October 1, 2022

Novelty Lane Public Access Improvements Planned in Downtown Essex Village

ESSEX— A single under budget bid and agreements with nearby property owners should allow completion next month of the long-planned improvements to the public access walkway off Novelty Lane in the downtown village.

Three bids were opened Monday for the Novelty Lane Pentway Project. The project, planned for nearly two years by the harbor management commission and the economic development commission, would upgrade the narrow public access walkway extending from the end of Novelty Lane to the bulkhead on Middle Cove of the Connecticut River in to an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible walkway.

The project was to be funded with portions of a state $198,000 state grant that was awarded last year. Most of the grant funds were used to pay for construction of the new boat launch on the Connecticut River at the foot of Main Street that was completed last December. About $30,000 in grant funds remained for the Novelty Lane project.

Two of the bids were over the amount of funds remaining for the project; a price of $44,741 from Burnett Landscaping of Salem, and a high bid of $54,395 from Eleuthera Associates LLC of Lebanon. But a low bid of $19,010 from Rebco Management LLC of Old Lyme was within the available funding.

Lee Thompson, chairman of the economic development commission, said the contract would be awarded by the EDC and harbor management panels, subject to approval from the board of selectmen.

Thompson said the improvement project would resolve the issue of a retaining wall constructed along the walkway by the abutting property owner at 15 Novelty Lane, Terrance Lomme, a local attorney who was elected judge of probate last year for the nine town region.

The wall, which encroaches on the public access walkway, has been an issue between Lomme, the harbor management commission and the board of selectmen for more than three years. Thompson said the wall would either be removed, buried, or some combination of the two solutions.

Thompson said Lomme and other property owners on Novelty Lane had agreed to the improvement plan, with town attorney David Royston authorizing the two commissions to seek bids for the project. Thompson said work on the improvements is expected to begin by Oct. 1 for completion by Oct. 28.