March 29, 2017

Rte. 156 Bikeway/Sound View Improvements Proposal: The Case For and The Case Against

At tonight’s Special Town Meeting, residents will vote on whether to approve $877,000 for the construction cost of State Project #104-172: Rte. 156 Bikeway/Sound View Improvements Project. The board of selectmen anticipates the actual project cost may be as low as $812,000.

A federal grant being administered by the State Department of Transportation will cover 80 percent of the project construction costs, approximately $649,600 to $701,600. Although the Town will be responsible for only 20 percent of the final cost (between $162,400 and $175,400, approximately), the board of selectmen is required to approve the total project cost at Town Meeting. (Visit this link for more information from the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen on the proposal.)

We have received statements from, respectively, a supporter of the proposal, Sound View Commission Chairman Frank Pappalardo, and an opponent, Frank Maratta, owner of ‘The Pavilion’ restaurant and bar at Sound View.

In the interests of disseminating information to the public to facilitate an informed vote, we are publishing both unedited.

THE CASE FOR

By Frank Pappalardo

The project has been in the planning stages since 2011 and addresses much needed improvements including:

  • Deteriorating sidewalks
  • Inadequate sidewalks for public safety
  • Lack of handicapped accessibility
  • Inadequate Storm Water Drainage
  • Lack of bicycle facilities
  • Pedestrian amenities
  • Parking

The Town applied for and received a Federal Intermodal Transportation Grant and will receive 80% funding.

2014 Town meeting voted to approve Phase 1 Plan and Design Funding

Planning included:

  • 56 public committee meetings; 3 site walks; 6 Public information meetings
  • 1 Town Meeting
  • Numerous plan reviews with revisions included
  • Numerous Presentations to Board/Commissions including  Sound View Commission; Planning; Zoning; Inland Wetlands; Tree Commission
  • Approval from town officials:  ZEO, Fire Marshal, Fire Chief, Public Safety, Board of Selectmen, etc.
  • Received support from business property owners, developers and the community

Parking analysis

  • Current public parking: 353 Total open to the public
  • Project completion: 331 Total open to the public
  • Net change:  22 parking spaces

Cost analysis:

Construction estimate, Inspections, Municipal Services, testing, contingency:  not to exceed    $877,000

Reimbursement from the grant           (80%)                                                                                      ($701,600)

TOTAL COST TO TOWN:                                                                             not to exceed              $175,400

What happens if the construction is NOT approved?

  • Town will have to pay costs for new ADA and safer sidewalks estimated  – $450,000 to $500,000
  • Town will have to pay costs for Storm water drainage modifications and correction.
  • And most critical the town is required to  reimburse DOT for all received Plan/Design Costs – approx. $108,000

This project is a great value for our town, providing much-needed improvements, better amenities and initiative for progress.

The Sound View area has come a long way in the past 10 years. Please vote to support this important project to keep things moving in the right direction.

This is it!  Every vote matters! Let’s get it done!

THE CASE AGAINST

By Frank Marrata

Hartford Avenue, Soundview’s “Main Street”, has a very interesting history.  What was once a bustling street full of businesses has fallen into disrepair and blight.  Our town government continues to contribute to this downward spiral.  Our representatives think that a $900,000 taxpayer bailout will solve the problems.  This is why this proposed burden to the taxpayers should be voted down:

1.  A bike path grant was given to the town, which included the construction of bathrooms and improvement of lighting.  Streetscape will not see the most important component:  bathrooms.
2.  Promoting biking on an already congested Route 156 goes against any common sense as relating to public safety.  It will only be a matter of time before a tragedy will take place.
3.  Sidewalks are currently being planned and built on Hartford Ave.  Sewers will be needed, and then what happens?  The powers to be will tell us they can tunnel under.  The cost of doing this will be an extra burden to all property owners in the form of  increased assessments.
4.  Soundview and Miami Beach are public beaches.  The taking away of 22 more parking spaces on Hartford Avenue takes access to the beach away from Old Lyme residents and their families.  The Town has plans to reduce Town parking lot capacity to 44 total spaces.
5.  Because of this increased shortage of parking, Old Lyme residents will be burdened with beach goers driving up and down neighborhood streets; looking for parking, creating unnecessary traffic and adding to the public safety problem of traffic weaving in and out of streets off 156.
6.  The original project with bathrooms and sidewalks was estimated to cost $750,000.  How did the price tag skyrocket to $877,000, without bathrooms and lighting?
7.  25% of the cost will go to the construction manager.  This is an intangible that will not be realized to the taxpayer in the form of improvements.  Taxpayers have to pay $200,000 for the overseeing of the sidewalks.  Why can’t town staff do the overseeing of the sidewalks, so that the $200,000 could be used to add to the improvements?
8.  The $877,000 cost does not include the repaving of Hartford Avenue.
9.  In the pipeline is the spot rezoning of Hartford Avenue, to allow more residential zoning to accommodate recent purchase of properties by developers.  Again, the history of the avenue has been one of a vibrant street:  movie theaters, bakeries, jazz clubs, arcades, music halls, ice cream and lemon ice stands, a merry-go-round and more that filled the avenue with activities for families.  Taking away from the business district and adding to the residential designation not only erases a rich history, but adds to the tax burden on town services and school budget.
10.  The loss of parking spaces, which are valued at about $1,100 each per season, that help support beach maintenance will add to the cost of the general fund budget, which will have to be absorbed by the taxpayer.
In closing, we are in support of a major improvement of Hartford Avenue, but we are not getting our money’s worth.  A better solution would be to improve the avenue without further reducing parking so that a lucrative source of income to the general fund is maintained.  Bathrooms are a huge issue, and we are not going to see them.  The bike path on 156 is dangerous, and a public safety threat.  New sidewalks will be a great improvement, but to do it before sewers are installed is totally irresponsible.  Let’s use our money intelligently and with foresight.   We oppose this particular proposal because we can do better!
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Comments

  1. Peg Serapilia says:

    I am all for making Hartford Avenue in Old Lyme beautiful. That is not the issue. I am not at all happy with the lost of 22 parking spaces. When the town says there is 353 parking spaces, are they including the private property of the Pavilion and Lenny’s? If so, how does the town get to include that property? If it is private property? Just a question. Then to have anyone walking on RT 156 or biking is really a liability as I see it. (I am not an attorney) But if you put a bike lane in and someone get killed who pays? Who is responsible? And since it was the town that allowed the bike lane in the first place, would the town be sued? Right now people use RT 156, but I assume it is at their own risk. Why does the town want that kind of liability? Just a question. And doesn’t it make sense to do the sewers first, and while that mess is going on fix the street and sidewalks. And why isn’t the town concerned with the unhealthy and dangerous buildings on Hartford Avenue. I think if any money is to be spent, those buildings and helping the owners of those building, (which will bring in business) should be helped first. I have been in Old Lyme for 33 years. The need is in improving buildings and making the environment safe. More police! Not bike paths. Not now. I think its great to get some free money, but really free. Is it? Who maintains the sidewalks after that and whatever plantings that would be put there. Just a question. I believe we should worry about the residents of Old Lyme and the businesses of Old Lyme and I am sorry some of the folks that come here have no appreciation for Old Lyme. Look around look at the liter and how they behave. Bike paths aren’t going to fix that. Good police work and thriving businesses will! Just my thoughts.

  2. Frank Pappalardo says:

    Very interesting remarks from Mr. Marrata. I would like to address some misconceptions and provide correct information. First Mr. Marrata is an alternate member of the Sound View Commission and he should be well aware as to the chronology of the Improvements Project so it surprises me that he makes some of these statements. The total project cost is estimated to be $877,000 with the total cost to the town is $175,000 or less. This $175,000 to the tax payer is for much needed safety and infrastructure improvements, which would cost the town well in excess of ½ million dollars to do without Grant funding. So Old Lyme gets $877,000 worth of safety and infrastructure improvements for $175,000. An extraordinary value for the Old Lyme. The years have taken their toll on the deteriorated buildings on Hartford Avenue many of which used to be business such as bars and clubs. This is 2016, times change, and property owners of these dilapidated buildings want to develop for highest and best use. They have stated unequivocally that business development is NOT the highest and best use for their property or investment and have come out in favor of this project. We still have an arcade, ice cream and lemon ice stands, a Carousel, clothing boutique, Take-out food, Deli and 2 bars, one of which is owned by Mr. Marrata. Nothing in this Improvements Project is interfering with these existing businesses. Another major misconception is that Miami Beach and Sound View are public beaches. Sound View is a public beach, yes, it is also a mere 90 feet of beach! That’s all – 90 FEET. Miami Beach is privately owned by the Miami Beach Association however their deed allows entrance by the public. The Town cannot consider Miami Beach as a town public beach. It’s privately owned. It’s simple – capacity! The town owns 90 feet of beach, we have approx. 180 residences in the Sound View and 350 public parking spaces. Even at 2 persons per household and 2 persons per vehicle that’s an unbelievable 1060 people for 90 feet of beach! How much parking is enough? Furthermore a review of these public parking spaces would show that with the exception of several summer weekend days much of these spaces are empty. Mass volumes of people may be to the best interest of Mr. Maratta and his bar, but it’s simply not in the best interest of Sound View or the town. Once again, how much parking is enough? When other beaches get to capacity they close. We don’t have that luxury, we have to deal with massive overcrowding and extreme stress on our police and environmental resources as well as significant quality of life issues for residents. We need to stop thinking and constantly dwelling on the past, times change, and we must evolve. This project is for the best interest of the Sound View area and the town of Old Lyme and will invigorate investment. We must begin the rebirth of Sound View and make it a true town asset we can be proud of. It begins here.

    • Growing up in Old Lyme I have understood there is a lot of potential in the Sound View area, especially with the carousel. What would the payback be for the Old Lyme population from these improvements? I understand that the Sound View beach is quite small and options like White Sands Beach and a few others exist for residents. It would be nice to understand how to town would benefit fiscally rather than the actual taxpayer costs.

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