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    Monday, July 15, 2024

    Sound View project to focus on improvements to Hartford Avenue

    Old Lyme — A proposed project to revamp the Sound View beach area will focus on making Hartford Avenue more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists, according to a presentation Tuesday.

    The proposal is to widen sidewalks, install street lamps, add bump-outs to control traffic, and install parallel parking along one side of the street and driving lanes that could be shared with bicycles, said Kurt Prochorena, principal with BSC Group, at the public information meeting. 

    Upgrades to Hartford Avenue would cost an estimated $751,000, with an estimated $532,000 reimbursement from the state.

    But a park area and restrooms at Sound View — initially part of the project's scope — would not be included in the first phase of the project, after costs came in higher than anticipated, according to the presentation.

    The restrooms, which are in a flood zone and would need to be flood-resistant, would have cost an estimated $242,000 and the Sound View Green would have cost an estimated $471,000.

    The town would still seek grant funding to add those two components later, said First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder. The town will also look for cost savings for the project.

    Reemsnyder said the selectmen are seeking comments from the public by July 14 and will then vote on whether to proceed with the project or stop at this time.

    "We feel this is going to be a great first step in making Sound View beautiful for all of us," she said. 

    Residents shared a diversity of viewpoints at the meeting, with some applauding the investment in Sound View and the potential to make the area attractive to pedestrians and bicyclists.

    Others raised concerns over parking, traffic and safety or said the green or the restrooms are the priority. 

    Reemsnyder said the state reimbursement is from a transportation grant, and the DOT will only give 10 percent of the project's costs to restrooms.

    Reemsnyder said another issue is that it's unclear where the proposed restrooms would be flushed to, whether potentially to sewers, if they are installed in the future, or a more expensive system without sewers.

    Frank Noe, a Hartford Avenue business owner, said it would be unwise to redo the streets before installing sewers.

    "What happens when the day comes when we have sewers down that street, or all the streets, and we're duplicating all our costs?" he said.

    Reemsynder responded that the project should not be held up, because sewers are not a definite and there would be ways to handle that issue during their installation.

    Resident Joseph Camean said a large part of the project's intent is to draw residents from all parts of town to Sound View.

    "One of the biggest issues is in the winter time tumbleweeds roll down the street, and there's nobody around," he said. "We need to have a year-round presence if we're going to see any kind of revitalization."

    If the selectmen proceed, final design plans would be created and funding for the project would be voted on at a town meeting. Construction would be slated to begin in the spring of 2016 and be completed for the summer season.

    Tuesday's informational meeting, attended by about 40 residents, came at the completion of the project's preliminary design.

    k.drelich@theday.com

    Twitter: @KimberlyDrelich

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