OLD LYME — Monday’s cold and blustery weather did not deter a hardy group of distinguished guests and local residents from turning out to celebrate the completion of the Town of Old Lyme (OL) and the Connecticut (CT) Department of Transportation (DOT) Community Connectivity Grant project.
Gathered at the new bus shelter in front of the Old Lyme Police Station on Rte.156, Mary Jo Nosal, who is both a former Old Lyme Selectwoman and Chairwoman of the Community Connectivity Grant Committee (CCGC), noted in her remarks at the event that the project was, “Designed to establish safe connectivity to the beach, businesses and residences for pedestrians and bicyclists, locals, and visitors.”
She pointed out that the multi-year project has successfully, “Culminated with this pocket park for the community and safe bus access for riders of the 9-Town Transit system.”
The CCGC began meeting in April 2019 and, in a notable display of loyalty, several of the original committee volunteers have continued to serve through the entire project. Nosal named those members as Bonnie Reemsnyder, Frank Pappalardo, Jim Lampos, and Erick Olsen and then thanked them wholeheartedly for, “Their time, commitment, vision, and support.”
Nosal, who has led the committee throughout its existence, is herself also one of its original appointees. In addition, Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold has served as a longtime ex-officio member of the committee.
In her remarks, Nosal explained that the Community Connectivity Grant was developed to aid small towns with streetscape improvement plans to provide safer access to their towns for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Noting that the grant program was competitive, she pointed out that it was designed by the state to allow for local control of the project and does not require matching funds from the Town.
Commenting that, “This is often a stumbling block for small towns to come up with these funds, she added, “RiverCOG (the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments) was the first to see the value in this grant for the Town of Old Lyme,” and notified then Old Lyme First Selectwoman Reemsnyder accordingly.
In 2018, Reemsnyder and Pappalardo attended a meeting with the CT DOT on the new grant opportunity and subsequently applied for the grant.
In February 2019, Old Lyme was awarded up to $400,000 in construction grant funds, which was the maximum allotted at the time, and the Town thus became part of the freshman class for this program.
Nosal stated that, “Through community outreach including a web forum, bimonthly-monthly meetings, careful budgeting, and the generosity of the Town of Old Lyme, the project has now provided the following safety improvements and assets to Old Lyme:
> about 2300 ft. of new, standard 5 ft. ADA sidewalks so that people and baby carriages no longer have to walk along the street to reach the beach
> new walkways and street signs
> new curbing and mailboxes
> new grass
> bicycle-lane marking.
> the new transportation hub and pocket park in what was previously an empty lot and eyesore.
She concluded by expressing the wish that, “These safety improvements to the Sound View Gateway,” help increase focus on the important economic benefits that result from, “Safe access to Sound View businesses and residences, to our gem of a beach, and to Sound View recreational opportunities.” Nosal stressed that these benefits should, in turn, increase the vitality of the Town of Old Lyme.
In her remarks, Nosal also thanked:
- The State of CTDOT represented by Craig Babowicz, CTDOT Transportation Supervising Planner and Katie Klose of the DOT and Old Lyme resident.
- Project Design Engineering Firm, BSC Group, represented by Kurt Prochorena and Rob Newton, PE
- The construction firm of Martin-Laviero represented by owner Dan Levesque
- Town of Old Lyme Commission Chairs and their members, who were present (Paul Orzel and Frank Pappalardo)
- Old Lyme Town Hall staff
- Old Lyme Town Attorney Michael Carey of Suisman Shapiro for work on numerous agreements and easements
- The RiverCOG, the planning organization for the lower Connecticut River Valley, represented by Rob Haramut, Senior Transportation Manager
- 9-Town-Transit Executive Director Joe Comerford — 9-Town-Transit is the transit system for a segment of the Connecticut shore and valley, which provided the bus shelter
- Old Lyme Public Works, especially Ed Adanti and his team, for their assistance. They installed the bus shelter and lovely park bench
- Old Lyme Police Department for providing traffic control and use of their water to assist the new trees
- Old Lyme Fire Marshal Dave Roberge for his help on providing watering assistance for the new sod
- The Sound View homeowners and business owners for their input and support for the project.
- Her husband Roger Nosal for their ‘date nights’ spent watering the new sod
- The elected officials present at the ceremony: Tim Griswold (OL First Selectman) and Martha Shoemaker (OL Selectwoman) for their presence and support of Sound View
- State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th) and State Representative Devin Carney.(R-23rd)