OLD LYME — On Tuesday, Jan. 18, towards the end of a very lengthy Old Lyme (OL) Board of Selectmen (BOS)’s meeting, the agenda item of a ‘Project Update from the OL American Rescue Plan (ARP) Committee’ was finally reached.
In view of the time — the meeting had already been running three hours — and the fact another meeting was waiting to convene in the Meeting Room, Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker handed a copy of a summary of the initial results of the committee’s survey to her BOS colleagues and proposed they should discuss it at their next meeting on Monday, Feb. 7.
The summary read as follows:
The purpose of this brief summary is to provide the Board of Selectmen and the residents of Old Lyme an update on the recent survey of Old Lyme residents, businesses, and organizations by the American Recovery Plan Committee. The survey was designed to help the committee recommend a strategy to the Board of Selectman for using the designated federal funds under the American Recovery Plan Act. The survey was open from December 9 through January 7, 2022. The committee has the initial findings of the survey and is working now to complete their analysis of the results.
The survey resulted in 896 completed electronic responses and 4 handwritten responses. The total includes 704 residents who consider Old Lyme their primary residence including 67 who also run a business or organization in town; 168 property owners (that includes seasonal residents); and 28 business owners who do not also live in Old Lyme. This indicates roughly 10% of the Old Lyme population participated in the survey. The ARPA Committee is pleased with the number of participants.
Old Lyme residents, business owners, and organization leaders were asked how the pandemic affected their lives, as well as their preferences for how the Town spends its ARPA funds. Respondents could also include additional comments if they wished.
The Committee strives to operate in a transparent and objective manner, and looks forward to sharing with the public the complete findings as they are compiled and analyzed.
The first set of findings ready to share regards a question asked of all survey takers. The survey asked participants for their input regarding how the money should be allocated across 11 categories. These categories were chosen because they are deemed appropriate and legal uses of the funds by the US Treasury Department. The committee has reviewed respondents’ beliefs of how important each of the categories are in the distribution of funds. The categories are listed below in ranked order from most to least important.
- Investment in current and future infrastructure challenges such as clean water and sewer/waste treatment: – 68.99%
- Investment in Old Lyme post-pandemic small business recovery – 67.37%
- Financial assistance to Nonprofit Organizations that provided relief and services to Old Lyme residents during the pandemic – 67.12%
- Investment in Mental Health Services or other Public Health Services to assist Old Lyme residents – 65.97%
- Reinvestment in Old Lyme government services that were deemed essential during the pandemic (such as Emergency Services) to ensure preparedness for future services – 63.77%
- Investment in town-wide broadband (internet) improvements and/or cell services for potentially recurring needs such as remote work, remote schooling, and Telehealth services – 60.62%
- Grant premium pay to Old Lyme front line essential workers who were at heightened risk due to the character of their work during the public health emergency – 57.86%
- Financial assistance to Old Lyme families and households having difficulty recovering from pandemic losses (noting there are funds available now for Old Lyme families through a fund administered by LYSB) – 54.3%
- Investment in early childhood care and education – 54.1%
- Investment in bringing visitors to our Old Lyme attractions, restaurants, shops, and accommodations – 41.92%
- Investment in affordable housing to meet the needs of those working and living in Old Lyme. – 38.55%
The Committee members have divided into groups to further process the results and survey comments. These groups will report to the ARP Committee on January 19th.
- Public Safety – Mary Jo Nosal and Dave Roberge
- Arts / Entertainment and Hospitality – Cheryl Poirier
- Mental Health / Social Services – Mary Seidner and Jen Datum
- Infrastructure – Phil Parcak and Martha Shoemaker
- Business / Industry – Rick Stout and Dennis Powers
Asked for a comment on the initial findings, Richard Stout, who serves as chairman of the ARP Committee’s Survey Sub-Committee told LymeLine by e-mail, “The committee meetings are open to the public, include a public comment agenda item and minutes of committee meetings are available here: https://www.oldlyme-ct.gov/
He continued, “The committee membership and invited presenters reflect a wide range of the Town’s stakeholders, and the committee is working through the survey responses to formulate its recommendations to the BOS and BOF [Old Lyme Board of Finance] in keeping with its Mission Statement (printed below).
Finally, he noted, “Minutes from the 1/19/2022 meeting include a succinct overview of the survey update provide by the committee.”
The next meeting of the ARP Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 12 p.m. in the Meeting hall at Old Lyme Town Hall. Selectwoman Shoemaker told LymeLine via email, “Our next step is to come up with an official application and a process for the requests.”
Editor’s Note: The Mission Statement of the Old Lyme American Rescue Plan Committee reads: ‘The ARPC will develop and recommend a strategy to the Board of Selectmen for the allocation of ARP funds that benefits the Old Lyme community, which has been impacted by the COVID pandemic. The Committee will strive to operate in a transparent and objective manner and consider input from the community at large. The group’s goal is that their recommendation for fund deployment will, when carried out, maximize benefits for those living and working in Old Lyme. The ARPC will provide regular updates to the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance with a goal of submitting final recommendations prior to June 30, 2022.’
Nancy Strohla says
Somehow I missed this survey sent out by the Bd. of Selectpersons . Would you be kind enough to tell me when it was sent out and where I would have found it ?
Nan, I am so sorry you missed seeing the survey! We publicized it here on LymeLine, as did CT Examiner, The Day (in both their print and digital versions), and The Lyme Times. A postcard also went out to all households, and posters were hung around town. It was also mentioned in the First Selectman’s weekly e-newsletter, and included on the homepage of the Town website as well as on social media. In addition to the digital version on Survey Monkey, hard copies of the survey were available at Town Hall and the Old Lyme-PGN Library. Unfortunately, the survey is officially closed now, but over 900 people responded so the committee feels it has a good sample of people’s opinions. I hope that helps!
Thomas D. Gotowka says
Thank you for your thoughtful response to Ms.. Strohla. As you noted, the group did feel that the respondents comprised a good representative sample of Old Lyme opinion.