LEDYARD – Town officials last week presented a plan that would open up Ledyard Center to multi-family housing developments by using state and federal money to extend a sewer line to the area.
At its meeting last Wednesday, the Town Council heard the proposal to complete the $2.7 million project without using any town funds – instead using federal money given to towns from the American Rescue Plan act and a new state matching grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development.
Water Pollution Control Authority Chairman Ed Lynch said the plan still needs to be finalized before it can go before the council for its approval, but he said the town has an opportunity to apply for the matching grant as soon as this fall, which could help make the long-discussed plan to extend sewers to Ledyard Center a reality.
In the plan presented by Lynch, Ledyard would extend sewers from Ledyard High School – which is already connected to the town sewer – along Colonel Ledyard Highway to Groton Center Road.
According to Lynch, developers interested in building behind the stores along Groton Center Road would then be able to extend the sewers to their projects.
The plan is still in its early stages, but Lynch said that this fall, the town could seek to apply for a grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development that would pay for half of the cost of the project, while the town could use some of its allotment of $4.3 million federal aid money from the American Rescue Plan Act to put up its matching funds.
Later in the meeting, Town Council Member Bill Saums presented a list of possible projects that the town could fund with its federal aid allotment, and the sewer extension – totaling $2.76 million – was the most costly project on the list. With a matching grant, the town would still need to spend about $1.4 million of its federal aid on the project.
“This is something we’ve been working on for at least 15 years that I know of, and probably decades before that – to bring sewer to Ledyard Center,” Saums said. “And that is to do two things: increase economic development and provide opportunity for retail growth, and provide more high density housing with people who are potentially walkabout customers who can visit and patronize the local businesses minute center.”
Those costs include three parts of the project: About $1.2 million to run the sewer line along Colonel Ledyard Highway, $950,000 to replace the existing line near the high school to alleviate a potential bottleneck down the line, and about $600,000 to connect to potential developments in Ledyard Center – though Lynch said that cost would depend on what developments are ultimately approved.
According to Lynch, completing all phases of the project at once makes more sense than waiting until the sewage flow would need to be addressed, given the amount of outside funding currently available. If Ledyard is eventually awarded the DECD grant for this project, Lynch said, the town could pay its matching amount from the ARPA funds.
Ledyard Town Planner Juliet Hodge told CT Examiner that it also makes sense to align the sewer extension with a plan to install a pedestrian and bicycle path along Colonel Ledyard Highway, between Groton Center Road and Ledyard High School. That project, which the town has received a $3 million grant to plan and install, follows the path of the proposed sewer line, allowing both to be installed at the same time.
Hodge said the hope is that extending the sewer line will allow for denser housing, including multifamily housing, in the area behind the stores along Groton Center Road in Ledyard Center. It’s an area developers have shown interest in before for multifamily housing, she said, but have been unable to pursue without access to sewers.
“There are ideas that are out there, but they were dependent on infrastructure – they would need water and sewer in order to happen,” Hodge said. “But the owners of those properties do want to do something.”
Lynch said that engineering consultants Weston & Sampson had studied the sewer proposal and found that the existing sewage treatment plant has the capacity only to serve an additional 250 units on the planned sewer extension.
Lynch told the council that the next steps would be to gather input on the plan before finalizing it and applying for the Communities Challenge grant from DECD in the fall. The new grant program offers between $1 million and $10 million, and Lynch said he was confident the Ledyard project would meet the grant requirement.
“I feel very positive about this, that we’re going to move forward with it,” Lynch said.