Panel urges changes for Old Lyme's Sound View Beach

Old Lyme - The Sound View Commission is proposing new features that it said would transform Sound View Beach into a location where businesses can remain open later in the season and residents can gather for jazz festivals and farmers markets.

A bike path, picnic area, new parking system and permanent bathrooms are among the additions proposed to revamp the public beach area.

"We want to make this a multi-seasonal destination," said Frank Pappalardo, the commission's chairman, at an information session last week.

The changes could benefit Old Lyme residents and promote the town's use of the beach area, Pappalardo said. The new features would address the beach's longstanding issues, which include a lack of a main gathering space and permanent restrooms, he said.

Sound View is awaiting a $527,000 alternative transportation grant from the state Department of Transportation. The project's remaining cost to the town would be $132,000, which would require approval from the Boards of Selectmen and Finance before it went to a town vote, according to First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder. The project would also need to obtain any necessary permits from the town's commissions.

The Sound View proposal includes a bike path up Hartford Avenue and down Route 156 to Smith Neck Road, a restroom area and a parking system with kiosk meters, according to the presentation. The meters could potentially be programmed remotely, so parking fees could be reduced on days with inclement weather, said Pappalardo.

About 10 residents attended the Nov. 14 meeting, the second of three information sessions on the proposed changes.

One resident said it sounded like a "win-win" for the town and beach and asked what concerns have been raised.

Pappalardo said one issue raised at the previous meeting is the potential for flooding in an area considered to be a flood zone. He said that after discussing it with project engineers, he learned that the additions would neither help nor hurt the area.

Another resident raised concerns about traffic flow, since he said he has already observed double-parking at Sound View. Pappalardo said an area would be marked for pull-in parking, which could reduce traffic impact.

A PowerPoint presentation of the proposed changes is available on the town website.

k.drelich@theday.com

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