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    Tuesday, April 23, 2024

    The Day tracked the rise and fall of major projects in 2022

    Opponents of the Route 82 reconstruction, which included six roundabouts and a median divider, posted signs throughout the city in the fall of 2022. The project is being “reassessed” by the state Department of Transportation. (Sarah Gordon/The Day) (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    From writing descriptive stories that introduced readers to major projects, through coverage of hours and hours of public meetings, Day reporters tracked controversial plans in 2022 that could have changed the landscapes in host towns.

    Three projects that dominated news in Norwich, Preston and Groton now are off the table: the Respler Homes LLC plan to create a residential, commercial and recreational village at the former Mystic Oral School, Blue Camp CT’s plan to build a luxury RV park on land owned by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe on Route 2 in Preston and the state Department of Transportation’s $45 million plan to reconstruct Route 82 in Norwich with six roundabouts, a median divider and bicycle lanes.

    In all cases, The Day covered the public discussions, met with residents and business owners, talked with state and municipal officials and wrote news stories, columns and editorials on the topics. Reporters continue to track the aftermaths, including next steps, lawsuits and potential revised plans for each project.

    Mystic Oral School

    The state Department of Economic and Community Development in October sent a letter to Respler Homes terminating the firm’s agreement with the state to purchase the state-owned former Mystic Oral School, also known as Mystic Education Center. A month later, the town of Groton also terminated its development agreement with Respler for the property. Groton a year earlier had found Respler in default of conditions of the agreement, and the parties had been in mediation for months before determining there was no resolution to the disputes.

    Preston RV Park

    In Preston, Maryland-based Blue Water Development Corp., under the name Blue Camp CT LLC, initially proposed a 300-space seasonal luxury RV and campground park on 65 acres owned by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe at the junction of route 2 and 164 and abutting Avery Pond. Stiff opposition by residents, especially in neighborhoods near Avery Pond, led the developers to reduce the scope of the project.

    But after the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission voted 3-2 to approve the scaled-down plan, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-3 against the project after holding three marathon public hearing sessions.

    Blue Camp CT has appealed the PZC denial to New London Superior Court, where it remains pending.

    Norwich roundabouts

    Any plans to reconstruct Route 82, nicknamed “Crash Alley,” also remain pending. The Day first started writing about the plan to build six roundabouts, a median divider, narrowed lanes and bicycle paths on the 1.3-mile stretch when they were introduced in 2015.

    But as the project drew near, City Council meetings filled with residents and business owners railing against the potential by the state to take properties and displace several long-standing local businesses and years of construction disruptions. The Day once again covered marathon public meetings and visited business owners potentially affected by the project.

    State legislators got involved, and in October, on the eve of the state legislative elections, the DOT announced it would “reassess” the project after taking into account “community input.”

    Revised plans are expected later this year, so stay connected to The Day to learn what the DOT has in mind to take the “crash alley” moniker off Norwich’s main commercial strip.


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