Persistence may yet pay off for the New London Community Center Collaborative, a group of some 20-plus volunteers who have been at work for three years exploring the creation of a community center to serve the city's diverse population. Council President Michael Passero deserves particular praise for his doggedness.
This past Monday the effort took a major step forward when the Education, Parks & Recreation Committee of the City Council forwarded a resolution to the full council. The resolution would authorize negotiations between the YMCA and the city to jointly develop and run a community center.
The council should approve this step and move the process along.
New London could greatly benefit from a community center. With the right mix of recreational opportunities, it would be a great asset for the citizens of New London while helping tie the community together. The challenges will be considerable. These include designing programs and facilities that will, indeed, serve a cross-section of the populace; coming up with the resources to pay for the building and staffing of the center; and reaching consensus on a location.
The collaborative recommends Veterans Field. The advantages include the fact the city already owns it, the parcel is flat and environmentally clean and so less costly to build on, and it is in the center of a neighborhood.
But not all agree. Some contend the better use is to maintain the property for athletic fields and as open space. It is a discussion worth having, but the collaborative's recommendation deserves considerable weight. The members of the community center advocacy group have been at this a long time.
With a plan teed up for him, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio should work with the council in bringing this proposal to fruition.