OLD LYME — On Sept. 30 and Oct. 5, the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee hosted Open Houses to present two options for the Lieutenant River Trails and Bridge. Ninety-two people viewed the presentation and 64 voted with some voting for some elements but not others.
The overall results of the voting were as follows:
- Glulam Bridge received the most votes.
- Maintaining the natural elements of wood was most important, although consideration for durability was also highly important.
- Fishing and boat access were close to an even draw. Fishing was called out for trash issues.
- Traditional light fixture style, timed, with down lighting was favored.
- Many were in favor of some type of space for spontaneous gathering.
- Beyond the consensus for a natural feel and high end signage similar to that of the Florence Griswold Museum (FGM), a mix of art and nature themes plus history were the most requested.
Two important questions cropped up frequently. The first was, ‘Why don’t we do the sidewalks first?’ and the second, ‘Who is paying for this?’
These are the HRIC responses to those questions:
Why don’t we do the sidewalks first?’
We are doing the sidewalks first. Construction projects involving state agencies have multi-year lead times. We applied for a LOTCIP grant (which is also the only way to get DOT approval) for the sidewalks in 2022. We may hear DOT’s response by 2025.
Beginning the bridge project in parallel can help promote a best outcome from the DOT grant process. Allowing new options for private investment with HROD will also take years to bear fruit. Pursuing these elements one at a time would be a serious mistake. Each supports the others, and one without the others is a waste of money and effort.
Who is paying?
The LOTCIP grant should cover a significant part of the construction costs for the sidewalks, but will not cover their design costs. Other grants may be available for this, and the town will apply for them.
Grants already won cover the design costs of the bridge and trails. Other grants are available for bridge and trails construction, and we expect the town will move forward only if we win such grants.
Changing zoning to create an option for new private investment on Halls Road costs nothing, comparatively, and will allow town revenue to increase.
In terms of final net costs to Old Lyme, the sidewalks are the most expensive part of the Master Plan. The Bridge and trails are less expensive. The proposed new zoning (HROD) will actually make money for the town. All three work together to keep Halls Road a flourishing part of Old Lyme into the mid-21st century.
Scope of project with Art Theme and one set of details.
The following comments represent a selection of those received:-
“Nice choice of landscape architect. They are forward thinking and care about the environment.” Chris Penniman
“I honestly believe we should address the sidewalk issues prior to considering this project. We should prioritize the order in which we proceed and then go forward.” Barbara Gaudio
“I am against the fishing access. I live on Ferry Rd. and walk on the pier at the DEEP regularly. While it is nice to make fishing available to people, many of the people do not respect the area. There is always garbage. People bring carts, coolers, buckets, chairs, boom boxes, and it can be hard to pass by. While many of the people fishing are respectful, many are not. There is often drinking and pot smoking. I always bring a garbage bag and rubber gloves to clean up. I love the idea of this project and I hope it moves forward. Parking will be an issue.” Mary Devins
“Looking for a safe egress that continues aesthetic of FGM. Natural and blends with environment.” Jill Todd
“Park & Amphitheater seems beyond scope at this point. We hope for a simple & safe bridge, pathway, and natural trail that promotes a walk-able, sustainable community.” Diana Prince
“Are there any state or federal funds to help with the construction cost?” Christina Gotowaka
“Would love to see aesthetic tie into FGM. All natural, simple, clean. Very little, if any dark sky lighting. Also the path, sculpture walk idea seems a little too much.” Julie Malloy
“While I am in favor of recreating the historic bow bridge, I am strongly opposed to creating a fishing pier in this location. The lR is a sensitive ecosystem which supports critical habitat and food for a wide variety of wildlife. Fishing line, crab bait, and other refuse are routinely left behind by those who come to fish or crab along the river edges – In sanctioned and unsanctioned locations.
In addition I am doubtful there is capacity for the number of people and cars that would result from creating such a pier.
Another concern is boater safety. Fishing lines would endanger boaters moving up or down this very narrow river, who already have to navigate two bridges – and now potentially a third. Fishing lines are very difficult to see and avoid from the water; I think this is a very real safety hazard.
In sum, encouraging fishing and crabbing would pose a threat to marine environment including waterfowl who depend upon it for food: would endanger boaters, and could increase congestion along the busiest stretch of road. Sightseeing and boating are very benign activities that should be prioritized instead. “ Anne Redfield
“Thanks Committee for all your hard work!” Bill Beluzzi
For the complete vote tally, visit this link.
For frequently asked questions, visit this link.