As East Lyme Changes Course on Sewers, Old Lyme Faces Further Delays

(Credit: Town of Old Lyme, August 2018 presentation)


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OLD LYME — The Town of East Lyme has asked the Town of Old Lyme for a separate intermunicipal agreement for the upcoming installation of sewers in Soundview and the neighboring chartered beaches in Old Lyme — a significant reversal from prior understandings that has left Old Lyme officials with a number of unanswered questions.

In the original agreement Old Lyme was to join the town’s three chartered beach associations — Miami Beach, Old Colony Beach and Old Lyme Shores — in an intermunicipal agreement with East Lyme to pump up to 170,000 gallons of sewage per day through East Lyme’s pipes, which connect through Waterford to New London’s sewage treatment plant. The 170,000 gallons included 50,000 gallons designated for Sound View Beach in Old Lyme. The agreement also included an additional 130,000 gallons as reserve capacity, bringing the total to 300,000 gallons. 

Tim Griswold, the first selectman of Old Lyme, said one of the problems with the new agreement is its designation of 50,000 gallons for Old Lyme without earmarking additional capacity for the town. He said additional capacity could be needed if Hawk’s Nest Beach were to be ordered by the state to install sewers. 

“It just seems clumsy to have two agreements and if we ever needed additional gallons, we would need to figure out how to go back to the beaches and make a transfer or whatever. So I don’t see the point of having two intermunicipal agreements — it was supposed to be one,” he said at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting. 

Richard Prendergast, chair of the Water Pollution Control Authority in Old Lyme, told CT Examiner on Wednesday that Mark Nickerson, former first selectman of East Lyme, had written a letter suggesting that Old Lyme form a separate IMA agreement from the three beach associations. Prendergast said the motivation of East Lyme was unclear, especially given that an agreement had already been laid out. 

“That kind of mystified us. We’re not really sure why they want to change this now because it just makes it more complicated and expensive,” Prendergast said.

Kevin Seery, the newly-elected first selectman of East Lyme, told CT Examiner on Wednesday that East Lyme’s stand was that Old Lyme’s 50,000 gallons must come out of the 300,000 gallon total. 

“I wasn’t involved in previous negotiations. I think we’ve already entered into an agreement with the three beaches. Our part of it is to allow flow, that’s the extent of it,” said Seery, who is also the new chair of the Water and Sewer Commission under town rules.

Seery said he hadn’t had any formal discussions with Griswold yet but was aware that Old Lyme had reached out to East Lyme’s town attorney.

“I haven’t had any interaction with Tim Griswold, but I know they have an interest in moving forward,” Seery said.

Douglas Whalen, chair of the Old Colony Beach Association, said Old Lyme will be part of the cost sharing agreement for the common infrastructure, which includes the pump station, force main and collection pipe. He said that before the town can sign the cost sharing agreement, it needed to sign the intermunicipal agreement, making the delay significant for all four entities. 

“If it takes having the town of Old Lyme do a separate agreement with East Lyme, that’s fine but we don’t feel that it’s right. In fact, in our agreement with the town of East Lyme, it actually states that the area at Sound View would be our other agency coming on board, so we don’t understand why they’re doing it,”  Whalen said. 

Whalen said that Old Lyme cannot receive funding from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection until the intermunicipal agreements are signed [with East Lyme and New London].

“So East Lyme is sort of holding that over [Old Lyme’s] head a little bit, I think, which is unfortunate. You know, it’s too bad when politics are getting involved in trying to clean up Long Island Sound — that’s what happens,” he said. 

Scott Boulanger, president of the Miami Beach Association, said the separate intermunicipal agreement had been a topic of conversation among the beach communities for at least six months. He said either arrangement was acceptable as long as the financial setup functioned smoothly. 

“Our concern is that it doesn’t affect our agreements,” Boulanger said. “The issue obviously is going to be how monies are going to get transported between all the different entities if they start splitting things up — it’d become a little bit of an accounting nightmare for them and we don’t want the accounting nightmare.”

Boulanger said that an agreement needed to be drawn up but the parties hadn’t been willing to sit down and discuss the matter. 

“They’ve got to set up the meeting so that all the parties could come to the table trying to figure out what their issue is and or how we work things out. Nothing’s come to our attention other than talk,” he said. 

At Old Lyme’s Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, Griswold said it had been decided to delay a meeting with East Lyme until after the November election given that Nickerson, who was chair of the East Lyme Water and Sewer Commission, was stepping down.

Griswold said a meeting with East Lyme had been set up for Dec. 29, but had not been confirmed.