The Town Council voted 5-1 to join the lawsuit filed by the town of Lyme against the state of Connecticut over the proposal to close the Chester-Hadlyme and Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferries.
Mayor Anthony LaRosa and Deputy Mayor Philip Sylvestro led the majority who voted to authorize the town’s attorney, Morris Barea, to intervene in the case, which will hear opening arguments on Thursday.
Republican Councilwoman Nadine Bell dissented, although she made it clear that she fully supported the endeavor to save the ferry. Her rationale was that legal action was not yet germane due to the availability of other possible remedies and therefore she could not justify the cost.
Councilman Timothy Moriarty initially articulated an even more hard-line position than Bell as he said the ferry has become inefficient to operate. He added that the entire attempt to save it represents a "waste of taxpayer dollars."
However, he eventually joined the majority after Barea estimated the opening price tag to join the suit at only $3,000. But, Moriarty stressed that this preliminary allocation would be the only one he would support.
Barea was able to sway Moriarty by making the case that unless the town acted within a fourty-five day statutory response period, it may forfeit its right to take action. Even though Lyme’s complaint mentions the Rocky Hill ferry, Lyme may lack standing to file on town’s behalf. Bell remained unconvinced because she said that the timetable for the response period was unclear.
The Council took public comments and debated for over an hour before eventually adopting the motion to join the litigation.
Local activist Charles Wisnowski advocated passionately to preserve the ferry and emphasized its status as America’s oldest, continuously-operating ferry. He addd that the ferry is an integral part of the town’s heritage. His positions found plenty of support among council members.
Meanwhile, Rocky Hill resident Timothy Mitchell provided a public expression of support for councilwoman Bell’s stance.
After the motion passed, the council unanimously adopted several other motions to send letters to the Attorney General, Connecticut’s senators, Representative John Larson and Gov. Dannel Malloy asking them to act to save the ferry.
The council then retreated into executive session to discuss litigation involving the Foundry, which was closed to the public. No action was taken on the Foundry.