August 8, 2020

Tim Griswold (R): Candidate for Old Lyme First Selectman

Tim Griswold

Currently Treasurer of Old Lyme and member Board of Assessment Appeals
First Selectman of Old Lyme for 14 years (1997 – 2011)
Member Old Lyme Board of Finance for 15 years – Chair 6 years
Served on numerous local Boards including the Flo Gris, LOL Chamber of Commerce, Lyme Academy College, OL Historical Society and MacCurdy Salisbury Educational Foundation (Investment Committee)
Appointed by Gov. Rell to CT Resources Recovery Authority (the trash to energy facility)
U.S. Navy as Officer of the Deck – aircraft carrier ‘Bon Homme Richard’– Viet Nam  Member American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

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

Realizing Halls Rd. (Rte. 1) is a State road and the adjacent properties are privately owned, the Town of Old Lyme should develop a master plan that is affordable and achievable, based on discussions with the Department of Transportation and the abutting landowners.

As a first step, I envision improved pedestrian access from the Lyme Art Association to the Essex Savings Bank, including a new sidewalk (possibly a new “Bow Bridge”) and safe crosswalks. The aesthetic appeal of the road could be enhanced with new plantings (trees and bushes) and, possibly, select roadway island planters. The DOT might be willing to eliminate redundant/unnecessary signage and the Town should enforce or expand its sign regulations to cut down the number of private signs. These improvements could be designed and implemented in the near future.

Our Zoning Commission should review its regulations to allow construction of new buildings closer to Halls Rd. in order to provide more parking behind them. However, I seriously doubt the abutting land owners could justify the scope and cost of the proposed Yale School of Urban Design master plan because I don’t believe the new rental incomes could amortize the cost of demolition and/or new construction.

Another concern about the Yale Urban plan is how to deal with the disposal of the associated wastewater. Conventional septic tanks and leaching fields would likely not be adequate and the Town would have to install some type of a sewer system. This would be very costly and have profound ramifications for our town.

While it is sensible to create a master plan for Halls Rd., I believe the current plan is unachievable and far too expensive for the abutting property owners. Let’s start by addressing improved pedestrian access.

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

Unlike the adjacent private beach associations, the Sound View Beach is unique because its roads are owned by the Town of Old Lyme. Dating back over a century, Sound View has a rich history as a family beach community and as a mecca for fun loving adults. Most of the properties consist of small lots with small dwellings. The CTDEEP has decreed the septic systems are inadequate and must be converted to structural sewers. The Town’s WPCA worked independently of the three adjacent private beach associations on plans to install sewers and a shared pumping station. The question of how to pay for sewers in Sound View is contentious.

As we look to the next five years, the advent of sewers will hopefully encourage property owners on the lower end of Hartford Ave. to make significant upgrades. In addition, our Zoning Commission should review its regulations (including the Sound View Design District) to encourage/enable owners to make upgrades. We know the seasonal businesses along Hartford Ave. struggle because the summer season is short. However, on a sunny summer weekend, we also know the beaches cannot handle the crowds and traffic. Our police are pushed to the limit to control the crowds, unruly at times.

The Town should encourage a mixture of residential and commercial use properties on Hartford Ave. If we have more year-round residents living there, the area would become more stable and vibrant. Most of the “fun loving” adults do little for our town and we should encourage visitors who would patronize restaurants and shops in Sound View and in other parts of town. We need to encourage more families and discourage the party animals.

The beach at Sound View is outstanding and Hartford Ave. should be upgraded to attract local and out of town people.

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?

Let’s get something straight – there is no State mandate that CT towns/cities must have 10% of their housing stock be “affordable”. It’s a goal.

I am pleased that the 37 unit complex on Rte. 156 proposed by Hope Housing was withdrawn because its location was very hazardous. It was also disappointing that First Selectwoman Reemsnyder, who was formerly on the Old Lyme Affordable Housing Committee and then on the Advisory Board of Hope Housing, quietly promoted the Hope project for months before it became public knowledge. However, once it became public, she chose not to promote it and let the Hope officials and supporters do that work.

The 2010 Planning Commission’s Plan of Conservation and Development recommended that the Board of Selectmen create a committee to promote affordable housing efforts in town. This is now being done by our Selectwoman, some nine years later. The committee should consist of a diverse group of people that will consider the needs of all who need affordable and elderly housing. Thought should also be given to an independent living and life care facility and to expand accessory apartments.

As we plan any affordable housing, we must not compromise public safety or public health standards. Structures should be designed in scale and in appearance with a small town. Hopefully, priority could be given to deserving residents of Old Lyme.

Old Lyme residents are welcoming and generous but the poorly planned Hope project on Rte. 156 divided our community deeply. I would work to heal that divide and unite our town behind a successful, well thought out project.


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