April 17, 2021

Letter to the Editor: Proposed Gas Station/Convenience Market on Halls Rd. Raises Many Concerns

To the Editor:

Re: Proposed Service Station Complex on Halls Rd.

We recently learned that Big Y Foods, Inc. is planning to develop the open parcel of land that lies between Treasures and the Essex Savings Bank on Halls Road into a large gas station and convenience market complex.

The open parcel, which is owned by the bank, is contiguous with another bank-owned parcel that fronts on Neck Rd. (Rte. 156). Both are for sale and, if linked, would provide access and egress on two of Old Lyme’s (already) busiest thoroughfares. The Halls Road “raceway” already connects, in less than three quarters of a mile, two busy entrance/exits to I-95 North and South. Old Lyme’s roads are already burdened by cars, trucks, and buses seeking alternate routes, when backups occur on the interstate,

I have been involved in the past in drafting certificates of need applications for Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford. I know that we took great care to demonstrate that a proposed expansion of service was unique and not redundant of other readily available and existing services.

I don’t believe that the approving process for this project is required to consider redundancies. However, that said, Halls Road already has a Shell gas station, which, coincidentally, had also proposed a convenience store expansion.

Further, both Andy’s Deli & Market, and the Big Y World Class Market, already serve different segments of Old Lyme residents and visitors shopping for groceries and prepared foods. Thus, Old Lyme is already well-served by two high quality organizations.

We patronize both, and interestingly, for the same reasons. We are known, by name, in both stores; and both provide us with the feel of a small-town local market.

However, the difference is that the supermarket’s customer base will not be largely compromised by the new convenience market.

In contrast, I know that Amish and Neha Shah, Andys’ owners, feel that the proposed facility would compete with their customer base, and probably, as part of a much larger organization, offer broader products and services at lower prices than they, as sole proprietors, can provide. They are very concerned that their small market and relatively small margins, could not sustain any significant new competition.

Further, I don’t think, based on the meetings that I’ve attended, that this proposed gas station and convenience market complex can possibly be consistent with the master plan that is still in development by Old Lyme’s Halls Road Improvements Committee. Finally, we don’t need to put existing local businesses at risk by approving redundant services; and Halls Road’s ability to support increased traffic from I-95 is very limited.

Sincerely,

Thomas D. and Christina J. Gotowka,
Old Lyme.

Comments

  1. Excellent points. Aren’t we trying to keep a small town charm? This does not appear to be in keeping with the town’s goals and would certainly endanger the two businesses mentioned.

  2. C & R Roosevelt says

    From the perspective of Lyme residents who regularly shop in Old Lyme at the Big Y, the existing Shell station, and occasionally at Andy’s Deli & Market, we agree with the Gotowka’s observations and objections: unnecessary, irrational, duplicative, bad planning, and ruinous of existing businesses and the character of Halls Road which is in need of upgrading anyway, not this proposed downgrading of repetitive gas station offerings. Additionally, the impact on existing traffic problems, especially when problems on I-95 cause an overload of traffic, are potentially serious and dangerous.

  3. Mary Stone says

    This proposed store will create constant traffic nightmares around the Halls Road/Route 156 intersection. We can either plan carefully now, or spend the rest of our lives regretting what we let happen to our town.

  4. Dwayne Basler says

    It sounds like the owners of Andys’ are doing an outstanding job and are fortunate that you advocate for them. I’m not one of their customers but feel similarly about the Laysville Hardware store which is remarkably well run. It’s their quality and attention to customers that keeps me shopping there rather than at their larger competitors.

    However, I hope Old Lyme residents realize we can do much better on Halls Road. Allowing competition which is done in a way to improve our town should be encouraged. Why not put some of the Halls Road improvement costs on those who want to join our town?

  5. Howard Fish says

    And in a few years when gas cars are not sold, what will happen to all the strip mall stations anyway? So my questions is a Big Why?

  6. I fully agree with the points you make. I feel this is why a final plan of Halls Rd should be completed. While I don’t know much about locating affordable housing this looks like an excellent spot for it.

  7. William Folland says

    Both the existing gas station and convenience store on Halls Road are C class establishments selling either over priced gasoline, cigarettes, beer and lottery tickets. The proposed upgraded store will create needed competition, even at the expence of closing the existing station/minimart.

  8. Susan Kneen Way says

    I don’t think another gas station is a good idea. I always try to support small businesses and was not thrilled when Big Y bought out the A&P. I didn’t like Dunkin Donuts coming to town, either. Big Y with another gas station is going to put Andy’s Deli out of business. We are not East Lyme or Old Saybrook and we’re slowing losing our small town charm by letting these big chains take over.

  9. Thomas D. Gotowka says

    Thank you all for taking the time to comment on our letter regarding the proposed service station complex on Halls Road. It appears that there is a clear consensus of concern amongst us that this project is inappropriate for Old Lyme.

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