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Malloy urges National Coast Guard Museum project along

By Jennifer McDermott

Publication: theday.com

Published 04/18/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 04/18/2013 11:52 PM

New London — The governor has asked the state agencies with a stake in the new National Coast Guard Museum to meet and figure out how to move the project forward as quickly as possible.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy sent a letter Wednesday to Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., the commandant of the Coast Guard, and James J. Coleman Jr., the head of the museum association, to tell them the Connecticut Office of Military Affairs will coordinate the effort on his behalf, with the state Departments of Transportation, Economic and Community Development, Energy and Environmental Protection and other agencies.

The agencies received a copy of the letter.

“The purpose of the letter is to make sure the agencies understand, and the Coast Guard understands, that we are a full partner here,” Bob Ross, executive director of the Office of Military Affairs, said Thursday. “We want to keep the energy, the enthusiasm and the inertia moving forward.”

Papp said the Coast Guard “extends its heartfelt gratitude to the governor for sharing our strong passion for the Coast Guard Museum.”

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without his leadership, as well as that of Mayor Finizio, Jimmy Coleman and everyone else involved,” he said.

The museum association announced earlier this month that the $80 million future museum will be built on a site behind Union Station, bounded by Cross Sound Ferry and City Pier. It will jut out over the Thames River. The Coast Guard barque Eagle may move from Fort Trumbull to City Pier.

The Eagle moored downtown on Thursday after a training exercise. Capt. Raymond “Wes” Pulver, Eagle’s commanding officer, said he brought the barque downtown instead of returning to Fort Trumbull to see if the pier is a viable option, and to commemorate the museum being built on the waterfront. The public can tour the Eagle until it leaves on May 11.

“The idea of Eagle being possibly moored downtown on the same waterfront as the museum is pretty exciting, so we wanted to bring Eagle down now,” Pulver said, adding that the space is “a little tight” but still an option.

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said he was thrilled that Eagle is at City Pier because it furthers the partnership between the city and the Coast Guard and continues to bring attention to the fact that the site was selected for the future museum.

Finizio said he also spoke with Ross about the state agencies collaborating, and the city will take part in the discussions. Malloy’s decision to designate Ross as the point person shows the museum is a priority, Finizio added.

“It’s all hands on deck and everyone is doing their part,” he said Thursday. “The excitement is palpable. We’re keeping the momentum and the project moving forward.”

Ross said the agencies will likely meet within a week to figure out what needs to be done, in what order and when. The agencies came together in a similar fashion when a study of the state’s deep water ports, including New London, was under way.

“It produced a product much more efficiently, so we decided to take the same approach this time with the Coast Guard,” Ross said. “These agencies are the technical experts, and when you get them all at the table, working together, it’ll move faster. That’s the goal.”

The specific agencies were chosen because of the museum’s impact on the city’s transportation system, the tourism that would be a boon for the region and the environmental issues involved.

The Eagle will be available for self-guided tours on weekdays from 2 to 7:30 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. through May 10.

j.mcdermott@theday.com

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