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New London - The City Council on Thursday night approved appropriations totaling $252,000 for improvements to City Pier and upgrades to the city's information technology department.
The council appropriated $150,000 of state Local Capital Improvement Program (LoCIP) funding to install a fendering system, bollards and mooring hardware at City Pier to accommodate large ships, like the U.S. Coast Guard barque Eagle.
"This is a necessary addition that needs to go on," Councilor Erica Richardson said. "The Eagle has always been in New London port and needs to be."
Tammy Daugherty, director of the Office of Development and Planning, had originally sought $300,000 for the project. Daugherty said the work needs to be done in March, before both the Eagle and Mystic Seaport's Charles W. Morgan are expected to dock at the city's waterfront for extended stays.
In 2012, the city re-opened the 350-foot pier behind Union Station after a $5 million reconstruction project. Among other things, timbers that support original pilings, which were installed in 1939, were replaced.
But, Daugherty said, the first phase of the project did not include the fendering system or mooring hardware necessary to accommodate tall ships.
"Obviously being able to accommodate tall ships at City Pier is imperative," she wrote in a memo to the mayor and City Council president.
The 172-year-old Morgan, the world's last wooden whaling ship, is nearing the end of a five-year restoration project and will leave the museum May 17 for a two-month journey that will take it to historic New England ports. The Morgan's first and longest stop will be in New London, where the remaining ballast will be installed.
The Eagle will spend most of April and early May hosting tours for the public at City Pier, then sail with cadets to the Caribbean, Canada and ports along the East Coast this summer before returning to City Pier again for about three weeks in August.
The council also voted to appropriate $102,000 of state LoCIP funds to purchase 80 new PC computers and 200 licenses for the Windows 7 operating system. The funds will also be used to update the city's servers and replace its outdated firewall.
Also Thursday night, the council voted to waive the bid process for work to repair a broken steam pipe and remove mold and other hazardous materials from an unused room in City Hall. Last month, the Ledge Light Health District ordered the city to repair a broken steam pipe and clean up a room filled with mold in City Hall.
After granting the city a 10-day extension, the health district has given the city a deadline of Feb. 14 to complete the work. In a memo to the council, Public Works Director Tim Hanser said the work is expected to take four or five days.
In a different memo to the council, Hanser recommended that ServiceMaster Recovery Management, which provided a quote of $19,500, be awarded the project.