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Coast Guard commandant wants to continue 'strong partnership' with city

New London— Coast Guard Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. replied to a letter from the mayor today, explaining that he wants to continue the "strong partnership" between the Coast Guard and the local area.

The letter from Papp, the commandant, was in response to a letter Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio sent Friday in which Finizio apologized for not reaching out to Papp sooner and said he was open to discussing the academy's space needs.

The exchange came seven weeks after city residents voted not to sell a portion of Riverside Park to the Coast Guard so the academy could expand.

Finizio said he wrote the letter after reading Papp's comments Thursday in The Day in which the commandant said he had not heard from the new mayor and was interested in hearing his proposals on possible expansion plans.

Papp replied, "I welcome the opportunity to work together on issues of mutual interest that will benefit both the city and the Coast Guard, and I look forward to a productive dialogue."

While visiting the school last week Papp said the academy has reached capacity at its current site along the Thames River and there are certain functions within its walls that the Coast Guard "could justifiably and reasonably look at moving to other locations."

City officials in Norwich e-mailed the academy's superintendent, Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz, to tell her they have land available on the Thames River.

Papp said in the letter to Finizio that Stosz is his representative for all matters pertaining to the academy and she is authorized to represent the service. The academy has been a resident of New London for over a century now, he said.

Stosz and Finizio plan to meet for the first time Jan. 17.

j.mcdermott@theday.com

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