Proposal floated to welcome kayakers

New London - New London is known as a walkable city, but since it's situated along the Thames River, why couldn't it also be a boatable city?

City Councilor Rob Pero is hoping to highlight the city's close proximity to water by having kayak rentals available to residents and visitors at two locations.

"We've done a lot to get our riverfront and port more active,'' Pero said. "This is ideal to get more activity on the waterfront."

Rentals at Ocean Beach, Greens Harbor?

He's asked the City Council to consider sending out a "request for proposals" for a kayak vendor who would set up at Greens Harbor Beach and Ocean Beach. He proposed that New London residents would use the kayaks for free or for a minimal charge.

"Hopefully it will all come together," Pero said. "It fits in perfectly with what we're trying to do on the waterfront."

The proposal was sent to the council's education, parks and recreation committee for further study.

Councilor Michael Passero, an avid sailor who asked that the proposal be discussed in committee, hopes the idea will take off.

It could be similar to the New London Community Boating program, he said, which has offered free sailing lessons to city children for about 10 years. That program has been responsible for increased use of Greens Harbor Beach and ultimately improvements there and at the park across the street.

Passero said the city should also look at setting up boat rentals at Riverside Park, which abuts the Thames River north of the twin spans of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge. The water there is calm, and it's away from the commercial shipping lanes farther down the river.

Voters are expected to decide next November whether to sell a portion of the park to the Coast Guard Academy to expand its campus, but Passero, who opposes the sale, is confident residents will vote against selling it.

He said the city would have to replace a walkover across the railroad tracks at the park to gain access to the water, and a floating dock system could be built to accommodate all sorts of boats.

"The kayak proposal is good,'' he said. "It's good for Ocean Beach and Greens Harbor, but the place to do it would be Riverside Park."

The city could also offer a mooring area where residents could keep their boats, he said.


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