August 7, 2022

Search Results for: proposed path

Op-Ed: Proposed Path to a Safer Society

Sandy Hook School is an earthquake that shakes the soul of human decency. My response:
I acknowledge the right to have a hunting rifle and a pistol for self-defense. The right to self-defense is a root of liberty. Equally important is a coincident right of people who choose not to own a gun: the right to live in a safe and secure society. This right is an indisputable expectation. While I realize this is an ideal that will be difficult to fulfill, we must, for the sake of human decency, respect, and compassion, strive to create such a society. To not strive for this goal is disrespectful and inconsiderate to all people who want to live in peace.
My proposal to create an environment that begins to lead our society down this path is as follows:
1. A gun is not sporting equipment. To equate a gun to sports is akin to saying it is no different than a tennis racquet or basketball. This is an insult to humanity. There is no comparison because their designed purposes are so different – fun and games versus a killing implement.
2. Any weapon that is capable of firing multiple rounds in rapid succession should be outlawed to anyone other than military, law enforcement or security personnel. No one in a civil society should have such a weapon, for its sole designed purpose is to kill. For hunting and self-defense there should be no need for anything more than a single-shot pistol or rifle.
3. Any weapon that uses multiple round magazines or any type of device that loads more than six bullets at a time should be outlawed. Reasons stated in item 2.
4. Anyone caught in possession or ownership of these outlawed weapons and ammunition would be in violation of the law and should be punished with extensive community service or imprisonment.
5. Anyone who currently owns such weapons described in item 2 should be paid to turn them in. They should not be grandfathered.
6. Extensive background checks should apply to 100% of sales in any form for the purchase of legal pistols and rifles.
7. A permit is required to fish. A permit should be required to purchase ammunition.
8. Internet sale of any weapon and ammunition should be illegal.
I urge everyone with a strong opinion on this subject to voice their opinion to their representatives and senators. Time is of the essence. Do not let this moment and these memories fade.
Thomas Soboleski

Public Access Program Scheduled on Proposed Improvements to Sound View, Bike Path

Members of Old Lyme’s Sound View Bike Path Committee recently taped a public access program about the proposed Bike Path and other Sound View enhancements at the Comcast Cable Public Access Studio on Halls Road.

Town of Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie A. Reemsnyder led the  conversation with Bike Path Committee members Frank Pappalardo, Angelo Faenza and Mary Jo Nosal.

Angelo Faenza is a lifelong summer resident of Sound View, former Vice President of the Sound View Beach Association, and former Vice President of the Federation of Beaches. Chair of the Town’s Sound View Beach Commission, Frank Pappalardo has been actively involved in the Sound View Beach Association for 13 years and has been a member of the Board of Directors for the last 10. He is also a lifelong summer resident.  Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal has lived in Old Lyme for 12 years.  She is a substitute Teacher in Regional District 18 and a Pharmaceutical Research Consultant.

Their Conversation about the Sound View Bike Path and Enhancements project will air on Comcast Public Access Channel 14 on Mondays at 7 p.m., immediately following televised Board of Selectmen meetings on Thursdays through the month of July.

Information about the Sound View Bike Path project can also be found on the Town’s website at www.oldlyme-ct.gov under Current Projects.

Polls Open 6am in Referendum on Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Proposed $33.6M Budget, Result on LymeLine Tonight

Lyme-Old Lyme High School.

Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools will hold a referendum today in Lyme and Old Lyme — the two towns that comprise Regional District #18 — on their proposed $33,634, 371 budget for the 2017-18 school year.

Voting will take place Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Cross Lane Firehouse for Old Lyme residents and Lyme Town Hall for Lyme residents. LymeLine.com will publish the result as soon as it is announced shortly after 8 p.m.

When LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser presented the budget for approval to the Region #18 Board of Education in February, he commented, “We are proud to present the lowest budget increase on record for Region #18.  While the increase is exceptionally low, this has been achieved through savings that do not impact any of our existing programs or services. ”

During his presentation Neviaser explained the budget was set to support the objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan by:

  • Preserving and building upon the high standards of education in Lyme-Old Lyme while remaining fiscally responsible to our communities
  • Supporting the ongoing renewal of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and staff development activities in response to the expectations of state and national standards.
  • Continuing to plan and provide technology infrastructure and applications that are consistent with highly effective and efficient programming and operational standards.
  • Maintaining high facility standards for all district buildings and grounds.
  • Maintaining a dynamic and responsive approach to programming needs and mandates in special education.
  • Maintaining both compliance and reasonableness in response to state and federal mandates.

He noted that budget increases include certified and non-certified salaries, instructional programming, and administrative services while decreases include costs for benefits, special education and debt service.  Neviaser stressed that while showing only a minimal increase, the operations/program budget still reflects:

  • Continued adherence to class size guidelines
  • Reduction of staff to account for enrollment decline
  • Continuance of existing academic and extracurricular activities
  • Adjustments for anticipated changes in the special education population
  • Adequate funding for maintenance and repair of buildings and grounds
  • Scheduled replacement of technology and equipment
  • Program improvements that are consistent with high academic and operational standards

He also highlighted that several new programs were being implemented and a selection of facilities being upgraded. Program improvements include a new/updated elementary math program, technology infrastructure advancements and replacement of staff computers.  

Facility upgrades include installation of window AC units at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School and Lyme School​; addition of main campus pathway lighting; increasing the number of security cameras​; installation of a concrete lacrosse practice wall​ and replacement of the fuel oil tank at Lyme School​.

For more information on the Region #18 budget, visit this link on the Lyme-Old Lyme School’s website.

Around 200 Attend Protest Rally Held in Mystic Against Proposed Saybrook-Kenyon Rail Bypass

Around 200 people turned out yesterday despite the dismal conditions to join a protest rally in Mystic against the Tier 1 proposed high speed rail bypass.

MYSTIC — Standing within the pathway of the Federal Railroad Administration’s proposed high speed bypass, more than 200 people gathered Saturday near the red caboose in Olde Mistick Village to speak out against the plan.

The bypass is part of a $130 billion project that is intended to increase capacity, reliability, and speed along the Northeast Corridor …  Click this link to read the full story by Catherine Hewitt and published today on thewesterlysun.com.

If You Oppose the Proposed High-Speed Rail Route, Join SECoast’s Fundraiser This Afternoon at Bee & Thistle

fundraiser-at-bt_oct2016SECoast, the non-profit group actively and constructively opposing the proposed high-speed rail line through Old Lyme and southeast Connecticut, is holding a fundraiser at the Bee and Thistle Inn on Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m.

SECoast.org is a locally-directed special project of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. Since publicly breaking news of the proposed bypass in January, SECoast.org has been working tirelessly as an effective advocate for Old Lyme and the local area by catalyzing growing regional opposition to the bypass.

Thanks to the generosity of the Bee and Thistle’s owner David Rufo, the Inn’s Executive Chef and acclaimed wildlife photographer Kristofer Rowe and singer/songwriter Dan Stevens who is performing at the event, 100 percent of the funds raised on Sunday will go towards mounting a legal defense to the route, which it is anticipated will be announced next week.  The monies raised will help support staffing, digital media and administrative costs of the campaign.

Once that announcement has been made, there are precisely 30 days by law to respond to the preferred route.  SECoast wants to be ready to react immediately to the announcement.

Tickets for Sunday’s event are $50 and fully tax-deductible.  There is also a Sponsor level at $250 and sponsors will receive an autographed Kristofer Rowe photograph.

Donations in any amount are always at welcome at this account or by mail at CT Trust for Historic Trust Preservation, 940 Whitney Ave., Hamden, CT 06517-4002 (make checks payable to CT Trust with “For SECoast” on the face.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of the work that SECoast has been doing.  Without Greg Stroud and his small band of dedicated individuals, the proposed Old Saybrook to Kenyon by-pass would likely have quietly continued along its probable path to becoming part of the FRA’s Tier 2 preferred route.

We are delighted that Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman Joe Courtney, State Senator Paul Formica and State Representative Devin Carney are now all vocally opposed to the route and believe that in no small part relates to the efforts of SECoast.  We hope our Old Lyme Board of Selectmen (BOS) will show their support for SECoast because surely the BOS objectives are identical to those of SECoast?

This fundraiser is your chance to show your appreciation for all the work that SECoast has undertaken so far on behalf of the residents of Old Lyme specifically and, in a broader sense, the people of southeastern Connecticut … and all the work it will take on in the future.  If you choose not to support SECoast, then please don’t feel you have a right to complain about the train route down the line … pun intended!

See you on Sunday!

Old Lyme Selectmen Express Strong Opposition to Proposed Rail Project

Updated 02/01, 17:37 — We are trying to keep up to date with all the commentary occurring regarding the NEC high-speed railtrack proposals.

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder submitted the following letter dated Jan. 13, 2016 to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Draft Plans:

“To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Bonnie Reemsnyder, First Selectwoman of the Town of Old Lyme. I have come here today to express my concern with and opposition to the Alternative 1 of the draft EIS for the NEC plan to improve rail service.

First and foremost, this plan would decimate the heart of our community. The path of the railroad would completely change according to this plan, cutting through the heart of our community. We are a small town with very little “central community” area, and what we do have is extremely important to our history, economy, character and sense of community. This plan would impact our only commercial area, which houses our grocery store, pharmacy and many small businesses. Our village center, which is directly off of the commercial area, houses the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, as well as the famous Florence Griswold Museum and the Lyme Art Association. All are sites of historic significance and the individual organizations have worked diligently to continue with their legacy and maintain the physical structures. It is beyond comprehension that these buildings would be considered of little importance as this project moves forward.

But the plan also impacts many properties along the way, as it is an entirely new track, cutting through several neighborhoods, not to mention wetlands, open space and areas of archaeological significance. Our community maintains our character through strict zoning regulations, considerate planning, and support of our historic treasures, including the museums, colleges, library and various art organizations.

I am equally concerned that the Federal Rail Administration did not contact the First Selectman’s office personally to solicit feedback and comment. Hearing about plans that have a major impact on our community through the grapevine is unacceptable.

I am vehemently opposed to Alternative 1 of this plan and urge you to look at other, more reasonable solutions for reducing time travel between major cities. Thank you for your time.”

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal submitted the following letter also dated Jan. 13, 2016 to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Draft Plans:

“To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Mary Jo Nosal, Selectwoman from Old Lyme, CT. It is with great concern, anxiety and in total opposition to the Tier 1 draft EIS for NEC, Alternative 1 that I comment.

It appears that this Alternative focuses on meeting some of the regional goals of the NEC by addressing the chokeholds along the southern part of the existing route. However, by adding new track through the heart of our town our local needs are not addressed and therefore the objectives of the Tier are not met.

Specifically, the proposed section of new track from Old Saybrook to East Lyme, CT will adversely affect our entire community, will cut-off the established tourism lifeline of our region and will not provide a meaningful improvement in efficient rail service.

No data was provided in the EIE to demonstrate that our local commercial, residential and environmental concerns were considered.

A new track through Old Lyme provides no local economic benefit or advantage to local commuters or residents, while the extreme destruction it will cause to an environmentally sensitive area is irreversible.

As proposed, Alternative 1 will be strongly opposed by the community.”

Old Lyme Selectman Arthur 'Skip' Sibley

Old Lyme Selectman Arthur ‘Skip’ Sibley

Old Lyme Selectman Arthur “Skip” Sibley submitted the following letter dated Feb. 1, 2016 to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Draft Plans:

“To whom it may concern,

My name is Skip Sibley and I’m writing to you both as a citizen and an Old Lyme Selectman. I echo the comments already submitted by my two fellow BOS colleagues: Ms. Bonnie Reemsnyder & Ms. Mary Jo Nosal. I strongly object to the proposal as outlined in “Alternative 1”, in which the current train tracks would be relocated through the center of Old Lyme.

Additionally I find it incredible that a $30 million study using taxpayer dollars was already conducted producing a 1000 page report without any correspondence to the impacted towns. It was only a “tip” given by an outsider that Old Lyme even became aware of this initiative by the NEC corridor agency. I’m glad that an extension was given for folks to post their comments.

The rail path for Alternate option # 1 cuts through the heart of our historic district, potentially causing a devastating impact to residents, businesses, museums and schools. And I can’t imagine the damaging impact it would have on our environmentally sensitive areas.

Before moving forward in your plan and spending more dollars, I strongly encourage that a public hearing be scheduled so that other concerned citizens could voice their opinions as well. Please keep me informed on my request.”

 

A Closer Look at the Sound View Bike Path, Revitalization Project

Proposed route of new bike path.

Proposed route of new bike path.

In a recent interview with LymeLine, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder stated, “The Old Lyme town government has been attempting to pursue renovations of the Sound View beach since May of 2013.”   The desired outcome of the renovations will be a bike path that leads from exit 70 on the Baldwin Bridge following I-95, down Rte. 156 to Hartford Avenue.

This will lead bikers to what will be the new parking lot.  The community lot on Hartford Avenue, across from Sound View beach, will be redeveloped into a picnic area.  The lot will maintain 44 parking spaces, and the rest will be transformed into grassy regions for a more park-like feel.  The town was awarded a grant to revitalize the area, with instructions for the money to be put into specific stages.

The federal grant covers up to 80 percent of the project, and the town is responsible for the remaining 20 percent.  The amount of $148,500 has already been approved by the grant, but the construction costs will be determined after the design phase is complete.

The first stage is for engineers to “complete the ‘picture’ of the final product,” noted Reemsnyder.  They will draw up designs for the park area.  These documents will then go to contractors, who will decide on the cost of the project.  The bike path will need to be mapped and signed off as well.  Once all of the designs for the park and path are finalized and approved, the second stage of the project can begin.

The second stage is construction, which is projected to start in the fall of 2015.  Town meetings will be held at various points throughout the project, such as the one on Wednesday,July 16, which “went well” according to Reemsnyder.  Before construction can begin, the allocation for construction cost funds will need to be approved at one of these town meetings.

The revitalization is hoped to enhance tourism, improve business, and connect the beach to the rest of the town in a more accessible and friendly manner.

On the town website, under current projects, there is a link to more information regarding the proposal.

Op-Ed: Are We a Civilized Country?

Lest we forget … then Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal  led a group of local citizens including former Old Lyme Selectman, the late Mervin Roberts (in foreground) to Newtown, Conn. to offer Old Lyme’s sympathies in respect of the 26 teachers and students killed Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. File photo published Dec. 2012.

Editor’s Note: Tom Soboleski of Ivoryton, Conn., submitted a powerful op-ed to LymeLine.com after the Sandy Hook massacre. We published ‘Proposed Path to a Safer Society’ on Dec. 20, 2012. In light of yesterday’s tragic events in Uvalde, Texas, Soboleski contacted us yesterday to ask if we would consider re-publishing it and we immediately agreed. He has added a new introduction.

Are We a Civilized Country?

Eighteen school children murdered in Texas. What kind of society do we live in? What kind of society tolerates school children being slaughtered; not to forget the hundreds of others in Buffalo and numerous other cities? Clearly we are an uncivilized society; one that is disintegrating more by the day.

Ten years ago I wrote the following in reaction Connecticut’s own incomprehensible nightmare.

Nothing has changed. We’ve become numb and routinely tolerate the slaughter of innocents. I stand by every word.

Proposed Path to a Safer Society
(First published on LymeLine.com Dec. 20, 2012)

Sandy Hook School is an earthquake that shakes the soul of human decency. My response:
I acknowledge the right to have a hunting rifle and a pistol for self-defense. The right to self-defense is a root of liberty. Equally important is a coincident right of people who choose not to own a gun: the right to live in a safe and secure society.
This right is an indisputable expectation.
While I realize this is an ideal that will be difficult to fulfill, we must, for the sake of human decency, respect, and compassion, strive to create such a society. To not strive for this goal is disrespectful and inconsiderate to all people who want to live in peace.
My proposal to create an environment that begins to lead our society down this path is as follows:
1. A gun is not sporting equipment. To equate a gun to sports is akin to saying it is no different than a tennis racquet or basketball. This is an insult to humanity. There is no comparison because their designed purposes are so different – fun and games versus a killing implement.
2. Any weapon that is capable of firing multiple rounds in rapid succession should be outlawed to anyone other than military, law enforcement or security personnel. No one in a civil society should have such a weapon, for its sole designed purpose is to kill. For hunting and self-defense, there should be no need for anything more than a single-shot pistol or rifle.
3. Any weapon that uses multiple round magazines or any type of device that loads more than six bullets at a time should be outlawed. Reasons stated in item 2.
4. Anyone caught in possession or ownership of these outlawed weapons and ammunition would be in violation of the law and should be punished with extensive community service or imprisonment.
5. Anyone who currently owns such weapons described in item 2 should be paid to turn them in. They should not be grandfathered.
6. Extensive background checks should apply to 100% of sales in any form for the purchase of legal pistols and rifles.
7. A permit is required to fish. A permit should be required to purchase ammunition.
8. Internet sale of any weapon and ammunition should be illegal.
I urge everyone with a strong opinion on this subject to voice their opinion to their representatives and senators. Time is of the essence. Do not let this moment and these memories fade.

Old Lyme’s Hall’s Rd. Improvements Committee Presents an Update for the Community, Offers New ‘Overlay Zone’ to Ease Property Owner Concerns

The Halls Road Improvements Committee is working diligently to create an improved environment for everyone along this stretch of the road between Rte. 156 and Lyme St.

OLD LYME — The Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) is currently working on three key areas of the Halls Road Master Plan, as follows:

  • rezoning the commercial district for future private development
  • grant applications for public improvement
  • signage along Halls Road.

Grants and re-zoning will require some additional funding to pay for outside technical expertise in particular areas. 

Re-zoning:

The initial re-zoning application for the Halls Rd. Village District was withdrawn on Nov. 8, in part to permit the committee to make significant revisions. 

The Village District proposal addressed the recommendations of the Master Plan but created nonconformity issues for existing properties. To meet the concerns of property owners, the committee is adopting a more flexible approach by creating a new Overlay Zone.

This new approach maintains the current C-30s zone, allowing owners to make changes to existing structures within the old regulations. If they wish to take advantage of the new opportunities, they can do so under the Overlay Zone, which permits the development of multi-family residential complexes mixed with commercial properties. 

Elements of the original Village District proposal will be included within the Overlay Zone, such as buildings set close to Halls Rd. with commercial uses on the first floor and residential allowed above or beyond the roadway.

The Overlay Zone offers incentives for residential and commercial development along Halls Rd. that not only yield greater profit for property owners but also increase Old Lyme’s tax base in the district.

Over time, this rezoning will create a vibrant, walkable, bike-able, mixed-use neighborhood focused on serving the retail and small-scale residential needs of Old Lyme. 

Grants:

The grants subcommittee will be applying for several grants to help implement the public improvements for landscaping, sidewalks, bikeways, lighting, and new crosswalks.

The largest grant from the Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP) is state-funded and will be reviewed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CT DOT.)

The BSC Group, which the Town of Old Lyme engaged to create a formal Halls Road Plan, has introduced CT DOT to the plans, but the LOTCIP review will be DOT’s first official review of the HRIC plans.

With the full master plan and engineering details in hand, CT DOT will be prepared to approve or suggest changes to create what they call “complete streets” along Halls Rd.

The committee expects to apply by late 2022 with a goal to secure a grant by 2023-2024.  

Additional grants for trails and connections will be applied for as early as January 2022. These focus on funding for the new pedestrian bridge and trails from Lyme Street and across the Lieutenant River.

Signage:

The signage subcommittee is looking to clean up the roadway signage that has gone untended for many years. This would include straightening out sign posts and/or removing repetitive signs with the goal of making way-finding clear and attractive. 

Funding:

In January, the committee will seek additional funding to cover the cost of legal help (both for zoning language and for easements along the proposed path), and for additional work from BSC Group (again, for both zoning and grants). 

Editor’s Notes: i) The HRIC welcomes comments on these revised proposals at hallsroadcommittee@oldlyme-ct.gov.  Also, if you would like to help with any aspect of the committee’s work, contact the HRIC at hallsroadcommittee@oldlyme-ct.gov.

ii) This article is based on a press release issued by the HRIC.

BREAKING NEWS: Griswold Withdraws Proposal Prior to Meeting: Letter to the Editor: HRIC Chairman Invites Questions, Comments From Public on Halls Rd. Village District Application; Old Lyme Zoning Hearing Monday

UPDATED: 3:45PM We have just heard that Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold has withdrawn the application for the Halls Road Village District so it will no longer be on the agenda at the Zoning Commission this evening. 

To the Editor:

Schematic of proposed Halls Road Village District taken from application for same to Old Lyme Zoning Commission.

Creating a Village District is a complex process that involves multiple stakeholders and professionals. It is intended to address the goals of the Halls Road Master Plan Report, which were based on the past three years of research surveying the people and businesses of Old Lyme.

The Old Lyme Zoning Commission’s next Public Hearing will be held Monday, Nov. 8, at 6:30 p.m. and will include the continuation of the town’s application for the new Halls Road Village District.

Now is the time to pose questions to make this new zone the best it can possibly be. These can be sent ahead of the hearing to the zoning commission and/or in person at the meeting.  We welcome your comments, support and suggestions. Please email them to hallsroadcommittee@oldlyme-ct.gov

The rezoning application forward* that explains the reasons behind the rezoning is printed in its entirety below.

Visit this link to view the full application related to the Halls Road Village District, which has been submitted to the Old Lyme Zoning Commission.

Visit this link to view the presentation made to the Old Lyme Zoning Commission by the Halls Road Improvement Committee to support the application related to the Halls Road Village District.

Sincerely,

Edie Twining,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: i) The author is chairman of the Halls Road Improvement Committee.

ii) *For the benefit of our readers, the text below is the explanation sent the Old Lyme Zoning Commission by the HRIC to support the application to create the Halls Road Village District. 

Dear Members of the Zoning Commission,

The Town of Old Lyme is excited to submit to the Old Lyme Zoning Commission this application to create the Halls Road Village District. This application is the result of years of work by the Town’s Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) in consultation with local businesses, residents, town and civic groups, and professionals in relevant fields.

The aim of the Halls Road Master Plan (attached) is to secure the long-term viability of the town’s main retail district by a combination of improvements in the public realm, and changes in the zoning that regulates and guides the development of private parcels in the Halls Road district. The effort is intended to serve these and other needs of Old Lyme by changing the focus of development on Halls Road from isolated, car-centric, commercial-only strip centers to a walk-able, bike-able, mixed-use neighborhood that is safe and inviting, and is both more accessible to, and better integrated in form and function with, our historic civic center and arts district on Lyme Street. We believe these changes are needed to secure the town’s continued vitality, and will best serve the near-universal desire of residents to maintain the small town rural New England look and feel of Old Lyme.

Making the Halls Road area safe, inviting, and accessible to pedestrians and cyclists, and giving them an attractive connection between Lyme Street and Halls Road is chiefly a matter of public realm improvements. These improvements are a major part of the Halls Road Master Plan, but they do not, in themselves, require changes to zoning. The zoning changes are required in order to implement the over-all plan and support the long-term viability of retail on Halls Road.

The two aspects of the plan work together, and each relies on the other.

The turn away from a strip center model and toward a mixed-use village district does require zoning changes as requested in this application. Briefly, these changes include:

  • Establish a Halls Road Village District in which Lyme Street (not the current Halls Road) is the model.
    Allow mixed use in the new district. That is: allow a mix of retail, office, and residential, in which “residential” is limited to smaller-scale (e.g. apartments, condos, town houses, etc.) market-rate alternatives to the currently dominant housing stock (92% of which is single-family houses on their own lot).
  • Reduce the set-back requirements to encourage mixed-use buildings directly on Halls Road with retail on the first floor (facing Halls Road) and office or residential above and/or behind.
  • Relax the older parking requirements that encouraged maximal parking lots, and promote parking behind new buildings that face Halls Road.
  • Establish Design Guidelines and a design review process for the Village District to ensure new development and renovations advance the long-term goals of making Halls Road visually and functionally an integrated part of an extended town center based on historic Lyme Street.

Mixed Use
The introduction of mixed use in the new Halls Road Village District is a key part of the Halls Road Master Plan, and promotes the shared goals of Old Lyme on multiple levels.

Mixed use as proposed for Halls Road directly addresses a critical shortage of smaller-scale housing options in town, and places that housing in a village environment that is particularly attractive to older residents wanting to downsize, and to young families moving into town or just starting out in life. By making it possible for older residents to stay in town when they downsize, we keep friends together and support a community with deep connections. Younger families are the future of our town. They are the backbone of our all-volunteer support systems, including the OLFD, and their children are the whole purpose of our excellent schools. Without younger families, all of these institutions will wither.

Mixed use also helps to improve the general business climate of the town and of Halls Road in particular. Retail trade is under severe pressure from the Internet. There is increasing dis-investment in retail malls and little interest in retail investments generally. One type that does still draw investment is retail embedded in a mixed-use neighborhood, where foot traffic and casual browsing help bolster trade. Mega-malls tried to imitate a village setting but they failed. It turns out a neighborhood needs actual neighbors if it is to support local retail trade. It is not just the foot traffic, but the ambience of a vibrant living neighborhood that makes a retail area an interesting place to walk, browse, and meet one’s friends. That is the goal for the Halls Road Village District, and mixed use is a crucial part of that aim. Over time, the Halls Road Village District should become a living neighborhood with a mix of retail, office and residential—a walk-able retail town center that complements the civic and arts district centers on Lyme Street and connects with them seamlessly.

Mixed use supports our retail trade, but it is also beneficial in an indirect way. None of the hoped-for changes in retail or housing along Halls Road can come about until private investors are willing to create them. It is true that investors are more likely to invest in the kind of town-focused retail space that serves Old Lyme if that retail is in a mixed-use neighborhood, but residential building is still more attractive in the current economic climate than retail space. We think it is important to account for this in the new zoning by, for example, mandating a minimum of retail construction on Halls Road frontage. With the current commercial-only zoning, Halls Road is primarily attractive to businesses focused on the highway, not the needs of Old Lyme. Allowing mixed use will help to attract the kinds of investments we want, creating competition for the limited space. Clear zoning and Design Guidelines will also help to attract the kinds of investments we want, and discourage those we do not want. People in business like certainty. Clear planning, zoning, and design guidelines can give them that.

In addition to its direct benefits, mixed use in the Halls Road Village District will add much-needed variety to the housing stock and new tax revenues to the town without increasing sprawl across the remaining open land elsewhere in town.

The goal is to create, over time, an attractive streetscape of shops and restaurants/cafes that encourage residents and visitors to stroll, browse, and meet their friends. When people park once and walk it is better for business, builds community, and helps the environment. What Halls Road lacks today, and what the Halls Road Village District is intended to supply, is a sense of place that says “Old Lyme.”

Mixed use of the type proposed:

  • Creates a significantly more supportive environment for town-focused retail trade. (Crucial in the fast-changing economy.)
  • Makes a gesture at balancing our mix of housing stock.
  • Directly benefits two un-served housing markets (vital to Old Lyme):
  • Older residents downsizing (community continuity)
  • Young families starting out (town future: schools, fit volunteers)
  • Attracts investment in town-focused retail, as well as small-scale residential. 
  • Encourages what we want, which helps to forestall getting what we do not want.
  • Supports the most likely path to a wider range of retail to serve the town.
  • Creates a real, living town center that looks, acts, and feels like Old Lyme.
  • Gains new housing stock and tax revenues without sacrificing rural open space.

Public Realm Improvements 

The proposed public right-of-way roadway and sidewalk improvements (see attached Master Plan) will create safe pedestrian and bike routes along Halls Road from Neck Road (Rte. 156) to Lyme Street. Pedestrian lighting, landscaping, open green spaces, sidewalks, and crosswalks are all a part of the improvements the town will undertake. The plan also includes the most popular element suggested in town-wide surveys conducted in 2019: a new replacement for the old ‘Bow Bridge.’ This biking and walking bridge will span the Lieutenant River at the old bridge abutment, creating a safe and beautiful connection between Lyme Street and our main commercial district on Halls Road. Work on these improvements will begin as soon as the town secures funding and the required regulatory approvals.

Private Property Improvements 

The actual building and maintaining of a vibrant new Halls Road (commercial and/or residential) will be initiated and carried through by private investors and business people. The town can only open opportunities, provide guidance, and set limits; it cannot initiate in these areas. We hope to achieve a significant change, recreating a mixed-use town center for Old Lyme. That means responding to market forces and guiding development along Halls Road into the avenues that seem best for Old Lyme’s long-term future. 

An illustrative plan was drawn up to show how Halls Road could be redeveloped to reflect community priorities and desires for this area. It is just an example of how new private investments could play out over the next 20 years. To allow this type of development to occur, new Village District zoning is needed to allow and attract retail and residential investment, and to no longer require the deep set-backs and large parking lots that favored strip centers. The zoning that once attracted strip centers now disproportionately favors investments aimed primarily at serving highway traffic (e.g. gas stations and fast food chains). 

The town has said for decades it does not want Halls Road to be dominated by highway services. New zoning is required to address that. In addition, the 2020 Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) states that visual details such as adequate buffering and landscaping, appropriate architecture, preservation of natural site features and vistas are among the critical components of the look and feel of Old Lyme, yet there are no regulations in place mandating attention to such details except in the Sound View Design District. The proposed zoning changes are intended to address these community concerns in the Halls Road area. 

The Master Plan was used as a tool to help in writing new zoning language and design guidelines. In the new zoning, cluster housing, town houses, and second-story apartments will help ease the severe shortage of smaller-scale housing options in Old Lyme, and help turn a “9-to-5, commercial-only” area into a living neighborhood with mixed use—as Lyme Street was before the 1960s. The primary goals of the new Halls Road Village District zoning and Design Guidelines are to keep and attract the kinds of amenities that serve the needs of Old Lyme, and to create a look and feel in keeping with the rest of the town. The long-term goal is to create a mixed-use commercial and residential neighborhood that feels like a part of Lyme Street and the wider town of Old Lyme.

Zoning Regulations and Design Guidelines 

Two additional (new) Zoning elements are proposed to help guide the redevelopment of the Halls Road area. One is a recommendation that the Town establish a new zoning district called the Halls Road Village District. The second is the preparation of Design Guidelines to be used by a new Halls Road Design Review Committee (under the Zoning Commission) to guide the design of new buildings and sites as well as the rehabilitation of existing buildings within the Halls Road Village District.

New Zoning Regulations for the Proposed Halls Road Village District 

The proposed Halls Road Village District zoning is intended to encourage the redevelopment of this older commercial corridor in a manner that is more consistent with the architectural styles of the Historic District of Old Lyme. The proposed regulations have been written to encourage safe and healthy use of the area by providing for a mix of residential and commercial uses along or within close proximity of the road corridor to encourage walking and shopping within a village atmosphere. Further, the intent is to encourage a new mix of residential and non-residential uses within the district, and to encourage the creation of diverse housing types that are currently under-represented in Old Lyme.

Once the new and revised zoning is adopted, development in the district shall be designed to achieve the following compatibility objectives: 

  • The building and layout of buildings and included site improvements shall create a village character and streetscape environment through the placement of buildings and included site improvements to enhance the district
  • Existing and proposed streets shall be inter-connected
  • Open spaces within the proposed Village District shall reinforce the rural, riverside setting and the small-town nature of Old Lyme in form and siting
  • Locally significant features of the area, such as natural resources or sight lines of vistas from within the district, shall be integrated into the site design 
  • The landscape design shall complement the district’s landscape patterns
  • The exterior signs, site lighting, and accessory structures shall support a uniform architectural theme
  • The scale, proportions, massing and detailing of any proposed building shall be consistent. 

Design Guidelines to Supplement Zoning in the New Halls Road Village District 

In surveys and public meetings, many residents said they wanted Halls Road to be a walk-able, bike-able area with safe streets, and the feel of a real neighborhood with mixed use – a new town center. Older residents remember Lyme Street as just such a place before retail trade was deliberately moved to Halls Road. Old Lyme is one of the oldest settlements in New England, and as attached to its traditions as any small town needs to be. Traditions notwithstanding, the town has evolved over the centuries to meet changing conditions.

Most retail trade was banished from Lyme Street around 1960 and relocated to a series of strip centers with vast parking lots fronting Halls Road. Easy parking was the “must-have” of the car-centric 1950s. In exchange for more parking (and to relieve pressure on potential wastewater treatment capacity) the town broke with 250 years of community development in which commercial, residential, and civic uses had evolved together in mutually supporting roles. Something was gained, but something valuable was lost.

This is not a criticism of the people who made those decisions in the 1950s. They faced the challenges of their day, and chose the solutions that made sense then. We face different challenges. Today, the older mixed-use model seems most resilient in the face of online commerce, while strip malls fade. We must choose what makes sense now. If the specific choices seem opposites, the impulse is identical: to do what is best for Old Lyme’s future. 

Despite efforts at tasteful design, the strip centers on Halls Road have never looked like a part of Old Lyme, nor of any other New England town. The Halls Road Village District Design Guidelines will look to Lyme Street as the basic model to set the style of future development along Halls Road. We believe that functional and aesthetic improvements to the Halls Road Village District will increase its value to businesses, residents, and property owners alike.

The purpose of the Design Guidelines and design review process is to implement design standards for new or renovated buildings that will: 

  • Make sure future development in the Halls Road Village District works to make the look and feel of the district more like that of historic Lyme Street.
  • Provide prospective developers or renovators with a clear view of acceptable styles, including examples. 
  • Make clear what is not acceptable in renovations or new developments. 
  • Support and reinforce the long-term aims of the Halls Road Village District: the creation of a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood, well integrated with historic Lyme Street. 

Community Input and Process to Date 

The preparation of the Halls Road Master Plan, and of the proposed new Halls Road Village District zoning and Design Guidelines, has been guided by: 

  • Recognition of changing economic and environmental circumstances,
  • The established aims of the Town (as expressed in official planning documents), and 
  • A continuous and extensive effort to keep all stakeholders involved in planning a better future for Old Lyme’s main retail district along Halls Road. 

A more complete discussion of these elements, including a timeline, summaries of actions and findings, and pointers to additional sources is included in this document as Appendix A.

As the formal Halls Road Master Plan was completed, HRIC went back to the community to gauge support, visiting local businesses, institutions, and civic groups to present the final plan and answer any questions. This is an ongoing effort, but the response to date in dozens of sessions involving scores of individuals has been very positive, often enthusiastically so. 

Opinion seems to have evolved since the subject of change along Halls Road was first raised several years ago. Residents and other stakeholders have had time to consider the issues. Responses to the CERC survey of 2019 showed over 80% of respondents wanted some development along Halls Road, though only a minority at that time asked specifically for mixed use. Today the idea of mixed use on Halls Road has much greater and broader support, and its role in helping to achieve related aims is better understood. 

Appendix A:

Community Input and Process to Date 

The preparation of these proposed Halls Road Village District zoning regulations and Design Guidelines has been guided by: a recognition of changing economic and environmental circumstances, the established aims of the Town (as expressed in official planning documents), and a continuous and extensive effort to keep all stakeholders involved in planning a better future for Old Lyme’s main retail district along Halls Road. 

Plan of Conservation and Development 

The proposed changes address four long-standing concerns of Old Lyme’s formal planning efforts: the mix of retail trade along Halls Road, the viability of the town’s main business center, the need for greater variety in the town’s housing stock, and the over-arching concern of maintaining Old Lyme’s small-town look and feel. 

Retail:

Because Halls Road is the connector between the two halves of Exit 70 it has always been attractive to businesses focused primarily on serving the through traffic on I-95, the main route between Boston and New York. The town has always insisted that Halls Road, the town’s main shopping district, should be focused instead on the needs of Old Lyme residents (year-round and seasonal). The town has opposed any tendencies to allow Halls Road to become a mere ‘service plaza’ for travelers. From the Old Lyme Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) of 2000 and of 2020:

“Old Lyme was once an active center of transportation as passengers awaited the ferries carrying people, goods and even railroad cars across the river. With the construction of a series of ever larger bridges, there is now little need to pause in Old Lyme during journeys along the Connecticut coast. The town’s interests are focused on providing basic services and amenities for year round and summer residents and guests. It has successfully avoided any pressure to allow turnpike oriented* services such as multiple gas stations, fast food restaurants and motels. This is not an accident, but a deliberate choice.” [Old Lyme POCD 2000, page 5, paragraph 3] 

“Although Old Lyme has two exits connecting to Interstate 95, the town’s interests are focused on providing basic services and amenities for year-round and summer residents and guests. It has deliberately avoided any pressure to allow turnpike-oriented* services such as multiple gas stations, fast food restaurants and motels.” [Old Lyme POCD 2020, page 8, paragraph 3] 

*[I-95 shares the roadbed with the older (1958) Connecticut Turnpike from the New York border to Exit 76 (I-395) in East Lyme.]

Change:

Changing economic conditions are overtaking the confident language of the POCDs. Old Lyme long resisted the pressure to make Halls Road a mere service plaza for I-95, but it did so in a time when many other uses (more congruent with town aims) were competing for the same retail and commercial space. Since 2000 Internet commerce has come to dominate one retail segment after another. For goods or services that can be delivered electronically or by express truck, the Internet now offers a wider range at a lower price than any local ‘bricks-and-mortar’ retailer can hope to match. Retail that is embedded in a viable mixed-use neighborhood (with foot traffic and walk-in trade) seems best able to resist the total virtualization of retail trade. Halls Road was always attractive to highway-focused services. In these new market conditions the “commercial-only” designation makes Halls Road attractive primarily to such businesses. 

The proposed zoning changes and Design Guidelines are necessary to protect and promote the long-established aims for Halls Road set out in POCDs over multiple decades. They will help Old Lyme adapt to changing market conditions, and retain the convenience of town-focused retail trade along Halls Road. 

Housing:

The proposed changes will address another long-standing concern of the Old Lyme Planning Commission: adding much-needed variety to Old Lyme’s housing stock, 92% of which is single-family homes on their own lot. For decades, Old Lyme’s POCDs have called for the addition of alternative housing types in appropriate locations. Halls Road is an appropriate location in which to meet some of the demand for smaller-scale, market-rate housing that is not of the dominant type. 

Small Town:

The proposed zoning changes and Design Guidelines are intended to work together to ensure that Halls Road becomes more integrated with the rest of Old Lyme’s town center, both in form and in function. The aim is to create, over time, a mixed-use district that looks, acts, and feels like a living part of Old Lyme—a small town on the Connecticut shoreline. 

Halls Road Improvements Committee 

The Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) was formed at the close of 2015. The initial impulse was public demand for safer pedestrian and bicycle access to the shopping district along Halls Road, and a desire to support the future commercial viability of the town’s main retail area. 

A 2015 change in Connecticut law had made it easier for towns to create Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts, and that was an early focus of the HRIC. A TIF district allows a town to fund current development (such as capital improvements) in the TIF district by earmarking future property tax revenue increases there for those purposes. The creation of a TIF district requires a formal plan of development for the district, and there was none for Halls Road. Funds were allocated for the planning work. 

The improvements under consideration were not a trivial expense. Many residents objected that such a large sum should not be spent without looking more broadly at Halls Road and the various problems and opportunities it presents. Without a plan, how could we know what sort of development we wanted along Halls Road or what Halls Road should look like in 20 years, much less how the sidewalks should be laid out to accommodate that future? To build sidewalks without a plan for the future seemed unsound, so planning took precedence. 

Early in 2018 HRIC was allocated $20,000 to begin the planning process. The town hired the Yale Urban Design Workshop (YUDW), which produced very helpful baseline drawings of the existing conditions at Halls Road. YUDW also ran two public meetings intended to introduce the town to the kinds of considerations typically encountered in a planning effort. Ultimately, HRIC felt YUDW failed to grasp the small town nature of Old Lyme, offering options more appropriate to an urban than a rural setting, and so recommended the town not engage YUDW for later phases. 

The planning effort continued with local volunteer resources. During this process it became clear that Halls Road was not a project of the right scale and scope to take advantage of a TIF district, and that avenue was not pursued further. In 2018, HRIC’s volunteers produced a vision proposal for Halls Road.

In 2019 HRIC presented the vision proposal to multiple local groups, publicized it online and at the Mid-summer Festival, and held two open houses at which residents and business owners could speak one-on-one with committee members and register their opinion on specific aspects of the ideas under consideration. 

EDC and CERC:

Also in 2019, the future of Halls Road figured prominently in economic research, surveys, and workshops conducted on behalf of the town’s Economic Development Commission (EDC). The EDC engaged the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC, now AdvanceCT) to help create a picture of the economic environment of Old Lyme and its place in the surrounding region. 

As a part of that effort CERC and EDC conducted a major survey of Old Lyme residents and business owners. Nearly 10% of the adult residents and over 10% of the representatives of local businesses responded to the survey. It covered Old Lyme as a whole and broke out specific areas, including Halls Road, for particular questions. Most of the survey questions were in the form of ranking a set of attributes or aims by their importance. Respondents also had the option to provide additional comments. Among the findings were: 

  • Nearly all respondents said future development should be consistent with the small town charm of Old Lyme and reflect its particular rural New England look and feel. 
  • Over 80% wanted improvements along Halls Road, from more varied restaurants and shops to greater safety for walkers and cyclists. 
  • Businesses wanted the town to do more to encourage business, thought the town needed a proper town center, and wanted the town to encourage more young people to move here. 
  • Responses regarding housing were self-contradictory, with only one in five saying Old Lyme needed more housing, yet two-thirds saying some specific type of housing was in short supply and should be added. 
  • Similarly, few said Old Lyme needed additional green space, but when asked about Halls Road in particular, 75% said development there should include additional green space, small parks, etc. 

CERC ran two workshops with representatives of commercial property owners, local businesses, and civic groups. The workshops considered the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) relevant to Old Lyme’s future. Although the scope was town-wide, Halls Road (as the main shopping area) was a major focus. A wide variety of factors were identified and discussed, but a few stood out as areas of broader agreement. In order of their relative prominence under each heading, these were: 

  • Strengths: Good schools, artistic heritage/culture, natural beauty/location, and volunteerism/sound town finance. 
  • Weaknesses: Lack of diverse housing for younger/older residents, weak CT economy, constraints on infrastructure [presumably: wastewater/groundwater], lack of walking/biking infrastructure, no coherent plan for commercial areas (Halls Road, Hartford Ave.) 
  • Opportunities: Deliver action plan for Halls Rd./Hartford Ave., make town more connected for bike/foot traffic, diversify housing stock, change Soundview stigma, attract younger residents. 
  • Threats: Resistance to change, CT state policies, environmental change, growing competition nearby. 

There was some confusion between “weaknesses” (~internal to the town) and “threats” (~external). Despite that definition, “resistance to change” was the most commonly cited threat to Old Lyme’s future, and Connecticut’s lackluster economy accounted a weakness. 

The need for different types of housing, and its role in ensuring a viable future for Old Lyme was far more prominent in the SWOT workshop discussions than it had been in the general survey. The fact that SWOT participants were all business- and civic-oriented may help to explain why they were more aware of the issue. Also, the SWOT workshops took place after the town-wide survey and many HRIC presentations, at a time when there was increasing public discussion of possible changes to Halls Road. The idea of mixed-use along Halls Road seems to have steadily gained public support over time, and continues to do so. 

Formal Plan:

Feedback from HRIC’s town-wide presentations and interactions, and the results of EDC research provided additional direction to the planning process. 

A formal plan for Halls Road required professional experience and knowledge. A search narrowed the field to three firms who presented proposals to HRIC. Of these, BSC won the contract at a cost within the limits of the funds previously allocated for planning. At the end of 2020, the town of Old Lyme engaged BSC Group, Inc. and their sub-consultant, Bartram & Cochran, to create a Master Plan, propose Public Realm (i.e. roadway, sidewalk and public open space) improvements, and to write Design Guidelines and recommended Re-Zoning Language for a new Halls Road Village District. 

That work is now complete, and the re-zoning language and Design Guidelines are presented with this request. 

Community Support 

As the formal Halls Road Master Plan was completed, HRIC went back to the community to gauge support, visiting local businesses and civic groups to present the final plan and answer any questions. This is an ongoing effort, but the response to date in dozens of sessions involving scores of individuals has been very positive, often enthusiastically so. 

Opinion seems to have evolved since the subject of change along Halls Road was first raised several years ago. Residents and other stakeholders have had time to consider the issues. Responses to the CERC survey of 2019 showed over 80% of respondents wanted some development along Halls Road, though only a minority at that time asked specifically for mixed use. Today the idea of mixed use on Halls Road has much greater and broader support, and its role in helping to achieve related aims is better understood.

Letter to the Editor: Let’s Work Together to Advance Halls Road Zoning Improvements, Public Hearing Tonight is Best Forum to Discuss Project

To the Editor:

Regarding the Halls Road zoning proposal, I agree the zoning is not perfect, and certainly needs review and revision, but we should not lose sight of the context and the bigger picture. The Public Hearing for the zoning proposal under discussion Monday, Nov. 8, at the Old Lyme Zoning Commission’s Regular Meeting is just a way to implement and make real a future Halls Road described in a set of plans and proposals that have been discussed in public for years. 

The key elements in the master plan were developed with significant input from the community and are widely supported. The Halls Road Improvement Committee (HRIC) incorporated the work produced by our consultant AdvanceCT including surveys, SWOT workshops, and an Economic Development Report.

The HRIC conducted numerous open houses and presentations to a host of organizations including town boards and commissions. The committee received input directly from many residents and also received numerous letters supporting the vision.

The master plan ensures the future viability of our central retail area while making Halls Road beautiful and attractive to the businesses that are a good fit for our community.

The key elements of the plan are to:

  • Maintain Old Lyme’s small-town New England feel and insure that future development is compatible with the town’s esthetics.
  • Provide badly needed housing options as an alternative to single family homes. 
  • Install sidewalks, crosswalks, trees, landscaping, a bike path and improved signage. 
  • Make Halls Road walkable, including a cool pedestrian bridge connecting Halls Road and Lyme Street so people can park once and walk, easily and safely. This will boost both the arts community and businesses on Halls Road. These elements will ensure the long-term viability of Halls Road and keep it alive after five PM.
  • Install a town green to foster a sense of community by providing a venue for small events and perhaps a framers market.
  • Maybe we can even get rid of that ‘Mayan ruin,’ the unfinished foundations in the strip center on the north side of Halls Road.

Now let’s turn to the proposed zoning regulations that are designed to support the vision described above and guarantee the vision is obtainable. It has been correctly pointed out that some revisions are required to achieve this. The Zoning Commission’s Public Hearing is the appropriate place to address these. 

Let’s encourage all of the appropriate boards and commissions to work together in a bipartisan way in order to achieve the Halls Road master plan vision that is desperately needed and widely supported.

Remember, the town’s major financial commitment is the right-of-way improvements on US Rte. 1. Private developers will do the rest, but only if we both allow and tell them to do what we want. 

Sincerely,

Howard Margules,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author is a member of the Halls Road Improvement Committee.

Martha Shoemaker (D): Candidate for Old Lyme First Selectman

Martha Shoemaker

Biography:

Martha Shoemaker currently serves as co-chair on the Region 18 Board of Education, the LOL Prevention Coalition and as President of The Friends of the OLPGN Library.  Martha is a retired teacher (35 years) and served as her union president for twelve years.  She has been employed at FiberQA for four years as their purchasing and production lead.  She has been a resident of Old Lyme with her husband Scott for 25 years. They have three adult sons, David, Tim, and Peter.  In her spare time, Martha enjoys a walk on the beach or revitalizing antique furniture. 

Q1: Why are you running for the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen?

I am running for First Selectman in Old Lyme for three reasons: 

Keep taxes low and support small businesses. 

Protect our natural resources to preserve the beauty and character of our small town.

Restore transparency, responsiveness, and accountability to town hall.

I will take the time to listen to all residents regardless of their political affiliation. We may not always agree, but we should always listen to each other.  Our current first selectman seems to have forgotten this.  I will also use every tool at my disposal to communicate with the public.  We are decades behind similarly situated towns because our current administration does not value modern technology.  

Old Lyme has abundant open space and natural beauty. Historically we have enjoyed low taxes, low crime, and a first-class school system. Now we must find ways to attract young families to our town to avoid declining enrollment and we need to keep Old Lyme attractive, accessible, and affordable for our seniors. I will work with the Affordable Housing Commission to craft solutions.   Similarly, revitalization of Halls Road and the 156 Gateway will positively impact economic and housing options for young professionals and seniors. 

My background as a union leader proves that I can effectively use mediation and negotiation skills. These will be important as I bring groups from both sides of the table together to look at the issues, strategize for the future and find solutions that are mutually agreeable.  

As a town leader I will cultivate the qualities of collaboration, teamwork, and civility. When elected officials demonstrate how to differ with one another respectfully, find compromise, and focus on the common good, community members benefit. I am able to acknowledge differences with mutual respect to move an agenda forward and I will make collaborative progress possible.

Q2: What is your opinion of the Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis, which was originally proposed by Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal in August 2020 as a document that the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen should approve? It remains unsigned — please indicate whether you would be willing to sign it, if elected.

To me, there are two main issues with the way the Resolution has been handled.  This first is imbedded in your question: it was introduced in August 2020.  For fifteen months the Republicans on the Board of Selectmen (BoS) have routinely refused to allow discussion of the Resolution to be added to the BoS meeting agenda, and they are adamant that it will not be put up for a vote.  In my opinion, that is poor leadership.  In my various leadership positions, I have fully understood that it is difficult to make decisions that satisfy everyone.  But that’s precisely why it’s important to talk about the issues. Even if proponents and opponents of this Resolution don’t agree on all of it, there may be areas of commonality that create a way forward that is acceptable to all.  To date, we don’t know that because the Republican selectmen won’t hear debate on the matter.

The second issue relates to the Resolution’s merits.  There is empirical evidence that structural racism affects public health outcomes.  The AMA, the CDC, the APHA and virtually every other public health body has confirmed this.  So, the only real question is: how do we as the town of Old Lyme respond?  The path Republican leadership has chosen is to bury their heads in the sand arguing, “maybe that’s so elsewhere, but not here.”  I think that approach is shortsighted and bad for the town. Declaring that we stand with those who suffer from structural racism is not some sort of tacit admission that we are a racist town.  On the contrary, it is affirmation that we are not.  If elected, I would welcome discussion on this and would sign a Resolution that reflects the truth: that Old Lyme is a welcoming and open-minded community.

Q3: What do you consider are currently the three most important issues in Old Lyme that require the attention of the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen, (with the exception of the Resolution on Racism discussed in Question 2)? Describe how you would move forward on each issue, if elected.

The three most important issues are as follows:

Infrastructure/Development – The management of the sewer project for the shoreline area will be critical during the next two years and our focus should be on finding grants and other innovative ways to pay for the solution.   I will also be supporting the Affordable Housing Commission recommendations for compliance with state mandates.  During my time campaigning I have heard from many residents who would enjoy small investments such as a dog park, splash pad or skate park.  The enhancement of Hains Park is also to be considered. 

Economic Development – Promoting the Halls Road master plan, improve the 156 gateway into Soundview and supporting small businesses are of utmost importance at this time.  The Plan of Conservation and Development that was adopted in February 2021 will provide guidance as we move forward. We must work together to see that Old Lyme continues to develop in the manner which our residents see as its future.

Fiscal and Personnel Management – I will create transparency to the budget process, while making sure our residents are getting the value for their tax dollars.  We must put into place Public Health and Safety policies.   The recent discovery that our cyber insurance has lapsed will have to be addressed immediately.  Town hall personnel deserve to have a Human Resource director (part-time) to complete job descriptions, provide evaluations and goal setting for departments and to update our policies under state guidelines. Town employees have the right to be treated equitably with established guidelines.

Public Hearing for Old Lyme’s Planning Commission’s Conservation, Development Plan Draws Most Comments on Town’s Housing Needs

Old Lyme Planning Commission members and visitors participated in a virtual Public Hearing Thursday on the commission’s proposed Plan of Conservation & Development.

OLD LYME — Old Lyme Planning Commission Chairman Harold Thompson opened Thursday evening’s Public Hearing for the ‘Adoption of the 2020 Plan of Conservation & Development (POCD)’ by noting, “This has been a long road with some difficult times.” Adding that the Commission had held 15 workshops to discuss the document, which is published on the Town of Old Lyme website, he went on to detail the required timeline for gaining its approval in order to  submit it by the mandatory deadline to the state.

He then opened the virtual (the meeting was held via Webex) floor to comments from the public. First to speak was Halls Road Improvement Committee Chairman Edie Twining, who initially quoted from comments she had submitted in writing to the Commission prior to the meeting.

She stated, “The Halls Road Improvements Committee has initiated a Halls Road Plan which is currently being created by the BSC group. This is a significant, town-approved, and town-funded planning initiative that will guide any future development in the Halls Road Commercial area. The plan will include recommendations for significant capital investment by the town to create new sidewalks, bike paths, pedestrian lighting, and landscaping in the Halls Road area.”

Continuing, “It will provide studies on the market needs of this area, the infrastructure options, CT DOT constraints, and documentation of all existing conditions to provide recommendations for changes in zoning, uses, and design guidelines,” she added,  “This report will lay the groundwork to aid in maintaining our town’s commercial center with the introduction of mixed use.”

She then stressed, “In keeping with clearly expressed public sentiment, it will steer away from the current “strip center” aesthetic of 60’ setbacks. Instead it will promote a return to the original small town character of Old Lyme’s town center, as found on historic Lyme Street.”

Twining concluded her comments in her own words, “We feel the town’s 10-year Plan of Conservation and Development should include a reasonable discussion of the largest formal planning effort currently underway under the town’s auspices and at the town’s expense,” noting, “I have delivered an outline of specific pages where I see a need for changes in order to correctly represent the Halls Road Planning effort. I would like to request that these changes be included in your document.”

Finally she thanked the commission for their, “time and consideration of this work.”

Howard Margules, Old Lyme Economic Development Commission Chairman, then questioned whether the issue of blighted structures in the town should be included in the document. He also quoted from a general description of a strip mall, which Thompson agreed bore a strong resemblance to Halls Rd. Margules pointed out that it states in the POCD that strip malls are not permitted and therefore suggested there might be a “disconnect” in the report on that matter.

Margules further suggested the commission should confer with the new leadership at Lyme Academy to update information in the plan regarding the Academy and then concluded by saying how much he appreciated the commission’s work.

Thompson responded he had already had a lengthy phone conversation with Michael Duffy, the new board chair at the Academy.

Stephen Jungkeit, Senior Minister at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, thanked the planning commission for their work, adding, “This is a really well done report.” He said he wished to “affirm interest in [a variety of types of] housing,” which had been mentioned in the report, noting that, “from his vantage point,” this was a major issue in the town that he felt needed urgent attention. After noting that he hoped that the POCD represented, “… the beginning of a wider look at the issue,” he ended by saying simply, “I’m just saying thank you for that.”

Commission member Stephen Ross expressed the opinion, “that what would benefit the town a lot would be a broader survey of what the town needs in terms of housing.” Remarking that a house near his own on Shore Rd. had been vacant for one and a half years, he said, “We need to assess the actual demand [for housing] as opposed to the perceived demand.”

Twining responded that the HRIC was doing a “market study looking into some of those things,” and had reported that, “only one apartment was available in the whole town.”

Ross disputed that finding saying, “There’s a heck of a lot more than one apartment available,” noting that there was a need to look into all rentals.

Jungkeit suggested any survey should also include research into housing needs emanating from outside the town. Ross then stated, “It’s all about inventory.”

Margules agreed that “drilling down further into housing needs” would be beneficial, noting that, for example, the needs of seniors downsizing and young people moving into town “need to be addressed as well.”

The Public Hearing concluded with a unanimous vote to continue the hearing until Feb. 9.

 

 

Lyme-Old Lyme HS Senior Builds Benches For OL Land Trust’s Lohmann Preserve as Eagle Scout Project

Old Lyme Land Trust Secretary Anne Galliher stands with Boy Scout Alec Russell during the dedication ceremony for the benches built by Russell as part of his Eagle Scout project.

OLD LYME — Anyone who has visited the John Lohmann CT River Preserve recently has undoubtedly noticed the two new cedar benches. These were built as the Eagle Scout project of Alec Russell of Boy Scout Association Troop 240. Alec is a senior at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.

Russell proposed and planned this service project, organized a work team, secured donations of material from United Building Supply and Laysville Hardware. He worked with his team of adults and fellow scouts to build the benches, using cedar for its weather, insect and decay resistance.

One bench is on the riverfront where it offers views of Essex and Lords Cove year round. The other is at the top of the path leading down to the river.

The inscription on one of the benches built by Alec Russell for the Lohmann Preserve in Old Lme.

The bench commissioning celebration was held on a blustery riverside day but that did not deter a hardy group of Old Lyme Land Trust members, scouts and the Russell family from enjoying the views and warm beverages. The neighbors at Long River Farm loaned their ATV to bring in the provisions.

The benches are located in an area that is being reforested with pitch pine, a species used extensively in early days for ship building and railroad ties. Pitch pine has become scarce in Connecticut and has a particular preference for its habitat. On advice of the Connecticut River Gateway Commission and forest managers, about 20 hardwood trees were removed by Yankee Tree to encourage growth of the pines.

The John Lohmann Preserve and all other Old Lyme Land Trust preserves are always open and available for public use for hiking and enjoying the outdoors in Old Lyme.

Death of LymeLine Contributor, Former NY State Senator Jerome ‘Jerry’ Wilson Announced

The late Jerome (Jerry) L. Wilson.

ESSEX — It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our beloved contributor, Jerome ‘Jerry’ L. Wilson. Mr. Wilson, 88, passed away Friday, Nov. 1, in Essex. We have not yet heard the details of services for Mr. Wilson but will publish them as soon as we receive them.

Mr. Wilson was a great supporter of our online news ventures and contributed more article and photos to ValleyNewsNow.com and LymeLine.com than we can count. Coincidentally, Mr. Wilson was room-mates at Colgate University with John ‘Jack’ Turner, who was the founder of LymeLine.com in 2003. Most of Mr. Wilson’s articles were published on ValleyNewsNow.com, which was founded by Lon Seidman in 2009. Both sites are now owned by Shoreline Web News LLC.

Mr. Wilson was passionate about the importance of local news and determined to keep it very much on the front burner.  He would pursue stories with the grit of a rookie journalist, never giving up until he had answers or comments from everyone he believed should be involved. A character in every way imaginable, Mr. Wilson had a heart of gold and we will miss him dearly.

He led a storied career as a Democratic State Senator from Manhattan, an on-air political correspondent and editor for WCBS-TV, and a lawyer. He was perhaps best known for his determined and ultimately successful efforts to change the New York state law, which required a spouse to prove adultery as the sole way to gain a divorce. New York was the only remaining state in the country with this provision when then Senator Wilson took up the issue. By the time the new law was passed in September 1967 with Sen. Wilson leading the state judicial committee that had proposed it, four additional grounds for divorce had been added.

This past Tuesday, Nov. 5, the New York Times published an article about Mr. Wilson at this link by NYT Obituaries Reporter Sam Roberts.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Wilson’s wife Ulla, his four daughters, two stepsons, six grandchildren, and four step-grandchildren.

Jennifer Miller (R): Candidate for Region 18 Board of Education Representing Old Lyme

Jennifer Miller

Recently retired, Jenn’s professional career spanned various accounting, finance and business operations management roles. Jenn has been accountable for budgets ranging from $400 to $960 MM, including technology and capital improvement budgets. As a former Army Officer, a CPA with KPMG Peat Marwick, and an Executive Director with Pfizer, working with and leading diverse teams solving complex challenges are her favorite experiences. Jenn serves on the Habitat for Humanity of Eastern Connecticut Board of Directors, as past Treasurer, and member of various committees.  Jenn’s sons graduated from our Old Lyme schools; she enjoys golf, fishing and the outdoors.

What are the three major issues in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools that you are currently aware of, which require resolution during your potential term of office?  Please list and explain each one briefly in order of importance.

I will state up front that I am going to leave out educational excellence from this short list as I do not feel that is an issue per se.

    1. Operational and capital budgeting.  Most issues fall under this umbrella, so to be more specific, the development of a forward-looking plan which encompasses our students’ needs, rising personnel costs, known facilities maintenance and technology upgrades in concert with our goals. While the current 2-3 year horizon is drafted, I believe we can do more to pull together a comprehensive strategy.  This would include input and goals from our committees, administration, community and District.  
    2. Open and transparent lines of communication.  I feel it is very important for the Board to have one voice and for all members to participate on behalf of the entire community.  I believe we can improve the conversation between the community and the Board and the administration. I want us to have a very close working relationship and dialogue with the administrators.
    3. Social consciousness.  I believe it is important to be aware, understand and address ever-changing social perspectives.  The focus on academic and athletic excellence may sometimes overshadow the social needs of some of our children. I would expect environmental and climate change /green awareness, single sex bathrooms, transgender sports/topics, apprenticeship training, virtual classes and college alternatives to be some issues which may arise over the next four years.  (nb 234)

Regarding Question 1, explain more about your choice of the issue of most importance and how you think it should be resolved.

The budget for our Region 18 schools comes overwhelmingly from Lyme and Old Lyme taxpayers as it should; it is about 70% of Old Lyme’s annual expenses.  The Board and administration worked diligently to propose a budget for this year to minimize the impact of rising health care costs. Those costs are expected to continue to rise by 8-10% a year. While we may be able to cut projects here and there a year at a time, I believe a holistic long term strategy is required.  Working together with input from our community and ideas from other school districts, I believe we can achieve a budget which maintains our academic excellence and aligns with taxpayer appetite. Choices will have to be made soon on facilities’ maintenance and improvements such as the proposed turf field. These could drive the need for a new bond issuance in 2022.  Maybe there are strategies to avoid that, maybe not, but the time to openly discuss it and plan is now, not the year before.

The development of a budget plan will have to take into account overall District, Region and community goals with regard to enrollment.  As our towns change their composition, I believe this Board could make a concerted effort to explicitly state a goal with respect to managing enrollment.  Issues to be discussed, among others could include regionalization across the state, expanded pre-K, recruitment from out of town and country, and/or a path which leads us to downsize our school system purposefully.

What do you see as the main relevant skills and character attributes that you will bring to the position if elected?

All positions throughout my career required personal leadership and diverse team management starting with my first platoon in the Army, then my audit teams as a CPA and manager at KPMG Peat Marwick and most recently through 20 years in supervisory roles with Pfizer.  For over ten years I developed budgets and managed their execution within 2% and managed the agendas and meetings of a senior executive team of 13. Over the last decade I have managed many projects, managed multiple managers of projects at once and implemented overarching strategic planning from development to implementation.  These projects ranged from improvements to processes, rewrites of policies, operational budget reductions, facility improvements and facility closures and wholesale changes in the way a business was run. I am versed in Lean Six Sigma, Complex Problem Solving, Accelerated Implementation Methodology (change management) and hold a MBA from Rutgers University. 

Personally, I am an avid listener and learner. I have already learned quite a bit about Boards of Ed since I decided to run! I address a problem believing there are multiple solutions and impacts which need to be thought through and always, always, try to draw out everyone’s input. Perspectives are so important to recognize in our discussions. Having said that, I do like to stay focused on the issue at hand.  Helping the team reach consensus, that which we can all support as a team, is critical to speaking with one voice. I am rarely stressed, pretty patient, and committed if elected.

Opinion: Vote Tuesday in Old Lyme’s Referendum on Sewers, Then Respect the Result

OLD LYME — Tomorrow Old Lyme voters will go the polls to decide whether the Town of Old Lyme should bond $9.44 million to fund the installation of sewers on three streets in Sound View. The facts of the proposal have been widely reported, for example, Mary Biekert of The Day authored a comprehensive article on the subject published Saturday on TheDay.com at this link.

As a community newspaper that cares passionately about the community we serve, we never endorse politicians and rarely choose sides in town referenda. Therefore, we will not be making any recommendation on how you should vote tomorrow, but we will, however, take the opportunity to make a few comments.

This sewer issue has polarized the town with the residents of Sound View understandably not wishing to pay the whole installation cost of sewers saying that is unfair and the cost should be divided between all town residents.  Meanwhile, most townspeople, excluding the Sound View residents, do not see why they should pay for someone else’s sewers when no one would pay to fix their septic system if it failed.

It is important to remember that the Town is under a state mandate to install the sewers and so doing nothing is not an option. The volunteers on the Old Lyme Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA)  have dedicated an incredible number of hours to this project and our impression is that they have no political agenda. Rather, they are simply hard-working individuals trying to solve an extremely challenging problem and we salute their efforts. If the referendum fails tomorrow, there seems to be a fairly general consensus that the costs will rise in any subsequent plan.

Some have argued that the Town, that is, all Old Lyme residents, should be paying for the work in the streets since they are town-owned and the Sound View residents should only be paying for the hook-ups to their houses. This sounds logical but does not seem to follow the precedent set elsewhere in the state, nor significantly in the four other beach associations in Old Lyme that have already signed on for sewers to be installed at their own expense.

We have enormous sympathies for the residents of Sound View, who — if the referendum passes — will have to pay a median cost of over $31,000 to pay off the loan that the Town is taking out on their behalf. This can be paid in full right away or financed over 20 years at 2 percent interest. The key question is what is a home worth after sewers have been installed?  The assumption is that the sewers will increase the value of any house by more than the homeowner has paid. No one other than the owner benefits from that increase in value, but we also recognize many of the houses in Sound View are never sold but passed down from one generation to the next.

Finally, we are intensely distressed by the deep rift opening up once again in our community over the sewer issue. We recall the green ribbons of yesteryear when residents publicly displayed their support of the first school building project brought to referendum by Region 18 to the anger of those who were not in favor of the proposal. Those were difficult days with palpable mistrust and resentfulness on both sides. 

But back then, there was no social media to fuel the argument and too much has been said on the sewer issue on this virtual town square, some of it inaccurate and/or laced with political venom. This mounting tension spilled over into last Monday’s Special Town Meeting at which  procedural confusion sparked some most unfortunate behavior.

There is no place for this in our beloved town so, regardless of how you are going to vote tomorrow, let us quietly and respectfully take our differing opinions to the ballot box … and then treat the result in the same manner.

With Approach of Brexit Deadline, a New Conundrum Emerges: UK Grows More Divided, EU More United

Nicole Prévost Logan

It was a close call for Theresa May and probably the most difficult time of the 900-odd days of the Brexit negotiations. 

On Monday, Dec. 10, her proposed “deal” faced opposition from all sides. Several of her ministers had already resigned: Boris Johnson,  Dominic Raab and David Davis, successive Secretaries of State for Brexit. Even her own Tory party was divided. 

Europhile Jo Johnson, brother of Boris, refused the terms of her “deal.” On the left, the Labor Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, wanted to remain in Europe, but within a large customs union, to maintain trade relations and be in control of immigration. Both Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP), on whom May’s Conservatives rely for a majority in parliament, preferred  a “Norway plus” formula. 

A coup de theatre occurred in the House of Commons on Dec. 12: the leader of the conservative Brexiters, Jacob Rees-Mogg, led a motion of no confidence against the prime minister. She won by 200 votes to 117. This vote meant  a reprieve for May until Jan. 21, 2019 to make a final decision on the “deal.”  She cannot drag out the timetable indefinitely, however, since the process has to be completed before the European elections on May 26.  

During that fateful week, in a desperate effort to save her plan, the British Prime Minister raced from the House of Commons to make hasty visits to the European countries most sympathetic to her ideas such as The Netherlands or Germany.  She returned to London and made a statement in front of 10 Downing Street on a cold winter night, cheered a little by a Christmas tree standing nearby. On Dec. 13, she was back on the continent to attend a meeting of the European Council hoping to wrench out a few more concessions from the weary Europeans.

She returned to the UK empty-handed.

May warns that “no deal” would be catastrophic for the UK.  She says that only by achieving a deal can the UK hope to preserve its independence and remain in control of its economy and borders. The Brexiters’ argument is that during the transition period, which starts on March 29, 2019, the UK will remain within the EU Custom Union, unable to sign bilateral cooperation agreements with other countries and forced to make financial contributions, while having no say in the decision-making process.

The 27 EU members ratified the hefty 600-page withdrawal document of the UK after smoothing out a few thorny issues. One is the administration of the Gibraltar enclave.  Spain had to be satisfied lest it used its veto. The other one dealt with the demands by fishermen from France,  Denmark and a few other countries to retain access to the waters — rich in fish — around the British Isles.  Until today, they have been allowed to do so as per the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

But by far the most crucial point is the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  Both the UK and the EU want a “backstop” — a device designed to maintain the UK with the EU Customs Union until a trade agreement is signed — but for different reasons. For Brussels, it is a non- negotiable red line, a temporary measure, like an insurance to be applied during the transition period scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2020. Ireland does not want to see the re-emergence of the bloody conflict, which finally ended on Good Friday 1998.  

Theresa May wants a legally-binding text agreement that proposes a backstop to prevent the return of a physical border. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his team are ready to make adjustments to create a “backstop” more palatable to the British, saying, “Let us be imaginative and creative.”  He now offers other solutions such as setting up control points about 10 miles from the border in industrial buildings .  

On the whole, the 27 European Union (EU) members are displaying an exceptional show of unity, which may come as a surprise for outside observers.  One would  expect the EU to be tough with the UK to prevent a possible ‘domino effect’ inspiring others to leave a continent already torn between populism and nationalism. 

In fact, the exact opposite is happening. and none of the 27 seem willing to leave Europe. In France, Marine Le Pen changed her mind quickly about keeping the Euro.  In Greece, Prime Minister Tsipras and his Syriza party are not in conflict with Brussels any longer.  The Italian government has agreed to reduce its deficit in accordance with the EU rules.  Eastern Europeans appreciate greatly the assistance they receive from Brussels and also the protection the latter gives them against their Russian neighbor They do not show any intention of leaving the EU.. 

The scenario of a new referendum is gaining ground.  Since the European Court of Justice has just declared that a EU member state can unilaterally withdraw its intention to leave the Union, the task of the “Remainers” would be simplified. If they win the referendum, it will be back to square one — an outcome generally favored by the Europeans. 

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

Update on Halls Rd. Improvement Project

We felt an update on the Halls Road Improvements project would be timely since several related things have occurred since our last post on the subject.

Firstly, we have received quite a number of thoughtful and constructive comments from readers on the topic, some of which we have already published and others that were sent to directly to us and anonymity requested. We are now publishing  them all in their entirety below.

We still welcome further comments and will continue to respect people’s anonymity if requested.

Halls Road today. Photo from Yale Urban design Workshop presentation given on Dec. 6, 2018..

Secondly, the Halls Road Improvements Committee has now published the Dec. 6 Yale Urban Design Workshop presentation on the Town of Old Lyme website at this link.  There is also an opportunity to comment on the proposed plans at this link.

Thirdly, the folk at SECoast.org have published their report of the Dec. 6 meeting at this link.  They are also soliciting comments on the proposal on their Facebook page at this link.

Finally, there is an Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting this afternoon at 4 p.m. in the town hall meeting room, which includes an update on the project on its agenda.

Comments on the proposal received to date from readers are as follows:

Author; John Stratton:

For more than a century there’s been no comprehensive plan for the use and appearance of lower Boston Post Road (now known as Halls Road). The 1911 auto bridge and the 1948 realignment of the Boston Post Road essentially created the present patchwork. It’s time for a set of guidelines which are proactive from the standpoint of creating a single, attractive, town destination, preferably one that blends economic, residential, and community spaces. Yes, problems may arise, and careful rezoning will have to anticipate them. In 1990-1993 the initial proposals for the new I-95 bridge and interchange were seen to consume a lot of our shopping center. People reacted with concern and the invasive roadway plans were altered— but no new plan emerged to redefine the Halls Road streetscape as a “town center.” This is our chance to build that plan.

Author: Anonymous

I think the Town’s effort is great.  It is for plans such as these that we have Town committees and staff in the first place.  They are doing their job, and thinking long term about what kind of Old Lyme we want to have.  As said by one of the representatives (and I paraphrase), when we let the developers lead, we end up with an ugly mishmash of structures … just like we have on Halls Road now.

What the Town is proposing is reasonable.  Over the next 30 years, there will be development one way or the other.  The town is just saying, hey let’s all have a say in defining what we want to wind up with at the end of the day.  The Town is not saying let’s spend a whole lot of tax money up front, or even in the long term.  They are just saying let’s all agree on what we want, and let private developers fill in the blanks as they see future economic opportunities.  The Town might provide a few dollars, but it sounds like it is more intent on offering zoning benefits, and seeking to access State grant money.

At the end of the day, this is a 30 year plan.  We have 30 years to monitor it, and to make revisions if necessary.  Give it a try.  Otherwise Halls Road will remain a blight.

Author: Thomas D. Gotowka

Christina and I attended both public meetings hosted by Old Lyme’s Halls Road Improvements Committee, and conducted by members of the Yale Urban Design Workshop. Yale presented the Committee’s vision statement and several conceptual renderings of what fully realizing that vision might yield. The article in the New London Day accurately summarized the vision.

The audience was skeptical of the immense breadth and scope of that vision; – requiring twenty- five or more years to complete.  Several concerns were raised about cost and the impact on taxes.

We left with a few thoughts and concerns. It was not apparent to us that current Halls Road business owners and the professionals occupying office space had participated to any extent in developing that vision. It is absolutely important to get their buy-in. Essex Bank did state that any of their future development would take Old Lyme’s plan into consideration.

We found Alan Plattus’ presentation to be a bit glib. This is important stuff, and some of the vision could be lost in presenter style. Also, know the names of our local landmarks, especially if they factor into the plan. (i.e. it’s the “Bow Bridge” that used to cross the Lieutenant River). But, after all; they’re Yale, not Harvard.

Our suggestion: parse the plan into achievable shorter- range projects that will yield some early successes. Start with the hiking/biking paths along the Lieutenant River, rebuild the foot bridge, and create the new Halls Road village green.

Author: J. David Kelsey

I strongly believe a municipality’s best service for economic development is to create a flexible crucible allowing for creative use of people’s property and to support it with reasonable infrastructure. A good starting point is indeed a big picture vision of what could be – the work of the Yale is a helpful guide to figure out what zoning flexibility might be added and to identify infrastructure improvements (sidewalks, rational street signs, crosswalks) that might be undertaken.

What is not clear is the level of involvement of the town in changing the nature of existing buildings – are we talking about the town purchasing certain parcels and eminent domain strategies so that the town (instead of existing private owners) determines what might happen? I would advocate for a clear statement soon of how the town proposes to be involved, and I would hope it would be a light touch of reducing setbacks, requiring rear parking, introducing mixed-use zoning and working with DOT early to see what actual changes could be made for street parking (it is a unique stretch of US-1 with unusually high volume during frequent detours), sidewalks and hardscape improvements. Private owners could then determine what makes sense economically for changes to existing buildings and for new construction.

If the goal is for the town to control actively in some manner the types of use and nature of construction, that is a very large role to undertake, since this part of town is economically vibrant already with buildings that are close to full already with businesses, despite being less aesthetically desirable in the case of some buildings. I hope we get a clear picture that is public of the long-term town plan, rough ideas of costs to the town and a timetable once the community feedback for Yale’s draft plan is complete. A great start at very low cost and quickly achieved would be consolidating or eliminating street and traffic signs and at least having them stand up straight.

For more than a century there’s been no comprehensive plan for the use and appearance of lower Boston Post Road (now known as Halls Road). The 1911 auto bridge and the 1948 realignment of the Boston Post Road essentially created the present patchwork. It’s time for a set of guidelines which are proactive from the standpoint of creating a single, attractive, town destination, preferably one that blends economic, residential, and community spaces. Yes, problems may arise, and careful rezoning will have to anticipate them. In 1990-1993 the initial proposals for the new I-95 bridge and interchange were seen to consume a lot of our shopping center. People reacted with concern and the invasive roadway plans were altered— but no new plan emerged to redefine the Halls Road streetscape as a “town center.” This is our chance to build that plan.

Author: Ron Breault

I attended the Dec 6 meeting. My comments

1) When asked about the planning assumption regarding possible DOT changes to I-95, the Yale Urban Design response was that, despite recognition that traffic delays and congestion already exist, there would be no area changes in I-95 in the next 20 years.

Since this is already a significant thru traffic problem which can only get worse, changes envisioned by the ‘plan’ for Halls Rd that include on Halls Rd parallel and/or diagonal parking, increased commercial density and pedestrian use, increased recreational use and pedestrian crossing and stop signs will aggravate, perhaps dangerously, the Halls Rd environment.

2) There appeared to be no consideration given for a more limited, ‘modest’, less expensive improvement of Halls Rd, ie’, sidewalks, bike paths, a return of the pedestrian crossing bridge over the Lieutenant River, elimination of ‘leaning’ power line poles with unattractive heavy looping wires and electrical equipment. Maybe some street lighting, and buried wires?

3) One of the meeting attendees commented that she had lived in Nantucket for 25 years and, because of development, ‘Nantucket is no longer Nantucket’. Paraphrased, her concern was the extensive multi story commercial/residential development plan presented for Halls Rd would mean Old Lyme would no longer be Old Lyme. I think this was a shared feeling by many at the meeting.

Author: Ted Mundy

Unfortunately I did not attend the meeting. Nonetheless, the previous comments and SE Coast write-ups provide a good base of information.

Rule One for architects is to live in what they intend to design. Of course, this is impossible until built. However, they should visit at least twice during the calendar year. The first is a summer Friday night when I-95 gets jammed. The overflow of traffic makes 156 and Rt-1 very congested. If there is an accident southbound, Rt-1 after Exit 75 is backed up from Laysville south to the Hall’s Road traffic lights. Some traffic goes down Lyme Street, which is the heart of what makes Old Lyme great. Imagine shopping on Hall’s Road during these incidents. We avoid it.

The second time to visit is in early December. The town is relatively quiet especially the shore communities. One wonders how some of the Hall’s Road merchants make it at all. With the exception of the Big Y, foot traffic is slow in my judgment.

This gets to the final point. Do we want to change the character of Old Lyme? If the Mundys shop for goods other than necessities, we go on-line or visit Old Saybrook. Let’s leave Old Lyme the way it is and save government funds for infrastructure repair and reduce our tax burden.

Letter to the Editor: Two “Inescapable Facts” About Affordable Housing in Old Lyme

To the Editor:

In considering the debate over the suitability of 16 Neck Road for development of affordable housing under CT 8-30g as proposed by the HOPE Partnership, there are two inescapable facts in play.

First, Old Lyme has a woefully inadequate supply of affordable housing. As a result, the people who teach our children, respond to our 911 calls, earn wages in local businesses or are starting an independent life often cannot afford to live in the community in which they work and serve, and where they may have grown up. The beneficiaries of this project could be our children, or our parents. This reality seems to have been lost on June 5.

Second, 8-30g is specifically written to encourage towns like Old Lyme to develop affordable housing, and, importantly, to accelerate and simplify the path to approval of such developments. The chair of the zoning commission, Ms. Cable, was clear on June 5 when she reminded the commission members that, in considering any denial of an application under 8-30g, the role of the commission was effectively reversed, and that the burden of proof was on the commission, not the applicants.

While there have been legitimate concerns cited about traffic safety and the water supply that should be resolved, there have also been attempts to artificially raise the bar for this application, and to transfer the burden to the applicants. This includes attempts to link affordable housing to eliminating the need to own and operate an automobile. In rural southeastern Connecticut, this is, as we all know, frankly absurd. There is no requirement that that affordable housing must include development of a pedestrian mall. I also doubt that scare tactics about surface soil contamination near interstate highways would be employed if this development involved multi-million dollar homes. Concerns about the all-to-frequent times when accidents on I-95 cause increased traffic on Rt. 156 are not specific to the proposal, as this affects all intersections and properties along 156 west, south, and east. The commission should not and cannot be influenced by red herrings.

Regarding the tenor of the meeting on June 5, suffice to say that the 11-13 year old students that typically use the Middle School auditorium are held to a higher standard of behavior than was demonstrated by some members of the public. Thanks to the commission, particularly Chairwoman Cable, and to the HOPE Partnership presenters for maintaining composure and decorum in the face of that behavior. Volunteer public servants on the zoning commission, and the HOPE Partnership applicants whose only interest is doing good works in good faith deserve better. I hope that the continuation of the meeting on June 11 can be a more civil discourse.

I can’t help but think that if the creativity, time and expense that have been marshalled in opposition to this project were used to solve problems rather than create them, we would all be, quite literally, in a better place.

Sincerely,

Michael Fogliano,
Old Lyme.