Old Lyme votes to accept donated land for recreation

Old Lyme - A land parcel off Halls Road with access to the Lieutenant River will soon belong to the town for public recreational use.

Residents voted at a special town meeting Tuesday to accept the donated land, about a half-acre in size, from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Under an agreement with the DEEP, the town will use the land for public recreational activities, such as fishing, crabbing and launching car-top or hand-carried non-commercial boats, as well as parking for those activities.

The town will also allow the state to access the Lieutenant River to "undertake scientific studies, stock fish, post regulations and notices, and construct and maintain fishing or marine habitat enhancement structures on the premises," according to a letter from the DEEP to First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

The Harbor Management Commission had recommended requesting the land so the town could turn the land into an area where people could sit on a bench or launch a kayak, for example, she said.

On Tuesday, residents also voted to support up to $30,000 in additional funds for a study on managing aquatic weeds in Rogers Lake, an approximately 260-acre body of water the town shares with Lyme.

The town's 2014-15 budget allocates $15,000 for the study, but the final cost of the study was determined after town officials had already presented the budget to the public.

Old Lyme and Lyme are splitting the cost of the $88,330 study by New England Environmental, an environmental consulting firm with offices in Amherst, Mass., and Middlefield.

The study includes reviewing previous data on Rogers Lake, surveying the plants within the lake, developing a system for monitoring water quality, evaluating nearby wells and holding public meetings during the process. The study will further analyze chemical and non-chemical options in terms of their cost, effectiveness, and time and permitting required and evaluate the potential effects of herbicides on human health and wildlife, according to the study's scope of work.

If the towns ultimately decide on herbicides, the plan would also include federal, state and local permitting, said Mark June-Wells, a limnologist and plant ecologist with New England Environmental.

After presentations to the towns, the firm hopes to develop management plans by fall 2015, he said.



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