February 23, 2019

“Save The Ferries” Supporters Develop Fight Strategy

Richard Prowell, a founder and member of the Hadlyme Ferry Historic District Commission, explains how the Historic District was created and that the ferry’s route across the river is included as part of the Historic District.

More than 50 supporters of the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry gathered yesterday evening in Hadlyme Public Hall to map out a strategy to save the Connecticut River ferries from being closed down by the state.

Sponsored by the Hadlyme Public Hall Association, the meeting was called by local organizers, who explained that they had been told by state Department of Transport executives that elimination of ferry service is on the list of budget cuts being considered by Governor Malloy.

Since news of the possible closure leaked out six months ago, the Hadlyme Hall Association has spearheaded local efforts to require the state to a take hard look at the benefits provided by the ferries, including tourism, energy savings, and a route often used by emergency vehicles.

One of the points made yesterday by a number of speakers is that the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is the only way to cross the Connecticut River between Old Saybrook and the East Haddam Bridge.  This latter bridge is often closed to traffic since it is a swing bringe and must frequently be opened to allow boats to pass beneath it.

When the East Haddam Bridge is open for boats and thus blocks traffic attempting to cross the river, the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is the sole means to cross the river between Old Saybrook and Middletown.

At Tuesday’s meeting the attendees mapped out plans to meet with local government officials and business leaders to urge them to express their support for the ferries to state officials.

Jeffery Riley, a resident of the Hadlyme area, shows how the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is a "funnel" for tourism traffic to popular vacation and visitor attractions, such as Gillette Castle, Devil's Hopyard State Park, Fox Hopyard Golf Course, and several summer colonies.

The Hadlyme Public Hall Association has underwritten the expense of developing a mailing list derived from the more 2,000 signers of a petition circulated last December urging the state to continue the ferry service. The Association is currently mailing out postcards that encourage those petition-signers to contact their state legislators.

Anyone who would like to assist in the effort to save the ferries should send an e-mail to hadlymehall@gmail.com or call 518-253-4844.