Group wants to bring back Ocean Beach clock tower

By KATHLEEN EDGECOMB

Day Staff Writer

New London — Members of the Save Ocean Beach group are looking for city support to bring back an iconic piece of Ocean Beach Park -- the clock tower.

The SOBs, as they refer to themselves, want to take down an unused lattice light tower in the middle of the parking lot, and move it to the middle of the boardwalk. Eventually, the group would put four clock faces on the 70-foot galvanized steel tower, to replicate the clock tower that was there when the public beach opened following the 1938 hurricane. They presented their plan to the City Council tonight.

"It's part of the history of the beach,'' said Thomas Quintin, head of the group. The project would cost about $40,000 and take a number of years to complete. The SOBs would raise the money. The City Council is considering the plans.

At least one neighbor spoke against the project at tonight's City Council meeting, saying he was worried about ospreys that return every year to nest in the light tower. Quintin said Connecticut Light & Power has put up a nesting platform near the tower and the ospreys could nest there.

"They're beautiful and magnificent birds,'' said Ralph Matyas, who lives at 53 Highland Ave. "They really are an icon down there. "

He also questioned whether or not the boardwalk could support the tower.

Quintin said tests have been done and a cement base on the boardwalk can handle the weight of the tower.

Over the years, the clock tower on the boardwalk, which could be seen from anywhere in the park, became a meeting spot for those at the beach.

In the early 1990s, the tower was scheduled to be temporarily taken down for repairs. But the crane lifting the 100-foot structure collapsed during the move. The tower and the four clock faces were in the parking lot for a year and eventually disappeared. City and park officials do not know what happened to the tower and the clock.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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