OLD LYME — At their Thursday meeting, members of the town’s Tree Commission considered an alternative plan for Ferry Road sidewalks that would save about 10 trees slated for removal by moving the sidewalk to the opposite side of the road.
First Selectman Tim Griswold, who attended the commission meeting, compared the south side of Ferry Road where a privet hedge, a vinyl fence and potentially two trees would need to be removed, to the north side of the street where 10 of 13 trees would need to be taken down to accommodate the sidewalk replacement project.
“If we relocated on that side, it might spare us a lot of aggravation,” he said.
He indicated that the right of way after the First Congregational Church was “pretty open.”
If the plan is approved, the fairly new sidewalk on the north side of Ferry Road that stretches from Lyme Street to 3 Ferry Road would be preserved. The sidewalk from 3 Ferry Road to the corner of Lt. River Lane would be demolished and seeded with grass.
The sidewalk on the south side of Ferry Road would extend from the existing sidewalk that runs along the side of the First Congregational Church and would terminate approximately 100 feet west of Lt. River Road, where a crosswalk would connect to the north side of Ferry Road.
The north sidewalk from the crosswalk to Rt. 156 would be reconstructed. Along that stretch there are two weeping cherry trees whose roots could be impacted by the construction.
Wade Thomas, a civil engineer with Nathan L. Jacobson and Associates, called it “a very feasible alternative,” and said that if the crosswalk to the north side of Ferry Road were placed approximately 100 feet west of Lt. River Lane, then several Zelkova trees on the north side of the road could be saved.
Tom Degnan, tree warden for the town, said one of the Zelkova trees was “in pretty rough shape” but the two of them were healthy and it would be a shame to cut them down.
To fund the sidewalk project, the town received a Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant for $150,000, with the town paying $24,000 and the state $126,000.
Thomas said he would explain the project changes to the state and did not expect objections.
“I’ll make them aware that we went through the Historic District Commission and the Tree Commission and they requested that we move it. I don’t view that as being an issue. I imagine that they wouldn’t have any comment on that — I mean we’re essentially providing the same functional value but I will confirm that with state authorities,” he said.
Joanne DiCamillo, chair of the Tree Commission, said she was very much opposed to cutting down the trees on the north side of Ferry Road.
“I feel that those trees are not just trees for the neighbors on Ferry Road, they are community trees. Everyone benefits by having those old shade trees,” she said.
Griswold suggested meeting with abutters on both sides of the street. The meeting will include the Tree Commission.
At their next meeting in March, the Tree Commission members will choose between the original sidewalk plan and the alternative plan.