December 6, 2021

Old Lyme Achieves Top Certification by Sustainable CT, First Municipality in New London County to Achieve Silver Certification

OLD LYME — An Open Space Plan with its eye on sustainability, a town-wide Pollinator Pathway that encourages residents to plant native species, and a strong commitment to arts and culture are just some of the initiatives that led to Old Lyme recently receiving the highest level of certification by Sustainable Connecticut. 

Old Lyme met high standards in a broad range of sustainability accomplishments to qualify for the prestigious Silver level certification. The highest level of certification currently offered is silver. The Town achieved a Bronze certification in the Fall of 2020.

Old Lyme is among 23 Connecticut municipalities to be recognized this fall for achieving Sustainable CT certification.  Sustainable CT, a statewide initiative that inspires and supports communities in becoming more efficient, resilient, and inclusive, announced its 2021 fall certified communities this week.  

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold, said, “We are very proud of our town volunteers and staff and their ongoing efforts to make Old Lyme a more sustainable, resilient community. I want to thank the Sustainable Old Lyme Team for their hard work in gathering the stories of our Town commissions and boards to share with Sustainable CT for this recognition. There has been quite a lot of hard work by dedicated volunteers, and I wish to thank each of them.”

In its application for Sustainable CT certification, Old Lyme demonstrated significant achievements in 12 sustainable impact areas ranging from inclusive community building, thriving local economies, and clean and efficient energy use, to vibrant arts and culture, clean transportation and planning for diverse housing.

Twelve initiatives in Old Lyme’s certification application have been designated as “Success Stories,” which are deemed strong examples of a particular action and are shared with municipalities pursuing certification.  Twelve Success Stories in the Town of Old Lyme’s submission include:

  1. Meeting the Equitable and Inclusive Process requirements for the Economic Development Commission’s 2019 SWOT analysis process, 2020 Walk Audit, and the 2021 Lymes’ Creative Arts summer youth programming;
  2. The Town’s Open Space Plan which includes prioritizing acquisitions, enhancing the local ecosystem, connecting open space parcels, offering recreation benefits, and ensuring the long-term viability of the Town’s open space.”
  3. Pollinate Old Lyme!: A collaborative pollinator ecosystem educational program and the creation of a pollinator pathway in Old Lyme which includes public-access properties;
  4. A commitment to the inventory and accurate promotion of the town’s tourism and cultural assets;
  5. Its overall commitment to arts and culture in the town, including promoting arts programming by the OL-PGN Library and the creation of an arts district partnership;
  6. The Planning Commission’s 2020 Plan of Conservation & Development, which addresses six key sustainability goals related to compatible physical development and stewardship, municipal programs and operations, community character and livability, economic vitality and resilience, infrastructure resiliency, and land use patterns;
  7. The Old Lyme Historic and Architectural Resource Inventory with over 200 properties considered historically significant; the Inventory can be used as a planning tool for community leaders;
  8. The Town’s “Complete Streets” improvements to the Sound View Village and its Gateway with new sidewalks and improved safety;
  9. The Town’s communications strategy for disseminating information including meeting the challenges of communicating with residents during the pandemic;
  10. The Sustainable Old Lyme Team’s mentorship of the Town of Lyme’s new Sustainable CT effort;
  11.  Assessing and sharing with the public the Town’s three-year-residential solid waste tonnage, with an incentive to reduce trash by 10 percent;
  12. Two innovative strategies and initiatives specific to the community: Lyme-Old Lyme Public School’s carbon-free initiative, and the Witness Stone project in Old Lyme.

“It was an honor for our team to submit this application on behalf of the Town,” said Cheryl Poirier, chairperson of the Sustainable Old Lyme Team. “While we worked closely with various boards, commissions, and Town departments to document their sustainable efforts, we also sought out opportunities to reach new goals set by the suggested actions of Sustainable CT.”

She continued, “Two in particular were the Town’s Pollinate Old Lyme effort, and Lymes’ Creative Arts.” Lymes’ Creative Arts was a joint summer initiative led with the Town of Lyme and Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) to offer summer arts programming to youth in both towns.

“The Sustainable CT certification process gave us the vision to work toward an even more sustainable community,” explained Poirier.

Future efforts by the Sustainable Old Lyme team will be to educate its community members on ways to reduce the amount of solid waste that is tossed in the trash. “Sustainable CT sets a challenge for municipalities to reduce its residents’ solid waste by 10% or more, and we are interested in meeting that challenge,” Poirier noted.

Sustainable CT has seen strong momentum and growth as a valuable, high-impact program.  One-hundred twenty-five municipalities have registered for the program, representing 86 percent of the state’s population.  Collectively, 64 municipalities, which is equivalent to 60 percent of the state’s communities, have earned Sustainable CT certification.  Certification lasts for three years, with submissions rigorously evaluated by independent experts and other Sustainable CT partners.  

“Congratulations to our newest Sustainable CT certified communities,” said Lynn Stoddard, Executive Director of the program, adding, “We are inspired by the leadership and collaboration of elected officials, staff and residents to make Connecticut communities more inclusive, healthy, connected, and strong.”

The program includes actions that help towns and cities build community connection, social equity, and long-term resilience. The program’s action roadmap and support tools are especially relevant as towns seek practices and resources to promote racial justice, respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and address climate change.

Sustainable CT is independently funded, with strong support from its three founding funders: the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Smart Seed Fund, and the Common Sense Fund. Additional support is provided by the Connecticut Green Bank and a growing number of community foundations and other sponsors.

Old Lyme and all 2021 certified communities will be recognized later this month at the Annual Convention of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. 

For more information, visit www.sustainablect.org.  

Old Lyme’s certification report can be found at this link

Editor’s Notes: i)We offer hearty congratulations to all those involved in making achievement of this certification a reality. We recognize that an enormous amount has been undertaken in order to prepare Old Lyme’s submission and thank all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly on this project.

ii) This article is based on a press release issued by Sustainable Old Lyme.

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