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Old Saybrook: A Look at 2012

By Becky Coffey

Publication: Shore Publishing

Published December 31. 2012 2:51PM   Updated January 02. 2013 1:37PM

January

The regional probate court District 33 in Old Saybrook under Probate Judge Terrance D. Lomme celebrated its one-year anniversary.

First Selectman Carl Fortuna told town departments that he wanted a town budget increase of zero percent next year. Budget drafts from departments were due Jan. 15.

The managers of the non-profit Saye Brook Village East housing for the low income elderly will use cash captured from a now-approved mortgage refinancing and $499,999 from a tax credit sale to make energy efficiency upgrades this year.

The Ethics Commission ruled that Harbor Management Commission Recording Clerk Ruth Hockert violated town ethics rules when she put her name on a mooring holders list.

Conservation Commission Chairman Bob Fish and Commission member Bruce Sherwin told town selectmen about Sustainable Saybrook, the commission's new initiative.

February

Old Saybrook's new Grand List of Taxable Property showed a slight decline of $78,472 in overall value between Oct. 1, 2010 and Oct. 1, 2011.

Former selectman Carol Manning's two complaints to the State Freedom of Information Commission were upheld; a caucus of two selectmen of the same party with town staff present was declared an illegal meeting because it was not noticed 24 hours in advance.

First Selectman Carl Fortuna announced to the selectmen that the current budget for employee health insurance had been under-funded by about $200,000.

North Cove Outfitters announced this month that after 24 years in business, it was closing its doors.

After weeks of budget workshops, the Board of Selectmen adopted a $15,452,382 town general government budget for the 2012-13.

March

The Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce (CofC) held Restaurant Week and the annual Chili-Fest contest.

CofC Executive Director Judy Sullivan submitted her resignation on March 2. Shortly thereafter, 8 of 13 CofC Board members resigned. By the end of March, changes in board leadership led Sullivan to re-consider her resignation.

Also in March were the Acton Public Library's 18th annual Poetry competition and the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center's annual Academy Awards event.

The Board of Education presented its proposed budget $986,993 budget increase to the Board of Finance. The increase was a 4.53 percent rise over the current year.

The Old Saybrook High School Ram Boosters club raised $19,000 to donate to the school a new electronic sign; sign installation by the town's public works crew began this month.

Budget questions were raised and answered, but few spoke in opposition to the proposed budget at the first Board of Finance hearing.

The Police Department's emergency medical dispatch protocol won accreditation.

Town political party committees elected officers to lead them for the next two years and chose delegates for upcoming state political conventions.

CRAHD Health Director Mary Jane Engle announced her retirement as of June 1.

April

Two buildings opened their doors this month after year-long construction projects: the expanded and renovated Old Saybrook Ambulance Association building on Main Street and the new 34,000 square foot West Marine store on Spencer Plains Road.

A cast of high school students presented the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The Water Pollution Control Authority bid and awarded two contracts for 23 septic system upgrades in the SA-2 and 24 upgrades in SA-3 areas of Old Saybrook.

The Town of Old Saybrook unveiled a new, online interactive tool to help homeowners learn if new maps show their home in the newly defined FEMA flood zones.

Old Saybrook High School Media Specialist Christine Bairos and Wendy Connal of the Acton Library together gave away 20 free books to students at World Book Night.

In a unanimous vote, the Board of Selectmen appointed Democrat Adam Stuart, a retired town policeman, to fill the vacancy on the town's Police Commission.

After the second budget hearing, the town's Board of Finance shifted budget dollars between accounts to restore funds for a second new police car, but left the total budget as recommended at $38.1 million.

May

The Law Enforcement Fund committee agreed to use about half of $46,393 in former MacFund dollars to build concrete dugouts at MacMurray Little League Field and for purchases of police uniforms. Work was to begin in the fall.

The general town government budget of $15,444,000 and a Board of Education budget of $22,667,000 were adopted in referendum this month by a margin of about four to one.

Political party conventions endorsed candidates for fall elections. Republican Marilyn Giuliano again won the party's nod to return to the General Assembly as representative of the 23rd District. Chosen to compete for the slot will be Democrat Adam Stillman of Old Saybrook. State Representative Jim Crawford was endorsed by the Democrats for the open seat of retiring state senator Eileen Daily. The Republicans chose Art Linares as their candidate.

The Old Saybrook Garden Club held its annual Plant Sale.

An Old Saybrook Middle School 5th grade poster won first place in an Internet safety poster contest of the Connecticut Attorney General and town seniors and juniors attended their prom.

At a meeting of the Water Pollution Control Authority, town WPCA employees raised their concerns about trespassing and loss of tools at WPCA work sites, and of citizen behavior they found threatening.

Old Saybrook High School was one of only 12 Connecticut High Schools to be named a Gold Award winner by U.S. News and World Report.

The Zoning Commissions of Westbrook and Old Saybrook approved the Bessoni 15-unit residential development with five affordable units.

Two former Regional Planning Associations-Mid-State based in Middletown and CRERPA based in Old Saybrook-officially merged to become the new 17-town Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments.

June

Old Saybrook High School celebrated commencement exercises.

The town's selectmen agreed to change the purchase agreement with developer Max's Place for Center Road West to allow a smaller grocery store of just 25,000 square feet instead of 50,000.

Police Sgt. Michael Gardner, in a staff-sharing arrangement approved by the Police Commission and the Board of Selectmen, will spend 16 hours each week managing the town's Information Technology (IT) function.

The new 17-town LCRV Council of Governments will lease a 5,200 square foot antique house at 145 Dennison Road in Centerbrook as its new consolidated base of operations.

Superintendent of Schools Joseph Onofrio announced he would retire at the end of the summer.

A new stormwater management ordinance was adopted by town meeting.

Lisa Carver of New Britain was hired as the town's first finance director. Executive Assistant to the Selectmen Roland Laine retired June 30 after many years in the post.

July

Goodwin Gardens, planted and tended by Goodwin Elementary School students in the spring, and tended by Goodwin teacher Monica Goldstein and volunteers, yielded 30 pounds of produce per week for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen.

Two events this month were the Chamber of Commerce's annual Arts and Crafts Festival on the Town Green and the Estuary Council of Seniors' annual Wine on the Water fundraiser.

Parks & Recreation Director Vicki Duffy discussed strategies with the Parks & Recreation Commission to reduce smoking and filter litter at town beaches.

Ten years after the last panel, the selectmen appointed nine electors to a new Charter Review Commission to review the document and make recommendations for changes.

The Old Saybrook Board of Education appointed Director of Curriculum Heston Sutman as interim superintendent of schools.

The selectmen voted to support the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities ProAct prescription drug discount card programs; residents will get cards in the mail.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, town officials and those responsible for the HOPE Partnership's Ferry Crossing affordable housing project participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating its opening to tenants.

The Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce marked logging its 500th member by forming the numeral 500 with standing CofC members and recording the moment with a photograph taken from above from the town firetruck's ladder.

August

The non-profit Old Saybrook Senior Housing, Inc., demolished the house at the 57 Sheffield Street property it owns; the land in the future is slated for more senior housing, but in the interim will be used for overflow parking for Saye Brook Village East.

First Selectman Carl Fortuna announced the town would post new signs the end of the causeway to remind fishermen to properly dispose of their waste like fish guts in the new trash can posted there as well.

September

The non-profit Light Up Old Saybrook group whose fundraising upgraded the Main Street median with granite curbing, new planters, and new Boston Gaslights shuts down.

Old Saybrook Youth and Family Services held its annual Family Day.

Police Chief Michael Spera asked for $34,000 to replace a failing patrol car immediately rather than making expensive repairs on it. The Board of Finance and Selectmen agreed.

The Board of Selectmen voted to form the third Police Facilities Building Committee; the nine member group, chaired by Dan Moran, will assess police department needs and develop a plan with cost estimates for a downtown police station.

The town's Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) reported it has awarded five contracts that, when the work is completed, will result in more than 120 septic system upgrades or replacements.

HOPE Partnership's Ferry Crossing affordable housing development at 45 Ferry Road opened its doors to its first tenants. A community open house celebrated the achievement.

The non-profit Old Saybrook Senior Housing, Inc., said that the energy-efficiency improvements to the Saye Brook Village East elderly housing units were almost done.

October

Town and state police again held the semi-annual Drug Take-Back Day where police accept unused prescription and non-prescription drugs for safe disposal.

Gathered together to mark the milestone of 60 years of civic beautification were current and past presidents of the Old Saybrook Garden Club. The club received a plaque from First Selectman Fortuna to recognize its contribution.

With a donation of $10,000 from the town's Law Enforcement Fund (formerly the MacFund), donations from the local Little League, and donations of materials and services from local businesses, the MacMurray Little League field this fall got a new scoreboard and new weather-proof concrete-block dugouts.

The Board of Selectmen hired Brian Humes of Jacunski Humes for $5,000 to conduct a new police department space needs study. The study will be completed in January and delivered to the police station building committee to support its work.

The project to repair the town's Ferry Road dock went out to bid this month.

Superstorm Sandy's arrival wreaked devastation in shoreline towns and left many residents without power for week or more- and it also closed schools for three days.

Electors at the town meeting adopted the new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood zone maps to assure residents remain eligible for federal flood insurance.

The town received a check for $20,000 as a promised incentive grant for adopting an affordable housing Incentive Housing Zone (IHZ).

Funds raised in this month's annual Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer walk will support three breast cancer researchers' work for six more years.

First Selectman Carl Fortuna announced a signed agreement with SBC Communications to buy 3.8 acres of land at 36 Lynde Street for $1.2 million for municipal purposes.

November

The fall elections saw 1,500 town voters moved to a new district and one new face elected to represent them. Elected to serve was Republican Art Linares as state senator for the 33rd District to fill the seat of retiring senator Eileen Daily. Republican Marilyn Giuliano was re-elected as state representative for the 23rd House District and Andrea Stillman as state senator for the 20th District..

Employees of the Old Saybrook Walmart store won the Walmart Fighting Hunger Together Golden Spark award to give $50,000 to buy food for weekends and holidays for 70 area children in need for three years.

A representative of the state's CPACE program, which offers tax-lien financing to businesses to finance energy-efficiency improvements, talked about the program with the Board of Selectmen.

The annual town meeting to reconcile budget accounts at close-out of the prior fiscal year and to receive annual reports from town boards and commissions was held.

The Board of Education selected C.E.S. of Trumbull to assist with the search for a new superintendent of schools; the search began this month.

The First Church Legacy Fund gave $2,500 to the town to buy and install washers and dryers in rental units at HOPE Partnership's Ferry Crossing affordable housing complex.

December

The town's Ferry Road recreational athletic field irrigation system and sod were installed this month. The field won't be strong enough for games, though, until fall 2013.

The Harbor Management Commission voted to use $85,000 from town mooring fee revenue to do more Ferry Dock repairs than the STEAP grant funds-and the low bid from Old Colony Construction $208,000-would provide.

Two annual holiday events-the Main Street Business Association's Saybrook Stroll and the volunteer-coordinated Torchlight Parade-had another successful year.

The town social services coordinator organized a Social Services Help Day to speed and simplify sign-ups by residents in need for state, federal, and local assistance programs.

The Old Saybrook Police Department delivered two large trailers full of toys and games donated by citizens and bicycles from the patrolmen's union to the Firehouse for the Town's Holiday Giving Program.

Ron Lyman of the developer Max's Place asked Inland Wetlands this month to modify project permits to recognize a new site plan that includes a 51,400 square foot Big Y grocery store. It also includes a 55,000 prospective tenant like a Kohl's department store for the 19 acre site bordered by Route One and Spencer Plains Road.

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