OLD LYME — The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will offer $17 million in grants toward the cost of the beach sewer project, according to a meeting on Friday that included state officials, the town and the beach associations.
“With those additional funds that brings the project back into a reasonable cost for the residents, and the town of Old Lyme,” said Douglas Whalen, president of Old Colony Beach Association, in a phone call with CT Examiner.
The long-delayed project would install sewers in Sound View Beach, the town’s beach area, as well as three chartered beach communities – Miami Beach Association, Old Colony Beach, and Old Lyme Shores – to satisfy a 2012 state consent order.
Costs for the project were originally estimated at about $10 million, but bids came in at $17.5 to 18.5 million – deemed too high by the four entities – and were re-estimated at $14.1 million to $21.1 million.
In a Feb. 1 letter, Old Lyme Shores declared the project too expensive and said the association would ask for the state to modify or lift the consent order.
But in Friday’s meeting, DEEP “informed Old Lyme Shores that there will be no change in the consent order. The consent order will stay as is. We must conform to the consent order,” Whalen told CT Examiner.
Whalen said in addition to the $17 million grant, the town is also applying for a State and Tribal Assistance Grant, or STAG, through Rep. Joe Courtney’s office.
“We had originally applied for $14 million, but now that we have the $17 million coming from the DEEP, we’re trying to apply for a $3 million STAG grant,” he said. “We’re applying for all these different things and hopefully something sticks.”
First Selectman Tim Griswold said that the distribution of the $17 million grant money among the four entities has yet to be determined. For the shared infrastructure, the town is responsible for 29.7 percent of costs.
“The agreement has certain ratios prescribed but that’s for the shared infrastructure, so this wouldn’t be necessarily tied exactly to that,” Griswold said.
Griswold said it was unclear whether multiple grants — including the 25 percent Clean Water Funds grant that is already approved for the project — would be be workable.
“Whether all of the grants would tolerate multiple grants and how it all fits together — but if we can parlay enough of this stuff, then the major objections go away,” he said.
In addition, Whalen said that State Sen. Martha Marx, D-New London, and State Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Saybrook, are applying for a $26 million bond for the project.
“If everything runs smooth, our goal would be to get the funding in place before June and try and go back out to bid by the summer and award the bids by the fall, which means we could have construction by the end of 2023. So it’s a real big, big positive. Things are moving along at breakneck speed,” said Whalen.