Old Lyme — The Halls Road Improvements Committee will seek public input about potential changes within the right-of-way along Halls road during “The Past, Present and Future of the Halls Road Neighborhood,” an open house to be held Saturday, June 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at town hall, 52 Lyme Street.
The committee will present poster boards with sketches depicting an overview of the evolution of Halls Road, a commercial zone designed in the 1960s.
The open house will also present conceptual drawings of how the town could alter the right of way, a 10- to 50-foot-wide strip of land on either side of Halls Road.
Some of the ideas for the right-of-way include the installation of sidewalks to promote walkability, streetlights and park benches.
“Things will change. The buildings are getting older. We can influence change or let it happen to us,” said Bonnie Reemsnyder, the First Selectwoman of Old Lyme, at her office on June 4.
With members of the Halls Road Improvements Committee, the Yale Urban Design Workshop presented designs for Halls Road on Dec. 6 that showed mixed-use three-story buildings set close to the road, with pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, crosswalks and green space.
At the May 18 Zoning Commission meeting, commission chair Jane Cable said village district zoning, a “floating zone” that would overlay the commercial zone on Halls Road, would give the town more control over the aesthetics in terms of scale and architecture.
The project would require the cooperation of the state, which has jurisdiction over the right-of-way. The town has applied for a federal grant through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) to help fund the project.
The town appropriated $50,000 in the 2019-2020 budget to hire the nonprofit Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) to perform an economic development study that will include a survey of local businesses this summer. The collected data will be used in the planning of Halls Road.
Reemsnyder said it was important for Halls Road to maintain its real estate values and vibrancy.
“If we start having vacancies, it’s the death bell,” she said. “We can’t wait until we have a problem. We don’t want to wait until Big Y leaves. We want to make sure our only commercial retail area remains vibrant.”