OLD LYME — Three chartered beach communities, each with their own Water Pollution Control Authority, say they are ready to move ahead with building sewers but have been delayed by the Town of Old Lyme’s failure to provide timely zoning variances and easements.
In a meeting at the CT Examiner office on Thursday, Scott Boulanger of Miami Beach Association, Frank Noe of Old Colony Beach Club Association and Dede DeRosa of Old Lyme Shores Beach Association, who are members of their respective WPCAs, said they needed the town to provide a variance for the installation of a pump station either at 72 Portland Avenue, which is town-owned land, or at 73 Portland Ave., which is a lot owned by Boulanger.
“I don’t think people understand that we’re paying for it, aside from money from the state, our residents are stepping up to the plate to pay back the loan and pay additional costs of sewer costs on an annual basis, so it’s not like the Town of Old Lyme is underwriting this for us”Dede DeRosa, Old Lyme Shores Beach Association
In addition, they said they need an easement from the town so that a force main pipe can be installed to connect the pump station to the Town of East Lyme’s sewerage system. The three associations signed sewer connection agreement with East Lyme on July 24, 2018. The effluent would be pumped to East Lyme, through Waterford and terminate in the New London treatment plant. All three signed an agreement with New London on April 27, 2018 for sewage treatment services.
In the agreement with New London, the three beach communities negotiated a capacity of 120,000 gallons of effluent per day for themselves and additional 60,000 gallons of effluent per day for the Town of Old Lyme’s Sound View Beach community, totaling 180,000 gallons per day.
“If Sound View jumps in, it would be an add-on entity,” said Noe. “Right now we’re waiting for the town to approach us to buy the capacity we’ve reserved for them. The other part is they need to join our cost-sharing agreement to determine what their percentage is going to be. In essence, they’re buying the capacity from us.”
The percentage each beach community pays will be based on its total of Equivalent Dwelling Units, which is often defined differently in each community and would need to be agreed upon.
Searching for solutions
Around 2010-2011, the three beach communities separately conducted wastewater studies and began to create plans to install sewer systems. But, the town stopped the projects from moving forward, said Noe.
“Old Colony started first, Old Lyme Shores was second and Miami Beach shortly thereafter,” said Noe. “And then, after doing our own studies, the town wakes up that we are moving forward with this, gets in touch with DEEP themselves and put us on hold from pursuing further.”
Noe said the town wanted to avoid sewers and (in 2013) decided to install a community sewerage system for the beach communities near the now-defunct Cherrystones, located at 218 Shore Road (Route 156). The town later found the location wasn’t feasible because it was too close to private wells.
The location notwithstanding, the community plant would have been inadequate for treating the quantity of sewage, said DeRosa.
“In the course of getting engineers and looking at solutions, the solutions the town were proposing weren’t even adequate to solve the problem. They were proposing something that wasn’t going to be effective,” she said.
And the beach communities had already voted to put in sewers, DeRosa said.
“Old Lyme Shores took a vote to pursue sewers for just our town in 2012 but we were under a study for a few years prior to that,” she said, adding that 85 percent of Old Lyme Shores voters approved a $9 million sewer bond.
Noe said that 98% of Old Colony Beach voters also approved an $11 million sewerage bond. Boulanger did not provide numbers for Miami Beach voters.
“Why has it taken all this time to go to referendum? We went to referendum six months after we decided back in 2011 and it’s taken them seven years to go to referendum.”– Frank Noe, Old Colony Beach Club
The three beach communities are also taking financial responsibility for sewer installation without asking the town for assistance, while state money will help pay for a portion of the project, said DeRosa.
“I don’t think people understand that we’re paying for it, aside from money from the state, our residents are stepping up to the plate to pay back the loan and pay additional costs of sewer costs on an annual basis, so it’s not like the Town of Old Lyme is underwriting this for us,” she said. “We finally did acquire the money from the state to officially kick up the design phase. We expect it will take 12 to 18 months for design and 12 to 18 months for construction.”
Noe said the Old Colony Beach design will be done by around December and then it will go out to bid. “We expect to be finished sometime at the end of 2021,” he said. “We’re moving forward at 100% pace. Sound View is lagging behind us.”
The Town of Old Lyme will go to a referendum on August 14 to bond $7.44 million for installation of sewers in Sound View Beach, but that timetable has been very slow, said Noe.
“The long and the short of this is the procrastination and the dragging on of the town is very frustrating because it’s taken all this time to go to a referendum,” he said. “Why has it taken all this time to go to referendum? We went to referendum six months after we decided back in 2011 and it’s taken them seven years to go to referendum.”
Noe noted that without the installation of sewers on Hartford Avenue, he cannot do improvements to the street’s burned-out arcade, which he owns along with Kokomo’s Restaurant & Beach Bar.
It was also important to get the project done before the potential repaving of Route 156, Noe said.
“We’re trying to move as fast as we can. DOT is looking to repave 156 so we want to get pipe in the ground so we can get the road repaved and have cost savings to our project,” he said.
DeRosa said she understood the idea of keeping development down by not installing sewers, but “right now there’s a problem to be solved.”
“None of us want the character of the town to change but those of us along the shoreline understand the environmental issues and are very concerned about it, we’re living in the middle of it and it’s gross,” she said. “The environmental problems have probably gotten worse, the cost is going up, and here we are. We originally had a target date of 2015.”
Boulanger said the beach associations have requested a zoning text change to allow the installation of the pump station, but the town has delayed the hearing.
“The point is they’re constantly obstructing progress. We gave them paperwork in the beginning of May, then they cancelled the June meeting because there’s nothing on their plate and they have our application. Now it will be July, and they don’t meet in August.”Scott Boulanger, Miami Beach Association
“The point is they’re constantly obstructing progress. We gave them paperwork in the beginning of May, then they cancelled the June meeting because there’s nothing on their plate and they have our application. Now it will be July, and they don’t meet in August.”
DeRosa said without the town’s cooperation, the project was stalled out.
“Frankly we still need a lot of support and we’d like to see a sense of urgency from the town on easements and road openings and variances.”
Note that the location of the picture depicting algae bloom has been corrected (previously it stated the Niantic River).