by John Stratton
Sound View—a strip of sparking sand and shining waves willed to “the public at large” some 70 years ago—is getting a major upgrade thanks to a long-sought grant from the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
The town’s newsletter recounted that, “in the Fall of 2011, the Sound View Commission presented conceptual drawings for improvements to Hartford Avenue.” Citing an estimated cost of $600,000, “In early 2012, the Commission and Town of Old Lyme applied for a DOT Enhancement Fund Grant that would fund 80% of the project.”
The DOT grant was approved in late January of this year. As outlined by the commission, the conceptual drawings for improvements “include public restrooms, a park in the town parking lot, re-designed street parking, a bike path, and kiosks for paid parking.” The DOT Enhancement Fund Grant would fund 80 percent of the project.
The refinement of the project’s several phases will include a number of information meetings as details of the project takes final form.
“Once approved, the engineering firm will proceed with the design, and provide an estimated cost for the construction, said the town. “At that time, there will be a Town Meeting scheduled to approve the allocation of funds for the construction phase, likely in the Spring of 2014.”
The beach and summer-oriented rentals and businesses was originally conceived in 1892 as a “resort” by land developer Harry Hilliard. On his death he willed the beachfront to the public at large; it has been operated as a town beach for decades. Hilliard’s original concept touted Sound View Beach in 1914 as “logically the summer playground of Hartford,” and said that “Dollar for Dollar it is the Biggest Value Ever Offered in Shore Property.”
The cottage and business projects multiplied as he’d advertised—but led to overcrowding and parking problems. Numerous redesign proposals over the years received varying degrees of acceptance, but paved the way for the current improvement grant.