Several details of the National Coast Guard Museum proposal are provided in correspondence provided to the City Council, including the confirmation of a downtown location and a pledge of up to $20 million from the state.
The letters are included among the materials to be reviewed by the Council at their regular meeting on Monday. Last week, Mayor Daryl Finizio announced that the parties involved in planning the museum had agreed on a New London site and that a conceptual plan and other details will be revealed on April 5.
The mayor's office said there would be no additional comment on museum plans until that date.
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The correspondence does not name a location, but includes letters from the owners of Cross Sound Ferry and Union Station saying the plan takes these facilities into consideration. The city owns a .37-acre waterfront parcel near Union Station, between City Pier and the ferry terminal, and Rep. Joe Courtney said he has seen plans for a 50,000 square foot museum at this location according to The Day.
In a March 19 letter to Admiral Robert J. Papp, commandant of the Coast Guard, and James Coleman, chair of the National Coast Guard Museum Association, Finizio offers to donate the use and title of city-owned land to the Coast Guard for the permanent location of the museum, subject to final approvals.
“This museum will be a national treasure, a source of great pride for the Coast Guard and for the city of New London,” Finizio states in the letter. “This museum will serve as a significant economic driver for our community while it simultaneously inspires new generations of young Americans to join your service branch.”
Finizio says in the letter that he has briefed the Council, state legislators, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Courtney, and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy on the project. He offers to have the city administration take the role of an on-site project manager to coordinate the input and concerns of various parties in the process.
Finizio also offers letters of support as “evidence that all parties approve of the site selection and agree to work together to finalize the project.” He says work in confirming the site has included Cross Sound Ferry acknowledging the land use parameters for the project, the Blackwell Company—located on Water Street—acknowledging the need for a pedestrian bridge as part of the project, and a pledge from the state of up to $20 million.
This funding would be a significant portion of the estimated $100 million investment in the museum, which the museum association would raise from donations. Secretary Ben Barnes of the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management says in a March 14 letter that the funding would go toward a pedestrian bridge which would be “integral to the success of the project, access to the site, and overall improvement to New London’s regional intermodal transportation center.”
Barnes says the funding could also be used for areas such as property purchases, feasibility studies, traffic redesigns, and other ancillary work.
Todd O’Donnell and Barbara C. Timken, owners of Union Station, say they support the project in a March 15 letter. This says that in the plans presented by the museum foundation the station will serve as “both the initial point of arrival as well as the primary means of access via the proposed bridge to the museum.”
John Wronowski, president of Cross Sound Ferry, says in a March 7 letter that the plans are consistent with the long-term development goals at the ferry terminal. These were a concern in Wronowski’s opposition to an ultimately unsuccessful proposal to incorporate the museum into Union Station.
“We are pleased to be working with the Coast Guard Museum Association in coming up with a coordinated plan for a future new passenger terminal adjacent to the National Museum for the Coast Guard…This is an important project for the future of ferry operations, a welcome boost to the waterfront, the downtown area of the city of New London, the entire region and state,” Wronowski writes.
Congress passed a bill in 2004 approving the construction of a national Coast Guard museum at or near the Coast Guard Academy, with Fort Trumbull chosen as a preferred location in 2002. The eminent domain battle at the peninsula, as well as difficulties in fundraising during an economic downtown, halted this effort.
The plan and details of the proposal will be revealed in a 10 a.m. reception on April 5 at the Science and Technology Magnet High School.