June 6, 2020

Mary Jo Nosal (D): Candidate (Incumbent) for Old Lyme Selectwoman

Mary Jo Nosal

Since elected Selectwoman in 2011, I have actively listened worked to address the concerns of Old Lyme residents, relying on skills learned from my research and business careers to analyze issues brought to the Board.  I believe that through collaboration we can preserve our community’s quality of life and find creative ways to minimize spending while addressing needed improvements.  I’m an active community volunteer, and when I can, substitute in our wonderful schools.   I hope to continue to serve Old Lyme, the community where my husband, Roger, and I chose to raise and educate our three daughters. 


Q1: What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Halls Road/Lyme Street area of Old Lyme in 2025?

Especially, since the high-speed train threat, I believe it is critical to identify opportunities to protect and preserve our assets and economic drivers in this area of town, specifically across the business, school and arts district. This imperative requires the collaborative approach to planning that has been initiated by the Halls Road Improvements Committee, and the Economic Development Commission’s engagement with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center.

The Halls Road Community Open Houses offered outstanding opportunities for residents to share their ideas and provide direct feedback on the scope, development and magnitude of the preliminary design options.  Data from the community outreach surveys and the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats workshops will yield information that will provide a framework for conceptual development plans and further refinements by Old Lyme residents and stake holders. By investing in opportunities to attract desirable businesses, leverage access and proximity to the Lieutenant River, attract and accommodate shoppers and tourists, this initiative can improve the appeal and access to sustainably meet entrepreneurial, business and community needs.  

According to Rails to Trails Conservancy, active transportation for bicyclists and pedestrians is a $74B industry. Connecting people to local business, schools and the arts district is a sensible approach to improving our local economy. A significant proportion of the costs to develop safe transportation access can be supplemented through state and federal grants. Under First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, Old Lyme received a $400,000 construction grant this year to provide safe connectivity in the Sound View area. I anticipate that by 2025 Halls Road improvement plans will serve as the basis for grant applications, design and engineering planning, and regulatory approvals.  Having a vibrant center will bring revenue to Old Lyme and allow us to live, stay and play more in Old Lyme. 

Q2: What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Sound View area of Old Lyme in 2025?

Sound View has a natural charm with stunning vistas across Long Island Sound. The historic Sound View District has been long overdue for a face lift that introduces economically viable and sustainable recreation by providing safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists and other visitors to the public beach and boutique businesses. Enhancing Sound View’s appeal and improving access to the beach was part of a master plan that began with grants to upgrade the streetscape for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Since this focus on improvements to Sound View began, a new, enjoyable restaurant has opened, and some property owners are updating their property. While the mandatory sewer construction will no doubt delay some aesthetic improvements by 2025, I envision cafes, retail shops, restroom facilities and attractive residences to enhance Sound View’s pedestrian friendly footprint. Pursuing grants in accordance with Old Lyme resident’s approval, make these improvements in infrastructure possible, cost effective and adds value to the quality of life in Old Lyme. I look forward to enjoying the improvements in safety and the energetic melding of a bustling community with the natural allure of Sound View Beach.

Q3: In light of Old Lyme’s current non-compliance with the state mandate that 10 percent of housing stock be deemed, “Affordable” and the recent withdrawal of the Affordable Housing proposal on Neck Rd., how do you see the future of Affordable Housing in Old Lyme?

This is a complex and not well understood concern that we are beginning to address.  It was clear from the 2018 Zoning Board Hearings for the proposed 8-30g affordable housing proposal for work-force housing, that many residents have strong opinions on the location and type of affordable housing developments in Old Lyme. A new committee being established by the current Old Lyme Board of Selectmen, will research the implications of the 8-30g statute, local options for housing, as well as alternatives to meet state requirements.

I believe that this committee will thoughtfully consider the difficulties a small town such as Old Lyme has in meeting a 10% affordable housing requirement. I believe we should explore how this requirement could be addressed in conjunction with neighboring towns since individual need for affordable housing is frequently accompanied by need for additional services. For example, one town may provide more employment opportunities while another can accommodate infrastructure for housing. One municipality may offer flexible access to mass transit while another may have a variety of social services.

My hope is that through this scholarship, by 2025 Old Lyme will be better able to help people, including our children, teachers, and first responders, to name a few, meet the basic right to safe, affordable housing in Old Lyme. The residents of Old Lyme made it clear last summer they support affordable housing done right. I am optimistic that collaborative efforts in Old Lyme and advocacy at the state legislature will produce a progressive approach to affordable housing.

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