Killingworth and Madison: A Year in Review 2022
The Board of Selectmen (BOS) approved the next step for the ultimate sale of the property known as the Island Avenue School by recommending it be included as part of a larger referendum in February.
Madison’s much beloved Art Cinema movie theater was finally sold to buyers from Mystic heading to an eventual reopening in the spring. The new owner, Harold Blank, also operates several movie houses including the Mystic Luxury Cinemas in Mystic and South County Cinemas in Kingston, Rhode Island.
Voters geared up for the pending referendums on the sale of the Island Avenue School, as well as the school renovation and construction projects.
The BOS approved the formation of the Ad Hoc Marijuana Advisory Committee. BOS member, Bruce Wilson will Chair the new committee, which was formed to consider how the town can best manage legal retail sales of cannabis.
The fourth annual Diaper Drive event co-sponsored by State and local law enforcement took place in Madison. Bare Necessities, a non-profit that provides diaper donation services across the shoreline is spearheading this event and encouraged residents to get informed about the critical need young families have for diapers.
A plan for transitioning the town’s vehicle fleet from petroleum to electric was discussed by the BOS.
After years of debate, design, and discussion residents of Madison passed all three measures of the referendum, two by close margins. The three measures; the School Renewal Plan, the Academy Building renovation, and the sale of the Island Avenue school to Our Lady of Mercy Prep. were all approved by voters.
The Madison Police Department attributed this year’s decrease in vehicle crimes to a joint effort with community volunteers that addressed the concerns of residents to these disturbing incidents. The “Lock It or Lose It” campaign appears to have paid off, according to Department figures, as the number of vehicle thefts and break ins both dropped substantially in 2021.
In a surprise move that shocked many Town and State officials, the Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America announced that they had accepted an undisclosed offer for their Deer Lake property, effectively paving the way for development of the entire 250-plus acre parcel.
A mystery at Meigs Point concerning chunks of rubber that have been washing up its beaches began to deepen. Small chunks and pieces of rubber have vexingly washed up on a small section of Hammonasset Point and residents are looking to the community for answers. Local activist, Fran Brady, is still seeking help from anyone who may have information or the ability to dive on suspected sources of the rubber.
Patrick John Dolan, came into the world in rather dramatic fashion on March 10 when his mom, Jenna Dolan, delivered him healthy and happy in the breakdown lane of I-95 near Exit 57 in Guilford. His father, Jack Dolan, was rushing his wife to the emergency room in New Haven for the special delivery, when his son thought otherwise.
Questions began to be raised when information came to light that the developer who purchased the 255-acre Deer Lake property was also a member of the Yankee Council’s Board. Many residents are still seeking answers as to why an organization with a clearly stated mission policy of environmental protection and awareness, would sell such a unique parcel of land, and whether a sale to a Board member is ethical or even permitted.
The sale of Deer Lake to a private developer was postponed mere hours before a deadline imposed by the owners, the CT Yankee Council of the Scouting BSA, when State Attorneys General, William Tong, stepped into the matter hinting at a possible investigation of the deal by his office.
The BOS announced that the Academy Community Center Project received $4 million in bonding from the State and the American Legion Hall renovation project has also received $150,000 to renovate its meeting hall.
The issue of Short Term Rentals (STR) in Madison came to the forefront of the citizen’s comments portion of April’s Board of Selectman meeting. It was the first in person BOS meeting since the onset of the pandemic, and the entire crowd was composed of residents opposed to STRs and the issues these rental properties bring to some neighborhoods.
One of the robotics teams from Polson Middle School, Squad 1695-E, qualified for the Vex World Championships in Team Robotics in Texas.
A Madison resident sued the CT Yankee Council for allegedly mishandling their non-profit status and violating State regulations regarding development of dedicated preserved parcels. The filing claimed that the Council publicly established a certified bird sanctuary via “publication and the installation of signage proclaiming the use,” and arguing that official establishment mandates the sanctuary section of the parcel must be maintained.
In an unusual gathering of bipartisan support, the entire State General Assembly voted unanimously to pass HB 5430, An Act Concerning Opioids. The bill passed the Connecticut House of Representatives on April 19, and the State Senate with unanimous bipartisan support.
Residents passed both the Town’s Operating and Education budgets in the May 17 referendum with a meager voter turnout of just 11 percent. Of the more than 13,500 eligible voters in town, barely 1,500 came out to vote. The unofficial numbers from Town Hall show the Operations budget passed by an 898 t0 606 margin, while the BOE budget passed with a margin of 925 to 576.
The Country School of Madison conducted their third Witness Stones Project installation, which is a national movement that allows students and municipalities to explore the history of enslavement in their respective towns. Students at the Country School researched a man named Theophilus Niger, who was enslaved near Horse Pond and who, with his wife, Peneleope Tantipen, a Native American, raised a family and ultimately gained his freedom.
The Island Avenue School was sold to Our Lady of Mercy Preparatory Academy bringing in more than $2.3 million. The sale was approved via referendum held in February, in which voters overwhelmingly approved the sale of the long-time school.
The Daniel Hand High School Eco Club completed the final stages of their pollinator garden on the DHHS campus. The garden is an important focus for the Club, according to members, as it draws awareness to an increasing problem of the die-off of pollinating insects, and the loss of critical habitat.
Madison Conservation Commission Chair Heather Crawford, spoke to The Source about the importance of horseshoe crabs. This once ubiquitous critter needs protection as recent studies reveal significant regional declines. These “living fossils” are among the planet’s oldest organisms, having outlasted dinosaurs and survived through numerous extinctions.
The Rockland Preserve in North Madison had their second hit in row, after their new Pump Track opened to the public in June. The Preserve Committee erected a large playscape last year that was constructed just in time to help pandemic trapped families find an out place to romp, and the new bicycle track combined with the miles of mountain bike trails continues to be enjoyed by large numbers of users since it opened.
The Madison Land Conservation Trust was awarded a major grant of $585,000 by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection toward the purchase of Birch Branch Meadow Preserve, a 30-acre undeveloped parcel fronting nearly 4,000 feet along the Hammonasset River just south of Green Hill Road.
Rumors continued to swirl around the fate of Deer Lake. Lawsuits and negotiations continued throughout the summer, keeping Killingworth residents on edge as little information concerning the negotiations were made public.
An affordable housing project at Cottage Road was finally given the green light and construction is set to begin in early 2023 with completion in late 2023, according to town officials.
In partnership with, Appalachia Service Project, a long-serving non-profit dedicated to housing assistance for the residents of Appalachia, members of the First Congregational Church traveled to West Virginia to help residents with home construction projects. The team not only helped with siding, roofing, flooring, but with other rehab projects as well.
The Killingworth Historical Society broke ground on their new barn and museum at the Parmelee Farm as members said they hope to have construction completed by October. The building is an important addition to the property, as it will provide an enhanced ability to present the artifacts and history of Killingworth to the public.
Mad 4 Trees continued their green philanthropy with a free native tree giveaway at Bauer Park. President and co-founder of the organization, Fran Brady (with former Madison Tree Warden, Bob Kuchta), said the event is an important component of the organization’s ultimate goal of planting 200 trees in Madison by the time of the Town’s 200 anniversary in 2026.
Several Police Departments along the shoreline partnered together during the summer to undertake intensive traffic enforcement, not with the intent to fine motorists, but to also educate drivers as to their responsibilities. The South Central Regional Traffic Enforcement Initiative is a coalition of area departments, including North Haven, East Haven, Branford, North Branford, Guilford, and Madison.
The Town’s Charter Review Commission proposal was approved by the Board of Selectmen and a referendum vote set for November’s general election. There were numerous changes that voters had to absorb in the new Town Charter, but most significantly longer terms for all elected Selectman.
Relief came when word arrived that the effort to save the pristine 250-plus acre parcel known as Deer Lake came to fruition as a deal between the Boy Scout affiliate, which owned the property and the non-profit Pathfinders organization reached a deal. The final price was close to $5 million for what many area environmentalists described as one of the most critically important parcels of undeveloped land in southern Connecticut.
The Town’s Historic District Commission proposed a new Historic district for the Old Elm Street area. The current proposal would be a district along both sides of Route 1 from Janas Lane to Mungertown Road.
In an action that came as a surprise for many residents, the town fired three police officers, including two female officers who filed a discrimination lawsuits in 2021 against the town. All three officers have been accused of “harassing and unprofessional conduct,” according to a statement released by the Department.
The Madison Foundation celebrated 25 years of serving the community at an event in the back garden of the Allis-Bushnell House. The anniversary party, delayed a year due to COVID, marked a milestone for the organization that has faithfully funded projects in Madison for more than a quarter century.
A pandemic delayed, but much-anticipated grand opening and homecoming ceremony for both the new Scranton Library and the Schumann Children’s library was held. The openings highlighted some of the incredible programs and resources that the Scranton makes available for residents and the generosity of the Schumann family.
Governor Ned Lamont came to town to help announce that Madison will receive nearly $1 million in two competitive state grants to help pay for streetscape and pedestrian improvements in the downtown area. Lamont and other state and town officials took a walking tour of downtown to observe the impact firsthand that the grants will have on Madison center and also the outlying connections to the train station and the Senior Center.
Killingworth residents voted overwhelmingly to approve a five-member Fair Housing Commission that will address citizen complaints related to “unconscionable” rent increases and other rental housing issues. The action arose largely from residents at the Beechwood Mobile Home Park on Rte. 81 who have incurred rent increases from a new owner, alarming members of that 55-plus community, many of whom are on fixed incomes.
The First Selectmen of both Madison and Guilford announced the establishment of a joint Guilford-Madison Economic Development Director. Sheri Cote will assist and advise both of the respective towns’ Economic Development Commissions on matters relating to the promotion and development of economic resources to improve tax bases and employment, and to stimulate business activity.
Local residents raised the call for help in preserving Chatfield Hollow’s beloved “Kissing Bridge.” The covered bridge is in desperate need of repair and is currently undergoing an engineering review to study the best plan to repair and restore this charming aspect of the park.
Killingworth officials are still awaiting a State report on the extent of the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination that was detected in several dozen area well tests in 2020. Officials are hoping that some clarification will be rendered by the report regarding the extent of the contamination, but further testing will likely be conducted in 2023.
The Madison Jaycees once again welcomed all runners and walkers to the 44th annual Madison Jaycees Turkey Trot held on Thanksgiving morning. This Holiday tradition includes a 5-mile run and a 2-mile family walk that both start and finish on Madison’s town green and allows participants to run a course that features scenic views of Long Island Sound and Madison’s beautiful waterfront neighborhoods.
The Scranton Memorial Library announced that it has been awarded a $300,000 three-year grant from the Schumann Foundation to expand learning opportunities in their Children’s Department. The grant funds will be used to host a museum exhibit every winter and offer free half-day summer camps for school age kids each summer, a significant expansion of the library’s services for children.
The Town’s Academy Community Center Advisory Committee announces a new survey that is seeking input from residents and others as to how best to utilize the building. The survey is a united effort to gather and disseminate exactly what the community wants for their new Center. The survey remains available for participation until Jan. 13, 2023.
Despite the biting cold, a pack of volunteers braved the chill and undertook a work day at Deer Lake to prepare the site for its usual contingent of campers and also the expected influx of new users as the site is now a recreational area open to the public in some form.
Long-serving and much respected former State Representative and current Selectwoman Noreen Kokoruda passed away just before Christmas after a valiant health struggle. Kokoruda’s accomplishments and dedication to the Madison community span more than four decades.