August 4, 2020

Residents Hear Initial Ideas on Halls Rd. Improvement from Yale Urban Design Team, Reactions Mixed: What do YOU Think?

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder addresses the audience in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School cafeteria during the Thursday evening meeting.

“Members of the Halls Road Improvements Committee and the Yale Urban Design Workshop met with the public Thursday evening to discuss the creation of a master development plan envisioning future improvements to Halls Road, the town’s main commercial district.

The committee, after holding a similar public discussion earlier this year, has been working …”

These are the opening sentences of an article by Mary Biekert titled Improvements to Old Lyme’s Halls Road discussed in public forum and published today on  Read the full article at this link.

Editor’s Note: In pursuit of our mission of serving our community … let us know what YOU think of the Halls Rd. Improvement proposals?  Either post a comment with your thoughts here on or send us an email with them to

We’ll publish a summary of the comments we receive, but only naming the writer if you have given specific permission.

Thank you — we look forward to hearing from you!



  1. John Stratton says

    For more than a century there’s been no comprehensive plan for the use and appearance of lower Boston Post Road (now known as Halls Road). The 1911 auto bridge and the 1948 realignment of the Boston Post Road essentially created the present patchwork. It’s time for a set of guidelines which are proactive from the standpoint of creating a single, attractive, town destination, preferably one that blends economic, residential, and community spaces. Yes, problems may arise, and careful rezoning will have to anticipate them. In 1990-1993 the initial proposals for the new I-95 bridge and interchange were seen to consume a lot of our shopping center. People reacted with concern and the invasive roadway plans were altered— but no new plan emerged to redefine the Halls Road streetscape as a “town center.” This is our chance to build that plan.

  2. J David Kelsey says

    I strongly believe a municipality’s best service for economic development is to create a flexible crucible allowing for creative use of people’s property and to support it with reasonable infrastructure. A good starting point is indeed a big picture vision of what could be – the work of the Yale is a helpful guide to figure out what zoning flexibility might be added and to identify infrastructure improvements (sidewalks, rational street signs, crosswalks) that might be undertaken.

    What is not clear is the level of involvement of the town in changing the nature of existing buildings – are we talking about the town purchasing certain parcels and eminent domain strategies so that the town (instead of existing private owners) determines what might happen? I would advocate for a clear statement soon of how the town proposes to be involved, and I would hope it would be a light touch of reducing setbacks, requiring rear parking, introducing mixed-use zoning and working with DOT early to see what actual changes could be made for street parking (it is a unique stretch of US-1 with unusually high volume during frequent detours), sidewalks and hardscape improvements. Private owners could then determine what makes sense economically for changes to existing buildings and for new construction.

    If the goal is for the town to control actively in some manner the types of use and nature of construction, that is a very large role to undertake, since this part of town is economically vibrant already with buildings that are close to full already with businesses, despite being less aesthetically desirable in the case of some buildings. I hope we get a clear picture that is public of the long-term town plan, rough ideas of costs to the town and a timetable once the community feedback for Yale’s draft plan is complete. A great start at very low cost and quickly achieved would be consolidating or eliminating street and traffic signs and at least having them stand up straight.

  3. Ron Breault says

    Halls Rd Improvements

    I attended the Dec 6 meeting. My comments

    1) When asked about the planning assumption regarding possible DOT changes to I-95, the Yale Urban Design response was that, despite recognition that traffic delays and congestion already exist, there would be no area changes in I-95 in the next 20 years.

    Since this is already a significant thru traffic problem which can only get worse, changes envisioned by the ‘plan’ for Halls Rd that include on Halls Rd parallel and/or diagonal parking, increased commercial density and pedestrian use, increased recreational use and pedestrian crossing and stop signs will aggravate, perhaps dangerously, the Halls Rd environment.

    2) There appeared to be no consideration given for a more limited, ‘modest’, less expensive improvement of Halls Rd, ie’, sidewalks, bike paths, a return of the pedestrian crossing bridge over the Lieutenant River, elimination of ‘leaning’ power line poles with unattractive heavy looping wires and electrical equipment. Maybe some street lighting, and buried wires?

    3) One of the meeting attendees commented that she had lived in Nantucket for 25 years and, because of development, ‘Nantucket is no longer Nantucket’. Paraphrased, her concern was the extensive multi story commercial/residential development plan presented for Halls Rd would mean Old Lyme would no longer be Old Lyme. I think this was a shared feeling by many at the meeting.

    Ron Breault

  4. Unfortunately I did not attend the meeting. Nonetheless, the previous comments and SE Coast write-ups provide a good base of information.

    Rule One for architects is to live in what they intend to design. Of course, this is impossible until built. However, they should visit at least twice during the calendar year. The first is a summer Friday night when I-95 gets jammed. The overflow of traffic makes 156 and Rt-1 very congested. If there is an accident southbound, Rt-1 after Exit 75 is backed up from Laysville south to the Hall’s Road traffic lights. Some traffic goes down Lyme Street, which is the heart of what makes Old Lyme great. Imagine shopping on Hall’s Road during these incidents. We avoid it.

    The second time to visit is in early December. The town is relatively quiet especially the shore communities. One wonders how some of the Hall’s Road merchants make it at all. With the exception of the Big Y, foot traffic is slow in my judgment.

    This gets to the final point. Do we want to change the character of Old Lyme? If the Mundys shop for goods other than necessities, we go on-line or visit Old Saybrook. Let’s leave Old Lyme the way it is and save government funds for infrastructure repair and reduce our tax burden.

    Ted Mundy

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