parking is not allowed at one of the 38, green bordered parking spaces, reserved, exclusively, for those who are dining at Pizza Works.

Even handicap parkers must be eating in the restaurant

Even handicap parkers must be eating in the restaurant

 

The general public is not welcome to park in these spaces!

However, to the chagrin of the owner of Pizza Works, this strict no public parking rule is frequently ignored. In fact, more and more, it appears that the parking spaces, which are supposed to be reserved exclusively for Pizza Works customers, have turned into an unsanctioned public parking space at the station.

Green colored borders ignored by parkers

Green colored borders ignored by parkers

Other Parking Spaces at Station Are Well Organized

In contrast to the confused situation of Pizza Works parking, the other parking spaces at the station are well organized. For example, free parking is available, at the Shore Line East Commuter parking lot, as it is at the forty AMTRAK parking spaces at the station.

Also, there is free parking along the Upper Cemetery on North Main Street, and a  $5.00 a day parking system in a large lot at the left of the terminal building. In addition, there is a one hour parking rule in front of the businesses at the station, which seems to be generally accepted.

Pizza Works Parking Rules Widely Ignored

But that is not the case with the 38 green bordered parking spaces next to the Pizza Works restaurant. Here confusion reigns, and there appears to be little that Pizza Works owner Bob Kekayias can do about it.

Unauthorized parkers in Pizza Works spots

Unauthorized parkers in Pizza Works spots

Even though he has posted signs, saying that unless you are actually eating at the restaurant that your car can be towed, and/or subject to a $150 fine, many parkers pay little attention. This makes the restaurant owner both resigned and angry.

Kekayias, who declined to be photographed, says grimly, that persons parking on the spaces reserved for restaurant patrons, “do not have a right to park there under the law.” But then he notes, ruefully, that these days, he “can’t tow,” meaning that he cannot tow away cars that are not suppose to be parking in the restaurant’s parking lot.

Remembering for the Days When He Could Tow

“We used to be able to do so,” he says, “but no more.” “It is frustrating,” he says.  “Perhaps if I asked the police chief in town, I could tow,” he ruminates, but he does not sound very hopeful that he could get permission.

He also says that his restaurant can seat 50 people, and that these customers are entitled to the parking spaces closest to the restaurant.  But to him the situation appears to be pretty hopeless. He says, “I am just co-existing … [with the unauthorized parkers].”

As an example of the seriousness of the problem, he said that once even he could not find a parking spot next to his restaurant, because all of the spots were full. He also makes the point again and again, he pays to rent the parking spaces next to his restaurant.

There appears to be no practical solution as to how Pizza Works can limit its parking spaces, exclusively, to the restaurant’s customers. The yawning empty spaces, throughout much of the day are simply too tempting for non-dining  parkers to make use of.

Of course Kehayias could hire a parking attendant to keep non-restaurant customers from parking in the reserved restaurant parking spots. But, evidently, at this point, it is doubtful that the expense would make it worth it.

200 New Parking Spaces to Be Added at the Old Saybrook Railroad Station

The rear of the lots, where AMTRAK parking is located

The rear of the lots, where AMTRAK parking is located

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna has confirmed in a recent interview that the Connecticut Department of Transportation, working with the Town of Old Saybrook, will soon formally announce a plan to add 200 new parking spaces at the railroad station in Old Saybrook.

The new parking spaces will require the purchase by the state Department of Transportation of 3.6 acres of private property, and negotiations for this purchase are presently underway. The new parking spaces will be situated on a site off  North Main Street, across the street from the Upper Cemetery.  The Upper Cemetery was established in 1750, and it is one of Old Saybrook’s historic landmarks.

Monies to acquire the 200 new parking spaces will come exclusively from the state, said the state’s Project Manager Keith Hall in a recent interview. There will be no federal funds involved in the purchase whatsoever, he emphasized.

Because of the good faith that has been shown in negotiating the sale of the property, Project Manager Hall also said that acquiring the property by eminent domain would not be necessary. Hall emphasized that to date there had been “fruitful discussions” with the property owners involved, and he anticipates that the final sale of the property would be consummated this coming April, if not before.

In discussing the planned acquisition of the new parking spaces, First Selectman Fortuna observed that the present parking situation at the Old Saybrook railroad station was “not ideal.”

The Present Parking Spaces at the Old Saybrook Station

The 200 new parking spaces at the station will add, substantially, to the number of parking spaces presently available at the station. One of the more informal of the existing parking lots at the station is the one that has a single string of parked cars running down North Main Street.

Cars parked beside the cemetery on North Main Street

Cars parked beside the cemetery on North Main Street

This ad hoc parking lot extends from next to the Upper Cemetery all the way down to the railroad tracks. During work days this informal “free” parking area is completely full.

Another significant parking area that also offers free parking is the Shore Line East, Old Saybrook, Commuter Parking lot.  This large lot has 137 parking spaces, with a few designated for handicap parking.

Colorful sign for Shore Line East Commuter Parking

Colorful sign for Shore Line East Commuter Parking

Although the Shore Line East parking lot is not directly beside the railroad station, it is still within easy walking distance of the trains. During work days the Shore Line East parking lot is frequently full.

AMTRAK Passenger Parking

In addition to these parking areas there are designated parking spaces for Amtrak passengers at the Old Saybrook railroad station. These Amtrak spaces are free, and they are indicated by painted yellow lines along their borders.

The Amtrak spaces are located just down from the Route 154 entrance to the railroad station property. This means that they are the furthest distance from where passengers get on and off their trains. Also, there are no designated parking spaces for handicapped Amtrak passengers, as there are in the Shore Line East Commuter Parking area.

Furthermore, the number of free-of-charge Amtrak parking spaces appears to be diminishing at the station.  Quite recently a number of Amtrak parking spaces were re-designated to be for the exclusive use of patients of a dermatologist with offices at the station. In the process Amtrak’s yellow boarders on these spaces have been painted over.

The considerable distance from the remaining Amtrak spaces to the train station can mean that a baggage-laden passenger, traveling on Amtrak, has further to walk to the train than any other passengers parking at the station.

One Hour Parking Spaces at the Station

Finally, there is another parking area that has at least a semblance of free parking. These are the spaces which are designated as offering just one hour of free parking, and no more. This means that if parkers decide to eat at Zhang’s Chinese Restaurant at the station, they better eat their shrimp chow mien with fried rice for lunch within an hour’s time.

However, it has to be said that this one hour limit does not appear to be strictly enforced by the private developer that owns much of the property around the railroad station.

Finally, it should be noted that the Old Saybrook railroad train station is in a unique category from among shoreline stations. This is because it serves both Shore Line East and Amtrak passengers. “It is not like the Guilford station that only serves Shore Line East passengers,” said DOT’s Project Manager Hall, when discussing the importance of the Old Saybrook railroad station. Of course it must also be sadly noted that Amtrak’s luxury train, the Acela, does not a stop at Old Saybrook. Rather, it insultingly barrels through the station at 80 or more miles an hour. Maybe it will stop for us someday.

Big New York City Developer Humbled by Small Borough of Fenwick Historic Commission

Developer Frank Sciame, the loser in a dispute with the Borough of Fenwick Historic Commission

Developer Frank Sciame loses dispute with the Borough of Fenwick Historic Commission

A major New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr., whose many successful projects include a much praised renovation of the Morgan Library in Manhattan, has been defeated by the very small, Borough of Fenwick Historic Commission, thanks to the rulings of two recent, state court decisions.

The first loss for the New York developer was before Connecticut’s Superior Court earlier last year, and his second defeat was his more recent loss on January 7 before the state’s Appellate Court. In both cases the issue was whether the Fenwick Historic Commission had the power to order the developer to lower the height of two entry posts on his property in Fenwick, from a height of five feet to four feet.

Growth Around the Posts Pretty Much Obscures Their Height

In fairness to the developer, during the summer months the grasses around the two entrance posts grow to the point where they pretty much obscure their height. Nevertheless, the Fenwick Commission stuck to its guns in ordering the developer to lower the height of both his posts by a single foot.

As for the developer, he was equally determined to keep both posts at their present height, until he was ordered by two state courts to obey the directions of the Borough of Fenwick Historical Commission.  Accepting defeat, the developer chose not to try to take an appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which more than likely  would have declined to even to hear his case.

When the second case against Sciame came down, wide media coverage ensued.  What added interest to the story was that Sciame’s waterfront property in Fenwick was once owned by the famed film actress, Katherine Hepburn.  Sciame, in fact, purchased the shore-front property from the Hepburn estate, and he has spent millions to renovate it, so as to put it up for sale.

Former Katherine Hepburn estate now owned by developer Frank Sciame

Former Katherine Hepburn estate now owned by developer Frank Sciame

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal Cover the Story

Because of the Hepburn connection both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal carried extensive articles about the ordered shortening of the two entrance posts by a single foot in Fenwick. The New York Times article by Elizabeth A. Harris was headlined, “Where Hepburn Lived, Last Act in Legal Drama Over Posts’ Heights.” The Wall Street Journal article, written by the Associated Press, was headlined, “Owner of Hepburn Estate Loses Appeal on Post Size.”

The former Hepburn property, now owned by Sciame, is located at 10 Mohegan Avenue in the Fenwick section of Old Saybrook. Of particular importance in its opinion the Appellate Court noted that “The property lies in the Fenwick Historic District, which is subject to the jurisdiction of the commission.”

In short, the court is reaffirming that Sciame’s property is both located within the boundaries of Fenwick Historic District, and that Fenwick Commission has the power to decide the present case.

Sciame’s Losing Arguments before the Appellate Court

In vain Sciame argued before the Appellate Court that the Fenwick Historic Commission lacked the statutory power to order the one foot lowering of the height of his two gate posts.  The Appellate Court also rejected Sciame’s claim that by ordering the shortening of the two entry posts by a single foot, he was entitled to damages from the Fenwick Commission for the “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Even though Sciame gives the impression that he is a typical, “tough as nails” New York developer, he argued before the Appellate Court that by ordering the shortening of his two gate posts, the Fenwick Historic Commission had hurt his feelings by engaging in “harassment and demands” against him, and that it “continued to harass and annoy“ him.

One of Sciame two gate posts crudely shortened to a height of four feet

One of Sciame two gate posts crudely shortened to a height of four feet

Left unmentioned by Sciame in his argument before the Appellate Court was the fact at that one point in the controversy, he tried to claim that he had shortened the posts by means of building up, by a single foot, the bases surrounding the posts. With these two, foot high bases in place, Sciame then claimed that the posts were in fact four feet in height.

However, when this strained interpretation was rejected, the developer simply chopped off the tops of the two posts by one foot each. However, even in his belated compliance with the Historic Commission’s order, the developer persisted with his lawsuit, until he was defeated in the ruling of the Appellate Court.

Sciame to Develop Major Residential Project in Essex

Even with the chapter now closed on Sciame’s dispute with the Fenwick Historic Commission in Old Saybrook, the developer is continuing to play a major role in the development of local shoreline properties. In fact, in Essex he was recently designated by the Essex Planning Commission to develop a major residential property at Foxboro Point.

Essex Foxboro Point site to be developed by Sciame

Essex Foxboro Point site to be developed by Sciame

At one point in this proceeding the Essex Planning Commission took under consideration a proposal that the developer create a “public access” pathway across the development property running from Foxboro Road down to the waters of North Cove.

However, after a questionable “closed” meeting, to which the general public was excluded, the Essex Planning Commission rejected this “public access” proposal, and adopted instead a plan that permitted only a “visual access” to the North Cove waters below. This, obviously, was a very different proposition from creating a “public access” pathway across the development property leading to these waters.

Also, in making its decision the Essex Planning Commission chose not to follow the example of the Fenwick Historic Commission of standing up to developer Frank Sciame, who has shown that he is prepared to spend his money on extensive court appeals.

Little Fenwick’s Historic Commission Orders Big Time Developer to Lower Posts

This story involves a dispute between the Borough of Fenwick Historic Distrcit Commission and a very large, New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr. In the end the Historic Commission won the case, and developer Sciame lost.

In the Fenwick Historic Commission’s review of Sciame’s massive reconstruction of Katherine Hepburn’s former estate, the Historic Commission had one quibble. That was that the two, new granite posts at the entrance to the estate, were simply too high.

Former Katherine Hepburn estate now owned by Frank Sciame

Therefore, the Historic Commission ordered the developer to lower the height of both of the two posts from their  height of 60 inches to a lower height of 48 inches.  Sciame duly responded to the Commission’s request — but not exactly in the way that the Commission intended.

How Not to Measure the True Height of Posts

Rather than simply slicing 12 inches off the tops of both posts, Sciame built around the base of the posts, two flower beds, each of which were 12 inches high. Sciame then advised the Historic Commission that he had complied with its order, because if you measured the posts from the top of the flower beds to the top of the posts, the height of both posts was 48 inches.

Furthermore, Sciame told the Historic Commission, if it did not like this way of doing things, it should take him to court. The Fenwick Historic Commission did just that, and the result was a ruling by State Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg that was a “win, win” for the Fenwick Historic Commission.

The Judge in his opinion held, “[T]he most reasonable interpretation of the [Fenwick Historic Commission’s] order [to lower the height of the posts] is that the pillars must be reduced in height such that from the roadbed or whatever location that they are anchored into the ground, the height of the top of the pillar is forty eight inches.” In short, Sciame’s attempt to measure the height of the posts from the top of the flower beds was rejected by the court.

No Fines Imposed Because of Developer’s “Good Faith”

Nevertheless, the Court held at the end of its seven page decision, that, “Because of the good faith dispute over the appropriate interpretation of the [Fenwick Historic Commission’s] order, the court declines to impose fines for non-compliance with the [Fenwick Historic Commission’s] order.”

The Court also ordered compliance with its order, “within 45 days of this judgment.” Since the court’s decision was rendered on August 2, “within 45 days” would mean that the posts should have been shortened by September 16.

Although the developer may have missed the court’s deadline by several days, an inspection on October 6 revealed that both of the posts at the entrance to the estate have been neatly sliced off from the top, and the height of both posts are now 48 inches, from the ground up.

Both gate posts now shortened to 48 inches high

Marshview Gallery Artist of the Month, Mimi Chiang

Mimi Chiang has been selected as the Estuary Council of Seniors March Artist of the Month.  The walls of our Marshview Gallery will be brightened with Mimi’s watercolor paintings.  Her love for art bloomed later in life, though her study began in high school with her art teacher and future husband, Chien Fei Chiang.  Over the years, as she watched and admired her husband’s art evolve, her own interest grew.  Mimi earned a 2011 first prize award from the Essex Art Association.

Chiang resides in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.  It is with great pride that she exhibits her art locally, trusting that her husband and long time instructor continues to observe in spirit.

A reception to honor Mimi and feature her work will be held on Friday, March 9, from 5-7:00 pm.  Everyone is welcome.

North Cove Outfitters Going “Out of Business” After Almost a Quarter Century in Old Saybrook

No secret, North Cove Outfitters going out of business

North Cove Outfitters in Old Saybrook has been a landmark store on Main Street for hunters, fisherman and campers for nearly a quarter century. Now, it is closing its doors with one big final sale.

“I’m very sad, I will miss a lot of my friends,” said Kathy Fowler, who has worked at the store for 23 years. Closing the store she said “will be a big loss for the town, especially Main Street.”

However, in its final “going out of business” sale, the store is not exactly giving things away. In fact, on a recent visit it appeared that most items were a modest 10% off, or at most 30% off.  As one bargain hunter who was looking around noted, “Ten percent is nothing.”

"Ten percent is nothing," said one shopper

Store owner Norman Cavallaro, who owns the store with his partner, Edward Carney, was asked about the prevalence of sale items that were only 10% off. In response he promised that as the “going out business” sale progresses, prices will get lower and lower, “even as low as 50%.”

Sweaters for 30% to 50% off

Cavallaro said that one alternative to the extended “going out of business” sale, which could last as long as six to eight weeks, could have been to close the doors immediately, and sell all of the store’s merchandize “to a jobber.”

“But we did not want to go away in the middle of the night,” he said, “That is not the legacy that we want to leave. We did not want to do that,” Cavallaro said. We wanted “to try to keep employees on the store’s payroll as long as possible.”“It is not about me,” he said.

Lots of people looking for bargains

When asked which were the most popular items being sold at the “going out of business” sale, Cavallaro mentioned clothing and even some canoes. Also, the store has “always been selling a lot of firearms,” he said. The store’s extensive inventory includes, “guns, rifles, shot guns and pistols, and it has always been a strong line,” he noted.

North Cove Outfitters received many awards

Cavallaro also mentioned with pride the many awards that North Cove Outfitters had received over the years. He said the store was judged as the “Best Outdoor Store in the Country” by Backpacker Magazine. Also, it was considered the “Best Retailer of the Year” by Canoe & Kayak Magazine. In addition, the store received a “Recognition” plaque from the Old Saybrook Land Trust.

The store owner then brought up again the store’s employees, some forty of them in all, who will be losing their jobs because of the store’s closing. “I love their professionalism,” he said, noting the number of employees who have worked for many years at North Cove Outfitters, which is still located for awhile longer at 75 Main Street in Old Saybrook.

As for what has been the store’s secret of success over the years, Cavallaro had this to say, “As an owner you yourself don’t have to be smart, you just have to hire smart people.”

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna had this to say about the closing of North Cove Outfitters, “The residents of Old Saybrook are truly sorry to see North Cove Outfitters close its doors. The store has made a wonderfully iconic contribution to our community over more than two decades. Our town is now going to strive very hard to find a replace of equal quality.”

Well-known Actor will Perform the Gospel of Mark, Old Saybrook Feb 19

Frank Runyeon, will present “Afraid” Sunday, Feb. 19, 10 a.m. during worship service, First Church of Christ in Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK – Professional actor, Frank Runyeon, will present “Afraid” Sunday, Feb. 19, 10 a.m. during  worship service, First Church of Christ in Saybrook, 366 Main Street. Start your Lenten journey with Runyeon’s spell-binding performance of the Gospel of Mark. A free-will offering will be collected. For more information visit firstchurchsaybrook.org, or call the church, 860-388-3008.

Frank Runyeon has won national acclaim for his work as a translator and performer of Biblical texts over the past 20 years. He has performed the gospel for hundreds of thousands of people in almost every state in America, earning rave reviews from critics, scholars, and church leaders of every denomination. He is regularly reviewed as “the best speaker we have ever heard” by students and faculty at private and public schools across the nation.

He is perhaps still best known, however, for his many roles on television. He starred for seven years as Steve Andropoulos on As the World Turns opposite Meg Ryan, a storyline that garnered the second highest ratings in the history of daytime television.

He next appeared for four years as Father Michael Donnelly on the Emmy award winning Santa Barbara, and as tycoon Simon Romero on General Hospital, opposite Emma Samms. Frank has also guest-starred in recurring roles on L.A. LAW as talkshow host Brooks Tapman, on Falcon Crest as chess genius Jovan Dmytryk, on Melrose Place as Father Tom, and on All My Children as Forrest Williams. Frank starred as Detective Marty Lowery in the feature film Sudden Death and as Pierre Lyon in Bolero. He appeared to rave reviews on the New York stage as Hercules in Aristophanes’ The Birds, and in regional theater as Clifford in Deathtrap and Oliver Costello in The Spider’s Web.

On the radio, he has hosted his own comedy talk show on the top-rated L.A. station, KFI, and on WCNN in Atlanta, and co-hosted Charles McPhee’s nationally syndicated show, The Dream Doctor.

Frank is a graduate of Princeton University with a degree in Religion. After studying acting in New York and Los Angeles for 15 years, he attended Fuller Seminary in preparation for the writing and performance of his first one-man play, AFRAID!: The Gospel of Mark. He continued his studies at Yale Divinity School and General Theological Seminary, from which he received his Masters, with honors, in l994. He work shopped his first productions in cooperation with the faculty of Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA, and the University of Dayton. Frank has now translated and adapted six Biblical texts for performance as one-man dramas.

He and his wife Annie, live in Los Angeles with their three children.

 

Saint John School to Hold Winter Open House

Fall in front of Saint John School, Old Saybrook.

Old Saybrook, CT – The Saint John School PreK to 8th Grade Open House will be Sunday, January 29 from 1:00 p.m. -3:00 p.m.  The school principal, teachers, parents and students will be available to provide tours and answer questions.  The school is now accepting admissions registrations for the 2012-2013 school year.  Personal tours, registration, and classroom visits are also available by appointment.  For more information, please call 860-388-0849, email principal@saintjohnschoolos.com or visit our website www.SaintJohnSchoolOS.com.

Saint John School is fully accredited with certified teachers, and is known for its excellent academics.  A comprehensive 6th to 8th grade Middle School program, including science lab and Spanish language instruction, prepares students to excel in high school and beyond.  Full day Pre-K and Kindergarten is offered, including structured academics and creative play.  A secure, modern facility, close-knit family atmosphere, and adherence to Christian values, provides the ideal environment for “educating the whole child.”  In addition to regular classroom instruction, the school offers a before and aftercare program, a tournament-winning sports program, instrument lessons and band, and many clubs and activities for all ages.

Betsy Johnson, Artist of the Month – Reception January 13

Betsy Doolittle Johnson has been selected as the Estuary Council of Seniors January Artist of the Month.  A love of travel, nature and color is the driving force in Ms. Johnson’s art work.  Subject matter for her painting and photography tends to be a distillation of observations of nature or landscapes.

Originally from Hamden, Connecticut, Johnson trained in art history, architecture and painting at Vassar College.   The January exhibit at ECSI Marshview Gallery, 220 Main Street in Old Saybrook will include paintings and photographs form the Wallingford, Madison and Old Saybrook area. A reception to honor Betsy and feature her work will be held on Friday, January 13 from 5-7:00 pm.  Everyone is welcome.

Singer-Songwriter Freedy Johnston to Present Jan 14 Show at Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center

Singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston will perform on Saturday Jan. 14 at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center

OLD SAYBROOK— Singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston will perform on Saturday Jan. 14 at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center. The solo acoustic show begins at 8 p.m. with tickets priced at $20.

A Kansas native, the 50-year-old Johnston alternates between an apartment in New York City and Madison Wisconsin, where his girlfriend owns a bar. Johnston described the Midwest-Big Apple split as “the best of both worlds.” Johnston attended the University of Kansas, participating on the local music scene, before moving to New York City in 1985.

By 1990, he had recorded and released his first CD,”Trouble Tree” on the New Jersey-based Bar None label. A second CD, “Can You Fly” in 1992, generated a strong positive response in Rolling Stone magazine and other music publications. This led to a major label deal with Elektra Records, and the release of “This Perfect World,” in 1994.”This Perfect World included one of Johnston’s most popular songs, the single “Bad Reputation” which reached Number 54 on the Billboard top-100 chart.

Three CDs followed on Elektra, “Never Home” in 1997, “Blue Days Black Nights” in 1999, and “Right Between The Promises” in 2001. His most recent CD is “Rain In The City,” released in January 2010 on the Bar None label.

In an interview via email, Johnston said he expects to play songs from all of his CDs at the Old Saybrook show, including a personal favorite, “The Farthest Lights” from the “Blue Days Black Nights” CD. Johnston said he will also be doing some cover songs, including numbers by two songwriters who have done shows at the Kate, Jimmy Webb and Marshall Crenshaw. The writer of many of Glen Campbell’s hits, Webb played a solo show at the Kate in October 2010.

Johnston said the January solo tour is a short one, including dates in Madison, Wisc., Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Johnston said he will have a new CD in 2012 titled “Neon Repairman”. He is also working on a side project, a band called the Hobart Brothers with guitarist Jon Dee Graham and Susan Cowsill, a member of the early-1970s family band.

Essex Savings Bank Joins Team to Help Madison Town Field and Coach Ciotti

Left to Right: Standing – Allen Jackson, Robert Paolucci Essex Financial Services, financial advisor, Duo Dickinson Architect, Ed Cull Essex Savings Bank Vice President and commercial loan officer, Jonathan Mayhew. Sitting – Rose McLaughlin, Essex Savings Bank, Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager, Greg Shook, Essex Savings Bank, President & CEO, Chairman Larry Ciotti.

The Strong Center Field at the Surf ClubCommittee, Madison,  is planning a mailing to communicate their plans to get even stronger with the help of  Essex Savings Bank.  “We noticed the groundswell of this nonprofit group of local residents who started an initiative to overhaul and renovate the field, the structures and the entrance to the area. It is our pleasure to join in and help promote and underwrite a portion of the costs to deliver information, raise funds and requests for assistance for the town treasure known to us as the ‘Surf Club’,” noted Greg Shook, President and CEO of the Bank. Customers of the Bank will be able to vote to direct funds to the surf club in the annual community investment program from February to March.

The field is used by boys and girls soccer, football and lacrosse teams, in addition to recreational teams, such as the adult softball league.

“The town is in no position to put a great deal of money into the field in terms of renovating and beautifying it,” said Ciotti.

“We have made excellent progress so far, but we need to solicit more private donors and look into other areas of fund-raising,” said Ciotti.

The group has $1 million so far, one third of what they hope to have by the end of the fundraising initiative. The project will cost about $3.2 million, and the group is aiming for completion by Sept. 1, 2012.

For questions or for an opportunity to help with the project, call Ciotti at 203-671-9805.  http://www.strongcentersurfclub.org/vision.html

Since 1851, Essex Savings Bank has been a “safe financial harbor” for individuals, families, and businesses along the Connecticut shoreline. Today, the bank provides checking, savings, loans, trust and wealth management services, along with a full range of investment services through it’s subsidiary Essex Financial Services, Inc.  Its five branches are located in Essex, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Fiddling Poet Comes to the Kate for Holiday Show with Ace Accompanists

When Ken Waldman, Alaska’s Fiddling Poet, comes to the Kate, he’ll have five stellar musicians joining him. His Friday, December 16, 8 p.m. show is titled From the Kate to Kodiak, and Waldman will host an evening of holiday variety that will transport the audience to the grandeur of Alaska. He’ll be joined by Massachusetts banjo player, guitarist, and flute player, Mark Roberts, by Massachusetts banjo player and flute player, Andrea Cooper, and by three New York City singers, Rosalind Gnatt, Dayle Vander Sande, and Anthony Bellov. Tickets are $25. The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center is at 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook. 860/510-0473 for information. Or www.thekate.org.

Waldman combines old-time Appalachian-style fiddling, original poetry, and Alaska-set storytelling for a performance uniquely his own. The show marks his first Connecticut appearance in almost three years.

Mark Roberts and Andrea Cooper are a Massachusetts-based couple who’ve previously played and recorded with Waldman. Roberts has played internationally for thirty years and was a founding member of the acclaimed Irish band, Touchstone. Cooper often joins him onstage, and they’ve combined banjos, flutes, and pennywhistles from Vancouver to Boston, and beyond.

Rosalind Gnatt, Dayle Vander Sande, and Anthony Bellov are members of the Bond Street Euterpean Singing Society, house artists for the Merchant’s House Museum in Manhattan’s East Village. Their repertoire includes spirited carols.

Ken Waldman, who has eight books and nine CDs, promises a coastal Connecticut music party complete with favorite seasonal songs, rare gems, and special guests. A 25-year Alaska resident, Waldman’s live performance has been described by Austin Chronicle writer, Ric Williams, “Feels like a Ken Burns movie. . . . Always recommended.” Shepherd Express Weekly in Milwaukee termed Waldman, “A one-man Prairie Home Companion.”  More recently, the Denver Post praised Waldman’s mix of music and words, calling it “Renegade Americana.” The holiday-themed evening will appeal to anyone who enjoys traditional music, exquisite singing, smart poetry, acclaimed storytelling, or Alaska. Begin the evening at the Katharine Hepburn
Cultural Center, then journey to Kodiak and back.

More?  www.kenwaldman.com. Or call Ken Waldman at 337/258-5994.

‘Sailing Around the World’ with Howard Park

Yachtsman, painter, gallery owner, Howard Park will present the account of his trip around the world at Acton Library, Old Saybrook,  on November 9 at 7.30 p.m.

A resident of Stonington, where he owns and operates the Four Star Fine Art Conservation and Frame Shoppe, Park attended the Masters of Fine Arts program at Tufts University and studied at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA .He continued his studies in France where he won a   National prize in photography. The love of the sea eventually led him to Connecticut to manage a boatyard and raise a family. After restoring Comet, a 52’ yawl. Howard and his wife Rieta sailed 31000 miles following the ancient Square Rigger route from east to west around the world. They set out from Stonington in November 1997 returning in June 2001. His colorful arrangement of photographs and watercolors includes descriptions of the people and places visited.

The public is invited  – For information Call Dot at 860-388-4021

Frost at the Farm with Walt Woodward

Bushnell Farm, 1445 Boston Post Rd invites the public to a Robert Frost poetry reading and program, Frost at the Farm with Walt Woodward on Sunday, October 2 , 2011 at 4 p.m. Rain or shine, bring a chair, on-site parking. Free, public invited. Photo by Jody Dole.

Bushnell Farm, a privately owned, historic farm site at 1445 Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook, will host the public for a program on the poetry of Robert Frost on Sunday October 2 at 4 p.m.

Frost at the Farm with Walt Woodward  is an opportunity to enjoy the works of American poet Robert Frost ( 1874-1963 ) among the stone walls, apple trees and fields of an authentic New England Farm about which Frost often wrote.

Walter Woodward, the State Historian and a Frost scholar, will read the poems, offer an appreciation and some music. Bring a chair or blanket for this free, rain-or- shine program that begins at 4 p.m.  In case of unpleasant weather, the program will be inside. Follow the signs inside the gate for parking.

Robert Frost was a four time Pulitzer Prize winner for volumes of his poetry. Although somewhat under-appreciated today, Frost made “good fences make good neighbors” and “Home is the place where when you go there they have to take you in” part of the language.  Time magazine called “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” one of the loveliest poems ever written. His poems are said to begin with delight and end with wisdom.

Dr. Walter Woodward is an author of scholarly works and is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Connecticut. As State Historian he works with the CT Humanities, with the Museum of CT History, with teachers through the CT Council for Social Studies, and many other organizations. A long-time admirer of Robert Frost, Woodward admits to being an English major in his younger years.

Bushnell Farm is a 17th century farm site owned and preserved by Herb and Sherry Clark of Essex as an example of pre-industrial agriculture and enterprise. The site is open for school and scouting programs, for seasonal festivals and historical societies, and is one site of summer camp programs for the Connecticut River Museum.

Saint John School Summer Open House

Old Saybrook, CT – From 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, an Open House will be held for families with Pre-K three year olds through students in Grade 8, interested in attending Saint John School. Meet school principal, parents and students for tours and Q & A. Personal tours during the summer are also available by appointment.

Saint John School is fully accredited with certified teachers, and is known for its excellent academics. A comprehensive 6th to 8th grade Middle School program, including science lab and Spanish language instruction, prepares students to excel in high school and beyond. Full day Pre-K and Kindergarten is offered, including structured academics and creative play. A secure, modern facility, close-knit family atmosphere, and adherence to Christian values, provides the ideal environment for “educating the whole child.” In addition to regular classroom instruction, the school offers a before and aftercare program, a tournament-winning sports program, instrument lessons and band, and many clubs and activities for all ages.

Saint John School serves all children in grades Pre-K3 through Grade 8 and is now accepting admission registrations for the 2011-2012 school year. For more information, please call 860-388-0849.

Old Saybrook 48th Annual Arts and Crafts Festival

Old Saybrook, CT— The Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce is honored to host the 48th Annual Liberty Bank- Old Saybrook Arts and Crafts Festival, July 23 and 24, 2011.

The festival has grown over the years to include many accomplished artisans in the fields of pottery, painting, wood, glass, and jewelry making.  The two-day event, sponsored by Liberty Bank, Estuary Council of Seniors and Penny Lane Pub, will be held on the beautiful Old Saybrook Town Green on Main Street from 10am-5pm, Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday.  Admission is free.  A variety of food and beverages, provided by local civic organizations, will appeal to all ages and tastes.

Over 20,000 visitors attend this annual festival to peruse and partake of the wares brought by over one hundred and forty fine artisans & crafters.  As an added plus, local music organizations will be offering entertainment throughout the two days.  Healthy Communities•Healthy Youth and Youth and Family Services are sponsoring a youth art booth.  Artists ages 7 to 18 will be able to display their art, help “man” the booth, and have the opportunity to talk with the public and other artists about their work.  Young artists from Old Saybrook who are interested in participating in the Youth Booth this year should contact Linda McCall at Youth and Family Services, 860-395-3190 by Friday, July 8, 2011.

Proceeds benefit the multiple programs offered by the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce which include college scholarships, business educational breakfast series, after-hours business connection and networking functions, and keynote luncheons with local Connecticut personalities and state dignitaries.

Last year's 'Best in Show - Art' winner - Tung Lee, from Brooklyn, NY. Also pictured: Gina Calabro, Chairman, OS Arts & Crafts Festival and Judy Sullivan, Executive Director, OS Chamber of Commerce.

Please visit us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter for festival details.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Old-Saybrook-Arts-Crafts-Festival/194286070614733
LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/pub/OSCC-Arts-Crafts-Festival/36/a1/560
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/OldSaybrookACF

About the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce:

The Chamber is a non-profit member organization dedicated to enhancing the economic vitality and quality of life in the greater Old Saybrook area, including the towns commonly known as the Connecticut River Estuary Region – Westbrook, Essex, Clinton, Deep River, Chester, Killingworth, Lyme and Old Lyme.  Through a core of volunteers and a professional staff, the Chamber provides leadership, support, and networking within the business community.  The Chamber hosts community events and serves as a catalyst to promote tourism, to support educational outreach and to act as an information source.

For additional information, please contact:
Judy Sullivan
Executive Director
Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce
860-388-3266
judy@oldsaybrookchamber.com
www.oldsaybrookchamberofcommerce.com

Gina Calabro
Chairman, OS Arts & Crafts Festival
203-498-3041
ginacalabro@yahoo.com

Susan Coppejans and Sharol Stewart at Marshview Gallery During July

Marshview Gallery will be hosting two local artists for their July exhibit.  Susan Coppejans and Sharol Stewart will be displaying their artwork for the month of July.

Susan worked for many years as a computer analyst/programmer US, England, and the Netherlands. Susan learned the art of painting on silk in the Netherlands and is an accomplished silk painter, producing beautiful scarves, silk jewelry, greeting cards, bookmarks, and ties. Painting with water colors was more or less an automatic development after the silk painting.

Sharol regained her love of watercolor painting after many years of creative endeavors. She currently has some of her work also on display at the Acton Public Library. Sharol resides in Niantic.

Susan and Sharol both currently work with the Shoreline Watercolor Workshop in Old Lyme  Under the direction of Elin Larson.

Please join us at 220 Main Street, Old Saybrook to meet Susan and Sharol at the Marshview Gallery Artist reception. All ages are welcome to join us for this free event. Refreshments are provided.

Offspring of Historic Elm Planted on Old Saybrook Town Green

On July 4, 1876, a committee of Old Saybrook citizens arranged for the planting of 56 American Elms to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence 100 years before. Two hundred thirty-five years after the signing (give or take a couple of days) a group from the Old Saybrook Garden Club, plus Selectman Bill Peace, gathered on the Town Green to plant a seedling of one of those “Centennial Trees.”

Only five of the orignial 56 elms have survived hurricanes, ice storms, development, and the dreaded Dutch elm disease. One of the survivors is on Main Street near Boston Post Road, where it drops its seeds into the garden club’s Constitution Garden, in front of Saybrook Country Barn. Garden-club member, Judy Grover, has dug and potted up several of the successful seedlings in recent years and gave one over to the care of Barbara Maynard, another garden club member and a former First Selectman. This little elm, now about three feet tall, was deemed ready for transplanting and a spot was arranged on the Town Green.

Thus with Bill Peace wielding the shovel, Barbara Maynard steadying the tree, and half a dozen members of the Old Saybrook Garden Club looking on, this handsome little sapling was planted, mulched, and watered in. “It remains to be seen whether the ‘mother tree’ passed on its resistance to Dutch elm disease,” noted Judy Grover, “and the strength to stand up to hurricanes.” But maybe, just maybe another stately elm will one day grace Old Saybrook.

“Opera in the Park”- Free Concert Under the Stars

A free concert of opera favorites under the stars, “Opera in the Park,” will be presented by Salt Marsh Opera on Tuesday, July 12 at 6:30 p.m. on the Old Saybrook Town Green adjacent to the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center. 

Bring a blanket or lawn chair and your own picnic. Dine on a boxed dinner by placing an order with Cloud Nine Catering in Old Saybrook at info@cloudninecatering.net or 860-388-9999.

Performers include Soprano, Holly Cole, Tenor, Brian Cheney and Artistic Director Simon Holt as Accompanist and Host.  Featured composers are Verdi, Puccini, Giordano, Bernstein, Gounod, Cilea, Korngold, Weill, and Bizet.    

“Opera in the Park” is sponsored by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, the Old Saybrook Shopping Center, and the Middlesex County Community Foundation.

Estuary Council Potluck Dinner

The Estuary Council of Seniors 220 Main St. Old Saybrook is hosting a Hoedown Pot Luck Dinner on June 30 at 5 p.m.

Wear your cowboy boots and bring your favorite side dish and lawn chair. Music by “ The Country Duo” dessert will be provided by Mount Saint John School. If it dares to rain the event will be held in the dining room.

To participate in this event please call Deb at 860-388-1611 by June 23.

Hear About New England’s Most Fantastic Seafood Eateries

Kick off the summer with an exploration of a regional icon, the Clam Shack! Mike Urban, author of Clam Shacks: the Ultimate Guide and Trip Planner to New England’s Most Fantastic Seafood Eateries, will be at the Acton Public Library Thursday, June 23 at 7 p.m. to share his experiences researching the book.

Clam Shacks takes you on a road trip to the 55 best shacks, starting on the shores of Long Island Sound and continuing northeast around Narragansett Bay and Cape Cod, through the North Shore of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and up along the coast of Maine. Mike Urban is a writer, editor, and book packager who specializes in travel, outdoor recreation, sports, and business/career books.

Copies of Clam Shack will be available for purchase. There is no charge for the program. For more information, call the Library at 860-395-3184.

Team Avery at The Kate to Raise Funds for CDKL5 Research

 Join Team Avery for a night at The Kate in hopes of finding a cure for CDKL5.    CDKL5 is a rare disease that two year old Old Saybrook resident, Avery Leopoldino is diagnosed with.  Avery has suffered from daily seizures since she was six weeks old, and is profoundly impaired in all areas of her development.  All proceeds from this fundraiser will go to Team Avery and their efforts to research, combat and cure CDKL5.

This evening’s program includes an open, general admission dance floor, with live music from UHF, Late for Dinner and Brent Knight.  Terrific food and beverages provided by Bill’s Seafood.  Also the Old Saybrook Community Collaborative has headed up an amazing roster of donations and sponsors for the evening’s door prizes, raffle and teacup auction!

Mark your calendar for June 11 and join Team Avery!!

Tickets are available at The Kate at (877) 503-1286 or (860) 510-0473 or on their website at www.katharinehepburntheater.org

If you can’t attend but would like to make a donation checks should be made out to: MCCF Avery’s Fund and mailed to:
 
Middlesex County Community Foundation
211 South Main Street
Middletown, CT 06457

The Kate Welcomes Beloved Folk Artist Roger McGuinn

Veteran folk artist Roger McGuinn comes to the The Kate on Friday April 22, 2011 at 8 p.m. for an evening of wonderful live music. Roger McGuinn has been a powerful presence in the music scene since the 1960s and continues to delight audiences to this day. A Chicago native who studied at the Old Town School of Folk Music, McGuinn has always displayed a strong passion for folk music. After high school, McGuinn relocated to California where he played guitar and banjo for the Limeliters. McGuinn later moved to New York where he worked as a songwriter and began to experiment with merging rock and folk music to create a new sound. Folk purists in New York were not pleased with this new musical blend so McGuinn moved back to California and collaborated with Gene Clark to create the Byrds; they signed with Columbia Records in 1965.

After many critically acclaimed years with the Byrds, McGuinn disbanded the group to pursue a solo career in 1973. After 5 solo albums on Columbia Records McGuinn rejoined the Byrds on Capitol Records in 1978 making three albums before returning to his solo career in 1981. Roger McGuinn has been a very influential figure in folk music and his music continues to captivate and inspire all audiences.  Please join us in welcoming this legendary artist to the Kate stage. Tickets are on sale for $45 and $50 for tickets closer to the stage. Don’t miss this exciting event!

For more information please visit www.thekate.org or call 860-510-0473 for tickets.

St. John School, Old Saybrook Enrollment

St. John School in Old Saybrook is currently holding registration for their fall 2011 Pre-K and Kindergarten Program.  Pre-K 3 year old and 4 year old programs offer options of 2, 3, and 5 days, including a full day option too.  Kindergarten is full day with a structured, nurturing program including academics, creativity, and religion. 

St. John School at 42 Maynard Road, houses students from Pre-K up to eighth grade.  Tours and a shadow program can be arranged by personal appointment through the office all year long.  The school is fully accredited with certified teachers, has a tournament winning sports program, and many clubs and activities for all ages. 

Information can be obtained by calling the office at 860-388-0849.

Cut-A-Thon to Benefit Teen Zone

The hair stylists at Salon Massimo, will be hosting a Cut-A-Thon to benefit the Teenzone program, on Sunday March 27 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Teenzone is a self esteem program for teen girls between 13-17 years of age.  It is an 8 week program with sessions including hair care, etiquette, skin care, nutrition, mindfulness, fitness etc.

Salon Massimo is located in The Shops At Waters Edge.  Cut and blow dry will cost $20 (walk-ins welcome). Men will be able to get hot shaves. 

For more information visit www.teenzonect.com or contact Stephanie Liguori 860 399 1782

“Landscaping and Ferns” by Bill Harris From Acer Gardens

Bill Harris of Acer Gardens, Deep River, will present  a lecture at The Old Saybrook Garden Club on “Landscaping with Ferns,” at 2 p.m. on Monday, April 4 at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook.

Harris has a  degree in agronomy and soil science and has operated Acer  Gardens since 1983. The presentation will take at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main  Street, Old Saybrook.

Light refreshments will be served after; there  is no charge. A garden-club business meeting for members will begin at  12:30.

Commission members will do the talking at Preserve public hearing March 2

Where Bokum Road ends within the Preserve

There is another hearing coming up on whether the Old Saybrook Planning Commission should approve a modification of its 2005 development plan for the Preserve. This latest hearing will be held at the Old Saybrook Middle School, on Wednesday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m.

However, unlike the previous four hearings, where the general public and interested parties were invited to testify before the Planning Commission, only the members of the Commission will be allowed to speak at the March 2 hearing.  The general public will be permitted to listen to the Commissioners discussing among themselves whether to approve or disapprove the developer’s proposed modification of the Preserve’s original plan, but the time for a public voicing of opinions in these proceedings is over.

Also, unlike the four previous public hearings, during which many of the general public spoke out against the entire development plan approved back in 2005,  Commission members are expected to concentrate entirely on approving or not the modifications proposed by the developer, and not stray to the larger issue.

The Commission has a number of choices in dealing with the modification application of the developer. First it can give its full approval to the modifications proposed by the developer. This would mean that going forward, the original plan would reflect these changes. Second, the Commission could vote to reject the proposed modifications, which would leave the original plan in place, as it has been since 2005.

Also, should the Commission approve the proposed modifications, it even might  go a step further, and treat the adoption of the modifications as in themselves a first phase of a phased development. This in turn could trigger an obligation by the developer, as part of its first phase, to reserve all the open space in the original plan, as is required by the town’s land use regulations. The result would mean that 483 acres of the present site would be reserved in perpetuity as open space.

The Valley Railroad track within the Preserve

When it first proposed a modification of the original plan, the heart of the developer’s proposal was to build three stand-alone, housing clusters, which it called pods. However, on the day before the last hearing on February 16, the Attorney for the developer, David Royston, withdrew the request for permission to build the three, stand alone clusters of housing units. Attorney Royston also withdrew the developer’s earlier request for a deferral of roadway improvements in the 2005 plan.

However, even with these changes, the developer’s attorney left in place a request for a modification of the Bokum Road parcel so that it could contain 9 lots, as well as a request to install 30,000 gallon cisterns in each developed area for fire protection.

Also, Royston said the developer would assume responsibility for gaining approval for a crossing over the Valley Railroad State Park, even in the face of a written denial by the Department of Environmental Protection of such a crossing. The reason for taking this step, the developer’s attorney said, was because of ongoing discussions regarding the purchase of new property that will make the DEP denial of a park crossing a moot point.

It might be noted that Royston made no mention of gaining approvals by the Town of Westbrook, which the developer must obtain before it can construct a key access road to the project. Past and present First Selectmen of Westbrook have expressed their firm opposition to the entire Preserve project, and it is the developer’s full responsibility and not that of the Commission’s, to turn this attitude around in Westbrook, if indeed it can.

Finally, the developer’s Attorney Royston emphasized in his final memorandum to the Commission that the developer was not pursing a “phased development” by making its modification application. However, it could be argued that the Commission itself has the final say as to whether to characterize modifications requested by a developer as the first phase of a phased development, and not the developer.

In this case saying that the requested modifications do not constitute a first phase of a phased development does not necessarily make it so. Under this scenario the Commission would decide the question, if it chooses to consider it.

However, if the proposed changes in the developer’s modification application were indeed determined to be the first phase in a phased development, the developer might even decide to withdraw its entire modification application. If this were to happen, the original 2005 plan would remain intact, and the developer’s plans for the future would become an open question.

Another possible scenario is this. If the developer maintains that its proposed modifications are not the first phase of a phased development, a position with which the Commission disagrees, then the Commission could simply refuse to grant the developer’s application. Then, once again, it would be back to square one in the development of the Preserve.

Sherry Marlowe Reception at Marshview Gallery

Reception for Sherry Marlowe at Marshview Gallery, March 11, 5-7pm

There will be a reception to meet Sherry Marlowe and view some of her work at the Marshview Gallery in Old Saybrook on March 11, from 5 – 7 p.m.

Sherry Marlowe began painting after receiving her interior design degree in New Hampshire.  Design was challenging but it color captured her spirit and desire to paint.

Since the beginning her medium of choice has been pastels.  Painting with pure pigments offers her an infinite variety of colors and values to create rich bold paintings.
Her representational artwork has an impressionist style whether the painting is a landscape or an old train.     

She’s an elected artist member in the Clinton Art Society (CAS) and Madison Art Society. Her work has been juried in to the Slater Memorial Museum Connecticut Artist Shows.  In 2010 she received two awards.  One for her “1942 SAAB” painting in the Madison Art Society Show and the other from the Connecticut Pastel Society for “Retired Work Horse.”

All ages are welcome to join us for this free event.  Refreshments will be provided.

February 28 to be Designated as Rare Disease Day in Old Saybrook

On Friday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m. the Board of Selectmen of Old Saybrook will be holding a special meeting in the Town Hall, at which time they will be issuing an important proclamation.

The Proclamation by the Selectmen will designate Monday, Feb. 28 as Rare Disease Day to bring attention to the plight of people struggling with rare diseases in Old Saybrook and to raise awareness about these often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed diseases. 

A rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 Americans.  There are nearly 7,000 such diseases affecting nearly 30 million Americans.  In this effort, the Town will be joining the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) and others around the world in observing World Rare Disease Day.  On this day, millions of patients and their families will share their stories to focus a spotlight on rare diseases as an important global public health concern. 

Speakers at the Old Saybrook Selectmen’s meeting will include:

  • Resident Eileen Radziunas, who has written a book about her years of misdiagnosis with Behcet’s Disease
  • Residents Mark and Kristin Leopoldino whose daughter Avery (2) was diagnosed with CDKL5 and suffers daily seizures without a cure in sight.  Avery is the only child in Connecticut with this diagnosis although there are likely others who remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.  Details of a fund raiser to help this little girl will also be announced on Friday. 
  • Social Services Coordinator Susan Consoli, LPC who will be bringing attention to Celiac Disease, of which she was recently diagnosed after years of misdiagnosis.  Currently it is estimated that 1 in 200 people have Celiac Disease while only 1 in 2000 are diagnosed with this auto-immune disease.
  • Also attending will be Youth and Family Services Director Heather McNeil, LMFT, LADC who is the Town appointed Americans with Disability Act Coordinator.

For more information about the Special Meeting, please contact Susan Consoli at 860-395-3188 or via email at sconsoli@town.old-saybrook.ct.us.

For more background information about Rare Disease Day please visit the Rare Disease Day 2011 website at http://www.rarediseaseday.org  and the frequently asked questions section of the US Rare Disease Day website: at
http://rarediseaseday.us/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/RDD-Press-Kit-2011-FAQs.doc

“We don’t want the Preserve!” A message loud and clear at Old Saybrook’s Feb. 16 public hearing

Finally, the public had a chance to speak.

Up until last evening (Feb. 16), the “public” hearings in Old Saybrook on proposed changes in the much delayed Preserve development, consisted mostly of mind-numbing presentations delivered in monotones by attorneys and assorted experts.

Chairman of the Old Saybrook Planning Commission Robert McIntyre

Not so last evening, when finally Robert McIntyre, Chairman of the Old Saybrook Planning Commission, let the voices of the public to be heard. The overarching question behind it all was whether 1,000 acres of open space in Old Saybrook should be blasted and bulldozed into modernity by a private developer.

Although the narrower question at the hearing was whether the Planning Commission’s original development plan should be modified to permit the building of three clusters of new housing along the edges of the site, speaker after speaker came back to the basic unworthiness of the whole development.

Without exception every member of the public who spoke, said that letting a private developer build on this unique space of open land should not be allowed.  Although at one point Chairman McIntyre tried to steer the discussion back to the narrower question of whether to permit the building of the three new housing clusters, his words were in vain.

The speakers were of one voice. You could almost hear in the background, “Stop the Preserve! Stop it!”

One of the arguments expressed was how will a new cluster of houses be sold in the present tight housing market? Also, one speaker claimed that developing the Preserve will mean “huge costs to taxpayers,” such as paying for road upgrades, new intersections and new public services, generally, for the new residents on the site.

Another speaker pointed out that three private companies had tried to develop the Preserve site, and each of them filed for bankruptcy, the most recent being Lehman Brothers.

Then, the citizen environmentalists took the floor. Their comments included that the present open space is a coastal forest that is a key transit stop for migrating bird life, and that the vernal pools on the site must be protected, as well as the wood frogs, which after their eggs are hatched, clean the vernal pools.

At this point Chairman McIntyre tried to bring the speakers back onto a narrower point. The Commission had approved an overall plan back in 2005, he said. Now under consideration was simply a request by the developer to modify the original plan, so as to build three clusters of new housing.

But no one paid any attention. The ad hominem attacks against the entire Preserve project went on.

One speaker, David J. Walden, told the sad tale about what happened in Fairfield, when residents tried to preserve as open space, a 200 acre tract of land. It was nibbled continually around the edges by developers, he said, until there was nothing left.

Another speaker said that the issue should be, not what is good for the all mighty dollar, but what is good for the town.

At one point the cheers for the speakers attacking the Preserve development grew too loud for the taste of Mark Branse, Counsel to the Planning Commission. He stood up, seized the mike, and said that he was going to call the police, if the audience did not quiet down.  It seemed to be an overreaction to what was generally a peaceful meeting, but it did quiet the proceedings.

The popular feeling of the audience was summed up by the next speaker who said that after 12 years of considering whether to develop the Preserve, “Enough is enough.”

Finally, near the end of the public venting of hostility to developing the 1,000 acres of open space, the largest open space between Boston and New York City one speaker pointed out, there came a comment that was clearly relevant to the larger question, which was whether the Commission should permit this entire development to go forward.

Attorney Janet P. Brooks, representing the Alliance for Sound Planning, made the point that there was a fatal flaw in the Commission’s ongoing approval of its original plan for the site. The Commission’s original plan, Attorney Brooks pointed out, was conditioned on the fact that the developer would be granted an easement to build a bridge over the Valley Railroad State Park, which is owned by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Back when it granted its approval of the Preserve development in 2005, the Planning Commission held that it was “probable” that the DEP would grant such an easement.  However, in 2006 the DEP did just the opposite. It flatly denied the developer’s request for a bridge easement. As Attorney Brooks put it in her written submission, “the probability that the DEP would grant an easement for access … no longer exists.”

Planning Commission Counsel Branse termed Attorney Brooks’ argument “an interesting perspective.” However, it could well be more than that, if access to Bokum Road by a bridge is considered to be an integral part of the original plan approved by the Commission.

What was accepted as probable in 2005, as Brooks pointed out, in 2006 turned out not to be the case.  The access scenario on Bokum Road, a key element in the entire development plan, was no longer possible. This being the case, the Commission might have to go back to the drawing board, because a major assumption in the 2005 plan is no longer valid.

How the Commission can think of approving the modification of a plan that is itself fundamentally flawed and unworkable is the question members must resolve.

The effectuation of the Commission’s original plan in 2005 was also premised on the fact that the Town of Westbrook would approve a new entrance to the site on Rte. 153. However, the Commission has chosen to ignore the fact that the First Selectman of Westbrook has been on record as opposing this entrance to the site for over a decade.

Some say it is almost an “Alice in Wonderland” attitude by the Commission to assume that Westbrook will grant the approvals necessary to implement this aspect of its 2005 plan.

The public hearings phase on the modification of the original plan for the Preserve is now over, and future meetings will be open to the public but closed to further public comment. The Commission in its deliberations has three options. It can: 1) approve the modification requested by the developer, 2) reject the developer’s proposed modification but leave untouched the original plan, or 3) nullify or amend the original plan, because of the probabilities on which it was based back in 2005 have proved to be simply wrong in 2011.

Old Saybrook Planning Commission postpones Preserve meeting

Due to the most recent DEMHS forecast of high probability for dangerous weather conditions on Wednesday evening, the Chairman of the Planning Commission has postponed the continued public hearing for “The Preserve” to the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Planning Commission on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. at the Old Saybrook Middle School, 60 Sheffield Street.

Read related article by Jerome Wilson:

The meaning of “phased development,” a key issue at February 2 hearing on the Preserve’s new “pods”

Free Fly Tying Clinic in February

North Cove Outfitters of Old Saybrook is proud to offer a series of four free fly tying clinics each Saturday in February, from 10:00 a.m – 1 p.m.  Fishing staff will review tying techniques and some of their favorite patterns. These are patterns that their fishing staff love to tie and have proven effective in CT waters and beyond.

Attendees should bring your own vise and tying tools and North Cove Outfitters will provide the materials.  Please call the fishing department to reserve a seat.  Call 860-388-6585 ext 307 visit www.northcove.com for more information.

The clinic will be limited to 6 students.  The schedule will be as follows:

Saturday, Feb 5
Atlantic Salmon Flies
An introduction to tying flies for Atlantic Salmon.
By Ben Bilello

Saturday, Feb 12
Early Season Trout Flies
Some of our favorite flies for fishing in early spring and
how we tie them.
By Merrill “Doc” Katz

Saturday, Feb 19
Spun Deer Hair and Deer Hair Applications
Fish LOVE flies that “push” water. We will show you tips and tricks for
tying flies with deer hair heads like Muddler Minnows, Snake Flies, or
Dahlberg Divers. Big Flies catch Big Fish! This clinic will have some
patterns & techniques for tying castable big flies that catch fish!
By Evan Peterson

Saturday, Feb 26
Epoxy Flies: Salt Water
Every fly tyer has a love-hate relationship with Epoxy and beginners get
overwhelmed. 1 minute, 5-minute, 30-minute and rod builders epoxy all have
their place in fly tying. We’ll go over some of the favorite Epoxy Flies and
share some tips about handling this wonderful adhesive. By Captain Mark
Dysinger

North Cove Outfitters is located at 75 Main Street, Old Saybrook, CT 06475