Published June 19. 2013 4:00AM
Old Lyme - Sound View beachgoers could one day see a park area, restroom facilities and a bike path connecting Hartford Avenue to the Raymond E. Baldwin Bridge.
Town officials are moving forward to make the proposed Sound View enhancement project a reality, after receiving a grant this year to cover 80 percent of the project's costs.
The overall project will require town meeting approval at both the design and construction phases, town and engineering representatives said at an information session last Friday, which about 40 people attended.
The concept for the project included diagonal parking along Hartford Avenue and kiosk parking meters, which the town implemented this year ahead of the overall project. The proposal further calls for a bike path running along Route 156 from Hartford Avenue that could link to other paths as far away as Greenwich, according to Sound View Commission Chairman Frank Pappalardo.
"It's a whole shoreline effort that we're trying to put together in the state of Connecticut," he said.
The Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, a regional planning agency, had selected the project as a regional priority for transportation funding. The state Department of Transportation will administer the grant funds through the Federal Transportation Alternatives Program under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.
Town officials, who are also working with a DOT liaison throughout the process, will interview engineering firms next week. The firm they hire will then develop the "scope of work" for the planning and designing components of the project, according to a town document on the project. The town will then settle on the costs and the scope of work with the firm and will hold a town meeting to approve the funding for the design phase.
Later in the process, residents will decide at a town meeting whether to approve funding for construction. The town will hold information sessions throughout the process.
Resident Theodore VanItallie said at Friday's meeting that it was important to think through the uses that would be allowed on the bike path.
The DOT would be in charge of the allowed uses. But Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal also said the town will ask firms for "creative and innovative ideas" for safety solutions.
At the meeting, Sound View Commission member Michaelle Pearson also pointed out that while the town would have to pay for 20 percent of the project's costs, the town collects parking fees from Sound View.
"Sound View is a revenue-generator," she said.