NESS opens renovated sailing center in former lobster pound

Stonington — New England Science & Sailing opened its newly renovated sailing center Tuesday afternoon in the former Garbo lobster pound in the borough.

NESS founder and President Spike Lobdell was joined by Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce President Tony Sheridan, state Sen. Andrew Maynard, D-18th District, state Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, and NESS Executive Director Cindy Nickerson on the center’s balcony to cut a thick piece of partially sliced marine rope with an oversized pair of scissors.

In his remarks to supporters gathered below, Lobdell said the opening of the center is “another really important milestone in NESS’s short history.”

NESS spent slightly less than $400,000 to renovate the two-story building. The project was funded by private donations.

The project created classroom and instruction space as well as storage in the basement.

It also made the building handicapped-access compliant with an elevator soon to be installed, and provides a series of floating docks.

Lobdell said the project adds value to NESS’s students, which numbered 4,700 last year, and the organization already has served 4,000 this year.

He said NESS took advantage of the opportunity afforded by the lobster pound to further "change students' lives one at a time, getting them out on the water, learning and having fun."

NESS offers courses in sailing, boating, adventure sports and marine science — not just to children and teens but adults as well.

The organization also has partnered with 100 schools in New London, Norwich and other area communities to provide instruction that gets students out on the water and involved in curriculum that meets Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) standards.

“We’re getting children of all ages and all abilities out on the water and growing in ways they never thought possible,” Lobdell told the crowd on Tuesday.

Sheridan said that STEM education is increasingly important as Electric Boat expands its skilled workforce and other firms look for employees with required skills and training.

He said programs such as the ones provided by NESS “give people a head start they normally wouldn’t have.”

j.wojtas@theday.com

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