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A First Look at The New Plan For Sound View

Old Lyme Sound View Commission presents plans for new permanent bathrooms, kiosks for street parking, bike paths, and a revamped park designed to make Sound View a tourist destination.

 

Every seat was full at the Sound View Commission meeting in Old Lyme last night, and for good reason. This was the first public presentation of a proposal to revamp the town's beleaguered public beach area and local residents turned out en masse to see what the town had in mind.   

The plan has been in the works since September of 2011, when the town hired BSC Group Engineering to come up with a concept and designs to help solve parking and public safety issues, and make the area a tourist destination.

The Sound View Commission, which was officially established by the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen in 2011 to address those same issues, was charged with reviewing the plans and arrived at the following. (You'll find the entire presentation attached as a PDF.)

The Big Reveal

The final design includes permanent flush toilets and showers, parking kiosks for the street and the town lot, bike paths, and a park for events and picnics. Mindful of the need for parking, which is already in short supply by the town's public beach, the Commission selected a design that preserved as many spaces as possible in the town's lot. 

The total cost of the project amounts to $659,000, about half of which will go to pay for the parking kiosks and the bathrooms. The town has already applied for a Department of Transportation Enhancement Fund Grant that would fund most of the project. The cost to the town would be $132,000.

The project's supporters say the improvements to the area are expected to boost income to the town—which currently receives all the money from beach stickers and parking fees—by $24,000 annually. If that happens, the project should pay for itself after five and a half years.  

While some people at the Sound View Commission meeting questioned the need for a park or bike paths, there is no grant available that would only cover the cost of kiosks and restrooms, which everyone agrees the beach area needs desperately. This grant is only available if the project also includes a park and alternative transportation links. 

The Initial Reaction

After seeing the entire proposal, most people at the meeting seemed pretty enthusiastic.

"It's almost a dream that we can turn this community around," said Scott Boulinger, president of the Federation of Old Lyme Beaches. "I think this is one of the largest game-changers." 

Some local business owners were slightly less effusive but many said they were encouraged by the fact that the town now seems willing to invest in the area. Overall, they said they were in favor of any improvements aimed at drawing more people and businesses into the increasingly blighted area.

Naturally, there were still a few reservations about parking. Businesses were concerned that the project would require taking space away from the town's existing parking lot and local parking lot operators were concerned about how the town would set parking fees for the new kiosks.

The Sound View Commission last night voted to establish a subcommittee on parking that would include representatives from local businesses and lot owners to try to come up with a plan that everyone could live with going forward.  

Others had more specific questions about the proposed structures and landscaping. Would the buildings be able to withstand the flooding that plagues the area? Had anyone considered what might happen to the landscaping in the event of a strong storm or hurricane? They were assured that the engineers had taken all of that into consideration. 

After hearing the full presentation, however, the final questions revolved around whether the town intended to move ahead with the plan, even if the grant money didn't come through, and how soon the project would be completed and if it would be in place by next Memorial Day. 

The answer to those questions depends on whether the town gets the grant, whether voters approve it, and when any of that happens. Commission Chairman Frank Pappalardo took the fact that people were asking those questions as a good sign, however. 

"Even those who were against it were for it," he said.

 

 

 

Diane Stevens September 25, 2012 at 07:11 PM
The plans look lovely:) However, I think it will only benefit those that either Live down at SV or those vacationing/visiting for the day. Unless the parking fees are changed /reduced the lack of people coming down there will continue. Speaking of parking, exactly how many parking slots would be left in the town parking lot? The majority of residents in this town don't even drive down Hartford Avenue, so why would they vote "yes" to do this especially since the summer season is a mere 3 months at best? Looks great on paper, maybe someone can start up a 'drive' to raise that 132,000 so us taxpayers don't have to pay for it when most won't even use it.
Heidi Dinino-Fields January 02, 2013 at 07:07 PM
@ Diane Stevens, Maybe we could also start a "drive" for the majority of the Beach community not to have to pay taxes to the school when we can not even use them!!!!!!! And let me ask you this, Why is that you residents in town don't drive down Hartford Avenue? I would be glad to have you come for a visit to our Deli and sit and have breakfast at the Cool Moose,or maybe stop down for a fresh Flanders donut and coffee and we can get some in put from why the residents are so resentful to us..I look forward to meeting you..Heidi Fields
Diane Stevens January 02, 2013 at 10:15 PM
I realize you don't know me:) In fact I grew up on Hartford Avenue, my best friend has lived on Hartford Ave her entire life (pappaceno), My father grew up hanging out at Soundview. So I have no problem hanging out at Soundview at all. I have lived in Old Lyme my entire life. I think most residents won't go to SV is because they have no need to go down there, and god forbid it's Sound View!:))) Who knows what unsavory characters are down there:) (being sarcastic here). My issue is, our taxes are constantly going up , money is spent frivolously(sp) in this town, and I would like to continue to be able to afford to live here without going broke! The 3-4 months of the year that SV is active, isn't going to help our local economy. Yes, summer residents DO help our town's economy and thank god for them because the winters are long , but it isn't dependent on the improvements in SV. I would welcome improvement down there if it didn't cost us residents one single dime. And yes, I don't think it's fair that seasonal residents have to pay the same taxes we permanent residents pay for anything here. Look at Lyme, they pay a small fraction of school taxes here while OL gets hammered.. Diane
Heidi Dinino-Fields January 02, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Our taxes are constantly going up because of the school not because of Sound View. The town put in an over sized new septic system for the school which cost all of us way too much money..The town built a school that was not built for the future(guess"they" thought they could keep that small town feeling) and now they need to expand and that is why are taxes are going up.. The Sound View Parking lot had well over $200,000 in it 2 years ago and our Dear Mr. Griswold and friends took it to purchase a lot next to the police station other wise we could have used that money along with the State money to fix the Ave. I have lived on Hartford Ave for over 10 years now..I have 3 children who never used the school system.I own several buildings on the Ave. which I bought and fixed up.I rent them to single professionals.None of us use the school system.Yet I pay close to $20,000. a year in taxes..It is time the residents in town supported us ..We don't like the unsavory characters either but it is only going to get worse if we don't support each other. Also Diane if you read the article correctly you would have seen that the money will come out of the parking fund over a 5 year period..We can hold our own down there but it would be nice if this town was not so divided,It is shameful that in this day and age there is still that attitude that someone is from the other side of the tracks:(
Diane Stevens January 03, 2013 at 12:13 AM
I agree with you, re: taxes, and the school expenditures, NOT necessary, if they took care of what they had they wouldn't need a new one:( feel sorry for anyone trying to make a living and just survive in this town. Unfortunately I don't see the town "mindset" changing anytime to soon regarding Sound View, to many stuffed shirts here. I am not one who thinks there are "unsavory" characters down there, tho I know there are some, I don't see it getting worse, because no one wants to pay to park on the street for one thing, and two there isn't much left down there except the beach and bars on weekends. When I was in my 20's/30's that beach and street were packed every day of the week during the summer, now it's lucky if you see 4 cars on the street during the week in the summer. I honestly don't know how anyone can even break even with a business down there anymore and your right it IS sad. But again , I don't see residents of old lyme helping to overcome that.
Heidi Dinino-Fields January 03, 2013 at 04:07 AM
I agree with your answer to the parking..I did not come up from my winter home in Florida "till August and was totally shocked at the decline for The few Mom and Pop shops that we do have left on the Ave..Most of us used our retirement money to buy and fix up an area we thought had so much potential...The businesses have suffered from this charge for parking and I believe that sooner or later everything on that Ave. will just become all residential due to the lack of people..My husband and I are lucky that we do have a very good business with great customers that have been coming for breakfast for 10 years now but as I said this past year we saw a big decline due to people not wanting to pay for parking..As a winter resident in Florida near 2 major cities(Miami and Ft. Lauderdale) it is a joke to think that anyone would be in their right mind to pay 20 to 30 dollars to park on Hartford Ave!!!..I can go to Ft. Lauderdale Beach and pay $5 and have use of some of the best sand,beach,coffee shops,bathrooms,side walk cafes ect...I would never pay to park on the Ave. and what I would have liked to have seen was the town to let residents from Old Lyme be able to park down there for free and charge the day trippers..Did you know that I can not even park in front of my own home on the Ave? Anyone who lives on the Ave. has to pay to park!!! How unfair is that?.
Diane Stevens February 02, 2013 at 10:52 PM
I see the grant has been approved, on the news last nite, a live broadcast, I see no mention of this going to a 'town vote' , only that the 'project' will begin soon and hopes to be done by summer. What happened to the town "vote" for the additional monies?

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