Old Lyme plans bigger boathouse

Old Lyme - After receiving a state grant last year, the town plans to build an expanded two-story boathouse, with more storage and workout space, at Hains Park near Rogers Lake.

The proposed facility, for use by the Lyme-Old Lyme High School crew team and the community, would stand two stories tall and contain vertical storage racks for rowing equipment. It would also feature a second-floor fitness area accommodating 22 rowing machines and restroom and changing areas.

The existing one-story facility, built in 1988, is about 3,000 square feet, while the new building would have a 5,880-square-foot footprint.

The overall project for Hains Park includes replacing the park's dock, upgrading the park's restrooms, evaluating the basketball courts and developing a master plan for the park, according to a document outlining the project to prospective engineers.

The town has received a nearly $500,000 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant for the renovations. A Boathouse-Hains Park Improvements Committee has been working with Nina Peck Architects of Old Lyme to draft the plans.

The town will seek a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals next week since the proposed 35-foot tall structure is higher than allowed by zoning regulations. The regulations restrict buildings to 24 feet tall in the residentially zoned area. The appeals board will hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on July 15 at Town Hall on the variance application.

The application states that the proposed structure maximizes space and allows for vertical storage racks, without having to move the boathouse to a new location. Relocating the boathouse to a nearby commercial zone - where the two-story building would fit zoning requirements - would move it farther from the lake and take up space in the park, it states.

"Our goal is to provide a structure that is efficient in its use of space and aesthetically sympathetic to structures in the region," the application states. "We are proposing to maintain the existing location, so as to minimize impact to the rest of the park."

The committee is also evaluating options for new docks. The choice will likely depend on how much funding is left over after allocating funds for the boathouse, said Selectman Skip Sibley.


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