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Old Lyme awarded $400K grant for additional Sound View improvements

Old Lyme — Town officials and those involved with planning improvements within the town’s Sound View Beach Association recently announced the state has awarded a $400,000 grant to cover construction costs for additional improvements in that area.

The grant comes months after the town completed a redesign on parts of Hartford Avenue in May, including landscaping, handicap-accessible sidewalks, improved drainage, bike racks and a bikeway, among other upgrades.

The proposed improvements, which Sound View Commission Chairman Frank Pappalardo described as “the last piece of the puzzle” for what’s already been started, will include the construction of a sidewalk along the Western side of Hartford Avenue from Bocce Lane to Route 156, bike lanes, signage, reduced curbs and beautification efforts on Hartford Avenue and Shore Road.

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who also sits on the Sound View Improvements Committee, said the grant was an opportunity she wouldn’t want to pass up.

“Anytime we have the opportunity to make our roads safely accessible, it’s a good thing for our community,” Reemsnyder said. “If you’ve ever gone down there in the summer, you’ll see a lot of people walking right on the road. They are actually on the side of the road, because there isn’t a sidewalk on that stretch of Hartford Avenue. This will help make that area safer.”

Administered by the state Department of Transportation, the grant, otherwise known as a Community Connectivity Grant, recently was created by the state to support pedestrian and bicycle safety and to improve accessibility within urban, suburban and rural community centers.

Several dozen other towns across Connecticut were selected to receive the grant in varying amounts.

The grant money, however, only will cover construction costs related to the improvements, Reemsnyder said. The town would need to pay its own engineering and design costs, estimates of which hover around $30,000, she said. To pay for that, she said, the town likely would absorb those costs into the budget for the 2020 fiscal year, assuming the town passes that budget. Otherwise, the proposed project could go to a special meeting vote.

Reemsnyder said the town still is waiting for a commitment to fund letter from the state. Once that’s in hand, and funding is approved by the town and the Board of Finance, the town will select an engineer to design the project. She said she believes a committee to oversee the project would be appointed, as well.

She predicts construction for those improvements could be built out in Spring 2020.

“I think that any small town that is trying to accomplish some infrastructure improvements would look for any grant they could get to help (defray) the cost,” Reemsnyder said. “When we did the first project in Sound View, we always knew we wanted to do further improvements in the area. This would allow us to do that.”

m.biekert@theday.com

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