New London – In April 2006, former Connecticut Governor Mr. Jodi Rell met with state and local officials on the Fort Trumbull waterfront to announce a state contribution to the construction of a National Coast Guard Museum.
The location has since changed, but the idea of locating a National Coast Guard museum in New London has been around for over two decades. Now it looks like the series of starts and stops that have delayed construction is coming to an end.
On Friday, the city held a celebration of the $50 million in federal funding now dedicated to the project as part of a federal funding bill signed by President Joe Biden last week. Members of the Coast Guard Museum Association, which leads fundraising efforts for the museum, call it a game changer and the impetus for more private funds to flow into the project.
Sen. Chris Murphy, chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, is credited with spearheading the campaign for federal funds and was among dignitaries to express excitement for construction to begin finally.
Construction on City Pier could begin as early as this summer if permits are obtained for the project.
“It was a 20-year dream to have a museum on this waterfront worthy of the sacrifices that thousands of men and women who have been part of the Coast Guard’s long history have made,” Murphy said. . “It’s the only service that doesn’t have an institution to be able to tell the story of that service, of that bravery, of that legacy of heroism.”
Friday’s event took place on City Pier, near where the six-story, 80,000-square-foot museum will be built. “America’s Tall Ship,” the barque Eagle, which will have a dedicated location near the future museum, was the backdrop for Friday’s event which featured comments from Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, Mayor Coast Guard Rear Admiral Michael Passero. Mary Dean and others.
Officials say the museum is likely to draw several hundred thousand visitors to the city each year and comes at a time when Mayor Passero has said the city is in the midst of an “economic renaissance…as we haven’t seen one since the whaling days when the wealth of New London was unmatched in the State.
“This museum will also introduce these new visitors to New London’s vibrant cultural and historical assets,” Passero said.
New London was secured as the future home of the museum through federal legislation passed in 2014, an effort led by former US Representative Rob Simmons, with support from US senators. The downtown location of the museum was codified with the donation of land from the city under former New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio later that same year. The downtown location, which continues to generate local controversy, was seen as a better way for the museum to attract visitors due to its proximity to the city’s transportation hub.
The state, as part of project funding commitments, has pledged $20 million for the construction of a 400-foot pedestrian bridge over Water Street and the train tracks, which will bring visitors directly to the museum. and at the water’s edge.