Old Lyme voters overwhelmingly back study of wastewater options

Old Lyme - More than 100 residents voted Tuesday to approve funding a $185,000 study intended to weigh community wastewater management options and the wastewater needs of the shoreline area.

The official tally at the special town meeting came down to 106 residents in favor of the study and seven residents against it.

While the town's Water Pollution Control Authority has a "sewer avoidance" policy, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has ordered two beach associations - Old Lyme Shores Beach Association and Old Colony Beach Club Association - to connect to sewers by 2016. The associations have studies showing ground and water pollution from their on-site septic tanks. The Point O' Woods beach community has already connected to sewers.

At the meeting, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder gave a presentation in which she said the town will work with DEEP and the engineering firm Woodard and Curran on the study and presented benefits of a local solution, such as allowing the town to have control over costs stemming from wastewater management.

Residents voted to approve funding the study after raising questions - such as whether the study would consider sewers as an option for shoreline residents.

The study, save the $18,000 application fee, is eligible for 55 percent reimbursement from the federal Clean Water Act through the DEEP. Reemsnyder said DEEP has formally approved the study for funding eligibility. Since the water study would receive Clean Water funds, it would be required to weigh the viability of all wastewater options, including sewers, Reemsnyder explained.

Residents also approved, by a majority vote, $27,300 to install two parking kiosks along Hartford Avenue and redesign street parking from a parallel-parking layout to a diagonal-parking configuration. The town collected about $36,000 in parking fees in 2012.

In January, the town received a state grant that will allow for 80 percent reimbursement of improvements to the Sound View Beach area. While the two kiosks and redesigned street parking layout are part of the overall project, the $27,300 is not eligible for reimbursement, since it is being conducted in advance. Reemsnyder said in a presentation that the town favors installing the street parking improvements now for convenience and safety reasons.



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