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Coast Guard Academy chief to discuss expansion with New London, Norwich officials

By Jennifer McDermott and Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published January 10. 2012 4:00AM

The superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy plans to meet with city officials in both New London and Norwich to talk about how the academy could expand.

The head of the Coast Guard, Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., sent a letter to New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio Monday to say he is "determined" to continue the "strong partnership" between the Coast Guard and the local community. The academy has been in New London for more than a century, he noted.

Papp directed Finizio to meet with academy superintendent, Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz, as his representative for all matters pertaining to the academy.

Officials in Norwich are hoping, though, that the Coast Guard would consider a partnership with their city.

Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom said Monday that city officials have scheduled a meeting with Stosz on Feb. 13, with Feb. 14 as an alternative date. They plan to suggest the Shipping Street former industrial district as a possible site for a Coast Guard facility. The location on the west bank of the Thames River has deep water docking space and vacant land and buildings.

Both Finizio and Norwich Alderman Charles Jaskiewicz contacted the Coast Guard after Papp told The Day last week that the academy has reached capacity at its site along the Thames River and there are certain functions the Coast Guard "could justifiably and reasonably look at moving to other locations."

New London residents voted in November not to sell a portion of Riverside Park to the Coast Guard so the academy could expand.

Finizio wrote to Papp Friday apologizing for not reaching out sooner and saying he was open to discussing the academy's space needs. Papp replied Monday. Stosz and Finizio plan to meet for the first time Jan. 17.

Jaskiewicz invited Stosz and Coast Guard officials to Norwich to discuss "potential partnerships and available land on the Thames River." Nystrom, Jaskiewicz and Norwich Harbor Management Commission Chairman John Paul Mereen will attend the meeting.

Jaskiewicz said navigating up the difficult Thames River channel could be part of cadet training.

"All the more to test their skills," Jaskiewicz said.

j.mcdermott@theday.com

c.bessette@theday.com

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