Mayor Daryl Finizio acknowledged today that he must take into account the split opinion on the 's offer to purchase some of when discussing how the academy may be able to meet its expansion needs. However, he also said he believes several options are available that don’t include the park.
Finizio departed today for Washington, D.C. to meet with Admiral Robert J. Papp as well as Rep. Joe Courtney and Senator Joe Lieberman. The purpose of the trip is to discuss how the academy can meet its expansion needs within New London.
The November vote on whether to sell about half of Riverside Park to the academy for $2.9 million was so close that the . A recount determined that the tally was .
The Coast Guard Academy has said it is at capacity on its campus and may have to relocate some services out of New London. Finizio said he has been discussing the academy’s needs with Rear Admiral Sandra Stosz, the academy’s superintendent.
“We are in these discussions with an open mind and in good faith,” said Finizio.
The discussions have raised some concerns over . Finizio said there are several options that do not involve the park, but declined to comment on the details of what is under discussion.
“I don’t want to discuss the particulars of the various options, because we’re still in the planning stages,” he said.
Finizio was opposed to the sale of a portion of Riverside Park during his campaign and prior to the recount by noting that the closing date on the sale had expired. He said he felt the section of park retained by the city would be largely unusable, that it would cut into the only city park north of the Gold Star Bridge, that there was no replacement green space under consideration, and that if the sale went through the asking price was too low.
“I was very much against the referendum, and I would do it again,” said Finizio.
Finizio said he expects that the trip to Washington will help make significant progress in the discussions, but that more meetings will be required before the city and Coast Guard come to a consensus. He said meetings on the topic will continue next week, including one with officials from the United States General Services Administration.
Zak Leavy, Finizio’s executive assistant, said he and Finizio will both be traveling to Washington. Leavy said no overtime or compensatory time will be paid for the trip, and that the trip will be paid for with personal rather than taxpayer funds.
Finizio and Leavy departed by train this afternoon and will return on Friday morning.