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'It's going to happen, folks."
The comment came from Jane Glover, New London's chief administrative officer, and the "it" she referred to is the construction of the National Coast Guard Museum in the city. We note that the man who called the press conference on the topic last Thursday, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, did not go that far.
He knows better.
Anyone who has witnessed the push and pull of New London politics and the tendency for factions to find reasons to work at cross purposes rather than together, well knows it is better to stay away from absolutes.
But there is no question momentum for construction of the museum is building and, in that respect, Ms. Glover's enthusiasm is understandable. Mayor Finizio, trying to avoid too many details that would diminish the news value of a scheduled April 5 press conference, did announce that abutting property owners had agreed to work cooperatively to make the museum a reality.
That is a big deal.
While Mayor Finizio declined to discuss the location - saying that announcement awaits the April 5 event along with the unveiling of a scale model and other details - it is a poorly kept secret. The museum is planned for a small parcel of city-owned land behind Union Station and adjacent to Cross Sound Ferry.
The owners of those two entities have clashed in the past about access issues, Cross Sound pushing for a pedestrian bridge to provide a better and safer connection to the ferry facility, the train station owners leading a successful opposition, in part because of concerns it would clash with and detract from the architecture of the historic Union Station. Since pedestrian access will certainly be an issue for the museum, the mayor's announcement that adjacent property owners have agreed to work cooperatively is significant.
But in his diplomatic response to a question about how people will get to the site, Mayor Finizio acknowledged not everything has been worked out.
"That would indicate that I was acknowledging where the site will be, which I will not do," said Mayor Finizio when asked about getting people to the waterfront site. His comment about not revealing the site included a smile from the mayor and a few knowing laughs from reporters and gathered staff.
"I will say that the aspects of the project that are required for its engineering success, for access ... into the site have been addressed as part of the process and we believe that the various parties whose cooperation will be necessary to make that successful have given preliminary approval to the site selection and have committed to working together on the other moving pieces that will be necessary to complete the project."
"Preliminary approval" and agreeing to work on "other moving pieces" appear to be the operative phrases in that response. There is still work to be done.
The Finizio administration has done a good job helping revive this project. Those efforts will now allow the National Coast Guard Museum Association to begin its efforts to raise the $100 million necessary for construction. We believe the proposed location, as unofficial as it still may be, is a good choice to help drive continued redevelopment in the downtown waterfront district. The community has reason to be more optimistic than ever that "it is going to happen."