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Letters Reveal Some Details Of National Coast Guard Museum Proposal

Correspondence shows $20 million pledge from state, support from abutters of downtown New London parcel

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.

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Richard Cranium March 29, 2013 at 05:57 PM
WOW..... And the city is expected to pony up $3 million as well. Wonder where that will come from. There will also be a sky bridge from the museum over the tracks and attach to the train station. And then they only need 60 or 80 million from private fundraising complete the project. This is a great project for downtown the train station and the ferry. At long last pedestrians will finally be able to safely cross the tracks and get to the ferry , Museum and waterfront.
John Martin March 29, 2013 at 06:29 PM
Sky bridge with an elevator - don't forget that......
Brian Giesing March 29, 2013 at 08:03 PM
WOW a pedestrian bridge, that was supposed to be build by taxpayers that fell through years ago which would only benifit Crosstown and visitors. Who wants to bet the much desired bridge gets build first...and maybe in my grand children's lifetime they might see a CG museum.....please NL prove me wrong...and not another tax supported project that benifits business only..for the record I am not against the museum..I would like to see it built...but I dunno about this deal.
Spencer March 29, 2013 at 09:05 PM
I never knew there was a safety issue in crossing the tracks? Just go where you are suppose to go in order to cross the tracks, and don't cross the tracks when the gates are down? Seems safe to me.
Doc Halliday March 30, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Concerned about the elevation above the high water mark. A storm surge or hurricane could wipe out the contents. My vote is still Fort Trumbull.
C. R. Patenaude March 30, 2013 at 12:05 PM
Is a landlocked piece of property the best place to build a museum? What happens when there is a need to expand. One just has to look at the city's police station to see what I mean.
Ronald Samul Sr. March 30, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Don't all the previous discussions concerning why we do not need a "bridge" still apply? New London has a number of better locations for the museum. Let's think about keeping that .37 acre of choice waterfront property for the private development of a multi-story, mixed used occupancy that will generate taxes and put some people downtown. Maybe we should consider the entire community participating in this decision by referendum?
Spencer March 30, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Ohhh....Daryl would just love that!
Daniella Ruiz March 30, 2013 at 04:45 PM
spence, crossing the tracks is like a major effort for some people, even at ground level. and, they might have to look both ways before they disregard the blinking lights, clanking bells and lowered gates before they step into the 40 inch wide path of a 50 ton engine with a shrieking horn looming above them. they might have to check their text messages to see if they can fit the two minute walk to the ferry into their busy schedules, elevators are more fun to use, particularly when broken, dirty and covered with hand transmitted virus's from people from god knows where, and they use electricity which is fun to waste going up and down, up and down, up and down to avoid a 20 foot transit across a train track. humans are entertained easily, especially when they feel they can spend other peoples money and get away with it.
Daniella Ruiz March 30, 2013 at 04:53 PM
.37 acres, mmm, perhaps a TransAmerica type spire with 80 floors, similar to a spiral corkscrew design used to give all the occupants a wonderful view. Just lovely, they would see Bank Street, Upper and Lower New London harbor, up over the riff raff of most of the Downtown and a clear shot of the State Pier rd/Crystal Ave community with their particularly characteristic culture.
Jack Everett March 30, 2013 at 06:04 PM
I think the Coast Guard should have it's museum but why should the state and local taxpayers foot the bill for a federal project?
William Desmond March 30, 2013 at 07:10 PM
Can Duh, Duh, Duh Daryl actually offer to give away city property without council approval?
Sue P. March 30, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Doc, I agree with you. The first place to go underwater during last years hurricane was right there where they want to build the museum. Also I heard the river bed is so soft that they would have to have pilings a mile long. Same problem they had when they tried to fix the city pier.
Spencer March 30, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Of course he can, William. Malloy, who apparently owns this land, gave it to Darryl. Now Darryl can do whatever he wants with it.
Dennis Downing March 30, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Spencer, I don't think that Malloy owns the land the city dos and has been leasing it to cross sound ferry for a fraction of what it worth. I believe before the mayor can give any land away there has to be a town meeting on the issue of the land. Then I believe it can go out to referendum. At lease that the way it should work. But some people in power have their own interpretation of what should work. Also Richard C. where did you hear that it was going to cost the people of N.L. 3 million. I'm being told by all kinds of people that it not going to cost us a cent. Now do I believe them NOT.
Debbie March 30, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Fort Trumbull waterfront would make a perfect location for a museum near the Coast Guard Eagle and USCGA sub-station already located at the Fort Trumbull area in New London, Connecticut. Can't beat the unobstructed views of Long Island Sound!
Spencer March 30, 2013 at 10:24 PM
I know Malloy doesn't own the land, Dennis. But does he knows that?
Dennis Downing March 30, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Very good point Spencer. All of you who keep p[posting about the museum being at the fort forget about it. Its not going to happen there.
Spencer March 30, 2013 at 11:19 PM
Dennis, are you going to be at Councils Monday night?
Dennis Downing March 31, 2013 at 02:08 PM
I will be there Spencer.

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