Local News Briefs – July 31


Eastern Greenwich Civic Center Building

On Wednesday July 22, the Board of Selectmen met with Alan Monelli, the Superintendent of Building Construction and Maintenance for DPW, about a new project to replace the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center building. This project is years coming, with the town considering rehabilitation for the building years ago but determining it would be more beneficial to replace the building. In 2018, the First Selectman created a committee to study what the new building would need in terms of amenities. It is expected that the selectman will vote at their next meeting as this was just a first presentation. 

Greenwich High School New Administrator 

Greenwich High School is getting a new Folsom House administrator and math coordinator. Andrew Byrne was appointed by GHS’s headmaster Ralph Mayo and his appointment will go into effect on August 17. Before coming to GHS, Byrne was the Director of Human Resources at the United Nations International School located in New York City. He is replacing Dana Tulotta who is now the Assistant Headmaster. 

New Harbor Master

Ian MacMillian has been replaced as harbor master, a position he has held since 2011, after his term ended on June 30, and he choose not to apply for reappointment. Sean Jordan has been named his successor after the Harbor Management Committee sent him as their preferred candidate on the slate to Governor Ned Lamont. 

New Department of Human Services Commissioner

Alan Barry, commissioner of the Department of Human Services, is retired after ten years and his successor will be Demetria Nelson, a licensed clinical social worker who has had experience in addiction and mental health services. Nelson will take on the role starting August 24. 

Land Preservation

The Board of Selectman has approved the purchase of 72 acres of land in backcountry Greenwich to preserve as an open area. The land, located on Lake Avenue, will be purchased by the town in partnership with the Greenwich Land Trust, for two million dollars from Aquarion Water Co. 

Police Accountability

The police accountability bill passed in the State House of Representatives early in the morning on July 24 after a seven and a half debate taking the entire night. The most controversial section of the bill, the immunity provision, which can make law enforcement more exposed to lawsuits, was the topic of debate with the republicans proposing an amendment that would eliminate that clause, but it wasn’t passed due to a tie vote. The bill went to the State Senate and after a ten-hour debate and a vote of 21-15, it was passed early in the morning on Wednesday, July 29. 

Greenwich Academy New Lower School

Greenwich Academy started construction on their new Lower School last summer, 2019, and it should be completed before the students return to school in this coming fall. The goal of the new construction is to make the lower school “open” and “colorful” and it will have 12 spaces just for the core curriculum, a new library dedicated to David W. Wallace, a new welcoming center, and breakout spaces. 

W.R. Berkley COVID Losses

Greenwich based insurer, W.R. Berkley, has reported that their bottom line for their second quarter is an estimated 67 percent less than the same period last year. This reflects a loss of $85 million related to COVID-19, an addition $20 million loss due to civil unrest, and an additional $40 million loss due to severe weather events. 

Recognizing Greenwich Hospital

Greenwich Hospital has been known and recognized for “clinical excellence, patient satisfaction, technological innovations, medical advancements, and community involvement” and 2020 is no different. For the sixth year in a row, Greenwich Hospital was awarded the Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award for being among the top 15 percent of hospitals across the country for patient experience. For the seventh year in a row, Greenwich Hospital was selected as one of America’s Best Hospitals for Obstetrics. It was also named, for the fourth time, one of America’s Best Hospitals for Bariatric Surgery. Again, for the seventh year in a row, the Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital’s Greenwich Hospital Campus was named one of America’s Best Breast Centers and one of America’s Best Hospitals for Cancer Care. To round out Greenwich Hospital’s awards for 2020 so far, it was named one of America’s Best Stroke Centers for the third year.

GPD Charges Suspect in Connection with Car Robberies

On Sunday July 26, Greenwich Police apprehended a suspected car thief after getting a report of suspicious people wearing hoodies and masks in Belle Haven. One of the suspects was arrested and charged with trespassing, burglary, and larceny. Police Chief Heavey commented on the situation and said that not one of the cars that was broken into was locked and urged the public to lock their cars and take the keys with them. So far in 2020, there have 64 cars stolen in Greenwich.

GHS Mourns Hockey Coach Chris Rurak

Greenwich High School is mourning the loss of their beloved Head Hockey Coach Chris Rurak after he passed away last week at the age of 47. A scholarship fund has been established by the Rurak family and the Greenwich Athletic Foundation in his honor. The fund will benefit his two sons, Christopher and Matthew, members of the GHS class of 2023, as well as benefit a student-athlete annually. Chris Rurak will be missed by everyone who knew him or saw his impact.

Brunswick Graduation

Brunswick had their graduation on Saturday July 29. Earlier this year they had a drive-through parade to celebrate the end of the school year but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they weren’t able to have an in-person ceremony until now. Only the faculty and students were there, and they live streamed the ceremony so that parents and others in the community could watch. Several students were unable to attend the ceremony for many reasons. Two of which are Charles Heath and Kyle Yelensky who are currently enrolled at The U.S. Naval Academy and are going through their plebe summer where they have little contact with the outside world. The academy is a prestigious four-year service academy that prepares midshipmen to be officers in the naval service.

Outdoor Dining Staying Until Dec.

At the Board of Selectman meeting on July 23, First Selectman Fred Camillo motioned to add an item to the agenda, an extension on outdoor dining until December 21. It was seconded by Jill Oberlander. It was discussed and Camillo brought up that they have gotten positive feedback from the restaurants and that he wanted to discuss this now and not in the normal two week period it takes to add an item to the agenda to give reassurance to the restaurants and to make sure that the restaurants would have adequate time to prepare for the fall. The selectman voted unanimously to approve the continued closure of the bottom of Greenwich Avenue through December 21.

Bruce Museum Zoom Webinar

If you are interested in science and outer space save the date for August 6. Bruce Museum will be hosting a Zoom webinar from 7:00pm to 8:30pm called “Energy Storage Technologies for Earth and Other Planets.” The panelists will include physics professor Steve Greenbaum, founder and CEO of Ionic Materials Mike Zimmerman, and electrochemical technology laboratory supervisor Will West. They will discuss the question of: if we go to Mars, how will we power the spaceship for the seven-month journey there and then back? The cost is $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers and you can reserve a place at brucemuseum.org or by calling 203-869-0376.

CT’s Response to Other States COVID Numbers

Connecticut has increased the number of states that would need to quarantine if coming into the state. It is now up to 34 states plus Puerto Rice and D.C., the states can be found at https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Travel. Governor Ned Lamont has also announced that out of state visitors who haven’t quarantined for 14 days or refuse a health questionnaire can be fined $1,000. 

State Senate Passes Mail In Vote Legislation

On Tuesday July 28, the state senate easily passed legislation that would allow people to mail in their votes for the November 3 presidential election. The vote was 35-1 with the lone vote against being from Senator Dennis Bradley, D-Bridgeport, who remembers the issues that he had in his hometown when it came to absentee ballots.

Help a Neighbor Campaign 

The Help a Neighbor campaign, a partnership between a Greenwich newspaper and a Stamford newspaper along with four human services agencies has raised almost $60,000 to help individuals and families struggling to pay for basic necessities due to the pandemic. The recipients of the money raised include members of Family Centers, Domus, Person to Person, and Building One Community.

Greenwich Academy Graduation

On Thursday July 23, Greenwich Academy had their graduation on their spacious lawn. The temperatures that day were in the 90s and the students had what was described as a “Mary Poppins” moment when each of the graduates were given a white umbrella to help with the heat and the sun. Only the faculty and graduates were able to attend, and the graduates were sat spaced out on the lawn due to COVID-19 restrictions. To commemorate the unique year that the Class of 2020 had, they were presented with a plaque that will be mounted in the senior lounge to remember them by.

30th Anniversary of American with Disabilities Act

First Selectman Fred Camillo proclaimed July 26 as Americans with Disabilities Day in Greenwich to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Alan Gunzburg, the Committee Chair of the Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities, says that he doesn’t know what his life would have been without this Act and that there has been so much progress but there is still so much more to be done.

COVID Transmission in Connecticut

A concerning milestone when it comes to COVID-19 has been reached in Connecticut. The transmission rate has reach slightly above one. The transmission rate is a way to estimate how many people will be infected by one person with the illness. If the transmission rate is below one, then the cases would have declined, since it was above one the cases are going to increase. A few different independent agencies tracking the spread of COVID-19 in Connecticut have all reported the transmission rate as being above one.

Free School Meals from Greenwich Public Schools

Greenwich Public Schools is still giving out free school breakfasts and lunches during the summer. The meals are delivered on weekdays by school bus, there are three routes and a few stops on each route. The plan is for the deliveries to continue for the rest of the summer and even into the fall for students who stay home. 

Playgrounds and Parks are Opening

The playgrounds are opening in Greenwich and town officials are warning residents to sanitize the equipment before their children play with it. The use of the equipment is at your own risk and residents are encouraged to use their best judgement when going to the playgrounds. 

Cole’s Yankee Debut 

On July 23, Greenwich resident Gerrit Cole made his debut for the New York Yankees as their new pitcher at the season opener game against the Washington Nationals. The New York Yankees held a 4-1 lead until the game was called after a two-hour rain delay. Cole had a great game until the cancelation, striking out 14 of the 16 batters.

GEMS Action to Employee Who “Ranted” on Facebook

GEMS Executive Director Tracy Schietinger said that the employee who was widely criticized for a racist Facebook “rant” (now deleted) is no longer employed by GEMS.  She did not comment the specifics due to federal regulations on personnel matters. She did say that GEMS clearly doesn’t condone the content in the Facebook rant.

Virtual Panel Discussion on Energy Storage Solutions

One day in the not too distant future, humans will reach for Mars — a seven-month journey each way. What will power people there and back is a revolutionary, near-indestructible battery possessing more energy than any other battery currently in existence on planet Earth.

Meet one of the scientists guiding its invention, the innovator and CEO driving its production, and a senior member of the NASA leadership team who will determine how this extraordinary battery will catapult mankind toward the stars and improve life on Earth on Thursday, August 6, 7 – 8:30 p.m., when the Bruce Museum hosts a Zoom webinar: “Energy Storage Technologies for Earth—and Other Planets.”

The panelists: Dr. Steve Greenbaum is CUNY Distinguished Professor of Physics at Hunter College, whose lab investigates new materials for improved electrochemical energy storage. He is working on a revolutionary new type of battery that Dr. Mike Zimmerman, Founder and CEO of MA-based Ionic Materials, will produce for the EV and Grid Storage markets. Joining the conversation will be Dr. Will West, Group Supervisor of the Electrochemical Technologies Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). In addition to his R&D activities in energy storage/conversion, he is the Cognizant Engineer for the rover and descent stage batteries on the JPL’s Mars 2020 mission.

The Aug. 6 ‘Bruce Presents’ webinar will begin with a brief introduction by Dr. Greenbaum, followed by short presentations each from Dr. Zimmerman and Dr. West. These experts will then open the conversation to participants, with a Q&A session moderated by Dr. Greenbaum, Bruce Museum Curator of Science Dr. Daniel Ksepka, and Leonard Jacobs, producer of the Bruce Presents series.

Participation in the virtual event on Zoom, for the benefit of the Bruce Museum, is $10 for Museum members and $15 non-members. To reserve a place, visit brucemuseum.org or call 203-869-0376. A link to join the online conversation will be sent to registered attendees one hour prior to the program.

GTC Continues ‘Greening’ Town Parking Lots

Surface parking lots are an essential feature of our town’s transportation system. Unfortunately, for the most part they are unsightly, can contribute to flooding and polluted stormwater runoff, and increase the “heat island” effect. The greening of our parking lots using “right tree, right place” strategy – in essence to create parking parks – can improve appearance, increase drainage, reduce water and air pollution and provide important ecological habitats such as Pollinator Pathway networks. With tree and other plantings, our surface lots can provide multiple benefits to our community in addition to parking.

The genesis of this project began in September 2018 with the plantings of shrubs and trees in the Horseneck Parking Lot and was a welcome sight to the commuters and other travelers who view this parking lot. Partners are being sought to assist with the plantings.

The Tree Conservancy is continuing this initiative with the landscaping of the Cos Cob Marina parking lot and is moving on to Glenville with the Parking Lot on Pemberwick Road. The Conservancy’s goal is to landscape all major parking lots in Greenwich. The beautification of these lots is another example of the fulfillment of the Conservancy’s mission to enhance the urban forest of Greenwich.

Fred Camillo Robocall

On Thursday July 23, there was a robocall from Fred Camillo, Greenwich’s First Selectman, to remind Greenwich residents of the four W’s (wash your hands, watch your distance, wipe down surfaces, and wear a mask). This phone call and a following email came after his office received many complaints about young people not following guidelines and attending large gatherings without masks or proper social distancing. 

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