East Lyme voters OK $4.4M to fix Niantic boardwalk

East Lyme - Plans to rebuild the damaged Niantic Bay Boardwalk will move forward following a vote of approval at a town meeting Wednesday.

Many residents applauded after a majority voted in favor of allocating up to $4,442,779 for the redesigned boardwalk. So many attendees filled the meeting room at Town Hall that some watched the meeting by television outside the room.

The approximately half-mile long boardwalk will feature heavy-gauge steel pilings and rock revetment topped with concrete, according to the presentation. Construction is slated for spring through December.

With Amtrak's already rebuilt portion included, there will be a 1.1 mile concrete walkway stretching between Hole-in-the-Wall Beach and the new beach by the Niantic River Bridge, said First Selectman Paul Formica.

Formica also said the boardwalk, averaging about 60,000 to 80,000 trips per year, would contribute to the town's economic development.

The funding approved Wednesday comes from legal and insurance settlements as well as Federal Emergency Management Agency funds. A $500,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant, previously approved by residents, will also go toward project costs.

In addition, negotiations are underway to have Amtrak contribute to building a new revetment by its tracks, Formica said.

Some residents who spoke at the meeting expressed concerns about the plans or the funds it could take the town to maintain the structure over time. Still others said they were confident with the design and thought it would enhance the town.

At the town meeting, residents also approved $54,800 for an architect to consult the school board on the elementary school project; $15,000 for a playscape at Samuel Peretz Park at Bridebrook; $2,320, as well as $180 in benefits, to partially fund a museum curator for the Smith Harris Commission; $43,500 for a drunken driving enforcement program; and $21,107 in a state aid grant for town roads.

k.drelich@theday.com

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