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Group Wants to Place John Kelley Memorial Statue Near Mystic River Park

The John Kelley Memorial Fund plans to place a bronze life-size statue of Kelley, the late New London and Mystic resident and Boston Marathon champion, on Cottrell Street.

The John Kelley Memorial Fund wants to have a life-size bronze statue of John J. Kelley placed on Cottrell Street near the Mystic River Park. The group is hoping to be able to have the statue placed within the next six months.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission, representatives from the John Kelley Memorial Fund asked the commission to determine if regulations would allow the location of the statue within building setbacks at 27-29 Cottrell Street.

“The John Kelley Memorial Fund has met with the park commission three times over the past few months and this seems to be the most practical position,” Spyros Barres of the John Kelley Memorial Fund said. “It has not yet been voted on, this is one of the steps they asked us to take before voting.”

The six-foot bronze will sit on three-feet of stone making it a total of nine-feet high. The Planning and Zoning Commission discussed whether the statue could be placed within the building setbacks as zoning regulations do not address if statues would fall within the exemption items.

“Gravestones are exempt I would think memorials would fit that, it’s not as permanent as a building,” PZC Chairman Rob Marseglia said.

The majority of commission members saw the statue as something that fell more into a gravestone or lamppost category then a building structure category.

Commission members John Prue and Frances Hoffman wanted to know how the statue would impact the sight line and if it would affect traffic.

The PZC agreed the zoning regulations would allow the placement of the statue within the setbacks, but asked the John Kelley Memorial Fund to come back to PZC once the park commission approved the location.

Kelley, who was born in New London and attended Bulkeley High School, won the Boston Marathon with a record time in 1957. He later lived in Mystic, taught English in Groton, and opened the running store Kelley's Pace in Olde Mystick Village. He passed away at the age of 80 in August 2011.

Shortly after his death the John Kelley Memorial Fund began raising funds to build a statue. The group is hoping to raise about $100,000 to create the statue, of which they have raised about $27, 596.

Visit the John Kelley Memorial Fund website for more information on the project.

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