August 5, 2020

Old Lyme’s EDC Working on New Economic Development Strategy for Town, Invites All Residents, Business Owners to Complete Survey

Economic Development Commission Co-Chair and Halls Rd. Improvement Committee member Howard Margules discussed ideas for the future of Halls Rd. with visitors at the recent Old Lyme Midsummer Festival. Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

OLD LYME — Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC) Co-Chair Justin Fuller describes the objective of the commission as being on the one hand, “to ensure the economic condition of our town remains strong.” while, at the same time, “… doing our small part to help maintain the charm and character of Old Lyme, and protect the town’s natural and cultural resources.”

Howard Margules, EDC Co-Chair and a member of the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee, adds that the EDC believes that the town should be pro-active with economic development by attracting new investments and supporting local businesses. He says, “The commission intends to do this by promoting a “smart growth” strategy,” which he explains is focused on the three areas of 1) retaining existing businesses, 2) attracting new investments (especially in available commercial properties that are presently abandoned and/or neglected), and 3) promoting entrepreneurship — since local business owners who live in Old Lyme have a vested interest in the community.

The EDC has identified three activities that will help the town begin the development of a formal economic development strategy, as follows:

  1. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) workshop to obtain input from a variety of stakeholders and determine overarching goals to help guide the prioritization of further collaborative economic development efforts;
  2. Local business survey to learn about their challenges and explore how an economic development strategy could best support their long-term success;
  3. Free informational workshop to help answer questions about economic and community development.

The EDC is working with a nonprofit economic development firm, the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) to assist the EDC and the town in implementing these identified goals.

One tool the EDC is using in their efforts is a survey that CERC has developed, which is now being distributed to all Old Lyme residents and/or people who own or operate a business in the town. The survey includes, but is not limited to, input regarding the Halls Road neighborhood.

The objective of the survey, the second of the three activities listed above, is  to encourage local businesses and residents to give their thoughts and feedback on the town’s current and future economic condition.  For example, the EDC would like to understand what attracted both residents and business to Old Lyme in the first place, and what they consider are the most important issues facing the town.

In respect of business owners, the EDC would also like to hear how the town can better support them both now and in the future.

The Old Lyme EDC has asked us here at to help spread the word about the survey, and we are pleased to do that.

We therefore urge all our readers who either live, work or own a business in Old Lyme to take a few minutes to complete this important online survey by scanning the QR code to the left or visiting

The purpose of the business survey is to 1) gain perspective on how the business community perceives the economic condition of Old Lyme, 2) identify perceived and real challenges that local businesses face, 3) identify companies that are “at-risk” of leaving Old Lyme, and, 4) obtain feedback about how the town can better support businesses to improve business retention and support their long-term success.

The purpose of the resident survey is to obtain feedback about the perceived current economic condition of Old Lyme, and obtain information that will help guide a future economic development strategy for the town.

Asked for his reaction to the increased attention being directed to economic development in Old Lyme, Halls Road Improvement Committee Chairman BJ Bernblum responded, ” “The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen is taking seriously the economic health of the town.  A few years ago it formed the Halls Road Improvements Committee and this year it revitalized the Economic Development Commission.” He continued, “Under the dynamic leadership of co-chairs Howard Margules and Justin Fuller, the EDC is working with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center to analyze the current state of Old Lyme’s economy and to recommend ways to ensure a sound future.”

Bernblum added, “CERC’s first undertaking is a town-wide survey of businesses and residents, critical to getting an accurate understanding of how our taxpayers feel about the status quo and the issues that need to be addressed,” concluding, “I strongly encourage everyone to complete this survey.”

The EDC collaborated with CERC to identify the specific survey questions and CERC will collect the survey results, carry out the analysis, and prepare a summary report.

The survey results, combined with other ongoing initiatives, will help define the town’s economic development strategy. All responses will be kept confidential, and the results will be presented in a final report prepared by the EDC.






  1. The town should focus on improving what it has started and avoid creating a mish mash of new projects in other areas of the town (ie:housing development 156, Audubon sanctuary Ferry road) and unnecessarily wasting real $ / funds studying vs offering to existing businesses to upgrade
    Why not revisit Sound view beach area from Cherrystones to Htfd ave? What a mess!! This area should be the focus of the town as it was started 50 +-years ago and never finished, addressed or included in ED program details. Why?
    Sure the new roads and sidewalks on Htfd Ave are great but what we’re they thinking knowing that Sewers would be possibly passed requiring digging up and patch & matching all new roadwork and concrete sidewalks?? It’s not cheap nor will it look new much longer! Who made those decisions are they the same people making this one?How bout the Cherrystones Bldg eyesore? Abandon gas station? Please not another storage Bldg??
    Why not envision or create the Mystic,Stonington Essex village or Main Street Saybrook theme at the public beach areas? That’s what people want if you’ve ever visited those other towns! Not trying to further increase traffic on Halls Road area with housing like the saybrook train station, we don’t have the station and Halls Rd is basically an extension of rte 95 4 months outta of the year with traffic bypass
    Good for public buildings but housing UGH? Who’s going to wanna pedestrian cross on traffic congested road?
    If ya wanna bring Halls road up to par Put the Audubon Bldg on halls road right near the river or marsh land behind the gas station. Why would anyone consider placing that in a residential area off the beaten path when your looking to improve ED
    Why your at it why not try to incentives the Blue Bldg on the corner and bring that Bldg into the 21st century, along with the old garden shop and for that matter get the gas station to repair its pot hole lot and encourage sprucing that eye sore up. How bout the foundation in the plaza sitting there for 50+ years??? Heck with all Webster banks money and Essex savings you’d think they’d step to the plate and bring those Bldgs into the 21st century and want improved area
    Back to sound view,what better place for apartments above retail shops and they could be market rate at affordable rates if allowed to be developed without imposing unrealistic unaffordable requirements
    Maybe Teddy’s and pizza plus and that entire strip
    Could also be incentivized, heck they have been paying taxes for 50 years+- offer them some assistance for all the tax dollars they’ve paid ?? The old Rooney’s package store and Italian social club Bldg Dawn owns? Help them out they’ll bring people to the area if they could be included in the plan rather than expecting new businesses to light the torch when they see the pattern of previous seasonal business
    Keep what little open spaces are left as you enter town 156 and on ferry road and take care of what you’ve got and then ya just might get some grass root support instead of wasting time and money reinventing the wheel while other small businesses close up due to ED Neglect
    Or are the newbies looking for a Walmart on Halls road ??
    Keep it simple and remember OL was built by the people not the politicians and outside consultants
    If ya wanna maintain character and keep people here take care of those that have been giving for many years and have the town best interest at heart

  2. Thomas D Gotowka says

    Holy Cow! Was that all in one breath?
    You missed the Antique Shanty, which is a crumbling eyesore that everyone seems to ignore.

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