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East Lyme voters will be asked to approve a series of expenditures at a town meeting tonight, one of them with a hefty price tag - $4,442,779 to rebuild the walkway that stretches along Niantic Bay from the Hole in the Wall Beach to Cini Park.
Voters attending the meeting should approve the measure.
While the number may appear alarming, this good investment will not drawdown the city's treasury. To pay for the improvements, East Lyme plans to use money from insurance and legal settlements tied to earlier problems with the walkway, along with Federal Emergency Management Agency funding due to storm damage. The town already set aside $500,000 from a state Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant.
The walkway has had its issues since opening in 2005. It quickly became apparent there were problems with construction techniques and materials, leading to litigation. A series of storms eroded away large chucks of the 1.1-mile scenic walkway, most recently Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.
This time the town has the plans in place to do it right. The rebuilt walkway will have concrete construction, be located 30 inches higher than the original path, and be designed to withstand a 100-year storm.
When intact, the walkway is a pleasant and healthy recreational option. It is also an added attraction for Niantic Village, complimenting the lively atmosphere and attracting more visitors.
The town meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.