Why not start building the Coast Guard Museum right now, downtown?


February 10 – I am a bit sad to hear that The Day is planning to sell its building at 47 Eugene O’Neill Drive in downtown New London, a place where I have spent much of my working life. adult.

But, having lived through the expansion of the property over the years to accommodate new, larger printing presses, I understand as well as anyone the changing real estate needs of The Day in a digital world.

But this moment could easily be celebrated for the community newspaper – its profits go to local charities – which has been at the heart of New London civic life for so long.

I’ve suggested it before, but it seems to me that the idea of ​​building a new National Coast Guard museum on the footprint of The Day’s former printing works makes more sense than ever, with climate change making the current proposed site on the floodplain of the waterfront. more absurd than ever and alternate sites to Fort Trumbull filling up with other projects.

A quick disclaimer: I never discussed this idea with The Day’s editor, however, clearly with the property now up for sale, I’m sure he would be okay with that.

New London’s iconic former savings bank, just north of The Day property, is also empty and likely up for sale.

I don’t need to spend a lot of space here talking about all the things, beyond climate change, that make the current site of the proposed museum, on the wrong side of the train tracks, a poor choice. But the main argument against it is the price, which the museum association has been unable to cover after years of fundraising.

Also, I don’t know a single person, outside of Connecticut politicians and the well-paid staff of the museum association, who thinks the floodplain site makes sense. It was the choice of a wealthy prominent donor who did not give enough money to build the museum there and has since died.

Moving the museum to the other side of the tracks would also quickly free up an additional $20 million for the project, since the state wouldn’t have to build the promised pedestrian bridge over the tracks.

A Coast Guard museum in the heart of downtown would make for a great museum experience.

The existing bank’s main building, beautifully constructed with the wealth of New London’s whaling years, would provide an excellent portal to a museum that would tell the story of the Coast Guard, with its close historical ties to history. New London Maritime.

A new museum building could be as tall as needed and offer spectacular views over the harbor and the River Thames.

Federal legislation authorizing the museum dictates that it must be in New London, and it’s hard to imagine a better location than the heart of the city centre, not far from the highway, within walking distance of the train station and ferries and immediately adjacent to a parking lot. The utilities are all in place.

Even better, a downtown museum, literally opening onto a downtown sidewalk, would be a game-changer for the city. It would be much better than one where people drive in, go from the parking lot to an overhead walkway, and never interact with downtown and its businesses.

I don’t see anything, other than the growing number of jobs at Electric Boat, that would do more for the city.

Even better, the site is ready to be transformed and work could start quite quickly.

The association of the museum, with the contribution of the State for the released bridge, probably has enough to start building. I’m sure fundraising would resume immediately, should the association choose a workable site.

Senator Chris Murphy is trying to inject an additional $50 million into the federal budget to revive the stalled museum project.

I’m sure his constituents, in fact most voters of all parties, would welcome the senator’s support for an incredible and transformative investment in the heart of downtown New London, one of the poorest and most most disadvantaged in the state.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

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