October 23 — US Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Announced this week that he is pushing hard to get Congress to approve a $ 50 million boost to the construction fundraising effort from a National Coast Guard Museum in New London.
Murphy, chairman of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, included the $ 50 million in the FY2022 Homeland Security Bill, which provides discretionary funding of $ 71.7 billion. dollars.
It would be the first time that federal funds have been spent on building the museum, as it is exempt from previous restrictions, Murphy’s office said. Previous work of the local congressional delegation including Murphy, Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. and U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, paved the way for the use of federal funding for the design and engineering elements of the estimated $ 150 million museum project.
Federal funds of $ 20 million have been allocated to the museum in previous years to preserve artefacts and to design, manufacture and install exhibits.
The new Homeland Security bill also includes $ 6 million for upgrades to New London’s City Pier to accommodate the barque Eagle, which is expected to dock next to the future Coast Guard museum along the seafront of the city. The museum would be located behind Union Station.
Murphy, in an op-ed this week in The Day, stressed the importance of the museum and the need to revive construction funding.
“It makes no sense that the Coast Guard is the only historical branch of the armed forces without a national museum. The other armed forces have more than 77 museums between them,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he sees the museum as an opportunity for new educational experiences for children and touted its potential to attract more visitors to Southeast Connecticut, create jobs and inject more than $ 20 million per year in the economy of the region.
Museum officials have said in the past that a significant federal commitment to the museum would likely open the doors to more private donations. Fundraising for the museum began in 2014, when New London, under former mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, donated a 0.37 acre site to the Coast Guard to house the future museum .
Retired USCG Captain Wes Pulver, president of the National Coast Guard Museum Association, welcomed the news of a significant federal investment. The $ 50 million would bring the museums association closer to its fundraising goal of $ 150 million.
The Museums Association reports $ 79 million in fundraising to date.
“Our Connecticut delegation, led by Senator Murphy, Senator Blumenthal, Representative DeLauro and Representative Courtney are committed to working with their peers in Washington to secure additional authorities and resources to support a first national museum in Southeast Connecticut, ”Pulver said in a statement. “When paired with previously committed federal, state and private funding from across the country, we are well positioned to begin Construction Phase I in 2022.”
The first phase of the project is expected to include sections of waterfront partitioning in preparation for construction. The project remains in the authorization phase.
The museums association said the $ 50 million would be in addition to the $ 29 million raised in private donations for the construction of the $ 100 million museum. The association estimates that $ 30 million will be needed for exhibits and furnishings, of which $ 20 million is already committed in federal funds.
The state of Connecticut has committed $ 20 million to build a pedestrian bridge to transport people across Water Street and rail tracks to the museum and the city waterfront.
Blumenthal called it “absolutely shameful and inexplicable” that there is no museum to commemorate and celebrate the Coast Guard.
“It’s more than just a museum. It’s a tribute to a national treasure, our Coast Guard,” said Blumenthal.
Blumenthal said passage of the spending bill will not go without obstacles, but work continues behind the scenes to persuade colleagues in Congress.
“Our task is to lay the groundwork for a vote on the pitch. It has really been a strong team effort,” said Blumenthal.
Courtney called the inclusion of $ 50 million in the spending proposal “a milestone in making this long-awaited museum a reality in New London.”
“There are still several steps to be taken, but I will strongly support this effort as the House and Senate begin to work on a final budget deal for 2022,” Courtney said.
With government funding due to expire on December 3, Congress must either reach agreement on the appropriation bills for fiscal 2022 before that date or pass a rolling resolution for fiscal year 2021. A rolling resolution would not include new funding.