Old Lyme Board of Selectmen Regular Meeting Minutes 10/4/2021

Meeting date: 
Monday, October 4, 2021

 

Old Lyme Board of Selectmen Regular Meeting Minutes

4 October 2021 at 4:00 p.m.

 

The meeting was hybrid, held in person in the meeting hall of the Memorial Town Hall with a phone-in option.

In attendance: (in person) First Selectman Griswold, Selectwoman Nosal and Selectman Kerr. First Selectman Griswold called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m.

 

  1. Approval of minutes

Selectwoman Nosal motioned to approve September 7, 2021 minutes and Chris Kerr seconded. The minutes were approved.

Selectman Kerr motioned to approve September 20, 2021 minutes and Selectwoman Nosal seconded. The minutes were approved with the following amendments:

Page 1, Item 3. Appointments: add after the chair of the Commission “and provided for the minutes”.

Page 3. Section George Frampton: add before the final sentence “He referred to some visitors as Jihads”.

Page 4. Section Mary Daley: add “thanked Selectwoman Nosal for her service”

 

  1. Communications – None
  2. Appointments – None
  3. Old Business
  1. Project Updates

Soundview Sidewalks: Selectwoman Nosal reported that they are going through the permit process for the transit hub at 290 Shore Rd. The next step is the special permit application to be approved by the Zoning Commission. The Public Hearing will be October 12, 6:30 p.m. and all the abutters have been duly notified.

 

Soundview Sewers: First Selectman Griswold reported the Town received a communication from the Town of East Lyme Water and Sewer Dept. concerning the inter-municipal agreement (“IMA”).  East Lyme suggests that, instead of having one IMA with the three private beaches and the Town of Old Lyme (Sound View), that there be an agreement with the three beaches and a separate agreement with the Town of Old Lyme.  More discussion is needed and First Selectman Griswold questions why two separate IMAs are needed instead of the original one IMA.  He hopes to avoid additional process and cost.

The bids to install the shared infrastructure are out and are due back this month.

 

Grassy Hill Rd. Bridge: First Selectman Griswold reported the Army Corp of Engineers urged some engineering changes to the design of the bridge. Instead of using 2 equal sized pipes, the Army Corps requests there be a larger pipe and a smaller pipe. Our engineer thinks the Town should follow the recommendation. Permitting and design work is almost complete and an Army Corps permit application will be submitted for its consideration.

 

Transfer Station: First Selectman Griswold reported that the Transfer Station Scale House foundation has been installed. The contractor has ordered the building materials and the construction time is estimated to take 60 days - the first week of December. Selectwoman Nosal asked if we are behind schedule and First Selectman Griswold replied the schedule has slipped by a couple of weeks. Selectwoman Nosal asked how will the temporary building be heated? Space heaters or another heating system that contractors use will be necessary.

 

Blood Street Partners LLC: First Selectman Griswold reported that Parks and Rec Commission has been working with the owners of Blood St. Partners, LLC (owners of the 176 Boston Post Rd. building) on an agreement governing their use of Hains Park. The Parks and Rec Chairman has been authorized to sign the Agreement and the five limited partners will also sign.  The First Selectman must also sign the agreement on behalf of the Town.  The Town Attorney has approved the document.

Selectman Kerr motioned to authorize the First Selectman Griswold to sign the Agreement on behalf of the Town of Old Lyme and Selectwoman Nosal seconded.   

Discussion:  Selectwoman Nosal asked is there a reason why this agreement is necessary. She is concerned it sets a precedent for dealing with residents living near a public park.  First Selectman Griswold said the agreement is with a corporation and establishes rules governing its use of the park.  The motion passed unanimously.

 

Ames Open Space: First Selectman Griswold walked the Ames Preserve with members of the Open Space Commission and representatives from the Rockfall Foundation and the Connecticut Audubon Society. Both Rockfall and CT Audubon have provided grant money for improvements to the Preserve.  Concerning the proposed purchase of an additional 35 acres of Ames property to be added to the Preserve, the Planning Commission must review the purchase and a vote at a future Town Meeting must approve the purchase. The Open Space Commission is pursuing $200,000 grant to help finance the acquisition. The Boards of Selectmen and Finance have approved the acquisition.

Discussion: Selectwoman Nosal talked about the abrasive behavior of the Board of Finance Chair during the Board of Finance meeting and she regrets not saying anything at the time.  The Board of Finance Chair took the Open Space Commission to task for not informing the Board of Finance about the purchase prior to the meeting. Selectwoman Nosal asked if we need a policy in place going forward. First Selectman Griswold said informing the Board of Finance about large financial issues early in the process should solve the problem and he does not think we need a formal process.

 

Tantummaheag Landing: First Selectman Griswold had a conversation with Attorney Collins about the progress of the review of land records to clearly the ownership of the property.  Mr. Frampton stated visitors to the Landing are welcome and First Selectman Griswold said visitors need to be respectful of the neighbors’ privacy when on the property. Mr. Frampton asked that a boulder be placed at the entrance of the trail to the water to prevent people from driving down the trail.  Selectwoman Nosal stated that the Selectmen voted to approve signage and to accept the recommendations of the Harbor Management Commission. Perhaps, if the signs and recommendation had been implemented, things would be different now. She asked that the Town put something in writing to detail the current status. We need to protect visitors at the Landing from being yelled at.

Selectman Kerr asked if the Town Attorney is working on a title search. First Selectman Griswold said yes, but the legal review over a period of 320 years is complicated and will take some time. He would like to have a “stand still” agreement between the Town and Mr. Frampton & Ms. Darista until the ownership issues are clarified.

Selectwoman Nosal asked what the budget is for this issue. First Selectman Griswold responded he does not have an estimate yet, but we will need one as soon as possible.

 

American Recovery Plan: First Selectman Griswold reported that the American Recovery Committee will hold its inaugural meeting on Wednesday October 5th at noon.  A number of direct appeals have been received to date.  

Selectwoman Nosal asked if Ledge Light has requested 1% of the funds and First Selectman Griswold confirmed yes along with 4 or 5 other requests.

 

  1. New Business

 

Estuary Transit District: First Selectman Griswold asked for a motion to authorize the First Selectman to sign a resolution in support of the merger of the Estuary Transit District (ETD) and the Middletown Transit District. Once the merger is official, Joe Comerford, Executive Director of the Estuary Transit District (9 towns) will be the Director of the consolidated district. Fees the member towns pay will not change in a material way we are waiting the final paperwork from the DOT.  First Selectman Griswold says the merger makes a lot of sense.

 

Selectman Kerr motioned to execute the Estuary Transit District resolution and Selectwoman Nosal seconded. The motion was approved.

 

Selectwoman Nosal asked if any member towns are not interested in signing. First Selectman Griswold replied that is not known at this time but it is unlikely.  The vote does not have to be unanimous.

 

Glenn Sulmasy:  Glenn Sulmasy, a part-time resident and a retired Coast Guard Captain, has been inducted as the President of Nichols College in MA. Congratulations to Glenn.

 

  1. Public Comments

 

Sheila Riffle, 57 Coult Lane, stated that this is her third meeting in the last month. She believes the Tantummaheag Landing issue should have been resolved sooner. She said Mr. Frampton and his wife continue to act as if they own the property and so does First Selectman Griswold. The lack of action by the Town has caused unnecessary conflicts. Why hasn’t a cease and desist order been issued? Who pays taxes on the property? The issue was resolved with the previous owner, so why is it taking so long to resolve with current owner? Why are Board of Selectmen meetings held at 4:00 p.m.? Why isn’t the Pledge of Allegiance said at the start of the meetings?  Has it ever been done and stopped? Everyone attending the meeting has a mask on except First Selectman Griswold.  Is the Town Hall mask mandate required?

 

Charlotte Scot, 302 Ferry Rd., asked, is racism a public health crisis?  She said racism has been going on for 400 plus years. Some of her ancestors owned slaves and as did others with names like Rogers and Lord. In a town that is 96% white, it is appropriate to have a discussion. Why doesn’t First Selectman Griswold encourage residents to have a discussion about the subject? She respectfully asks for an open discussions in the community.

 

Kathleen Tracy, 76 Hartford Ave., said there is no opportunity for public comment. Someone needs to learn how to unmute the phone. Why do we have to come in person? The town can do better than this. Why was Sloan Danenhower appointed to another commission? He has only attended one Soundview Commission meeting. Let’s let other people have an opportunity to participate.

 

Linda Iacobellis, 57 Coult Lane., is here today to see some action. You can’t walk to the water to launch your kayak - you need a car to launch your kayak. The Tantummaheag Landing issue is not being handled the way the residents of the community want it to be handled. The issue should have been resolved by now it has been going on for nine months. She is asking for more specific updates. She is concerned that the Town has not adopted a resolution stating racism is a crisis. Voices aren’t being heard. We need to have a forum. She doesn’t understand why the residents of the town aren’t being heard on the racism issue. Everyone attending the meeting has a mask on except First Selectman Griswold. How can a mandate not be followed? There should be great concern around this issue.

 

Carol Miranda, Biscayne Blvd., is concerned about speeding on Shore Rd. There are no police patrolling. She has called the Resident State Trooper five times and but has never heard back from him. She did get a reply of “doing the best we can” from the town police.  The State Troopers salary is budgeted at $198,000. What does he do for this salary? She asked for a job description and had to fill out a Freedom of Information form. She did get an email with the information she requested. She requests more signage for pedestrians - look at the town of Niantic. She requests a moratorium on all future commercial development from Halls Rd. to Point of Woods Beach. We have buildings that are derelict, she has listed 10 or 11. The Board should consider establishing a vision committee to address the commercial development between Halls Rd. and Point of Woods. She hopes to have responses from someone soon.

 

Rebecca Griffin, Boston Post Rd. says thank you for the comments on the Tantummaheag Landing issue. She emailed Mr. Griswold many times. Signage and parking are still not there. She was at the property yesterday and noted the owners are planting things to make vehicle access impossible. Their behavior has gotten worse and there is no excuse for this. They are only respectful to Mr. Griswold. The town needs to act like it owns the property.

 

Kimberly Thompson, Littlefield Lane, supports Selectwoman Nosal’s comments that the Open Space chairperson’s behavior at the Board of Finance meeting was unprofessional, hostile and disrespectful. She was horrified by his behavior. She has observed large plantings at the Tantummaheag Landing which she believes is intended to limit access. This activity should have been stopped. Thank you for learning to unmute the phone.

 

Anna Reiter is extremely disappointed that the racism resolution has not been put on the agenda for the past year. She would like to see it on the agenda very soon.

 

  1. Other Business

 

Selectwoman Nosal thanked all the people that spoke today about the race issue. It has been a long year of trying to bring up this issue and she has tried repeatedly to have racism added to the agenda. The state is addressing the issue and 22 towns have adopted a resolution, so it can’t be ignored. The town experienced racial graffiti at the Griswold Preserve and some Black Lives Matter signs were desecrated. The resolution is a value statement not a law. The town leaders have an obligation to address this issue. She encourages the town to reach out and acknowledge peoples’ concerns. She is supporting a resolution declaring racism as a health issue and is requesting the Board to put it on the agenda for a vote at the next meeting.

 

Selectwoman Nosal asked First Selectman Griswold if there is any update on the beach cleaning situation. The contractor is not doing his job and there are outstanding transfer station bills. Selectwoman Nosal asked does First Selectman Griswold have a specific arrangement with the contractor? First Selectman Griswold responded that the contractor agreed to clear up his obligations and, if not, his credit privileges would be revoked.

 

Selectwoman Nosal asked First Selectman Griswold to sign off on the changes to the Employee Handbook. The new handbook needs to be formally approved. Language was approved, but not formally updated in the handbook.

 

Selectwoman Nosal asked First Selectman Griswold if he is aware of the new FEMA 2.0 effective on October 1, 2021. The town was a member of the Community Rating System for many years and she is not sure why our membership has lapsed. Membership affords residents a discount on their flood insurance. Selectwoman Nosal has left messages for other agencies to investigate why we haven’t been a member for some time now.

 

Selectwoman Nosal asked First Selectman Griswold for an update on purchasing Cyber insurance. First Selectman Griswold said Dave Kelsey and Michael Reiter are looking into it. Mr. Kelsey is looking into a particular company and he is waiting to hear back on where it stands.

 

Selectwoman Nosal asked First Selectman Griswold about the HR salary and wage survey. Has a meeting occurred with the new firm yet?  First Selectman Griswold said the firm has started work and the project should be completed before the end of the year.  Selectwoman Nosal thinks the HR position should be filled first and then the salary and wage survey should be conducted.

 

Selectwoman Nosal asked First Selectman Griswold about the hiring of part-time police officers. First Selectman Griswold is aware some interviews have been conducted but is not aware of any offers.  He believes the Town needs an additional part-time officer or two.

 

Selectwoman Nosal asked for an update on the Public Works negotiations. She asked that First Selectman Griswold fill her in. First Selectman Griswold will update her, but this information is not for public consumption at this point.

 

 

 

8. Adjournment

 

Motioned by Selectman Kerr and seconded by Selectman Nosal to adjourn the meeting at 5:40 p.m.  The motion caried.

 

 

 

Suzaanne McAuliffe

Open Space Clerk