OS Sidewalk Project Gains State Financial Support
Governor Ned Lamont spent about 90 minutes on Aug. 1 on a walking tour of Old Saybrook, visiting the Katharine Hepburn Memorial Museum at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, meeting briefly with various offices in Town Hall, and strolling the sidewalks on Main Street.
“A lot of people want to be outside. Outdoor dining is very popular and downtowns that are walkable are places people want to be,” Lamont said. “Making towns walkable is good for everyone,” said Lamont.
The desire to make towns more walkable was exactly what brought Lamont to town. Accompanied by State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33), State Representative Devin Carney (R-23), and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Lamont was in town to announce $769,500 in grant funding heading Old Saybrook’s way from the State Bond Commission. Those funds will be used for sidewalk improvements.
Needleman, Carney, and Lamont are all candidates for re-election in the 2022 election.
Fortuna, touting the ability to walk from a residence to the town’s “economic center”, said that the goal is to have sidewalks connect the town from the Westbrook town line to Old Saybrook Town hall, Saybrook Point, and train station. The plan was developed in coordination with the town of Westbrook.
“It’s really a home run,” Fortuna said. “As for anything else, I see this as part of the redevelopment of this end of town. In addition, it will allow for active recreation for the old and young, abled, and disabled and serve as another means of safe transportation for those that use sidewalks.”
Fortuna said that he has received positive feedback from parents and members of Vista Life Innovations, a Westbrook-based organization that serves young adults with neurological disabilities gain independence. Fortuna said that some of the Vista students have jobs close by, but due to the dangers of walking on Route 1, they are forced to rely on rides to and from work.
“I have parents saying you have no idea how important it is for my kids to be able to walk on Route 1,” said Fortuna. With sidewalks, Vista students and others who do not drive would have a safe place to walk.
The town has been investing in its sidewalks for nearly five years, according to Fortuna, and the bond funds will allow for realization of its goal more quickly.