New London Landmarks' Chalk leaving

New London - The head of New London Landmarks, who for 10 years has led the historic preservation agency during battles over Fort Trumbull and Riverside Park, is leaving.

Sandra Kersten Chalk said she plans to move to Seattle next fall to be closer to her son and his family.

"My whole family is out on the West Coast,'' said Chalk, who moved to the area more than 40 years ago from New York with her late husband, Rodney Crampton Chalk.

When Chalk began at Landmarks a decade ago, she worked 12 hours a week. Today, the agency oversees several projects, including a Creative Placemaking project, which is funded with a state grant.

"Now I'm working practically full-time and we're doing major things,'' she said.

While Landmarks was opposed to the original Fort Trumbull redevelopment project and the role eminent domain played, she said the agency wants something to happen on the property. Landmarks was included in a study last year with the University of Connecticut to look at future development there.

Landmarks also helped in the redesign of The Parade at the foot of State Street and took up the fight against selling a portion of Riverside Park to the U.S. Coast Guard for an expansion of the academy. It is now involved in improving the park and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Preservation agencies, like Landmarks, are redefining their missions, Chalk said.

"We have to become relevant to the 21st century,'' she said.

Transportation is the next issue that cities must tackle, she said, to keep cities like New London thriving.

In her office on Washington Street, Chalk has a 1911 map of New London "when it was in its glory."

There are challenges, she said, "but I firmly, totally, completely believe New London can fulfill its potential.''

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