Old Lyme can­di­dates dis­cuss po­lice, prop­erty taxes, more in first de­bate

The Day - - REGION - By KIM­BERLY DRELICH Day Staff Writer

Old Lyme — Can­di­dates for first se­lect­woman and the Board of Se­lect­men de­bated Thurs­day evening a range of top­ics, from the level of polic­ing in the town’s beach neigh­bor­hoods to con­trol­ling prop­erty taxes.

In­cum­bent First Se­lect­woman Bon­nie Reem­sny­der, a Demo­crat, and Ju­dith Read, a Re­pub­li­can, are vy­ing for the town’s top of­fice in the Nov. 7 elec­tion, while Mary Jo Nosal, an in­cum­bent Demo­crat on the board, and Re­pub­li­can Chris Kerr are run­ning for the Board of Se­lect­men.

Paul Choiniere, editorial page edi­tor for The Day, asked the can­di­dates ques­tions and Ol­wen Lo­gan, the edi­tor/pub­lisher of Lyme Line. com and Lyme-Old Lyme Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent, mod­er­ated the “Meet the Can­di­dates” night at Town Hall. An over­flow crowd lis­tened to the hour-long de­bate.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion re­gard- ing the level of polic­ing in beach

neigh­bor­hoods, the two teams of can­di­dates dis­agreed over ex­plor­ing a po­ten­tial col­lab­o­ra­tion with East Lyme, which re­cently es­tab­lished its own po­lice force.

Reem­sny­der, who has served as first se­lect­woman for the past six years and has been on the Board of Se­lect­men since 2003, said the town was work­ing to ad­dress po­lice is­sues. She said height­ened ac­tiv­ity dur­ing the sum­mer, two va­cant po­lice po­si­tions, now filled, and an of­fi­cer on dis­abil­ity are be­ing ad­dressed by us­ing over­time troop­ers on the week­ends and ex­plor­ing a po­ten­tial col­lab­o­ra­tion with East Lyme.

“I think that if we are afraid to look into new ideas as com­mu­ni­ties then we’re not be­ing re­spon­si­ble as lead­ers,” she said.

But Read, who has served on the Board of Fi­nance and Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, said: “The only guar­an­tee that re­gion­al­iza­tion brings is a loss of con­trol of one of the most im­por­tant func­tions of the govern­ment of our town and that is to pro­vide a safe com­mu­nity for our res­i­dents. We will en­sure ad­e­quate staffing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with our po­lice to en­sure a safe com­mu­nity.”

Nosal, who is seek­ing her fourth term as se­lect­woman, said that Reem­sny­der and the Board of Fi­nance chair­man have be­gun dis­cus­sions to see if there are syn­er­gies with East Lyme. She said a com­mit­tee will be formed to ex­plore shar­ing a po­lice depart­ment, but noth­ing has been de­cided yet and if the town moved for­ward, the is­sue would go to a town meet­ing.

Kerr, who has served for more than 15 years on the Board of Fi­nance and Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, agreed with Read that there is no rea­son to con­sol­i­date with East Lyme. He said Old Lyme should hire more part-time po­si­tions, ad­e­quately staff the full-time po­si­tions to avoid sit­u­a­tions like the prior gap of be­ing down two po­si­tions, and “keep ev­ery­thing lo­cal.”

Reem­sny­der said that given the cur­rent state bud­get cri­sis, the town has to “be brave enough” to have con­ver­sa­tions to de­ter­mine if some col­lab­o­ra­tion makes sense to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vice and save money.

Read said the state is broke and the town shouldn’t fol­low the state’s model, but in­stead needs to be in­de­pen­dent and work pro­duc­tively with the po­lice depart­ment.

The can­di­date teams fur­ther dis­agreed on a ques­tion about the town’s de­ci­sion to join the Ledge Light Health District. Nosal said that “re­gion­al­iza­tion is a tool in a re­spon­si­ble govern­ment’s tool belt,” while Kerr said that re­gion­al­iza­tion means “los­ing con­trol.”

Dur­ing the de­bate, the can­di­dates also ad­dressed what the town should do to sta­bi­lize prop­erty taxes.

Nosal said the town has worked with the school district to try to cre­ate low bud­gets and is pur­su­ing a project to im­prove Halls Road to main­tain and drive busi­ness to town.

Kerr said that the Board of Fi­nance has kept the tax rate low, but with the state cut­ting funds and Old Lyme be­ing pri­mar­ily a res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity, the town has to en­cour­age busi­ness.

Reem­sny­der touted the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to find sav­ings, in­clud­ing mov­ing to a self-funded health plan, go­ing out to bid for elec­tric rates, and in­stalling LED street­lights.

Read said the town could save more in ar­eas, in­clud­ing that the town has agreed to pay $150,000 for bath­rooms at Hains Park, which were re­moved from the project to re­build the Fred Emer­son Boathouse by Rogers Lake.

The can­di­dates dis­agreed on progress to­ward a project to in­stall sew­ers in Sound View, but they agreed in their sup­port of the town work­ing with the beach com­mu­ni­ties on the sewer project.

A video of the full de­bate will be posted on www.the­day. com.


Can­di­dates for Old Lyme First Se­lect­man and Se­lect­men, from left, Bon­nie Reem­sny­der, Mary Jo Nosal, Jude Read and Chris Kerr an­swer ques­tions dur­ing a de­bate on Thurs­day at Old Lyme Town Meet­ing Hall.

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