New London to get $885,000 from state for Parade reconstruction

New London - The city will be reimbursed nearly $900,000 from the state for work done several years ago on the $10 million Parade Plaza reconstruction project.

The state will be sending an $885,000 check for the Thames River Maritime Heritage Grant, which was used to create and install the whale tail fountain and historical plaques on the Parade. It was part of the larger project that included rebuilding the Parade Plaza and moving the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse.

But the reimbursement is not a windfall for the city. Finance Director Jeffrey Smith said the money will go into the city's capital budget, which is used for large-scale municipal projects.

"What I had was an over-expenditure in the capital account,'' Smith said. "When this money comes in, it fills a hole in the capital account."

Smith gave the City Council an overview of the capital budget Monday night, showing a $2.2 million deficit in 15 projects.

Kristin Clarke, who was hired a year ago as director of the Office of Development and Planning, worked with the state to get the money for the city after the city failed to submit the necessary paperwork for reimbursement by the 2010 deadline.

"This is the culmination of nearly a year long effort on the part of Director Clarke and her staff," said Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, who announced the reimbursement in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Clarke also thanked those in the ODP office.

"My staff is so hard working and I am very pleased that our efforts were successful," Clarke said. "Our office will continue to seek reimbursement for other past due capital projects. These funds couldn't come at a better time for the financial well being of our city."

Smith said the city has had a history of not submitting paperwork for state reimbursements.

"One of the problems the city has had, in the past, is not actively going after money owed us by state,'' Smith said, referring to money for school and city infrastructure projects.

Finizio said the city will continue to seek such reimbursements.

"In securing this reimbursement, and by securing other grants for the City, Kristin Clarke has brought in revenues to the City that exceed her own salary and benefits tenfold," Finizio said. "To think that she has done this in less than one year on the job is a true testament to her professionalism and to the strength of our ODP department."

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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