August 27, 2014

Chester Selectmen Stand by Main Street Project with North Side Sidewalk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Region 4 Budget Wins Referendum Approval on 319-253 Vote

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Essex Savings Bank Center for Financial Training Certificate Awards

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

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

Two New Rebud Trees on South Main

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regional School District #4 Appoints New Director of Pupil Services

The Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Region 4 Schools are pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Sarah Smalley to the position of Director of Pupil Services.

Ms. Smalley previously served as a special educator, Department Coordinator, and Interim Associate Principal at Valley Regional High School from 2003- through 2011. She served as Director of Pupil Services in New Hartford, CT, a Pre-Kindergarten through grade six school district. Ms. Smalley continued her administrative experience as the Supervisor of Pupil Services in Region 17, Haddam-Killingworth for the past two years.

Ms. Smalley attended George Washington University for her Bachelors and Masters Degrees, and Sacred Heart University for her Sixth Year Degree in Educational Leadership.

Ms. Smalley comes to us from a family of educators, and serves her community as a member of the Region 18, Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education. We are pleased to welcome Sarah Smalley back home to our communities in her new position as Director of Pupil Services.

Ms. Smalley will begin her post on July 1, 2014.

May 6 Public Hearing set on Deep River Town and Elementary School Budgets, Referendum Vote Planned for May 27

DEEP RIVER— The public hearing is Tuesday on a proposed $3.78 million town government budget and a requested $5.47 million appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. The hearing begins at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the board of selectmen has already decided to bring the total $15,302,887 spending package for 2014-2015 to a12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 27 because of the 0.85 mill hike in the property tax rate that would be required to fund the combined town/schools spending plan. After holding referendum votes on budgets since 2000, decreasing voter turnouts for the annual referendums led the board of selectmen last year to hold a town meeting-paper ballot vote on the budget.

Smith said if the required tax increase was less than one-half mill, there would be another town meeting vote on the budget this year. But Smith said the size of the tax increase calls for a referendum vote that could bring wider participation from town voters. The new tax rate would be 25.93 mills, or $25.93 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

The $3,788,230 town government budget that is up by $86,861, or 2.35 percent, from the current total. Smith said the budget includes a two percent wage/salary increase for town employees and elected officials, though the exact amount of the pay increases would be subject to negotiations with the Deep River Municipal Employees Association. The budget also includes $20,000 for a part-time assistant in the accounting office, a move that has been recommended in recent years by auditors. The town spending package also includes a $38,000 capital expenditure plan, and $384,670 for debt service.

The $5,474,000 budget for Deep River Elementary School is down by 37,158, a decrease that is largely driven by decreasing students enrollment at the kindergarten through sixth grade school. But an increase in the number of students from Deep River attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School has led to a sharp increase in the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget.

The $5,602,987 Deep River share is up by $442,063, or 8.57 percent, from the current amount. Smith said the higher share of the Region 4 budget is driving factor for nearly all of the 0.85 mills tax increase. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on Tuesday, the same day as the town budget hearing. Last year, the tax rate increased by 0.40 mills to fund town and school spending in the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

A Smooth Transition from Essex to Westbrook for Middlesex Hospital

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

On Monday morning, April 28, Middlesex Hospital quietly closed its doors to medical patients at its long-term Shoreline Medical Center in Essex, and at the same time, opened its doors to new patients at its new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook. The new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center is located at 250 Flat Rock Place, Westbrook, just off of Interstate 95 at Exit 65 and neighbors to the Tanger Outlets.

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

There were a multitude of road signs posted, announcing that the Shoreline Medical Center in Essex was moving to Westbrook. The move was also widely covered in the media. The new facility opened its doors at 7 a.m. with its first Emergency Department patient arriving at 7:01 a.m.

With 44,000 square feet the new Medical Center in Westbrook is double the size of the old medical center in Essex. In contrast to the building of the old Essex center, the new Medical Center in Westbrook has two, distinct entrances. They are: (1) The Whelen Emergency Pavilion ­– 24/7 emergency services with 24 acute care beds and (2) the Outpatient Center ­– two entrances, registration and waiting area.

The Whelen Emergency Pavilion offers patients true emergency care with its separate, covered entrance for up to five ambulatory vehicles, including a helipad to transport patients from the Emergency Department, and an “Express Care” designated to minor injuries or illness but still considered an emergency visit.

As for the Outpatient Center, it offers patients a wide range of medical services. They are: (1) Radiology Department, including the latest generation MRI, CT scanning, X-ray digital fluoroscopy and more, (2) Women’s Imaging Center, including digital mammography, ultrasound and bone densitometry, (3) Laboratory for emergency and routine blood work, and (4) Infusion – a private area for receiving intravenous (IV) fluids.

 Middlesex Hospital President and CEO On Hand

On hand for the first day of operation of the new Shoreline Medical Center was Middlesex Hospital’s President and CEO, Vincent Capece. Regarding the move from Essex to the new facility, Capece said, “The transition to our new facility has been smooth, and there were no major glitches. This was the result of all the efforts of many employees in planning this transition.”

Opening day -  (left to right) Pat Cozza, volunteer; Vincent Capece, President & CEO, Middlesex Hospital; and Beth Saity, Telecommunications.

Opening day – (left to right) Pat Cozza, volunteer; Vincent Capece, President & CEO, Middlesex Hospital; and Beth Saity, Telecommunications.

IFoundFitness Weight Loss Challenge Helps Feeds the Hungry

Left to right: Claire Bellerjeau of SSKP, Donna Scott, Owner of IFoundFitness, Jeff Prindle, Store Manager of the Deep River Adams Super Food Store, and the top three winners of the challenge: first place, Sarina Garofalo, second place, “Santa” Dave Puffer, and third place, Deb Garofalo, pictured with the food donation.

Left to right: Claire Bellerjeau of SSKP, Donna Scott, Owner of IFoundFitness, Jeff Prindle, Store Manager of the Deep River Adams Super Food Store, and the top three winners of the challenge: first place, Sarina Garofalo, second place, “Santa” Dave Puffer, and third place, Deb Garofalo, pictured with the food donation.

DEEP RIVER — The 2014 IFoundFitness “Winter River Valley Slim Down” challenge included over 30 people competing for $2,300 in prizes. In addition, the competition raised $478 to purchase a food donation for The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries. The winner, Sarina Garofalo, lost 21% of her body weight in 12 weeks through the challenge.

The total weight of the food donated was equally impressive, resulting in 339 pounds of food for SSKP’s Westbrook Pantry, which distributes over 15,000 pounds of food every month to hundreds of local families in need. When the funds were brought to the Deep River Adams Supermarket, manager Jeff Prindle sold the food “at cost”, making every penny count for the pantry.

Donna Scott, owner of IFoundFitness, repeats this special challenge several times per year. “Getting people of all ages fit, through regular exercise and healthy eating, and then giving back to the community is what it’s about!”, she said.

“On behalf of those we serve, who experience a community that cares deeply each time they attend a pantry, I thank IFoundFitness and all the challenge participants for remembering those in need on the shoreline,” said Patty Dowling, executive director of SSKP.

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River. Founded 25 years ago, in 1989, at the Baptist Church in Essex, the agency continues in its mission to feed the hungry in body and spirit. Last year with a small staff and over 900 dedicated volunteers, SSKP served over 908,000 meals worth of food to shoreline neighbors in need.

 

Chester Town Government and Elementary School Budgets go to Public Hearing

CHESTER— A proposed $3.64 million town government budget and a proposed $4.15 million appropriation for Chester Elementary School will be presented at the annual budget hearing Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the meeting room at town hall.

The $3,649,681 town government budget, which includes a 2.75percent wage/salary increase for town employees and elected officials, is up by $133,626 from the current appropriation. The $4,150,677 budget for Chester Elementary School is down by $31,696 from the current appropriation.

The total $12,507,736 spending package for 2014-2015 also includes a $342,870 capital expenditure plan, and the town’s $4,364,508 share of the Region 4 education budget. The capital plan is down by $30,750. After a sharp drop in the town’s share of the region 4 budget last year because of fewer students from Chester attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, the Chester share of the proposed Region 4 budget is up by $106,915.

Calculations for the property tax rate have been shaped by the ten-year townwide property revaluation that was completed last year. The revaluation resulted in a, 12 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property, reflecting the decline in property values that followed the Great Recession that began in 2008. More than 90 percent of the town’s residential properties had a decrease in assessed values.

The board of selectmen and finance board, in preparing the spending plan over the past two months, had set a goal of avoiding any actual increase in tax bills for homeowners. While the tax rate is recommended to increase by 3.87 mills, to 24.82 mills from the current rate of 21.95 mills, decreases in assessed values are expected to cover the increase and forestall higher tax bills.

The new rate would represent $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. With help from a lower share of the Region 4 budget, the tax rate was dropped by one-half mill last year.to fund current spending.

The town and elementary school budgets go to voters for approval at the annual budget meeting on May 22. The Region 4 budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6.

Obituary: Gary William Lamothe – April 13, 2014

ESSEX – Gary William Lamothe, 56, died Sunday, April 13, 2014, at Yale New Haven Hospital.

He was born in Meriden May 23, 1957. He lived in Essex and will be missed by his friend, Marsha Pond, and his dogs Ty, Cooper and Phoebe. Gary had struggled with many medical conditions in the past years but he always embraced his spirituality.

He is survived by a brother, Bruce Lamothe, of Ogunquit, Maine; a sister, Janet Gura, of Meriden; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his life partner, Spirit T. X.; his mother and father, Marlene and Richard Lamothe; his brother, Richard Jr.; and sisters, Carol and Diane.

A memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, May 3, at 1:15 p.m. at St. Lawrence Parish, 121 Camp St, Meriden, Ct.

Friends may make donations to: Maryheart Crusaders at 338 Coe Ave., Meriden, CT 06451 and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – SPCA, 359 Spring Hill Road, Monroe, CT 06468-2100.

Essex Town Elementary School Budgets Unchanged After Public Hearing

ESSEX– The board of finance made no changes to a proposed $7.2 million town government budget and a proposed $7.74 appropriation for Essex Elementary School after a quiet budget hearing Thursday.

About 25 residents turned out for the public hearing. There were no objections or calls for specific changes to the spending plans,despite an anticipated increase in the property tax rate that is largely driven by the results of a townwide property revaluation completed last year. The revaluation, the first for Essex since the start of the national Great Recession in 2008, resulted in a 7.72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property that is used to establish a tax rate.

The town government budget of $7,202,161 represents a $234,700, or 3.37 percent, spending increase over the current town government appropriation. The budget for the elementary school, $7,742,313, is up by $107,396, or 1.41 percent, from the current appropriation.

The total spending levy for 2014-2015 also incudes the town’s $8,112,489 share of the Region 4 education budget that funds the operation of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle school. The Region 4 share is up by only $30,717, a much smaller increase than recent years because of a smaller rise in the number of students from Essex attending the two secondary schools.

Former Selectman Vince Pacileo asked the key question of the budget hearing, specifically where would the spending plans put the town’s tax rate when the new fiscal year begins in July. The current tax rate is 18.99 mills, or $18.99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. The tax rate increased by 0.52 mills last year to current town/school spending.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said a tax rate of 20.4 mills would be required under the new grand list to cover current 2013-2014 spending. With total requested new spending of $372,813, a slightly higher tax rate could be required for 2014-2015. Under the new grand list, a tax mill raises about $1 million in revenue.
Pacileo also asked the expected total for the town’s undesignated fund balance at the start of the next fiscal year in July. Finance Director Kelly Sterner said the fund balance is expected to contain about $2.7 million.

The finance board will set a tax rate for 2014-2015 after the town and school budgets are approved by voters. The board could use a transfer from the fund balance to limit the tax increase for 2014-2015. But in recent years the board has not favored use of the fund balance to defray increases in the tax rate

The town government and elementary school budgets are scheduled for a vote at the annual budget meeting on May 12, though residents could petition for an eight-hour referendum vote on these components of the budget. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6.

Gov. Malloy Announces Plan to Seek State Funding to Protect The Preserve

 

map

Hartford — Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced today a plan for the state to play a major role in purchasing and protecting as open space a 1,000-acre parcel along Long Island Sound known as The Preserve, which is located in the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook.

“We will take action to make funds available for the state’s participation in the purchase of the property and to address issues concerning joint ownership and stewardship of the land with the Town of Old Saybrook, which will also be making a significant financial contribution,” said Governor Malloy.  “The permanent protection of The Preserve has been a goal of the land conservation community across our state for more than 15 years and it’s time to act to achieve this important goal.”

The Preserve is considered to be the last, large unprotected coastal forest between New York and Boston.  The property is rich in natural resources, wildlife, and habitat areas and will offer hiking and other passive outdoor recreational opportunities.  The Preserve, which also provides an important coastal buffer against storm waters, connects to 500 acres of existing parklands in adjoining towns and miles of hiking trails. (Download map of The Preserve)

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a leader in the effort to protect The Preserve, reached an agreement with River Sound Development LLC to purchase the property in July 2013. Since that time, it has been working to secure funds needed to finalize the purchase, which is now set at $8.09 million.

“The Preserve is one of Connecticut’s special places and this support from the state will allow us to move forward and forever protect from development this land,” said Alicia Sullivan, Connecticut State Director of TPL.  “Our mission is to protect land for people, and I can’t think of a better example of protecting land for all the people who live in Connecticut, and visit here.”

Governor Malloy said that under the agreement, the State of Connecticut would be an owner of The Preserve and intends to contribute $3.3 million toward its purchase and management, consisting of $1.4 million from federal funds for open space acquisition and $1.9 million for acquisition and management pending approval by the State Bond Commission.

Additional funds for the purchase are expected from the Town of Old Saybrook, which plans to contribute $3 million, and from TPL, which will bring private funding in the range of $2 to $3 million for acquisition and management.

“The Town of Old Saybrook is grateful for the state’s support as we move forward to protect The Preserve.  We now have a chance to put to rest once and for all the question of what will happen with The Preserve,” said Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl P. Fortuna, Jr.  “I look forward to launching a public process in Old Saybrook that will conclude with a referendum to approve the town’s financial support for this important land acquisition.”

State funding may increase through a grant to the Essex Land Trust, an applicant for matching funds for the acquisition and protection of 71 acres of The Preserve that is located within the Town of Essex.  This application is pending under the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition program administered by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).  In addition, the Town of Westbrook is discussing options to facilitate the preservation and public use of The Preserve.

Governor Malloy said that he is asking the General Assembly to take action this session to authorize an agreement with TPL that will transfer a vast majority of The Preserve to the state and the Town of Old Saybrook for joint ownership and management of these critical lands.

“We appreciate the strong interest that the residents of Old Saybrook have in protecting this property and the willingness of the town to make funds available to help us accomplish this goal,” Governor Malloy said.  “The agreement we envision will allow for a positive and productive partnership between the state and the town that will provide lasting benefits for everyone.”

Other parties that strongly supported the purchase and protection of The Preserve include the Old Saybrook Land Trust, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound, The Alliance for Sound Area Planning, Audubon Connecticut, and The Nature Conservancy.

Support for Acquisition of The Preserve

“The purchase of The Preserve will ensure that these unique and environmentally valuable and sensitive lands will be protected in perpetuity,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee.  “Connecticut is fortunate to have an active and effective land conservation community that has played a key role in preserving thousands of acres across our state and paved the way for action on The Preserve.”

“For years, this fight was a long and lonely one, a seeming endless uphill battle for citizen activists dedicated to preserving this true treasure,” Senator Richard Blumenthal said.  “Governor Malloy is demonstrating a strong commitment to protecting pristine, environmentally significant land in Connecticut.  I have fought development of The Preserve for many years and commend the state’s aggressive action to permanently stop any development of this unique asset.”

“While walking along The Preserve land yesterday with members of the Old Saybrook community, it couldn’t have been more clear that this breathtaking open space needs to be protected for our future generations,” said Senator Chris Murphy.  “This forest land is the idea place to spend an afternoon hiking, exploring, and observing Connecticut’s natural beauty. I’ve been committed to open space protection issues since my days as a state official and I know how committed the land preservation community has been to protecting The Preserve. Today’s announcement is a huge win for the Old Saybrook community, and I commend all those who worked to make this possible.”

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Co-Chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus, said, “The Long Island Sound is a regional and a national treasure and protecting The Preserve will ensure this pristine and vibrant ecosystem is available for future Americans to enjoy.  I applaud the Town of Old Saybrook and Governor Malloy for prioritizing the future of this beautiful area.”

Attorney General George Jepsen said, “Open space preservation not only conserves critical habitat and environmental features, it also contributes to the character of our state.  The Preserve is an important and unique area of our state, and I commend Governor Malloy and all the partners involved for crafting a proposal to protect it for future generations.”

“After a long battle to protect The Preserve, it’s heartening to see the pieces falling into place to finally conserve this extraordinary resource once and for all,” said Don Strait, President of Connecticut Fund for the Environment.  “An opportunity like this comes along once in a generation.  This state funding will join with support from citizens who value The Preserve’s miles of woodland trail and the habitats it provides to bobcats, hawks, and rare amphibians.  It’s an amazing example of what ordinary people can do when they band together to protect the land they love.”

Bill Arnold, President of the Kent Land Trust, said, “I thank Governor Malloy and commend him for his commitment to protecting The Preserve.  As the Governor well knows, this is a unique natural area with a long list of features which are important to conserve.  Acquiring it for public benefit will help protect habitat and water quality as well as provide excellent outdoor recreation opportunities for all Connecticut residents.”

Background on The Preserve

The Preserve consists of approximately 1,000 acres of land along Long Island Sound in three towns: 926 acres in Old Saybrook; 71 acres in Essex; and four acres in Westbrook.

The Preserve was the subject of development proposals dating back to 1998, including plans to build more than 200 homes and an 18-hole golf course. These plans met with strong opposition and lawsuits from conservation groups and residents. Over the years, multiple attempts were made to acquire the land for conservation, but an agreement was never reached and efforts to develop the property continued.

The Preserve includes 38 vernal pools, 114 acres of wetlands, more than 3,100 linear feet of watercourses, high quality coastal forest, and an Atlantic White Cedar swamp.  The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a critical 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. In all, more than 100 species of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds thrive on this property, some of which are state-listed species of special concern and others of which are declining in other areas of the state.

In addition to its recreational and habitat resources, The Preserve provides important water quality benefits to residents.  Surface waters on the property drain to three different watersheds: the Oyster River, Mud River and Trout Brook, as they make their way to Long Island Sound.  The protection of The Preserve will ensure that stormwater on the site is recharged to local aquifers.  An aquifer protection area is located just east of the Preserve and supplies an average of 200,000 gallons per day of drinking water to Old Saybrook and surrounding communities.

The Preserve also offers benefits for coastal resiliency in the face of climate change, and conservation of it will ensure lessened stormwater impacts from hurricanes and other intense storms.  It is located in the area designated by FEMA’s Hurricane Sandy Impact Analysis as having experienced “high impact” from Superstorm Sandy.  The Preserve acts act as a sponge for stormwater, releasing it slowly into the tributaries and rivers that lead to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, protecting downstream property owners from flooding.

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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Essex Savings Bank Supports Essex Garden Club Project

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The Essex Savings Bank’s grant of $700 has generously supported the Essex Garden Club’s special project of purchasing and planting two Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum “Bloodgood”.  These trees were planted in front of the Town Hall to enhance its appearance with the graceful round shape and colorful foliage of the Japanese Maple. Though separate from the Town Campus project, these trees will complement the overall changes.

As it matures the Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ grows to a height and spread of 20 feet.  The picturesque, multiple grey sub-trucks are particularly showy on a snowy, wintery day.  The foliage displays a red crimson canopy throughout the summer and fall and the bright red samaras (seed pods) add to the ornamental value of the tree.  Palmatum is descriptive of the leaves which are palm like, bearing lobes that fan out from the center.

Greg Shook, President of the Essex Savings Bank told the Essex Garden Club that the Bank was very pleased and fortunate to support its mission of beautifying Essex and specifically the placement of these very special trees.

Essex Savings Bank Announces Community Investment Program Balloting Results

ESSEX - Results of the recent voting by Essex Savings Bank customers who participated in the Bank’s Community Investment Program were announced at a meeting of employees, directors and trustees at the Bank’s Plains Road Office on Thursday, April 17, 2014.

The Top Ten Winners in attendance received special recognition.

The customer balloting portion of Essex Savings Bank’s 2014 Community Investment Program began on February 1 and concluded on March 15.  During the first phase of the program, the Bank’s customers were asked to select from a list of 85 qualified non-profit organizations that made application to the Bank.

Gregory R. Shook, President and Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank stated, “At Essex Savings Bank, we believe the way to move the world forward is by giving back.  Our Community Investment Program is designed to provide vital financial support to those organizations that enhance the quality of life in our communities.”

Each year the Bank donates 10% of its after tax net income to non-profit organizations within the immediate market area consisting of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.   According to Thomas Lindner, Vice President and Community Relations Officer for Essex Savings Bank, 8,481 votes were cast this year.  Mr. Lindner stated that $67,013 is to be disbursed during the month of April based on ballot results.  The remaining $156,360 will be distributed over the year by the Directors, Senior Management, Branch Managers and Essex Financial Services.  By year end 2014, $223,373 will have been allocated to over 200 organizations bringing the total distribution since the inception of the program in 1996 to $3,896,917.

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, are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

 

Organization # Votes $Amount
1 The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries 801  $       6,329
2 Forgotten Felines, Inc. 437           3,453
3 Valley Shore Animal Welfare League 294           2,323
4 High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. 287           2,268
5 Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM) 287           2,268
6 Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Meals on Wheels 281           2,220
7 Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Inc. 261           2,062
8 Pet Connections, Inc. 217           1,715
9 Dog Days Adoption Events, Inc. 210           1,659
10 Essex Fire Engine Company #1 210           1,659
11 Camp Hazen YMCA 191           1,509
12 Bikes for Kids, Inc. 189           1,493
13 Essex Library Association 166           1,312
14 Essex Ambulance Association, Inc. 164           1,296
15 Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, Inc. (VNLV) 158           1,248
16 Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation, Inc. 155           1,225
17 Lyme Ambulance Association, Inc. 151           1,193
18 Bushy Hill Nature Center 148           1,169
19 The Lyme Fire Company, Inc. 145           1,146
20 Graduation Night, Inc. – Old Saybrook 128           1,011
21 Valley-Shore YMCA 128           1,011
22 Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association 115              909
23 Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc. 112              885
24 Old Saybrook Land Trust, Inc. 108              853
25 The Deep River Fire Department 102              806
26 Friends of the Acton Public Library 96              759
27 Literacy Volunteers – Valley Shore, CT, Inc. 93              735
28 Chester Historical Society 91              719
29 Community Music School 87              687
30 The Connecticut River Museum at Steamboat Dock 87              687
31 Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc. 85              672
32 Old Saybrook Historical Society 83              656
33 Deep River Ambulance Association, Inc. 82              648
34 Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation 79              624
35 Common Good Gardens, Inc. 77              608
36 Friends of Hammonasset, Inc. 76              601
37 The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Inc. 76              601
38 Essex Elementary School Foundation, Inc. 73              577
39 Essex Community Fund, Inc. 72              569
40 Old Saybrook Education Foundation 72              569
41 The Region 4 Education Foundation, Inc. (R4EF) 72              569
42 Florence Griswold Museum 69              545
43 Lyme Public Library, Inc. 69              545
44 Valley Baseball-Softball Booster Club, Inc. 67              529
45 Lyme Art Association, Inc. 66              521
46 Lyme-Old Lyme Safe Graduation Party, Inc. 64              506
47 Essex Historical Society, Inc. 62              490

 

Organization # Votes $Amount
48 Madison Community Services, Inc. 60              474
49 Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc. 60              474
50 Westbrook Youth and Family Services, Inc. 59              466
51 Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center, Inc. 58              458
52 Chester Land Trust, Inc. 56              442
53 Lyme Public Hall Association, Inc. 54              427
54 Friends of the Chester Public Library, Inc. 51              403
55 Deep River Historical Society, Inc. 49              387
56 Sister Cities Essex Haiti, Inc. 47              371
57 Scranton Library, Madison (aka E.C. Scranton Memorial Library) 45              356
58 CDE (Chester, Deep River, Essex) Cooperative Nursery School 44              348
59 Westbrook Project Graduation, Inc. 43              340
60 Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) 42              332
61 Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, Inc. 41              324
62 The Country School, Inc. 40              316
63 Deep River Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, Inc. 39              308
64 Madison Ambulance Association, Inc. 38              300
65 Act II Thrift Shop, Inc. 35              277
66 Essex Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, Inc. 35              277
67 Maritime Education Network, Inc. 35              277
68 Brazilian and American Youth Cultural Exchange (BRAYCE) 34              269
69 Lymes’ Elderly Housing, Inc. (Lymewood) 34              269
70 Camp Claire, Inc. 30              237
71 Hope Partnership, Inc. 30              237
72 Deep River Land Trust, Inc. 27              213
73 The Madison ABC Program, Incorporated (aka Madison A Better Chance, Inc.) 27              213
74 The Touchdown Club, Inc. (Valley Regional High School/    Old Lyme High School Football) 26              205
75 Madison Land Conservation Trust, Inc. 24              190
76 Deep River Elementary PTO, Inc. 23              182
77 Essex Winter Series, Inc. 23              182
78 The Essex Art Association, Incorporated 22              174
79 Musical Masterworks, Inc. 21              166
80 Potapaug Audubon Society 19              150
81 The Woman’s Exchange of Old Lyme 16              126
82 Tracy Art Center, Inc. 15              119
83 The Madison Foundation, Inc. 14              111
84 Madison Historical Society, Inc. 13              103
85 The Deacon John Grave Foundation 9                71

Main Street East Reconstruction Project Draws Mixed Response at Chester Meeting, Location of New Sidewalks an Issue

CHESTER— The Main Street East reconstruction project drew a mixed reaction from residents an a public information meeting Tuesday, with some residents objecting to plans for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the road.

About 70- residents turned out for the session held by the town’s volunteer Main Street Project Committee, with residents hearing a presentation by project engineer Kent Frost on two options for a segment of the project that has generated some debate in recent weeks. The project is the first phase of a long-planned project that will later include reconstruction of Main Street in the downtown commercial area. It calls for a reconstruction of 1,800-feet of Main Street from the entrance to the Laurel Hill Cemetery east to the intersection with  Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

The committee last month gave a preliminary endorsement to constructing a four-foot wide sidewalk from the entrance to the cemetery east to Route 154, while also retaining and improving sidewalk that runs along portions of the south side of the street, including the area in the vicinity of the Chesterfields Health Care Center. The committee decided a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street would enhance pedestrian safety by reducing the need for crossing the street to use sidewalk, though existing crosswalks at the intersection with School Lane and in front of Chesterfields would be retained and improved. Another factor in the panel’s recommendation is the possibility the town would built a new library at North Quarter Park on the north side of the street, bringing increased pedestrian traffic to this section of Main Street.

But some residents have objected to a proposed removal of three mature Maple trees in the vicinity of School Lane and the residential property at 131 Main St., and plans for sidewalk in front of a residential property at 137 Main St., where the existing house is closer to the roadway. A second option presented Tuesday would include improvements to the sidewalk on the south side of the street, but no continuous sidewalk on the north side of the road.

Frost said the property owners at 131 Main Street where the three trees are located, David and Lisa Meade, have offered qualified support for the plan, and a willingness to work with the committee on replacing the trees with newer trees and possible fencing. He said the property owners at 137 Main Street, Jeffrey and Mary Gates, have objected to the plans because of the proximity of the sidewalk to their house, and the need to remove a privacy hedge in front of a portion of their property.

Several residents at the meeting, and five who submitted written statements, expressed support for the continuous sidewalk ion the north side of the street. Most of the objections expressed at the meeting focused on the removal of the three trees, which are within the town’s road right-of-way.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the hedge in front of 137 Main St. is also located within the town right-of-way, and is a liability for the town because it blocks sight line views in the area of the crosswalk from a staff parking lot to the Chesterfields facility. He said the hedge must be removed even if there is no Main Street East reconstruction project.

Meehan said Wednesday the committee, in discussion after the public comment portion of the meeting, expressed a consensus to stand by the original recommendation for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street. Meehan said the board of selectmen would discuss the committee’s recommendation further at a meeting next month.
But Meehan also confirmed the debate over sidewalks has delayed an initial goal of putting the project out to bid and beginning construction by this fall. He said construction is now expected to begin in the spring of 2015. The estimated $1 million project is funded by a combination of state grants and some town funding.

John W. Rafal Ranked 12th in Barron’s Special Report on the Top 100 Financial Advisors

John Rafal, long term resident of Old Lyme and the Founder and current Vice Chair of Essex Financial Services, has been ranked 12th in Barron’s special report of the nation’s Top 100 Financial Advisors.

John Rafal, long term resident of Old Lyme and the Founder and current Vice Chair of Essex Financial Services, has been ranked 12th in Barron’s special report of the nation’s Top 100 Financial Advisors.

Essex – Barron’s, the acclaimed financial and investment newsweekly, has published the 2014 list of America’s Top 100 Financial Advisors, and John W. Rafal of Essex, Connecticut, is ranked number 12. Very few independent advisors, such as John Rafal, were included in the list, which is mostly composed of advisors from the major wire house firms.

Mr. Rafal is the Founder and current Vice Chair of Essex Financial Services, which is owned by Essex Savings Bank. The ranking appears in the April 21 edition of Barron’s
(www.barrons.com).

In the story accompanying the list, Barron’s noted that John Rafal was among a small group of financial advisors who have appeared on the top 100 list every year since inception in 2004.

“I am gratified to Barron’s for the recognition and accept the honor on behalf of the entire team at Essex Financial Services,” said John Rafal. “I want to express my sincere thanks to our clients, many of whom we have represented for over 30 years. It’s a privilege to earn and retain your trust.”

Doug Paul, Chairman of the Board of Essex Savings Bank, which also owns Essex Financial Services, stated, “The Barron’s ranking is a testament to John Rafal and the entire team at Essex Financial Services. On behalf of the entire board and management team, I want to offer our congratulations to John Rafal.”

Essex Financial Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Essex Savings Bank, is one of the leading independent financial advisory firms in the country

Essex Zoning Commission Approves Essex Place Elderly and Affordable Housing Development

ESSEX— The zoning commission Monday unanimously approved a site plan for the 22 unit Essex Place elderly and affordable housing development that would be located off Main Street in the Centerbrook section.

The project would be the first elderly and affordable housing development in town since the existing 36-unit Essex Court elderly housing complex was constructed in 1985. The new development would be located on a one-acre town-owned parcel at the southwest corner of the Essex Court complex, with the new units to receive access off Main Street through the existing entrance road in to Essex Court.

The 22 units, including 18 one bedroom and four two bedroom units, would be in a three-story building, with a total of 46 parking spaces for the development. The project was designed by architects with Quisenberry Associates of Farmington.

The applicant for the project is Essex Elderly and Affordable housing Inc., a non-profit group established by the Essex Housing Authority that manages the Essex Court complex. The application was submitted under state statute 8-30G, a law intended to promote additional elderly and affordable housing in Connecticut.

The statute allowed the project to bypass some requirements town zoning regulations that govern height and setbacks from abutting properties. Under the 8-30G process, the commission’s jurisdiction over the site plan was limited to public health and safety issues.

But any public health issues related to development were resolved with a report submitted earlier this month by Lisa Fasulo, town director of health. Fasulo advised that site testing confirms the  parcel could accommodate an engineer-desighned septic system to serve 26 bedrooms, though the project would also require written approval from the state Department of Health before construction could begin.

The project received statements of support from nine residents at a March 17 public hearing, with three residents also speaking in support of the project when the hearing resumed Monday. Dawn  Boulanger, a member of the Essex Housing Authority and Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., said construction of additional elderly and affordable housing would benefit the town. No one spoke in opposition to the project.

The units would be reserved for persons age 62 or older who meet income guidelines. Construction of the Essex Place development is expected to begin this fall, with state and federal grant and loan funding expected to pay for the cost of building the 22-unit development.

Middlesex Hospital Holds Well Attended “Open House” at New Medical Center in Westbrook

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in

Middlesex Hospital held a very successful preview of its new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook on Saturday, April 19. The new center is located off I-95 at Exit 65 and has a street address of 250 Flat Rock Place in Westbrook. The four-hour preview event on the 19th, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., attracted a flood of visitors to the new 44,000 square foot medical facility.

The new medical center will open its doors for patients on Monday, April 28. Until then, Middlesex Hospital will continue to provide medical services at its present medical center in Essex. Once the new center opens in Westbrook, the Essex center will be closed down permanently. It should be noted that Middlesex Hospital has been providing emergency medical services at various locations in Essex since the 1970’s.

Middlesex Hospital’s new facility on Flat Rock Place in Westbrook is housed in a single long building, which is divided into two discrete sections. The section on the right, when facing the building coming off Flat Rock Road, houses the Emergency Center. The section on the left houses the Outpatient Center. There is a single walk-in entrance to the Emergency Center. There are two entrances to the Outpatient Center, one facing Flat Rock Place, and the other at the left side of the building.

The Emergency Center

The Emergency Department, named the “Whelen Emergency Pavilion,” offers emergency medical treatment, for things such as a heart attack, or a crushed limb. Also, located at the Emergency Center is an “Express Care” treatment center, which offers treatment for injuries of a non-emergency nature, such as a sprained ankle, or for a minor cut.

Laurel Patt, Director, Radiology Services; Paula Howley, radiologic technologist; and Kim Carey, radiologic technologist

Laurel Patt, Director, Radiology Services; Paula Howley, radiologic technologist; and Kim Carey, radiologic technologist

There is also a separate ambulance entrance to the Whelen Emergency Pavilion, with a helipad located just beyond the ambulance area. To give visitors a little extra excitement during the recent open house, the LifeStar helicopter made a special landing on the helipad and allowed visitors to explore it.

The Outpatient Center

The Outpatient Center is the section of the Medical Center which is to the left of the Emergency Center, when entering from Flat Rock Place. The Outpatient Center has two separate entrances, one at the front of the building, and another on the left side of the building. The services offered at the Outpatient Center are extensive. They include: a Radiology Department, which offers state-of-the-art imaging services, including the latest generation MRI, CT scanning, X-ray, digital fluoroscopy, among other services.

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center

A Women’s Imaging Center is also located in the Outpatient Center. It includes private spaces for digital mammography, ultrasound and bone density examinations.  Also in the Outpatient Center has a new MRI unit, which features the most advanced imaging with a wider and shorter opening aperture.

In addition this is the location of the Medical Center’s laboratory, which is accessible to outpatients and for emergency services. Finally, in the Outpatient Center there is an infusion section with a private area for receiving intravenous (IV) fluids.

On an artistic note there is also a Community Gallery featuring rotating works of art by professional, amateur and student artists. There is also an open area stone garden off the left end of the building.

Entertainments for the Day

At the recent Saturday open house, in addition to tours of the Emergency and Outpatient Centers, there were vehicles on display from the Westbrook and Essex Ambulance Associations, the Middlesex Hospital Paramedic service and neighboring commercial car dealers. Also, there were free blood pressure screenings offered to visitors, and a roving magician to entertain the young. In addition, Connecticut State Police officers distributed child fingerprint ID’s, among other amusements for the young and old.

Deep River Selectmen Establish New Study Committee for Firehouse Expansion Project

Deep River Fire DeptDEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has established a new study committee to develop a consensus recommendation for a long-planned firehouse renovation  and expansion project.

The committee established earlier this month is comprised of two selectmen, Angus McDonald Jr. and David Oliveria,  two Deep River volunteer Fire Department officers,, Chief Timothy Lee, and assistant chief Timothy Ballantyne, and Susan Watts,a representative of the design advisory board. Selectmen are seeking one additional volunteer at-large member for the committee.

First Selectman Richard Smith said Monday the committee has been asked to prepare a written report by Sept. 1 that would include a review of options and a recommendation for a firehouse expansion project. Town officials and residents have been discussing and debating options for a firehouse expansion project for nearly six years, including two failed referendum votes for a renovation and expansion of the existing 5,084-square foot firehouse at the corner of Union and West Elm streets that was built in 1961.

A proposed $2,.4 million renovation and expansion of the existing firehouse was rejected on 347-312 vote in a July 2010 referendum. A more costly renovation and expansion project was rejected by a wide margin in a November 2007 referendum.

After the 2010 defeat, town officials and representatives of the fire department began considering other possible sites, including the option of building a new firehouse on a parcel on the north side of Route 80 in the vicinity of Plattwood Park. But Smith said Monday there has been no consensus on an alternative site for a new firehouse, with some firefighters and residents contending the Route 80 location is too far from the downtown area, a distance that could lead to increased  rates for fire insurance.

Smith said the committee would focus on a revised renovation and expansion plan for the existing firehouse that may, or may not, utilize portions of an abutting residential property at 57 Union Street that was acquired by the fire department in 2007. “We need to be able to make a decision on what we really need for a firehouse expansion, and how can we make it work” for the existing site, Smith said.

April 24 Public Hearing for Essex Town Government, Elementary School Budgets

ESSEX— A proposed $7.18 million town government budget and a proposed $7.74 million appropriation for Essex Elementary School will be presented at the annual budget hearing Thursday. The hearing, to be conducted by the board of finance, begins at7:30 p.m. in town hall.

The proposed $7,189,062 town government budget for 2014-2015 represents an increase of $221,601, or 3.18 percent, over the current budget. The spending plan includes a three percent wage-salary increase for most town employees. The recommended budget for the elementary school totals $7,742,313, representing an increase of $107,396, or 1.41 percent, over the current appropriation for the school.

The largest segment of the total town spending package, the $8,112,489 Essex share of the Region 4 education budget, is not subject to review by the finance board. With little change in the number of students from Essex attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, the town’s share of the proposed 2014-2015 Region 4 budget is up by only $30,717 after a much larger increase for the current year. The Region 4 budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6.

The finance board will consider any input received at the public hearing before deciding whether to make any changes to either the town government or elementary school spending plans. The annual budget meeting to voter on the town/elementary school budgets is set for Monday May 12.

The tax rate for 20-14-2015 will be set by the board of finance after the budgets are approved by voters. The current tax rate is 18.99 mills, or $18.99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value
A townwide property revaluation completed last year resulted in a 7.72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property, with the assessed value of many residential properties falling by around 8 percent. The drop in the grand list will require an increase in the tax rate for 2014-2015, though many homeowners would be paying the higher rate on a lower property assessment.

Chester Selectmen Appoint Committee to Prepare Plans for a New Library for North Quarter State Park

CHESTER— The board of selectmen has appointed a second volunteer committee to prepare preliminary design plans for a new library at North Quarter Park. The board established the committee at its meeting Tuesday, two weeks after appointing a separate volunteer committee to develop a master plan for use of the 22-acre park located off the north side of Main Street.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said Wednesday the committee, which could have up to nine members, would assist in hiring an architectural firm to prepare preliminary design plans for a building that would house the library, and possibly some other secondary municipal use. Meehan said funding for architectural services would be included in the next town budget that takes effect July 1.

Unlike the North Quarter Park Master Plan Study Committee, which included representatives of the board of finance, planning and zoning commission, and Main Street Project Committee, the second committee is comprised mostly of residents involved with the Chester Public Library. Along with Librarian Linda Fox and library board of trustees chairwoman Terry Schreiber, the committee includes Jean Davies, Richard Harrall, Denny Tovie, Lois Nadel, and Patricia Halloway. Davies, Tovie and Nadel are library trustees or were involved with earlier study committees for a library expansion, while Halloway works as a professional librarian in West Hartford.

After two years of considering options for a renovation and expansion of the historic 1907 library building on West Main Street (Route 148), library supporters agreed over the winter to refocus on the option of building a new library at North Quarter Park. Meehan acknowledged the latest committee could evolve in to a building committee if voters approve plans and funding for a new library building.

The North Quarter Park Master Plan Study Committee is expected to hire a consultant by mid-May to complete a master plan for uses of the park by mid-July, while the second committee should be able to hire an architectural firm by July. Library supporters are hoping the town can make a final decision on a library project before a September deadline to apply for available state grant funding for library building projects.

Meehan said meeting the September deadline for making a town decision on a library project “is going to be tough,” while adding that with the two volunteer committees working with the board of selectmen “we’re going to try” to meet the grant application deadline.

The River Valley Slimdown: Winter Winners and New Summer Challenge

Deep River, CT- Participants of the most recent IFoundFitness River Valley Slimdown laughed in the face of the “Polar Vortex” and showed those dreaded winter pounds who’s boss! With a jackpot higher than ever before, the dedicated group of health-seekers brought in cash, prizes, and a generous donation to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen!

The River Valley Slimdown is a fitness challenge regularly held at IFoundFitness in Deep River, CT. Participants contribute towards a jackpot, paying up for pounds gained or weigh-ins missed. They work closely with fitness expert Donna Scott, taking part in group fitness & nutrition classes, while bonding with their weight-loss companions!

Twenty participants saw the challenge through the end this brutal winter, bringing the jackpot total to $2,392. Almost $500 of this went to Shoreline Soup Kitchen, the charity selected by the group. The winner of the challenge, Sarina, lost 21.04% of her body weight! While she takes home 60% of the jackpot, ESSENCE of Old Saybrook will also be treating her to a makeup and hair makeover to match her healthy new glow.

Second place went to “Santa Dave.” This, jolly, bearded fellow dropped his stereotypical belly by losing 35 pounds! Dave takes home 60% of the jackpot and a massage by True of Clinton, CT but the most incredible reward was bringing his Type 2 Diabetes under control.

“This has been an absolutely amazing challenge!” says Donna. “In the face of one of our worst winters, these guys just would not give in! Even those that didn’t finish in the top 3 experienced incredible transformations. They’re STILL not ready to give up!”

Many participants are ready to go for round two already! Registration for the Summer River Valley Slimdown is open now, with the challenge launching on April 26th.  Signing on for the new challenge means participants will have a chance to shed the winter pounds justin time to trade those bulky winter coats for sleek swimsuits!

Registration is currently open for the Summer 2014 River Valley Slimdown. Email Donna at donna@ifoundfitness.com for complete rules and registration forms.

For more information on the River Valley Slimdown, please visit: http://ifoundfitness.com/rv-slim-down/

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

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

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

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

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

Region 4 School Board Stands by Proposed $18.37 Million Education Budget After Quiet Public Hearing

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education will stand by it’s proposed $18,377,431 education budget for 2014-2015 after a quiet and sparsely attended public hearing Monday.

Only three residents, all of them current or former officials from the district towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex turned out for the hearing Monday at John Winthrop Middle School. Present were two selectmen, Tom Englert of Chester and Dave Oliveria of Deep River, and former Region 4 board chairman Terry Stewart from Essex. There were no objections to the spending plan, which represents a $601,431, or 3.38 percent increase over the current budget. The budget funds the operations of the middle school and Valley Regional High School.

The $18,377,431 gross budget is reduced by $297,447 in anticipated revenue to a net budget of $18,079,984 that is assessed the taxpayers of the three towns based on the number of students from each town attending the two secondary schools. The net budget is up by $579,395, or 3.31 percent, from the current net billings to the towns.

Each of the towns will have some increase in the Region 4 appropriation. Deep River, with 308 students, will have the largest increase. The Deep River share of the net budget is $5,602,987, up by $442,063.

Chester, with 240 students, will have a budget share of $4,364,508 that is up by $106,615.34 Essex pays the largest share of the Region 4 budget. But 446 students, the town’s Region 4 assessment totals $8,112,489 and is up by only $30717 from the current amount.

Board chairman Chris Riley of Essex said the board, over three budget review sessions, had strived to prepare a budget that “reflects the priorities of the school district in a manner that is very respectful of the tax dollars.”

The budget goes to voters of the three towns in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6. The region 4 budget has won voters approval by clear margins in recent years, but with low voter turnout. The last time a Region 4 budget was defeated in a referendum was in 2001.

April 22 Public Hearing Meeting Set for Chester Main Street Project, Location of Sidewalks an Issue

CHESTER– The Main Street Project Committee has scheduled an April 22 public information meeting on the latest plans for the Main Street East phase of the multi-year project. The session begins at 7 p.m. in the community room at town hall.

The appointed committee is coordinating the long-planned Main Street reconstruction project, with the first phase calling for reconstruction of about 1,800-square-feet of Main Street from the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Route 154) west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. The committee is working with Kent & Frost Associates, a Mystic firm hired by the board of selectmen last fall to prepare engineering design plans with bid documents for the initial phase of the project.

The initial design plans, which were first presented at a public information meeting on Jan. 29, have drawn questions and objections from some residents over tree removals and the location and design of sidewalks on both the north and south sides of the street.. There is currently sidewalk on most of the south side of the street, with several gaps in the sidewalk on the north side of the street..

The committee voted at a meeting last month in favor of constructing a continuous sidewalk, with a width of four-feet in most locations, on the north side of Main Street for the entire length of the project area. The idea of a continuous sidewalk along the north side of the street had drawn a mixed response from about two dozen residents at the March meeting.

With most of an estimated $1 million in funding for the initial phase of the project in place, selectmen and the project committee had been hoping to put phase one of the project out to bid this spring, with construction to begin later this year. Subsequent phases of the project, such as a reconstruction of Main Street in the core downtown village commercial area, are tied to state Department of Transportation plans to reconstruct the Main Street bridge that is not expected to begin until 2016.

Chester Library Hosts Spring Book Discussions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Connecticut River Museum Livens Things Up . . . 19th-Century Style

 

The historic Samuel Lay House is the venue for Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern. The beautiful home is now part of the Connecticut River Museum campus and overlooks the River. Photo by Bill Yule, Connecticut River Museum

The historic Samuel Lay House is the venue for Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern. The beautiful home is now part of the Connecticut River Museum campus and overlooks the River. Photo by Bill Yule, Connecticut River Museum

Essex, CT – The Connecticut River Museum (CRM) premiers the Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern program on Saturday, April 26.  With gourmet historic food, wine and beer tastings, music and games, the museum will unveil its newest property overlooking the Connecticut River. 

Christopher Dobbs, Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, said that “We wanted a fun program that pulls people into the museum and provides a unique experience.”  He also noted that this is one of several events taking place along the lower Connecticut River that commemorates the April 8, 1814 British Raid on Essex.  Dobbs said “I can’t think of a better way to give people a sense of life in Essex in 1814 than seeing the Lay House by candlelight, indulging in libations and good food, and enjoying period entertainment.”

The evening will include drinking songs and ballads by noted folk musician Don Sineti.  Sineti is best known for his sea chanteys and lively banjo music.  Catering by Selene is creating appetizer-sized samples of early 19th-century food.  These are based on chef Selene Sweck’s extensive research and collection of early American cookbooks and will comprise such foods as roasted corn chowder, pork pie and cranberry pudding.  Fine crafted Connecticut beer by City Steam and Shebeen Breweries will be available.  Shebeen is brewing a special beer just for this night that is based on a 19th-century recipe.  Also available will be select period appropriate wines.  As part of the evening, participants will have an opportunity to try their hand at historic games such as Skittles (played with a top that goes through a maze knocking down pins) and Captain’s Mistress, a game with a scandalous sounding name. 

Space is extremely limited with programs at 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM.  The $18 CRM museum member and $22 general public tickets include a wine and beer tasting, period appetizers, one complimentary drink and entertainment.  Additional drinks will be available for purchase.  Call 860-767-8269 or visit ctrivermuseum.org to buy your tickets.  Reservations are required and you must be 21 or older to participate.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm and closed on Mondays. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children age 6-12, free for children under 6.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org

Essex Tree Warden Rules on Mares Hill Road Tree Removal

Mares 2In an effort to promote greater collaboration within the community, Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden, called a public hearing on March 19, 2014 in accordance with Chapter 451, Section 23-59 of the Connecticut General Statutes and in response to public complaints about the planned removal/pruning of approximately 40 trees on Town owned land adjacent to Mares Hill Road, Ivoryton Ct., between #5 and #72 address locations. CL&P requested the removal of these trees to satisfy the trimming/removal specifications they follow on the road.

The hearing gave members of the public a chance to voice their concerns and CL&P a chance to provide an understanding of the specifications that are used for “Enhanced Tree Trimming (“ETT”). ETT is a severe form of trimming calling for an eight foot clearance zone on either side of the conductors and ground to sky.

Susan Stotts, the CL&P representative, presented slides of the various trees under consideration, indicating those she thought should be removed and those that could remain.

Augie Pampel reported at the hearing that he was authorized to make a decision about the trees within three days following the hearing, considering the public’s input and after a walk-through of the trees with Susan Stotts. His decision would be based on the health of the trees including diseases as well as structural issues. He initially estimated that 20-25 of the trees might stay but each tree would need to be examined to make the final determination. He noted that the Town owns 20 feet on both sides of the road and that all the trees designated for removal are on Town property.

People raised concerns about the ground to sky regulation which was considered extreme and worried that the result would be the same as on route 153. Also some expressed concern about the impact of tree removal on the soil environment, water runoff and possible flooding if the soil becomes less absorbent. Other questions about a plan to plant new trees and the payment of the tree removal were raised.

Augie noted that the Town tries to replace as much as is possible and that CL&P pays for the tree work, leaving the wood for people to collect. The contractor for CL&P will follow CL&P specifications. Nonetheless, Augie and Susan Stotts will consider the residents’ wishes to maintain the country road appearance when examining the trees. Augie clarified that the tree work done on Melody Lane and Hickory Lane was done on private property with the consent of the property owners.

Augie informed the public that there are no other Essex streets being considered for tree removal at this time. CL&P looks at streets with 40 or more customers and considers liability issues.

The general consensus at the hearing was that as many trees as possible should be preserved to maintain the country road affect while keeping in mind the necessity to avoid power loss and maintain access due to fallen trees.

Since the hearing, Augie Pampel, as Tree Warden examined the trees and posted the final decision on March 21, 2014, regarding the tree removal on Mares Hill Road. Based on a review of all trees posted for removal, 17 will stay. The remaining trees will be removed because “they either have defects sufficient to warrant removal, or the CL&P ETT specification requires that they be removed.” Augie will issue a removal permit to the CL&P contractor with this decision detail.

Mares 5

Though this is the final decision of the Essex Tree Warden, it should be noted that Chapter 451, Section 23-59 of the Connecticut General Statutes states ‘…the Tree Warden shall render his decision granting or denying the application, and the party aggrieved by such a decision may, within ten days, appeal therefrom to the superior court or the judicial district within which such town or borough is located.’”

The Essex residents, and especially those on Mares Hills Road will still enjoy a full canopy of trees despite the loss of 23 trees. That 17 were saved is a testament to the efforts of citizens, CL&P and the Tree Warden to work together to come to the best resolution.

If anyone has further concerns or questions about this decision or wishes to contact Augie Pampel about other concerns related to town trees (trees not on state roads), please contact him at augiepampel@att.net. When possible, Augie will provide advance notice to the public through the media of future CL&P requests for tree trimming and removal.

 

Essex Selectmen Consider Dissolving Sanitary Waste Commission

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday discussed dissolving the sanitary waste commission, an appointed panel that is charged with supervising the town’s solid waste compactor and recycling site.

First Selectman Norman Needleman suggested amending a town ordinance to dissolve the seven-member commission. The commission was established under a 1958 town ordinance, with the ordinance amended by town meeting vote in 1991 to designate members of the sanitary waste commission as the town’s water pollution control authority.

Needleman said the commission now has “no effective function” because the compactor and recycling site are managed by town employees under the supervision of the director of public works, and the board of selectmen. “I don’t think we need another board in between the staff and us,” he said. Members of the commission voted unanimously to recommend ending the panel’s sanitary waste functions at a meeting last month.

Needleman said the seven members would continue serving as the water pollution control authority, charged with directing the town’s sewer avoidance program that monitors pump outs of residential septic system, and also coordinating studies to determine whether any areas of town need a more centralized treatment system.

Selectman Bruce Glowac asked for more time to consider the recommendation. Glowac said there is no question about chain of command and that the site is managed by staff and the board of selectmen, but added that “sometimes a commission can be a help.”

The board agreed to discuss the proposed change at it’s April 16 meeting. Amending the ordinance to end the sanitary waste commission would require approval from voters at a town meeting.

In other business, selectmen appointed local resident David DeLeeuw as building official. DeLeeuw has been serving as acting building official since Keith Nolin retired from the position last October.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Proposed $18.77 Million Region 4 Education Budget for 2014-2015 Goes to Public Hearing Monday

REGION 4— A proposed $18,377,431 district education budget for 2014-2015 will be presented at a public hearing Monday at 7 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River. The spending plan for the operation of the middle school and Valley Regional High School was approved by the Region 4 Board of Education last month.

The gross budget, which represents a $601,310, or a 3.38 percent, increase over current spending is reduced by $297,447 in anticipated revenues to a net education budget of $18,079,984 that is assessed the taxpayers of Chester Deep River, and Essex based on the number of students from each town attending the two secondary schools. The net budget represents a $579,396, or a 3.31 percent, increase over the current net assessment for the three towns.

The Chester share of the net budget is $4,364,508 based on 240 students, an increase of $106,615 from the current Chester assessment. The Deep River share is up substantially this year, with a budget share of $5,602,987 based on 308 students that is up by $442,063 from the current amount. The Essex share of $8,112,489 based on 446 students, an increase of $30,717 from the current amount.

The Region 4 board will hold a special meeting after the hearing Monday to consider any possible adjustments to the budget plan based on public input received at the hearing. The Region 4 education budget goes to an eight-hour, 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum inn the three towns on Tuesday May 6.

Chester and Old Saybrook Receive $5K Energy Efficiency Grants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$5,000

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

$10,000

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

$15,000

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

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

About Energize Connecticut

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

Region 4 Elementary Schools Begin Breakfast Program

REGION 4— District elementary schools have begun offering breakfast to students in a grant-funded program that is expected to continue in future school years. The program began at the Chester and Deep River elementary schools on March 10, and started at Essex Elementary School this week.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said Director of Food Services Thomas Peterlik determined there was federal funding available for a school breakfast program, and later secured nearly $3,000 in grant funds even though the current school year is now entering its final months. She said the program started first at the Chester and Deep River schools because those schools have a higher number of students received free or reduced price school lunches under federal guidelines, though school officials quickly determined there would be sufficient funding to extend the program to Essex Elementary School.

Levy said the program should be a benefit for both students and working parents. She noted that numerous studies have confirmed that children learn better if they have eaten breakfast, while adding the program would offer “another option for parents.”

Peterlik said this week he decided to keep the breakfast options simple in order to begin the program as quickly as possible and utilize the funding available for the current school year. Students are offered a brown bag breakfast before the start of classes at a price of $1.25. The breakfast includes fresh fruit and milk each day, while other items vary from cereal to yogurt, pastries, or bagels with cream cheese.

Peterlik said student response over the past two weeks indicates the program would be a success. He said average daily participation since March 10 has been 39 students for Deep River and 29 students for Chester, with at least 27 students taking breakfast each day this week as the program was rolled out for Essex Elementary School. The district’s two secondary schools, John Winthrop Middle School and Valley Regional High School, had already offered breakfast for students and staff.

$7.74 Million Budget Proposed for Essex Elementary School

ESSEX— The board of finance has received a proposed $7,742,313 budget for Essex Elementary School. The spending plan, which was approved by the local board of education earlier this month, represents a $107,396, or 1.41 percent, spending increase over the current budget for the school.

The budget projects enrollment for the kindergarten-sixth grade school at 428 students when the 2014-2015 school year begins, down from a current enrollment of 451 students. The spending plan includes no new staff positions, but calls for elimination of one classroom teacher position due to the drop in enrollment. The reduction of one teacher position brings a total savings of about $87,000 for salary and benefits, with an additional $27,529 in savings anticipated from other staffing changes.

The only enhancements funded in the budget are $10,000 for painting in the gymnasium and one wing of classrooms, and $7,143 for an improved student assessment system for math and reading.

The spending plan for the elementary school will be presented, along with the proposed town government budget, at an April 24 public hearing. The elementary school budget goes to a vote with the town budget at the annual budget meeting on May 12. The Region 4 education budget, which funds the operations of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, goes to the voters of Chester,Deep River, and Essex for approval in a May 6 referendum.

New Hobby in Essex, the Keeping of Chickens

 

Dr. Michael J. Darre, Professor, Department of Animal Science, UCONN

Dr. Michael J. Darre, Professor, Department of Animal Science, UCONN

Who would have thought it? Well, it’s true, many residents of Essex, Connecticut, are now keeping chickens. The wide interest in this “feathery” hobby was evident at a recent program at the Essex Library. The program, which lasted well over two hours, was about just one thing, the care and feeding of backyard chickens.

The speaker at the program was Dr. Michael J. Darre, PhD, P.A.S., who is a Professor of Animal Sciences at the Department of Animal Science of the University of Connecticut. Darre invited those attending the program to contact him directly at any time, if they had any questions about raising chickens. He added that those persons attending the Library’s program might find the “UCONN Poultry Pages” of particular interest.

In passing Dr. Darre’s said that one of his own specialties was training chickens to stand still in chicken competitions. He also said that on the UCONN Poultry pages, there was information on where to purchase chickens.  

It Takes a Lot of Skills to Raise Chickens

In addition to asserting that it takes a lot of skills to raise chickens, Dr. Darre said that in raising baby chickens to the point where they are laying eggs, required the adoption of what he called a “Food Safety Plan.” He noted, ominously, that over 50,000 chickens die every year from fecal poisoning.

As regards egg production the professor said that when they are fully grown, five chickens can produce 3 to 5 eggs a day. He also said that when considering the cost of chicken feed and the construction of proper chicken housing, that from “a cost benefit analysis,” no one saves money in the cost of eggs by raising their own chickens.

He said that that there are three types of chickens that can be raised in the backyard. They are: 

1) Layer chickens, which are owned for producing eggs,

2) Meat type chickens, which are for eating, and

3) “Show bird” chickens, which are for chicken beauty contests.

He also noted that there are regular sized chickens, and “bantam,” smaller chickens.  Dr. Darre suggested that, “giving five ‘live’ chickens to another person would make a nice Easter gift.” 

Dr. Darre discussed the proper hormone supplements that are safe and nutritious for chickens, and he noted in passing that he taught a poultry class at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. The poultry professor also noted that in the hen house, older birds have a tendency to pick on younger birds, and that chicken keepers should be aware of this fact.

There then followed an extensive discussion on the proper housing for chickens. The professor pointed that “hen houses” should have proper ventilation, and that roosting chickens should be keep, “free from drafts.” Dr. Darre’s said that there should be heat sources in the hen house to protect the chickens from the cold, and that chickens should not be kept outdoors, when it is over 95 degrees. “Watch your chickens to make sure it is not too hot or too cold,” he said with emphasis.

He added that if the chickens were clucking, it meant they were happy, and when they are making distress noises, they are not. Then, the professor went into what he called, “An owner’s checklist.” One of the items mentioned was that dry litter made of pine savings was the best thing for chickens to rest on, and he cautioned against using straw in the hen house. He also suggested the use of a garden rake to spread the liter around.

There should also be a perch for the chickens to walk on, and a roost on which the birds can sleep, he said. The professor noted that the birds like to cuddle together when they sleep. 

As for feeding the birds, he said that bird feed should be bought by the bag, and that it was a good idea to buy “name brands” of feed. He also noted that chickens like to eat table scraps. He stressed as well that bird owners should make sure that the chickens have enough drinking water at all times.

Professor Darre said that chickens should be kept away from rodents, and that wild birds sometime eat chickens. Also, he advised that sick chickens should be put in quarantine. The professor also observed that in the hen house, “the birds themselves establisher their own pecking order.”

Baby Chickens for Sale in Old Saybrook

Baby chickens are frequently available for sale at the TSC Tractor Supply Co at 401 Middlesex Turnpike in Old Saybrook.

Tractor Supply Company, which sells baby chickens

Tractor Supply Company, which sells baby chickens

Store Manager Andrew Gaskine said that the store orders as many as 400 “live” baby chickens at a time, and that they are completely sold out in a matter of days. He said that state law requires that the baby chickens be sold in groups of six. The price range is $1.99 to $2.99 per chicken. Call 860-388-9641 for further information.  

Chickens for Sale sign at tractor company

Chickens for Sale sign at tractor company

 

Zoning Board of Appeals Denial of Variances Puts Essex Property Purchase on Hold

ESSEX— A zoning board of appeals denial of variances to allow a property split has put on hold the $200,000 purchase of a back section of the Perry property at 27 West Avenue that was approved by voters at a November town meeting. The property abuts the town hall property.

The ZBA, acting after a public hearing that began in February, Tuesday rejected variances requested by the town on a 4-1 vote. Member Michael Noto supported approval of the variances, with members Paul Greenberg, Al Daddona, W.T. Ferguson, and William Veilette opposed. Minutes released Thursday show the board majority determined the town had not proven a hardship from its zoning regulations, and that any claimed hardship was ‘self-created and financial.”

First Selectman Norman Needleman negotiated the purchase of the back, .65-acre, section of the 27 West Avenue property with the heirs of longtime resident Eileen Perry, who died last June. Needleman, with support from other members of the board of selectmen, contended the town could have future use of the back section of the parcel, but had no interest in owning the historic house that fronts on West Avenue. The back section of the property also abuts the Pratt House property that is owned by the Essex Historical Society.

The $200,000 land purchase was approved on a 34-30 show of hands vote at a Nov. 20 town meeting, with the purchase contingent on approval of any zoning variances required for a split of the property.

The variances requested by the town would increase the non-conformity of the 27 West Avenue property by raise the building coverage on the lot while reducing setbacks and the required minimum lot area. Lawyers for the town with the Hartford firm of Robinson & Cole had contended during the two-part public hearing that the town’s desire to acquire the property for preservation and possible future municipal uses represented a legitimate hardship from zoning regulations. Two West Avenue residents spoke in opposition to the variances at the Feb. 18 public hearing, one in person and one by letter, but there were more residents speaking in opposition at Tuesday’s hearing.

Needleman said Wednesday he is disappointed by the ZBA decision, and is currently reviewing options to determine whether there is any way the purchase could proceed. He noted the Perry family is hoping to sell the 27 West Avenue property, including the house, is town is unable to complete the purchase of the back section under the terms of the agreement negotiated last fall. “For now this may go down on the list of missed opportunities for the town,” Needleman said.

They’re Putting in the Docks at the Pettipaug Yacht Club; It Must Be Spring

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A harbinger that spring must be on its way, is when the Pettipaug Yacht Club starts putting its docks in the water on the Connecticut River. During the winter the dock sections are stacked up in piles in the open air.

Club work crews, with the assistance of a powerful crane which can lift over 1,500 pounds, raise up docks sections one by one, and then lower them down to the waters below. Directing this procedure last Saturday was Sandy Sanstrom, a former Club Commodore and Member of the Board of Governors.

Although the club’s crane can handle heavy loads, when dock sections are being lowered into the water, work crews must physically swing the cranes and their loads into position.

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The Club’s Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, the venerable Paul Risseeuw, looks on at the docks-in-the-water proceedings.

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Club member Doreen Joslow (left) and Club Rear Commodore Kathryn Ryan (right) clear debris from the small Pettipaug beach.

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A very important step in putting in the docks consists of anchoring the dock sections, securely, to the underwater ground below. The method used at Pettipaug is that at each of the four corners of the floating dock sections, there are 21 foot hollow steel pipes holding them in place. These pipes are driven straight down to the ground underwater.

To drive the steel pipes into the ground entails using a gas powered water pump, which pumps water into the top of the steel pipes at a rate 150 gallons of water pressure per minute. This strong, gushing water, coming out at the bottom of the steel pipe, blasts away the sandy soil beneath it. This in turn creates a hole that goes deeper and deeper into the ground.

In some cases the steel pipe can burrow itself into the ground to a depth of 10 feet, according to Risseeuw.

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Here is a final look at a dock fully installed, even including an outboard ready to go. The preparation of the docks is just a prologue to the sailing of sail boats at the club. Sailing will commence as early as next Wednesday, March 18, by groups of high school sailors.

Let the races begin!

Essex Zoning Commission Continues Public Hearing on Proposed Elderly Housing Expansion to April 21

ESSEX— The zoning commission has continued until April 21 the public hearing on a site plan for a proposed 22-unit elderly and affordable housing project in the Centerbrook section after the plan received expressions of support at a public hearing Monday.

Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., a non-profit group associated with the appointed Essex Housing Authority, is pursuing development of 22 units of elderly and affordable housing, including four two bedroom units, in a three-story building to be constructed on a one-acre town owned parcel on the southeast side of the existing Essex Court elderly housing complex at 16 Main St. The development would be called Essex Place, and receive access off Main Street through the Essex Court complex.

The project is being presented for site plan review under a process defined by state statute 8-30G, a law that is intended to promote additional elderly and affordable housing in Connecticut. Under the law, the commission retains authority to approve or reject the site plan for safety and public health reasons, but must waive certain requirements of the town’s zoning regulations in reviewing the proposal. The zoning board of appeals last fall rejected a request from EEAH Inc. for several variances related to the project.

Janet Atkeson, chairwoman of the Essex Housing Authority and president of EEAH Inc., told the commission the waiting list for units at Essex Court, a 36-unit elderly housing complex that opened in 1985, contains more than two dozen names. She said there is a clear need for the additional units that would come with an expansion that has been under discussion for more than a decade. The new units would be reserved for persons age 62 or older who meet income guidelines.

Project architect Tom Arcari, with the Quisnenberry Associates firm of Farmington, presented the plan for the building that would be 30-feet high and include a first floor community room that could seat up to 70 persons, and also serve as an emergency shelter for both complexes. There would be 46 parking spaces, with most located behind the building on the west side of the property.

While the 8-30G process limits the commission’s discretion over many details of the development, the project must receive local and state Department of Public Health approval for the septic system that would serve the complex. The plans remain under review by the local and state health departments, though Arcari said he anticipates receiving a written approval by the time the public hearing resumes on April 21.

Nine residents spoke in support of the project during the public hearing, with resident Mary Ann Pleva declaring the expansion of elderly housing is “very much needed and long overdue.” No one spoke in opposition to the project at the hearing.

Purchaser of “Slum House” at North Main Street and New City Street in Essex Backs Out

 

Exterior of auctioned property

Exterior of auctioned property

The winner of the bid at auction to purchase the dilapidated house at 63 North Main Street in Essex has withdrawn from making the purchase. “I will not be purchasing 63 North Main Street, Essex. CT,” Edmund Mormile of Madison said in a written statement sent with a note dated March 14.  

Mormile won the right to purchase the property at an auction on January 26. His winning bid for the property was $142,000. In justifying his action to cancel his bid Mormile wrote, “After dealing with a long list of issues and potential problems two concerns are especially difficult and very expensive to resolve.”

“First,” he said, “the septic system as shown on the site plan dated 2001 can not be documented” …A map of the sanitary system (an as-built) is not on file with the Essex Health Department as required by both state and local regulations. Without verification the existence of an upgraded sanitary system is questionable.”  

The bid winner’s second concern, “is an existing and out – dated septic tank located under the building. The environmental concerns and potential cost grow.”

Mormile asserted, “If the town determined an engineered septic system is needed, then the cost of the project could increase twenty-five thousand dollars or more.” Furthermore, he wrote, “The town would only make the decision regarding the suitability of the septic system after I purchased the property, applied for a variance and a building permit.”

Momile wrote, “Although it is disappointing to reach this conclusion [of cancelling his bid], I am thankful for the experience and the lessons learned.” He concluded, “Finally, I’m grateful for all the friendly advice and good wishes received from the people of Essex.”

Essex Selectmen Present a Proposed $7.18 Million Town Government Budget for 2014-2015

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has endorsed a proposed $7,189,062 town government budget for 2014-2015. The spending plan, to be presented to the board of finance at a March 27 meeting, represents a $221,601, or 3.18 percent, spending increase over the current town government budget.

The selectmen approved the budget plan ion a unanimous vote at a March 5 meeting after holding budget review workshop meetings on Feb. 8, Feb. 19, and March 5. First Selectman Norman Needleman said he is pleased with the proposed budget. “We’re keeping up with things and we’re keeping a lid on the costs,” he said.

The proposed budget includes a general three percent wage/salary increase for most town employees. The salary for the first selectman job will not increase, remaining at the current $87,296. The salary for the town clerk position, held by newly elected Town Clerk Joel Marzi, is set at $61,179, with a salary of $58,492 for the tax collector, and $10,300 for the part-time elected position of town treasurer.

The budget increases town funding to the two public libraries by three percent, with appropriations of $275,300 for the Essex Library, and $104,000 for the Ivoryton Library The budget funds four full-time police officers at an expense of $243,179, and a full-time health director/sanitarian position with a salary set at $78,396. The budget includes $453,425 in “sinking funds” for capital expenditures and projects, including $140,000 for the volunteer fire department, $32,500 for parks and recreation, and $60,000 for municipal properties.

After review by the finance board, the budget plan will be presented at an April 24 public hearing in combination with the proposed budget for Essex Elementary School. The town’s share of the Region 4 education budget goes to the voters in a May 6 referendum, with the annual budget meeting vote on a total spending package for 2014-2015 set for Monday May 12.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information about Troop 13 – BSA

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

 

St. Patrick, Himself, Would Have Been Pleased with the Essex Parade

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Essex last Saturday was a triumph. The audience along the Main Street parade route, especially from the traffic circle down to the Griswold Inn, were as much as five or six spectators deep. And every one of the marchers wore at least some kind of green.  

The parade feature a wonderful variety of home town floats. Among the highlights one of many green bedecked couples, a color guard, a green-bedecked Model A Ford, a bright red tractor, a big green tree cutter, a horse drawn carriage, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman with State Representative Phillip Miller and State Senator Art Linares, Essex’s own “Sailing Masters,” always in perfect order, and a huge bunch of green balloons. Here they are and more:

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St pat 2

St pat 3

St Pat 4

St Pat 5

St pat 6

St Pat 9

St Pat 10

St Pat 11

Stpat 7

Stpat 8

Stpat 9

Fire Destroys Clubhouse of the Pattaconk Yacht Club in Chester

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

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

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

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

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

The Tri-Town Parent Survey: A Win-Win Proposition

surveyAre you a parent or guardian of a Pre-K to 12th grade student in the tri-town area? The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition invites you to participate in a brief, anonymous and confidential survey that asks about your experiences, perceptions and challenges in raising children in Chester, Deep River and Essex. Located on the Tri-Town Youth Services website (www.tritownys.org) from March 28 through April 30, the survey will help the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition better understand what information, resources and services parents actually need to keep our young people healthy, happy and substance free. Tri-Town has designed the survey process to be a win-win proposition. Parents who take the survey—a win for our community—are then invited to enter Tri-Town’s drawing to win one $100 gift card, or one of four $25 gift cards. The Coalition thanks parents in advance for contributing to the well-being of our tri-town youth and families!

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

Essex Zoning Commission Has Public Hearing Monday on Site Plan for Elderly Affordable Housing Expansion

ESSEX— The zoning commission will hold a public hearing Monday for review of the site plan for a proposed 22-unit expansion of the Essex Court elderly housing complex off Main Street in the Centerbrook section. The public hearing convenes at 7 p.m. in town hall.

Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., a non-profit group associated with the appointed Essex Housing Authority, has submitted plans for a 22-unit housing complex, including four two bedroom units, to be located on a one-acre parcel on west side of the existing Essex Court elderly housing complex off Main Street. An expansion of the existing 36-unit elderly housing complex that opened in 1985 has been under discussion for more than a decade, but the award last year of a $250,000 planning grant from the state Department of Housing gave new impetus to the effort.

Some of the grant funds were used to hire Quisenberry Associates, a Farmington architectural firm that has prepared plans for the elderly and affordable housing expansion that would be called Essex Place. EEAH Inc. is seeking approval for the project under state statute 8-30G, a law intended to promote additional affordable housing in Connecticut.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said this week the 8-30G law does not provide for special permit approval of proposed elderly and affordable housing projects, but rather allows town zoning authorities to review site plans for a proposed project. The proposed 22 units would be located in a single building that required several variances of town zoning regulations. The zoning board of appeals last fall denied a request for several variances, leading EEAH Inc. to submit it’s zoning application under the 8-30G law.

Budrow said the process provided by statute 8-30G negates the need for variances, but gives the zoning commission some authority in reviewing the site plan for the project. Budrow said the commission could reject the site plan only for public health and safety reasons.

The commission will also hold a public hearing Monday on a zoning amendment proposed by the panel that would include family day care homes as a permitted use in residential districts. A family day care home could serve up to six children under the proposed regulations. Budrow said town zoning regulations currently do not provide for such family day care homes, though there are currently several in operation in Essex.